Happiness is exclusive to each of us. Some of us overlap more than others, but what makes us happy is as unique as we are, and will usually change over time as we grow and evolve. Like the illusory classifications of mental illness, categories serve the egoic mind, and create their own limitations. Pigeon-holing that which constitutes or creates a state of being, such as happiness, is fraught with similar flaws, illusions, and drawbacks. If we are told that something should make us happy, then someone else is attempting to determine our happiness; probably based on either what makes them happy, or how they can benefit from what they are telling us. Short term pleasure, gratification, and satisfaction are not happiness. They are enjoyable responses to passing situations. Happiness, for me, is a sustainable state deriving from truth: the ecstatic truth experienced when consciously connected with the universe; and the blissful truth created when the investments of our outer human life are in alignment with the inner true nature of our spirit. This truth generates a sense of love, joy, and peace that is not counterbalanced by negative emotion or egoic thought. It exists in spirit, not the mind. To sustain its presence we must transcend thought, emotions, and sense perception. If we are basing our happiness on these elements, then what we are calling happiness is situational and temporary.
My Quest for Happiness
As a child I remember believing that certain things would make me happy. These beliefs were based on things I heard while listening to my parents, teachers, peers, and church leaders. They came from TV, movies, and books. They created expectations of what I needed to do in life in order to be happy. Although I did not know what this meant (being happy), based on what I was learning, it seemed like happiness was temporary gratification. From an early age I noticed that certain things produced a sense of pure joy or peacefulness within me. One such thing was giving to others. From as early as age six I remember giving my clothing to less fortunate classmates and experiencing joy as a result. For example, on a warm Spring day, after school, I gave a boy with a tattered dirty shirt my brand new shirt. This act brought me joy. When, on subsequent occasions, he wore it to school and seemed happier; this produced more joy. Although my loving parents were sometimes frustrated by my generosity, they also seemed somehow proud. This, too, brought me joy. At age 16 I met a guy at school who had been released from a juvenile correctional facility and sent to live with his aunt and uncle. On the surface he seemed hard and angry. Somehow I knew that he was hurt and afraid. I befriended him, and this brought me joy. He liked riding bikes, but did not have one. I had two. I gave him one. This brought me joy. So from an early age I knew that giving to and helping others, contrary to everything I had “learned” about happiness, brought me great joy and a deep sense of peace.
Music, nature, writing, and relationships also brought me joy. When blindness insidiously stole my vision, a miracle emerged out of the terrifying shadows. I began seeing through the eyes of my heart. The light of truth, indwelling my spirit, shone through them. Through my blindness I could finally see. Although an existential struggle, this brought me joy.
Regardless of conditioned beliefs about what will make you happy, what are the things that have brought you joy throughout your life? Have you given yourself permission to pursue them? They may be quite simple. It could be something like being a supportive housewife, tending a garden, growing flowers, studying herbal medicine, learning how to play the guitar, having a dog, or accepting yourself as worthy just as you are. I do believe there are different levels of happiness paralleling our levels of awareness. As we ascend, our perspective, needs, and inspiration may change. Or it may remain the same, and just broaden. In my next post I will identify seven levels of happiness corresponding to the seven primary chakras, seven colors of the rainbow, and seven heavenly bodies of Vedic astrology.
Now identify the things that naturally bring you joy, and from these select those that harmonize your spirit. Focus on them, and experience the series of miracles that will become your life.
Photo Credit: Noah Hamilton