As His Holiness the Dalai Lama so wisely observed the very purpose of our life is to be happy! That is the ultimate and most universally desired state of being for all people. Why is it so hard to achieve this wonderful purpose? How might we take steps in our daily lives to help us reach happiness now? Let us look at some ancient sources for reaching happiness in our lives today.
We need to begin by looking deeply at ourselves in order to understand our own mind and thoughts. With our mind and thoughts we create everything we experience, either consciously or unconsciously. Meditation can be a very useful tool to help us understand ourselves better.
We need to carefully consider what it is, that we deeply believe to be true about ourselves, our circumstances, and the other people we interact with. We can then reconsider our findings, to see if these beliefs are true, or misperceptions we accepted as truth due to early experiences in life. We may need a trained therapist, clergy or shaman to help us uncover misperceptions we may have, that are causing us to self sabotage our happiness and success in life. If a therapist is unavailable or unaffordable Dr Peter Gerlach offers a wonderful free self-help website and a large assortment of therapeutic videos on YouTube. (http://sfhelp.org/)
“My life purpose is to educate and motivate other people to protect future generations and break the toxic [wounds + unawareness] cycle that is crippling many persons, families, and our society.” Peter K. Gerlach
In looking further at the Dalai Lamas above quote he states that “the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being or happiness is.” Seeing all people as a collective part of ourselves, each one deserving of compassion for their suffering, and healing for their pain; will help bring us together peacefully. This helps to create the conditions where happiness is able to flourish. How can we use this now to be happy you may ask? I suggest that each day you watch for opportunities to practice random acts of kindness toward others. This will bring you happiness as you see how you brightened their day. Happiness is wonderfully contagious when shared!
Why do we so often look at happiness as a future goal? I will be happy when I finish school, or get a new job, or move to a new place and so on.
Thich Nhat Hanh says that, ~ “It is possible to live happily in the here and now. So many conditions of happiness are available—more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don’t have to run into the future in order to get more.” ~
I suggest that you try these steps to help you reach that wonderful state of being where you are truly happy now.
- Practice mindful meditations daily to help uncover hidden beliefs that may be sabotaging your happiness. Here is one example to try. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_sTDw1JGKo) or try this one. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy39vc6QnF4)
- Practice mindful appreciation of all that you have right now, by keeping a gratitude journal, in which you express daily what you are thankful for in that present moment.
- Practice your faith. This is a very deep form of prayer, and can have profound results if practiced with understanding, loving-kindness and compassion.
- Practice random acts of kindness to others, with encouragement to pay the kindness forward to others as well. This can have a wonderful ripple effect.
- Practice forgiveness. It frees you from the power of past events to hurt you any more. It also releases you from being trapped in anger and bitterness.
In addition to these suggestions you may consider what other steps will help bring you the happiness you naturally desire. In a class I once took, we were asked to write a paper on what ten things we would most like to change about our present lives in order to create the situations that would make us the happiest. It was a useful experience which did help me make some changes I needed to make.
There are many things to consider. I will post on additional aspects to consider in future additions here. We can practice mindfulness and gratitude anywhere, which can add to our present happiness considerably.
As Thich Nhat Hanh states in his eloquent book Living Buddha Living Christ, “When we practice looking deeply, we have the insight into what to do and what not to do for the situation to change… Everything depends on our understanding of the whole situation. Once we understand, our life style will change accordingly..” These wise words can be applied to many different situations including our own search for happiness and inner peace of mind.
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Another very important step towards achieving happiness is to accept yourself. Thich Nhat Hanh says, “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” Coming to a greater understanding of yourself can help you to accept yourself completely. The beneficial, along with the neutral and the non beneficial. We all have these aspects within ourselves. Consider the non beneficial parts as your personal opportunities to overcome and transform these parts of you that are not serving your best interests. As I have mentioned before we have many seeds within us. Seeds of sadness fear and anger along with seeds of happiness, joy and peace. We need to water the happy seeds with our attention and energy to help them grow. The sad, fearful angry seeds need acknowledgement and love also in order to be transformed into new energy that is more beneficial to us. Think of a loving mother comforting a crying baby, as the mindful approach to calming the negative non beneficial feelings within you. Every part of you deserves your love and care.
“If we are not happy, if we are not peaceful, we cannot share peace and happiness with others, even those we love, those who live under the same roof. If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.” Thich Nhat Hanh
Consider what actions, words and circumstances give you the greatest sense of happiness and well-being? What people bring out the best in you, and encourage you to really be happy and experience things that truly add to your life experience in positive meaningful ways? They are the best ones to give your time and energy to.
Take time to do something you enjoy more often. Do not wait for a future time or other people to do things with. See yourself as worth being happy and loved. Allow yourself to create opportunities for you to experience greater levels of happiness. If work stress is getting you down, or other people are dragging you down, take a break from them periodically. If needed make perminent changes. Seek to let go of the things that cause you to suffer and loose your happiness. When possible go for a walk in nature. Focus on your breathing, and the beauty that surrounds you. As Lao Tzu says “nature never hurries, but all things are accomplished in due time.” Simplicity will bring us far more happiness then the acqusition of more things ever can.
“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”
― Lao Tzu
You are a beautiful and unique individual! You were brought here through love. Love is what connects us all and carries us back to our true spiritual home. God is Love. Consider this thought from Isaiah 43 in the Bible:
“1 But now, this is what the Lord says—he who created you, (Your name here), he who formed you, (Your name):“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 3 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cusha and Seba in your stead. 4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. 5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;”
Living peacefully with others and trusting that God will repay all things as they should be, for the Universe is a very balanced place. When we align with love for ourselves and others we can find true happiness and peace for our lives. It all begins and ends with Love.
<3 Namaste. Until next time.