Which sort of happiness do you prefer?

Happiness has become something of an obsession in our society. You only have to look around you; there are so many books, videos, blogs about the subject. In spite of this, there are still many anxious, depressed and unhappy people.

Very few mention that the best way to find happiness is simply to stop searching. You have all that you need to be happy − right here, right now.

So what do I mean when I talk about happiness?

For many years I thought happiness and having a good time were the same thing. They are not! Having a good time is about aversion; it is about escaping your life through drugs such as alcohol. The problems with this are first, having a good time is not happiness. The second is the “solution”, alcohol. For most people who drink habitually, alcohol is actually the barrier to happiness. Imagine that you have not consumed any alcohol and meet two people. One is drunk and the other is genuinely happy. You will never confuse the two would you? You wouldn’t need a single moment to tell who was drunk and who was happy, because they are radically different conditions.

Happiness is the opposite to having a good time; it is about being present in your life, not trying to escape it.

There is also condition-dependent happiness, which we experience when we get something that our ego or rational mind tells us is good and will make us happy. We have largely been conditioned to want these things by the people who make these things; they are not interested in your happiness, just that you believe that buying what they sell will make you happy.  I am happy because of my new car, because I won the lottery, because I got that promotion at work, my cool watch, my nice new suit, my new smartphone. This type of happiness is fleeting, fragile and ephemeral. Unfortunately it  is also the basis of our consumerist society and will be the death of our species as we make infinite demands on a closed finite system. But hey, it’s good for profits! The important aspect of such “happy” states is that there also exists an opposite state (unhappy) when we feel that there is an absence of the thing we perceive as necessary for happiness. In other words, the idea of happiness as conceived by our rational mind/ego. It is based on grasping and aversion. It is this attitude of grasping and aversion that is the cause of so much unnecessary suffering.

Another type of happiness and for me the most interesting, is unconditional happiness which comes from a different perspective, largely independent of the ego.

It arises when we understand and live our lives from the perspective of the observing mind (the infinite blue sky). The weather comes and goes (in our rational minds). The observing mind is the infinite blue sky and so, it can contain it all, without ever changing the nature of the sky.

From this (absolute) perspective there are no opposites; simply what is: the miraculous gift of existence and our great good fortune to be here, now.  It is an attitude of open curiosity and wonder as we appreciate the immense miracle of simply being here, of being alive; of being a part of the universe that is conscious and capable of appreciating the majestic creation all around us.

From this perspective there is simply action, consequence, experience and hopefully wisdom. In other words we continually develop and grow. When we take our ego out of the picture we can see that life is a series of problems, neither good or bad; simply situations that require our attention. If we solve this problem in front of us right now, the Universe will send us another. If we don’t solve it, we simply repeat until we do.

Another way of understanding this would be to imagine the ocean. The weather is constantly changing the state of the ocean surface. But however stormy it gets, just meters below the surface everything is as it always is − a calm steady current of peace.

To live our lives in his way means that wonder, gratitude, humility, love and compassion are our constant travelling companions.

We may at times, lose sight of the sun, but we know it’s there, for we carry the sun in our hearts

How can you be unhappy with the sun in your heart?

Which sort of happiness do you prefer?

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