Photo By Jennifer Picard Photography

The Unfolding of Happiness

Can it be searched for, or only accidentally found?

Brian Thompson
Dec 1, 2013 · 7 min read

the unfolding of our happiness, how and where might it begin?

it’s a quest that has consumed man since the dawn of time, a question that has been eternally asked. but its pursuit may be empty. happiness instead, a surprise which can only be stumbled upon, not found through endless, frantic searching.

in zen, when speaking of an enlightened awakening, this is called satori. if you look for it, it will never be found. happiness is similar. you must first assert yourself with right intention and mindful attention. only then, when the soil of the mind has been properly tilled, is it ready for seeds of happiness to be planted.

you see, you can only be happy. looking for it will do you no good. happiness is elusive. just when you think you’ve found it, and right where you think it might be, it escapes you. it slips through your grasp. it’s something that can never be held, even though it’s here right now.

happiness cannot be had through clinging.

this is why its search is so exhausting. it’s an exasperating quest, leaving you frustrated and fruitless, empty-handed and sad. we cannot attach ourselves to it, nor attach it to someone or something else.

happiness must be attachment free.

but i have a secret to share. unfolding the mystery of happiness can begin within a few short words, if voiced with a statement of pure and honest intent.

i am calm, i am content.

in quiet stillness, say these words slowly. feel them resonate through your blood, your breath, and your bones.

however things may be or how they might appear, i accept this moment, this predicament, this situation i find myself in. this perfect little slice of time, i am cool with. it is what it is, and i will be fine.

i am ok with this. this moment is mine.

you see, it’s your expectations of what happiness is that upsets you. most of us refuse, fight and resist the notion that happiness can’t last forever, we think it’s a prize that can somehow be won. but just as happiness is fleeting, so too is misery. everything ebbs and flows, whatever rises must sometime fall.

this is the impermanance of all things. what lives, shall also die. the law of thermodynamics is applied to all things, living through each and every breath and emotion we have. all existence is transitory, even those of our conscious thought. we are shaped by entropy. all things eventually disperse.

this is why the middle way is a preferred path.

it’s there where you find balance, contentment, compassion, acceptance, and a visceral understanding of the truth and reality of the inescapable moment you’re in. it’s there where you find pure acceptance, without wishing things were somehow different or better.

people become so attached to the idea of happiness, and for the quest of it, that they become frustrated and distracted, not seeing it’s there before their very eyes.

you see, it’s human nature to make matters worse for ourselves. we identify with the idea we haven’t found happiness yet, that we’re sad or depressed, that we’re anxious or even worse.

we convince ourselves of it.

hell, we’re often even proud of it, wearing it like a badge of honour, showing the world we’ve been dragged through hell and lived through war. we might whisper to others in confidence we’re chronically unhappy, miserable, sad, or clinically depressed. we use acronyms to tell others of the medical terminology with which we’re afflicted. of this, we’re convinced.

where’s my medicine? can’t you see i’m sick!

we cling to this identity of ourselves, this sickness with which we think we suffer, yet all we’re truly afflicted with is a common case of simply being human. this indetitiy we’ve attached to ourselves gives us an excuse to feel crummy and cosmically-bewildered. it’s an excuse we use to define ourselves by. it’s an excuse we use to stall the mindfulness we must practice, an excuse preventing us from doing the work to properly care for the garden in our minds.

when happiness is scrunched tight and unable to unfold, we find it’s been bound by the suffering of the definitions we apply to everything. words and labels, which we all have different expectations and meanings for. because of this, we tirelessly ask questions, expecting everything to be concise and logically defined.

what is the meaning of life?

do you honestly believe such an answer exists? is this question a fill-in-the-blank, or maybe a multiple choice? is it worth five marks or possibly ten? is the answer written in english or latin, sanskrit or greek, or maybe portuguese?

such things are empty words trying to describe the indescribable.

no wonder we’re stressed!

we’re trying to answer a question that has no answer, because the question doesn’t even exist.

so rather than ruminating and dwelling, always being depressed and arguing the meaning of words with which we build the walls of our reality, why don’t we just be?

just as it is human nature to paddle when pushed in water, so it is that we must also just be in the now we’ve been tossed in, the tao, the river of life.

we must swim without thinking in the cosmic ocean of our conscious awareness.

we must live without analyzing. we must just peacefully, be.

who am i? what does it all mean? what should i do? why am i alone? that’s not fair. they lied to me! oh, woe is me. hey, i want that! hey, that’s mine! gimme, gimme, gimme. i, me, my, mine! i want, i need, i must have!

we must quieten our inner dialogue, quell the constant critique and walk the middle way, with compassion, judgement-free.

as in any story worth telling, there will be plot twists. expect them. life is sometimes crazy, and quite often chaotic too. but i am ok with this, and you should be too (remember those words we earlier spoke).

i am calm, i am content. i am ok with this. this moment is mine.

this is where happiness begins. living life as it unfolds, reaction free. loving every moment you’re in. this is not a filtering of your emotions, it’s embracing them, judgement free. it’s watching what emotions arise, embracing them whatever they may be, letting them flow, then watching again as they subside and fall.

when we approach our emotions in this regard, and just get out of our own damn way, the lows aren’t as low and won’t forever remain.

as we unfold happiness further, we find the colourful petals of our purpose, opening up to the bright rays of the sun.

perhaps as elusive as happiness itself, one either seems to know what their purpose is or they accidentally discover it somehow, perhaps while on a hero’s journey, an adventure, or a vision quest.

you must explore and delve deep into the full expanse and variety of human opportunities and emotions to discover your purpose. new things must be tried. failures must be earned. fears must be faced. boundaries must be pushed. courage must be had.

purpose can only be found through actively experiencing and participating in life. for those who choose to sit on the sofa full of fear and watch life drift by,refusing to engage with it, purpose will never be found (dragging happiness along with it). sadly, there are no lifetime guarantees that we all make its discovery.

having a sense of purpose is essential to the unfolding of happiness.

as we unfold happiness even further yet, we see that purpose can only be found by being in service to something. it doesn’t matter what it may be, but you have to serve something in order to have true purpose.

it could be serving your art, your vision, your voice, your aspirations, or your community. it could be serving your talents, or your creative expression. it could be serving your family, your guru, your dog or your god.

it’s the act of serving that creates community, an integral piece of a happy human experience.

we are social animals. through serving, we have purpose and find a sense of community, a sense of belonging. when we enrich the lives of others,we find meaning. it’s there where we find the essence of the human condition, of love, ultimately expressed.

when we are in service, with freewill and with positive intent, we turn our passion into action, making it a verb. passion is also integral to the unfolding of our happiness.

when passion is in action, our happiness is engaged.

when we have have a passion for something, we enjoy our time with it. we live in the moment with conscious awareness, without distraction or judgement.

this is the space where we find calm contentment, a state of peaceful equanimity.

happiness unfolds.

let calm and serene happiness be vindication for the pains and struggles of your esteemed pursuit. if it’s persistence and perseverance you embrace, then one day you will awake and unknowingly find yourself smiling from ear to ear. you will bathe in the content bliss of your purpose lived, of your passions fulfilled.

happiness will wash over you like a warm waterfall, fed from a fresh mountain stream, stumbled upon while wandering through a forrest, while looking for the trees.

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