By Wayne Hoover
Most people would agree that we all want to be happy. The question then becomes what is the best way to become happy? To this question there are a thousand and one answers that get at some superficial aspect of happiness; like someone might say to themselves that they need a bigger house- more friends- a mate- more money- a better body. Essentially more of this or less of that.
A lot of ‘self help’ books and articles feed on this idea that happiness is something that can be found outside of oneself. To me these articles are built on the presumption that if you only had something else you didn’t already have now then yes you would be happy- so let me teach you how to get it…
There is nothing wrong with getting or achieving things- but we must be clear on the reason why we are doing what we are doing in order not to be disappointed when we are done.
I have started to understand the quest of happiness like the quest for balance. Everything in this universe is in a constant state of balance- the planets in their orbit are balanced by the sun- the waves by the moon- and our bodies are constantly searching for their homeostasis.
So might argue that we are happy when we are in a constant state of homeostasis- but I don’t think this is true. While it might feel good to have all our needs met- there is still something that spurs us to action- after a time just having all our needs met becomes boring. No matter what- we all have desires that spur us to action- no matter how “good” we have it we will always want more.
We will always want more. If this is true then it would seem like happiness is doomed to momentary relief while most of our life is unsatisfactory.
It seems like we can’t espace an unsatisfactory life because no matter what we achieve and no matter where we go we will still just want more. This reminds me of the first nobel truth in Buddhism: Life is dukkha. Dukkha is a pali term that is usually translated as suffering- but this translation really misses the point. The better translation for Dukkha is unsatisfactory. So the first nobel truth becomes: life is inherently unsatisfactory.
And it is- normally. Life can be this constant chase for happiness that never actually leaves us happy. More time is spent chasing happiness and fighting for happiness than is spent in actual happiness- we are constantly searching for more.
I think its human nature to always want more; which is to say its human nature to have needs and desires. Any attempt to subjugate our desires just leads to more unconsciousness and suffering.
So then what do we do? Can we ever be happy? No- I don’t think we can be happy in the way most people think of happiness.
The true happiness we are all searching for isn’t that transitory happiness that we get every once and awhile when we achieve something. True happiness isn’t dependent on anything. Thats the joy. Thats the bliss of being.
True happiness is already. True happiness is now- its not dependent on anything. Its the underlying fabric of this moment. Beyond thoughts- feelings- beyond it all- at the base- at the core of experience lies true happiness. Its a wonderful place to dwell in- our true state.
True happiness never leaves us- even when we are struggling- even when we are hurt- even we are momentarily superficially happy- true happiness underlies all experience in this moment.
So when we begin to realize true happiness we start to see that while our actions are usually motivated out of a desire for superficial happiness we become OK with that. In fact we just start to become OK with life. We know that we desire- and we are OK with that. The key isn’t on what desires we have- or how quickly we manifest our desires- or our emotions or our thoughts or anything like that. All that becomes like the sound of children playing outside. True happiness is found and effortlessly sustained in this moment- without needing to do anything- it is.
When we are truly happy we know why we are doing what we are doing. We are not deluded as much anymore. Our life is intrinsically happy no matter what happens- we are happy- even if we don’t have the emotion of happiness- we are happy.