Is there a shortcut to happiness?

For many years I confused happiness with having a good time. I had no idea that happiness and having a good time were completely different things.

During many years of my life having a good time meant chemically altering myself, with alcohol or another psychotropic substance. Then and only then did I believe that I was happy. I simply couldn’t imagine a good time (“being happy”) without taking something.

I felt that, unless something was “intense”, then it was boring. I was stuck, looking for happiness outside of myself, which is why, at that time, my idea of happiness was anything that distracted me from myself. Chemical shortcuts seemed an adequate answer.

One of the most wonderful moments of my life was when I fully realised that happiness, peace and connection were always there inside of me. They never leave me. It’s just that I forget it sometimes. It was with a sense of wonder that I realised that the only thing that stopped me from seeing this was me, myself. Or at least who I thought I was.

Many people know all the theory about meditation and its related concepts, practices, precepts, philosophies, but they just cannot bring themselves to practice. They have too much to do. They’re too busy, too important. They would like to practice more but they have to get back to their “real life”. For them, living in a different way, living more in the present, in gratitude, in wonder is just another interesting, attractive idea that they must get around to at sometime in the future, when they are not so busy, when they have a bit of spare time. They discover a truth that when we first choose to let go the distractions, the stories, the drama, then simply being with ourselves can feel uncomfortable, irritating. It seems that what we really want is to be distracted.

So an important part of happiness and meaning in our lives is the ability to simply feel comfortable with ourselves, comfortable when we are in stillness, without the need to distract ourselves with our own or someone else’s drama. Learning to be at peace with ourselves means perceiving ourselves through the eyes of kindness, of compassion and with a sense of humour as we see how absurd we really are.

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