Many of us spend our whole lives searching to be happy.
We often start with the outside world. Looking for satisfaction through money or success, or relationships, or sex or drink or drugs.
And often, in desperation we begin to look elsewhere.
We begin to look ‘inside’ of ourselves.
Through modalities such as meditation or yoga, or Tai Chi.
And so on.
Here again we find some temporary satisfaction. And gurus abound, promising the holy grail – that eternal happiness that we seek.
But whilst these modalities do provide a steadiness and a sense of personal development which may have not been present before, they are still ‘in the game’ .
They are still part of this endless search for happiness.
And like a mirage in the desert, the promised land never quite arrives
The truth is that the happiness we seek is with us all the time.
It is simply hidden from view by all the thoughts we hold about how that happiness should be.
Or how it should manifest.
Like clouds in the sky which block the sunlight, our views and beliefs about our lives, obscure the happiness that naturally arises when we calm the mind, and move gently into our emotional experience.
Here are six views that people commonly hold that cause such obscuration.
And prevent them from being happy:
1. the belief that happiness is something outside of you that you need to find
There is a story in the White Lotus Sutra of a poor man who goes to visit a close wealthy friend. Being treated to wine, he becomes drunk and falls asleep. The wealthy friend has to leave on business, but before leaving, he sews a priceless jewel into the lining of his sleeping friend’s robe.
When the poor man awakens, he has no idea that he has been given the jewel. He leaves the house and sets out on a journey to find wealth and prosperity for his family, encountering great hardship on the way.
Many years later and still poor, he happens to meet his old wealthy friend, who is shocked at his poverty and shows him the jewel in the robe. The man realises for the first time that he possesses a priceless jewel and is overjoyed.
In the same way, many people spend their whole lives looking for happiness, not realising that this happiness is already theirs, if only they knew how and where to look.
Having never been taught these skills, too many of us spend our lives in needless suffering, destined to search outside of ourselves for what is already ours.
2. the belief that happiness is something that someone else can give you
When you look around at the worlds of personal development and spirituality, you find teachers of great renowned, often with hundreds, if not thousands of followers.
These earnest disciples are often sitting, waiting for the next utterance of their beloved master, hoping that next words to arrive will be the ones that finally remove their dissatisfaction with life, and open the doorway to eternal bliss.
Much as that teacher may be providing insights into life that could be incredibly helpful for people, there is another problem here.
These students have given their power away.
To the extent that someone believes that another person can give them happiness, they are relinquishing responsibility for their lives.
And for their happiness.
Which is why we see so often in such spiritual circles, that the disciple never reaches the levels that the teacher has reached.
Look to your own life and see if this is true.
Have you given away the responsibility for your own happiness?
3. the belief that you need to be lucky or special to live a happy life
It can seem like we need to be special in order to live the life we believe is possible.
Perhaps we see the shine and gloss of Hollywood actors. Or the rose-tinted life of our favourite teacher as portrayed through social media.
Too often this is just one side of the life of the person whom we admire.
Or it may not even represent them at all.
The spiritual world is littered with teachers who have fallen from grace for this reason or that. In the end it is rare to find a teacher that lives up to the ideal.
And this is not surprising.
Because human life is difficult, It is nuanced.
It is not black and white.
And it is never perfect in the way some people present it to be.
More often than not people with outwardly perfect lives are just better at marketing themselves than others are.
More often than not the ‘real’ life is hidden from view.
The mistake is to believe you need to be like them to be happy. Because nothing could be further than the truth.
You just need to learn to be you.
In all your messiness and lack of perfection.
Because beneath all the ideas you have about yourself and what you need to be.
Lies the happiness that you seek,
4. the belief that it is your lifestyle or conditions that are preventing you from being happy
Do you think you need to be a monk to be happy? Do you think you need to live a different sort of life? Do more yoga? Quit your job? Get rid of the kids?
The idea that happiness is dependant on lifestyle is another form of giving your power away….
If only things were different, I would be happy!!”
Of course, it may be that it could help.
If you’re in an abusive relationship, chances are it’d be better to leave.
But there is nothing at all preventing you from achieving happiness where you are right now,
Because freedom arises from the mind. Not from something outside of you.
I once read a book about making money where the author said the best way to make money is to put yourself in the mindset of a successful rich person.
Because the decisions a poor person makes – from a poor person’s mindset – do not lead to making money.
Here, in the same way….
If you are not happy, and not-being-happy is the mindset you inhabit….
That needs to change.
You need to give up that way of being, and enter into a different way of being.
It’s really as simple as that.
To see this clearly is the first step on the path.
If you really see this clearly, there is no going back
5. the belief that something ‘out there’ is making you unhappy
In the same way as your lifestyle is not the thing that is making you unhappy, it’s not other people either.
Too often we enter into the game of blame.
As soon as we are aware that we are blaming someone else for our unhappiness, alarm bells should start ringing inside.
We are giving our power away again.
We are giving away responsibility for our lives.
As soon as we blame someone else for our unhappiness, we need them to change for us to be happy. We have lost control of the situation.
But if take responsibility, not give it away to them.
Then we are in control.
There is incredible freedom in realising this.
Too often we spend our lives blaming other, not realising how it thwarts our own path and prevents us realising the happiness we desire.
6. the belief that there is something wrong with what you are experiencing
The undeniable truth is that there is nothing wrong with what you are experiencing. It is simply the resisting of it that causes you to suffer.
Have you ever been out and got caught in heavy rain?
Really heavy rain?
You know how you resist it at first. Give yourself a hard time for not bring a coat. or an umbrella.
But there comes a point when you are so wet, you just give in.
And allow the soaked-ness of your being to just be. To just be wet.
Completely utterly wet.
And you find that in this moment, all resistance has gone. And with it all your suffering.
You are just there.
And it’s okay to be wet.
The same is true with happiness. When you stop resisting life, and go with it, happiness arises.
You just need to learn how to do it.
It all sounds so easy
And in a way it is.
It’s just that whilst we learned maths and English and science and history at school, no one showed us how to look after our mental and emotional wellbeing.
That was a big mistake.
But it’s never too late to learn.
Advanced Mindfulness is a method of resolving mental and emotional conflict, removing emotional blocks and limitations from our past, and allowing the natural state of happiness and presence to sine through. Sagara is an experienced Advanced Mindfulness Practitioner whose mission in life is to help empower people to be able to work with their emotional states, to live happier, less stressful and more fulfilling lives.