Happiness, in truth, is not a state of mind – True happiness is a state of being.
Happiness is recognised as an inherent phenomenon – and yet the fact is, it may only be evident for just a nano-second in the instant of conception, or perhaps for the period of gestation if the mother-to-be is totally content.
Most/ all babies are influenced by both the various negative emotions unavoidably experienced by the mother during pregnancy, as well as the degree of trauma brought to bear on both the mother and child during labour and delivery. A comedienne once remarked she was so shocked by her birth she didn’t speak for eighteen months.
At any rate, tension and anxiety are apt to accompany us from the time of our birth, no matter the environment in which we were conceived, or born. This tension is accentuated throughout childhood on into our adult years, from expectations placed upon us by those who profess to love and care.
So, if we don’t experience happiness as a state of being from the beginning of life, how do we become happy? Mistakenly we search for it!
Instead of simply recognising it in one’s self as an integral component of the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual elements that constitute the make-up of a developing human being, as individuals we constantly and continuously go about looking for happiness outside, as if it is a commodity to be found.
Sadly, we are introduced at a very early age to the notion happiness is somewhere – anywhere other than already resident within. We learn to fish for compliments and approval from others to make us feel of worth. We practice manipulation of situations, as well as of those around us, in the belief if we can get it our way we will be happy. We make plans for holidays, parties and good-times hoping the picnic-feel will last way after the event. We believe if we make it to the top (be it a mountain, the corporate ladder, or a sports team) it will make us happy. Or if we accumulate a vault full of money and drive the latest model car that will do it!
In other words, we settle for an endless series of temporary hits and highs – brief euphoric states of mind gained from pleasurable experience. These are wrapped in so-called retail therapy or other self-treats, like dinner at a restaurant, barbeques with friends, an evening at the theatre, or a new love affair. In fact, we look for happiness in all manner of distractions from the hum-drum existence we, each as individuals, fall into believing to be the real.
Perhaps worst of all, we learn to perform all sorts of contortions, acts and mannerisms to elicit love and friendship. If one feels liked and/or needed, then being happy will surely follow! When what actually manifests itself from this gross error of judgement is eventual pain and despair.
What I’m indicating here is that in general, the population learns to rely on all manner of outer-tuition offered in an effort to teach us what we need to do, or to add to our lives to become happy, even though there is an overwhelming pile of empirical evidence to show nothing in common life- practice brings true and unfailing contentment. Yet very few have the confidence, the strength, or the discipline to get in touch with happiness through their own innate in-tuition.
Religions feast on our weakness, leading us to believe eternal peace and happiness depend upon certain behaviour and the adherence to law and ritual concocted by man in the name of God. To follow any of these practices succeeds only in making one fearful. Fear has one scrambling for recognition, for power and control. Fear is the breeding ground for contempt and criticism of others, and is the cushion for depression.
It is not the function of religion (or indeed politics) to reveal that happiness can and ought to be relaxed into – that it is the birthright of each and every individual in their living years, without the need for a conduit to any mythical S/he God. Praying for happiness, with or without a priest or a rabbi, just doesn’t work.
True happiness is a soul-seed which, with a measure of devoted vigilance, will bloom into a deep and peaceful contentment. True happiness is ever present within the Being, just waiting to germinate and be enjoyed. This happiness is not reliant on exterior stimuli. This happiness, with a little attention, glows from within the self – the inner Being. This happiness is the reward experienced by those who learn to trust themselves and have the courage to become self-reliant and self-responsible – those who quit seeking for the elusive answer beyond the self; they are the individuals who discover the magic of true happiness.
So how does one embark on the task of locating true happiness?
Well, just as en masse we have learned to believe in, and rely on, everything and everybody outside of ourselves, we – each one of us is required to hone belief in one’s self and to practice appreciation of what Is, and not dwell on what is not.
Rather than concentrating on negativity, one needs to turn what is normally regarded as a problem into a challenge. When one becomes attuned to one’s inner, the answer to the challenge is most often found. When self-observation (not self-obsession) becomes the norm, one begins to move calmly in confidence and in peace.
I am not suggesting one cannot ask for help and guidance, for we each bring our own unique skills and talents to share with and to serve each other; or that we ought not grieve appropriately over a loss. What I am recommending is that one determinedly concentrates on becoming inter- dependent rather than dependent or co-dependent.
When one acknowledges both the privilege of, and the responsibility for one’s own life – when one realises one is not separate from God, but rather an elementary part of all of nature with an equal chance and right to life, then, from this moment on, true happiness will undoubtedly and uncompromisingly become the success and the treasure. This happiness is the state of being which the unenlightened continue to seek and desire.