Why Happiness Matters Most
Do you come across as listless and depressed? If so, the reason is clear. Each one of us is in search of happiness, one of the most misunderstood concepts in any language. To some, happiness is an emotional state linked to an external event, environment, achievement or gain. This is our first cardinal mistake. Happiness is not waiting for you in the window of Cartier. It is a state of being, which must be judiciously and painstakingly cultivated.
Henri Bergson once wrote, "Happiness is commonly used to designate something intricate and ambiguous, one of those ideas which humanity has intentionally left vague, so that each individual might interpret it in his own way."
Understanding Bergson, Rousseau, and countless others can make your head spin. People become disillusioned, feel devalued, and better still become cynical and cantankerous. We feel a weez bin had attitude. The reasoning here is that in the West we've systematically bought into a consumerist mindset of artificial happiness. It's not that we shouldn't enjoy a bottle of Chateau d'Yquem with Twinkies if we desire. You should however, be aware that these little pleasures are just fleeting sensations. Better still, such experiences should egg us on to find the source of pure happiness so that we can live every day as if it is the best day of our lives.
A Way Of Being
I remember, one morning I decided to jump on the first train from the Gare Saint Lazare to Trouville. The sun was bright and I was glad to be out of town. The summer light dappled the fields of Normandy and I could feel the cool water between my toes as the tide came in.
Next to me on the train sat another fellow headed to the beach as well. We fell into conversation as people will when they're not glued to smart phones and began to chat. I listened to him complain about the heat, the traffic in Paris, and his work situation. He was sounding like one of T.S. Eliot's hollow men. Although I tried to cheer him up a bit, I recognized, he was chasing something the material world couldn't bestow on him like a prize at a summer fair.
If he only realized the toxic and self harming nature of his negative emotions, he could have got off the roll coaster of self pity, denial, anger, and even envy. Do you also find that when the monsoons come, you're ready to chuck in the towel?
Write Your Own Book Of Changes
Changing the way we see the world is not changing your prescription any more than it means buying that fabulous pair of sunglasses by Moscot you saw at Colette. When we are slaves to dissatisfaction we need medicine to break our addiction. The search for true happiness demands we find an alternative approach to shifting between states of joy and self loathing. When we experience the pleasure and awareness of calm in a storm, then we better appreciate what some pundits call the alignment principle. The best alignment I know is through meditation.
Meditation Is The Royal Road
Some people think that meditation is a form of vegetation. Others feel the techniques will change their fundamental beliefs. How do you feel? Are you happy and content with your lot in life? I rest my case.
We all need meditation, whether we are walking, sitting, eating, or working. It is a question of shifting our consciousness and this is where awareness is paramount to alignment. I have one friend who was so desperate, he went to see a guru, I won't name here, hoping that the guru would wave a magic wand over his head and he would be dancing from joy as if he had spent two weeks hanging loose with Bob Marley. He left the ashram high as a kite after spending a long weekend. You know what happened next?
When he returned to his reality of stone grinding in Paris, his mood swung completely into reverse and was depressed as a cat deprived of fresh fish. He was experiencing what the Tibetan sage, Choygam Trungpa described as spiritual materialism.
So What To Do
Mood swings are common when you imbibe grace. Therefore, you need an action plan to make the goodness in your heart expand. This is what the groundwork of meditation really accomplishes. However, it is a process where you purge all your mental toxins, hatred, and obsessions. It is rough going and it does not happen over night. What it does do is put things in perspective, reduces the gap between appearances and reality and will deliver to you a sense of calm.
The Nature Of All Things
The Buddha understood these challenges better than most folk. He saw suffering for what it is, a fact of life, which is part of what makes up the human experience. He also understood the meaning of reality. His idea is so simple, but the rivers run deep. "Reality", he said, "is the one thing which never changes. If it changes, then it is unreal."
So what is the one thing in your life that never changes? Your true Self. It is the nature of all things like a stream flowing into an ocean. Relinquish your narrow sense of identity and pettiness and you will discover something you can never find, never buy, and never own. Why? Because you are already what you seek. You are indeed pure bliss. To get there, it is like peeling the layers of an onion. However, once you use the knife of meditation to get through the dross, you will be in a state of joy no matter what you external challenges and environment might be.
The Chinese sage, Fu Hsi never ran a Fortune 500 company nor did he launch a start-up which went gold in an IPO. He could have done this in his sleep. What he chose to do instead was to share the great truths with a weary world looking for answers to some powerful questions. His check-list is perfect for developing mindfulness.
"Here are his 15 keys to live in a state happiness." As a DJ once sang, it's pure yin and yang.
1) Balance & imbalance. If you could satisfy all your whims on command, then perhaps the goblins of delusion would collapse. This is just a small taste on how we delude our aspirations from what we need to what we want.
2) Income & expenditures. Everybody is on a budget. I know, some budgets are bigger than others. Want to hear a secret: The great sage Yogananda told a dear disciple to "stop asking God for a Cadillac". You know why? "What are you going to do if he grants your wish?" Car ownership is more than possession. Wait till you add on the taxes, insurance, maintenance fees, and parking. And that's just for starters..."
3) Simplicity & pretentiousness. In the USA, everybody dreams of home ownership. Rightly so. Everyone needs a castle to call one's home. But why buy a McMansion so large that you need a GPS to find the toilette? Good question.
4) Compromise & steadfastness. Compromise demonstrates to others that you understand what it means to live in society. Even the President must compromise to get things done. Why should you be any different? However, there are times when it is necessary to be steadfast. Stand on the ground you value most.
5) Loftiness and baseness. Some politicians and business people are so crass and base that you wonder what is going through their heads. Is self aggrandizement that important? Whose ends are you really serving? I could easily put in a couple of names here, but if you watch the news, there are plenty to choose from.
Loftiness means doing the right thing at the right time. it feels so natural. You understand that when you give of yourself not only do others benefit, you feel the pleasure of doing something you can be proud of. Better still, you wouldn't even think of being proud because you remember that great quotation: Pride before fall.
6) Leaders & followers. Everyone follows something or someone. Why is that so? Because we live in a world of other people and ideas. You can be different. You can march to the beat of your own drummer, but it is a guarantee that someone has walked in these footsteps before.
When you can grasp the opportunity to build, create, develop, or fight for something worth fighting for, now is the time and step up to leadership. The funny thing with leadership is that there is nobody to lead if nobody will follow. Quite an interesting relationship, don't you think? Food for thought.
7) The spiritual and the physical. Since we live a material world, you had better take care of your physical form. Nobody else will. Buying time out is not an option. Drugs and alcohol seems to release us from preconceived ideas of time. However, they are a fools release. Ultimately, they make us forget what can make us truly happy. Do you really want to be dislocated 24/7?
The spiritual world can offer us deep sustenance. However, like in all things, remember you are still in the body. Fly too high and you will burn up in the sky of well-intended intentions. Just ask Daedalus. He can still teach us about what happens with noble intentions.
8) Success & failure. Tell me about someone who has never failed, and I'll show you a person who has never tried. World culture is repeat with zillions of great failures. Besides being in great company, many of these setbacks resulted in some of the greatest success stories of all times. Think Nelson Mandela. He tried to free his brothers and sisters countless times until he was thrown in a jail cell for good. His crime? Fighting for the dignity and humanity of his people. The result? He went from being ordinary to one of the greatest extra-ordinary people who ever walked on this planet. How? he followed the teachings of Gandhi. Best of all, personal success meant nothing to him. You can't get more noble than that.
9) Fame & obscurity. Today, it seems everyone wants to be famous. Fame is the ultimate shadow play. You think you have troubles now, wait till you're famous. Do you really want to walk everywhere with handlers and bodyguards? I thought not. Nothing beats sitting down at a lunch counter in a great diner and hanging out with the locals. Why do you think presidential hopefuls spend so much time in Iowa and New Hampshire? It's not just to win hearts and minds. It's an attempt to try to be normal folk.
10) Rest and movement. This is one of the best because it invokes one of the principle laws of physics: For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. Only sloths stay immobile most of their lives. It's their DNA. But then sloths don't pose questions concerning happiness and the meaning of life. They just live life as they see it. One moment at a time.
11) Meditation & activity. If the goal of life is a deep state of well-being, then it is essential for you to find your core of essential goodness. One Tibetan saying states: "Seeking happiness outside ourselves is like waiting for sunshine in a cave facing north." Forget the sun lamp. Get outside and mingle. At the end of the day, just close your eyes and watch your breath. Don't be surprised if you find the divinity of light deep within your own heart.
12) Good fortune and misfortune. Forget the alchemy of disbelief and give thanks for your good fortune. Everything you have is good. It's a question of appreciation. Did you know that the manure of misfortune is a great teaching tool showing you the good fortune you indeed have? Look at it this way, this is where you should be now.
13) Eternity & transitory. Lao Tsu calmly claimed, "The farther one travels, the less one knows." This dude knew his stuff. He wasn't saying don't go to Portofino on your holiday. He was saying that every moment is fleeting. Watch each second pass before your eyes without grasping. Just enjoy the ride. Now, sit back and relax. The rest is easy.
14) Joy & pleasure. I think you can conjure a list as easily as myself. Yes, eating ice-cream at Bertillon on the Isle Saint Louis is pure joy. But the ultimate pleasure is to swim with the divine one without even knowing you are swimming.
15) Beginnings & endings. Like every season, turn, turn, turn... Now that we have some fertile soil with which to work, isn't it time to kick ignorance out the door and welcome happiness into your life?
Join the conversation. Let us know what you think.
Article Title: Why Happiness Matters Most
About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at CAREO, a career management consultancy under the WCW Group brand.
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