Happiness: Remembering who you really are

The desire for happiness might be one of the most powerful aspects of the human condition. It would not be an overstatement to say that it’s the organizing principle behind everything that we do. Try this exercise to test the validity of my statement.   Ask yourself, “What do I want?”  When you get an answer, ask yourself, “What would that give me?” When you get an answer to that question, ask yourself, “And what would that give me?” Keep asking yourself this question until you are unable to go any further with this line of questioning. Here is an example:

  1. What do I want? Answer: I want to be rich.
  2. What would that give me? Answer: I would not have to struggle anymore to make ends meet.
  3. What would that give me? Answer: It would give me a sense of security.
  4. What would that give me? Answer: I would not have to worry about money.
  5. What would that give me? Answer: It would give me the freedom to relax.
  6. What would that give me? Answer: It would make me happy.
happiness
  • Relationships
  • Money
  • Power
  • Titles, position, or social standing
  • Material goods
  • Alcohol/ chemical substances
  • Aggression
  • The attention of others
  • The feeling of significance
  • Spirituality
  • Suicide

You might be asking yourself, “People kill themselves for happiness?”  The answer is, “Yes.” Those who commit suicide believe that taking their lives will be less painful than it would be to continue living.

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There is an unavoidable challenge that we face whenever we purse anything for the sake of achieving happiness. Even if that which we pursue is acquired, the sense of happiness that is gained will be unstable.  Here are some examples that illustrate this:

  • A child begs his parents for a toy. The parents buy the toy, and the child loses interest in it a few days later.
  • A man courts his dream woman. After a while, they move in together. Gradually, the man becomes increasingly turned off by some of the things she that does.
  • A woman works tirelessly to advance in her career. She finally makes it, only to feel that there is still something missing from her life.

In all these examples, the person is seeking the promise of happiness by pursuing the “objects” that they believe will be the source of it.  With this understanding, we can now go on to discuss the illusions of happiness.

The Illusion of Happiness and the Sense of Self

The pursuit of happiness is inseparable from how we develop a sense of self. Our sense of self is created through the accumulation of external influences, which we personalize. Our sense of self becomes a function of our job title, the people we know, our interests, our roles (i.e., parent, husband, wife, victim), our possessions, our income, our appearance, the opinions of others, and so on.  All of these things are examples of “other referral.”  The term “other referral”  is being used here to describe when our sense of self is based on something outside of ourselves.  In “object referral,” my sense of self is safe as long as my experience of the world matches my expectations. As long as my income does not take a plunge, as long as my relationships are going well,  I will feel good about myself. 

The challenge is that everything in his life is subject to change.  I can lose my job, and my physical appearance will give in to age. Relationship issues will emerge, and my relationships will, at some point, come to an end.  The people in my life may disagree with me, or I could suffer a life-threatening injury. Whenever anything like this happens, my sense of self will be negatively impacted.  It is for this reason that basing our happiness on anything outside of ourselves will always lead to suffering.  Everything in life is transitory and is subject to change. For happiness to be stable, we need to refer to something that is within us.

The Illusion of Happiness and the Sense of Self

The pursuit of happiness is inseparable from how we develop a sense of self. Our sense of self is created through the accumulation of external influences, which we personalize. Our sense of self becomes a function of our job title, the people we know, our interests, our roles (i.e., parent, husband, wife, victim), our possessions, our income, our appearance, the opinions of others, and so on.  All of these things are examples of “other referral.”  The term “other referral”  is being used here to describe when our sense of self is based on something outside of ourselves.  In “object referral,” my sense of self is safe as long as my experience of the world matches my expectations. As long as my income does not take a plunge, as long as my relationships are going well,  I will feel good about myself. 

The challenge is that everything in his life is subject to change.  I can lose my job, and my physical appearance will give in to age. Relationship issues will emerge, and my relationships will, at some point, come to an end.  The people in my life may disagree with me, or I could suffer a life-threatening injury. Whenever anything like this happens, my sense of self will be negatively impacted.  It is for this reason that basing our happiness on anything outside of ourselves will always lead to suffering.  Everything in life is transitory and is subject to change. For happiness to be stable, we need to refer to something that is within us.

Searching Within for Our Truth

While “other referral” occurs when our sense of identity is based on things outside ourselves, self-referral occurs when our sense of self is found within.  It is about connecting with that aspect within us that is both eternal and non-changing.  The aspect that I speak of is eternal in that it is always present.  There is a part of you that is aware of everything that you experience. It’s the part of you that knows when you are awake or when you are sleeping if you had a dream or dreamless sleep if you are confused or lucid. It is that part of you that knows that you exist. Regardless of how much your experiences change, it remains changeless.

We have the potential to experience the world while at the same time remaining grounded in that which is eternal and non-changing. We can do this because we multidimensional beings. Our essential nature is non-physical, while at the same time, we experience ourselves as having a physical form. 

Happiness is what we feel when our tension is released from our physical form. The release of tension causes us to become more closely aligned with our essential selves. You have experienced this many times in the past. You were facing a problem, and it made you feel heavy inside. When the issue was resolved, you felt a sense of relief. In other words, you experienced happiness.  But you experiencing happiness had less to do with what was happening around you than it did you ending your pursuit for a solution to the problem. By seeking solutions, we resist the present moment. Life will flow more smoothly if we accept the present moment first before finding solutions. When we do this, we work with life instead of against it.

To strengthen your connection with your essential self, start to incorporate any of the following into your daily life:

  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Spending time in nature (preferably alone)
  • Journaling (Write down what you are thinking and as you reflect on your day).
  • Get involved in volunteer work (This will help you take your attention off yourself and put it on those you are serving).
  • Paying attention to what you are feeling at any given moment and learn to honor it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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