The Pursuit Of Happiness
‘I want to be happy!’ This is one of the most common statements I get from clients whenever I get them to think about themselves in the future at some point when they are free of their problems.
This is always a good exercise because it allows a person to step outside of themselves and really imagine how they would be without their issues, thus empowering them in a really positive way. Very often happiness is the first thing that the client focuses upon when they imagine themselves in this way.
It’s not surprising that happiness is top of the agenda. After all we all want to be happy in life – happy in our personal lives, happy in our careers, happy in our inner selves, happy with the world.
So what exactly is happiness and how do we go about achieving it?
A search in Google provides us with the simple definition of happiness: something along the lines of a mental or emotional state of well-being where we experience positive thoughts, feelings and emotions. The positive states can encompass feelings of pleasure and satisfaction through to intense joy and boundless laughter.
A simple definition, yet as many of us know, a state that can be the most difficult to access at the best of times, especially in the cut-throat landscape of western culture where we are constantly reminded of the ‘only the strong survive’ philosophy.
Happiness really can be harder to find than the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, especially when we look to others, or indeed objects such as cars and large houses, to provide it for us.
When it comes to finding happiness we are often looking in the wrong place.
In order to be truly happy you must realise that happiness comes from within you and only you. You are the source of true happiness for you.
No particular person, thing, element or object will ever give you a deep profound happiness that is long lasting. No matter what the adverts tell you about perfumes, aftershaves, clothes and fast cars! We are taught to purchase things in order to make us happy but this is very often a short-lived buzz or high that soon leaves us and we are forced to look for an even more expensive perfume or even faster car.
Buying these items is not solving our problem in any permanent way. We are still not happy. In fact buying things actually can be a barrier preventing us from achieving true happiness.
Advertising – Don’t Believe The Hype
I remember buying a really expensive watch a few years ago as a reward for growing my practice over a three year period to levels I hadn’t expected it to grow to. For the first few weeks I wore that watch every day and whenever I looked at that watch, which was frequently, I felt a surge of pride and a certain amount of happiness. However, after a few months I noticed that the leather strap was wearing and I needed to replace it, something that I subsequently found out would cost a few hundred pounds. Just to replace a leather strap! So the leather strap never got replaced. Then eventually after a year and a half or so the battery ran out and by then my love affair with the watch had died. It was just a tired looking, though very expensive watch now. I had followed the adverts advice but ultimately felt let down.
So I decided to purchase a very cheap digital watch, less than ten pounds, thinking that it would make a sensible replacement for my previous frivolity. Now two years later I still look at this cheap watch and feel good whenever I do. It serves its purpose well and tells the time accurately with a battery that will probably last ten years. I am happy with the watch. This is the important bit: I am happy that I made the right choice for me.
So today’s lesson is to let go of objects that we think can make us happy and instead look inwards for our happiness.
It is to begin to remember good times in our lives when we felt good inside. If we haven’t experienced happy times it is to imagine ourselves being happy.
Try this short meditation 5 minutes each day and you will begin to manifest your own internal happy state:
5 Minute Meditation – Looking Inwards For Our Happiness
1. Find a safe quiet place and get comfortable.
2. Focus on your breathing, noticing the difference between the temperature of the air that you breath in compared to the temperature of the air that you breath out.
3. Direct your breathing towards the muscles in your head and neck, then shoulders, arms, back and chest, legs and feet and toes, relaxing each of these in turn. Don’t rush the relaxation – allow this to happen at its own pace and rhythm.
4. Now begin to focus on happy memories within your life: achievements, good times with friends, moments when you felt good about yourself. If you can’t remember happy times then begin to imagine yourself as the happiest person in the world. How does it feel to be the happiest person in the world? Get a sense of this.
5. Notice any positive feelings or sensations that these memories of happiness or imagined happiness bring. Where are they in your mind and body?
6. Now with every breath that you take allow that happiness to grow within you, imagine it flowing through every pore of your mind and body. Imagine yourself as a vessel of happiness, giving happiness to the world.
7. Imagine now that your own internal happiness serves a positive purpose helping others that you love and cherish feel better. How can you spread your happiness to others? What things do you imagine your happy self doing in order to help others?
8. Enjoy your happiness for a while longer and then begin to bring yourself gently back into the present moment by focussing on your breathing once more. Practice this meditation each day.
Please share this article with anyone you know who is struggling with sadness.