The Secret of Happiness
Find What Makes You Happy
What is happiness? Is it satisfaction of desire? Is it wealth, possessions? Is it power? If this is so, why then are small children happy? They are regularly not yet bound by strong desires, they care little about possessions and have rather limited personal and social power.
Why do happy children have sparkling, clear eyes? Why do they irradiate this wonderful silence that contains happiness, and wisdom? Why are so many adults who are well-to-do and even famous so desperate, so addicted, so obsessed, so unhappy and depressed? And why do they talk so much that most of the time makes so little sense? Why do they need so many gadgets, so many cars, so many women or men for sex, why do they play the lottery, why are they corrupt?
Do you envy them? Do you hate them? Do you admire them?
I think it is not difficult to answer these questions. Fact is there are many rich and wealthy people who are unhappy. Perhaps we should make an effort together to find out?
If many rich people are not happy, what about poor people? Are they happier? That’s a comfortable myth. The state of ‘not having’, while it is opposite to the state of ‘having’, is not for that matter equal to the state of ‘being.’ When I feel deprived of anything, be it love, be it a decent job, I feel like life is nagging me. I feel betrayed in a way. It is certainly not a happy state of being.
To come back to small children as an example, what we see first of all is that they are not burdened with changing the world, but accept the world. Many of us wish to change the world, this ‘bad world,’ this world of injustice and violence, this world of oppression and persecution, of intolerance. We wish to make it a better place. And it’s exactly this striving for making creation more perfect as it is that robs us of our innate happiness.
Why is that so? To answer this question, look at what we do when we have come to that point of activism. What we do is to focus on the ‘bad things’ out there, ignoring by and large the good things, the positive stuff. We all know that the world is both bad and good, depending on how we look at it.
When we perceive life and the world in a complete fashion, not just with our five senses, we understand that our quest for happiness is truly spiritual, and that for that very reason the focus upon material things, situations, and circumstances, is quite short-sighted. To state that life on earth is such and such then reveals to be a perception error, for we cannot simply make such a statement, as it’s way too general and way too restricted in perspective.
Children do not know that, they cannot reason this out, and yet, they are basically happy. Their perception of the world is not yet fragmented as the perception of most conditioned adults is. Happiness really is related to this unlimited and unfragmented perception of what-is; we could say it’s derived from the holistic and non-dualistic perception of what-is.
Somehow it is conducive to happiness to be non-judgmental and open-minded. As long as there is no defense shield in the human character, it seems that humans are basically happy. Unhappiness sets in when content is censored by the conscious self, when large parts of what we perceive is discarded out as ‘negative behavior’ and thereby suppressed from conscious awareness.
It seems to me that this kind of distortion of perception is at the root of unhappiness in the human. It also has to do with setting culture against nature, while of course an intelligent and human-friendly culture is embedded in nature and not opposed to nature.
So in a way, when we coin a cultural paradigm that is by and large founded upon a distorted understanding of nature, we are at pains to be happy. This is a conundrum as culture is supposed to bring us relief and development; it’s supposed to bring us closer to civilized behavior, consciously banning chaotic and psychopathological behavior.
But when the cultural paradigm itself is hostile to our embeddedness in nature, for after all we *are* nature, then that culture can’t reasonably bring us relief. It will bring us conflict then, it will bring us distorted perception of natural phenomena, it will bring us collective mental illness instead of sanity of mind, and besides, ecological disaster and worldwide chaos and destruction.
Hence, children are happy for a reason. The reason is the absence of Reason, written with a capital R, the mechanistic paradigm that situates the human above nature, and human reason above nature’s innate intelligence, which is the intelligence of our emotions. Small children are happy because they do not (yet) allow a cultural paradigm to mutilate their emotional integrity; but this changes when children grow beyond the ‘age of reason’ (Piaget), that is, the age of seven. Adolescents are very often unhappy people, for they are bound to suffer the ‘cultural burden,’ having lost their childlike innocence and being exposed to all the unnatural behavior patterns ingrained in modern life.
There is no conflict between being wealthy and being happy. While fundamentalist religions all declare being wealthy to be a major sin, it’s surely not those religions who hold the truth in their hands, but nature. And nature is wealthy, nature is abundant, nature is even wasteful.
However, when your religion is money and accumulating money, without more, you are actually barring yourself off from receiving more. Let’s assume you have all your basic needs met but you foster an illusion which says if only you had more of the same, more money, more riches, a bigger bank account, still more inflow of resources, you would be still more happy. Let’s say I acknowledge you would be more content, you would certainly feel safer in your overall worldview, you would surely be more comfortable in your skin.
But does that mean you would be happier? It could well mean that you will be less happy than before, and you may then realize that true happiness is not a result of safety, that it’s not so much a matter of satisfaction but of dissatisfaction, that it’s not the fact you can buy into such and such leisures that attribute to your happiness, but rather the fact that you are happy just in the same way if you indulge in those leisures, or not.
One behavior pattern does infringe upon happiness: it is judgmental thinking and resulting actions targeting at discarding out people or situations from your life. The secret to happiness is permissiveness, a mindset that refrains from judging others and life, a mindset that embraces all possible situations, a mindset that accepts life rather than judging it.
Now let us ask how to build such a mindset? Is it a heroic task to change one’s mindset? It is. It is not easy, really. It is not something most people would want to do. It is not something encouraged by the mass media either, quite to the contrary. It is something only a few select people can do because it requires a stoic attitude and a lot of persistence. But you can do it for improving your life, and you shall be more happy. You can become non-judgmental in your overall view of the world and of people. The Bible is rather explicit about it.
Matthew 7, 1-2
Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.