18 May 2012

Happiness - What is it?

The purpose of life is the expansion of happiness. Happiness is the goal of every other goal. Most people are under the impression that happiness comes from becoming successful, accumulating wealth, being healthy, and living a good relationship. There is certainly enormous social pressure to believe that these accomplishments are the same as achieving happiness. However, according to Eastern teachings this is a mistake. Success, wealth and good relationships are by-products of happiness, not the cause.

When you're happy, you're more likely to make choices that lead to all these things. The reverse isn't true. Unhappy people are not successful, and no amount of money and achievements will change the equation.

Eastern wisdom traditions point out that life inevitably contains suffering, which comes in many forms, including accidents, misfortune, ageing, illness and death. This implies that the pessimists are right when they claim that lasting happiness is an illusion. Human beings in particular suffer as the result of memory and imagination. We carry inside us the wounds of the past and imagine that the future will bring more pain. Other creatures are not burdened by worry over age and death.

Animals do have a memory. If you kick a dog, it will remember the experience and may snarl at you if it encounters you ten years later. But unlike a human being, a kicked dog won't plan for ten years how to get even. Our capacity to suffer makes us seek a way out. Therefore, for millions of people, today is planned around escaping yesterday's pains and avoiding pain tomorrow.

Instead of trying to escape suffering, Eastern wisdom traditions set about diagnosing suffering the way a physician diagnose disease. Five main causes were linked to unhappiness:

1. Not knowing your true identity
2. Clinging to the idea of permanence in a world that is inherently impermanent
3. Fear of change
4. Identifying with the socially induced hallucination called Ego
5. Fear of death

Fortunately, it isn't necessary to wrestle with all five causes of suffering. They are all contained in the first: Ignorance of your true identity. Once you experience who you really are, all suffering will come to an end.

Keys to unfold happiness:

1. Be aware of your body

"There is but one temple in the universe...and that is the human body'"- Thomas Carlyle

The first and most reliable guide to happiness is your body. When you're deciding whether or not to act, ask your body, "How do you feel about this?". If your body sends back a signal of physical or emotional distress, reconsider the action.

Every experience has a physical component. If you're hungry, the mind and stomach are hungry together. If you have an amazing experience, your heart and liver cells share in it. You cannot have a single thought, sensation, or feeling without your body responding.













How to activate this key:

Before you act on any emotion, consult your heart. Your heart is a reliable guide when you put your trust in it. It helps you experience empathy, compassion, and love. The heart is the seat of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence allows you to get in touch with your deepest self and nurtures all relationships by reminding you to see yourself in the other.

Lightness of being in my body should be your indicator of happiness. If you feel heavy or dull in your body, you need to pay a special attention. The best way to replenish it is to give it what it needs the most, whether it's sleep, rest, nourishment or exercise.

2. Find true self - esteem

"Do not wish to be anything  but what you are, and try to be that perfectly" - St. Francis de Sales

True self-esteem is not the same thing as improving your self-image. Self image results from what other people think of you. The true self lies beyond images. It can be found at a level of existence that is independent of the good and bad opinion of others. It is fearless. When you shift your identity from your self-image to your true self, you will find happiness that no one can take away from you.

How to activate this key:

You need to observe yourself in difficult situations without judgement. Simply witness yourself until you no longer feel pressured and distressed. This is usually felt in the chest, heart, stomach, solar plexus, shoulder and neck. Whenever your ego is trying to dominate a situation, you will feel a discomfort in one of these places. At such moment, it is enough to be aware that your ego is responsible for this sensation. By doing so you can separate from a false sense of self.

3. Give up being right

"If you never assume importance, you never lose it" - Tao Te Ching
"He who accepts Nature's flow is all cherishing" - Tao Te Ching

Most people are trapped trying to impose their viewpoint on the world. They carry beliefs about what's right and wrong, and they hold on to these beliefs obsessively. "I am right" brings comfort, but not happiness. No one has ever been made happy by proving they are right. The only result is conflict and confrontation, because the need to be right makes someone else wrong.

To give up the need to be right doesn't mean that you don't have a point of view. But you can give up the need to defend your point of view. In a state of defenselessness, we find invincibility, because there is no longer anything to attack.

How to activate this key:

You need to catch yourself wanting to be right. When this happens, you just observe the impulse and let it go. You need to refrain from qualifying things as right and wrong, good and bad. You'll find freedom in a wider perspective. Happiness lies in the calm stillness which is beyond all labels. When you see yourself as a victim, remember you're the sole creator of the circumstances you see.

4. Focus on the present

"There will never be any more perfection than there is now." - From "Song of myself", Walt Whitman

We all have heard that we should live in the present and not in the past or the future.
In order to transcend your situation, you must cultivate a new style of awareness, where you have your attention on what is, and you see the fullness of every moment. Most people are not actually focusing on what is. They overshadow every experience with analising and evaluating what could be or what was.  The past and future dominate their attention - they practically sleepwalk through their lives..

How do we cultivate this new form of attention? Primarily through mindfulness or "paying attention". Many people have never experienced their minds at rest.

"But that's what my mind is for. That's who I am" most people would say. No, you do not exist to support the activity of the mind. The mind exists to support your being.

How to activate this key:

You embrace what is, and not impose upon it what was or what could be. That brings you to the present moment. It sheds worry and anxiety.
You catch yourself whenever you're distracted. You're not the restless activity of the mind. You're not the story your mind is telling you. You are not your memories or freams of the future.. As soon you stop being distracted you are being mindful.

Happiness for dummies - recommended books(click on title to buy from Amazon.co.uk)

The power of now by Eckhart Tolle

A course in miracles

SynchroDestiny by Deepak Chopra

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The art of happiness by Dalai Lama

The ultimate happiness prescription by Deepak Chopra

A return to Love by Marianne Williamson

London Spa Girl x

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