This is an underlying desire for happiness in all the things we do in life. From enjoying the best cuisines to drinking, enjoying the arts, pursuing fame and wealth, to religious activities. If you look deeply within, why do you endlessly look to engage in activities? Are you one of those who turn to alcohol for pleasure and also to escape when in pain? The pleasure of drinking is easily understood. But drinking to drown one’s sorrow is also an act towards wellness. All of these external pursuits, we do them to soothe some restlessness deep within, even if you feel no sorrow. We know life is full of ups and downs and we long for a smooth and pleasurable ride. These we seek in external pursuits. But truth is, happiness cannot be dependent on external things. Rather, happiness is a deliberate intention from within.
Happiness for Self and Others
Human beings are social creatures. We need cooperation in order to survive and to thrive together. Though the need to survive both brings out the best and the worst in us. We cannot deny that what makes earth is the people, plants, and animal lives that depend upon it. It is a web of cooperation that makes earth the way it is.
Being social creatures, we can choose to not indict pain within ourselves or on others, so that there could be harmony in society. You see, our misery is often on full display even if we do not want to display them in public. A sour face or a defeated feeling soon brings attention to those around us. We also need not force others towards our way of doing things by sending fear and anger into their hearts.
From our awareness and restraint, we may not bring harmony to the society. But by learning to restraint ourselves and understanding how misery and fear can be contagious, we at least maintain peace in those around us.
Happiness Is Both Intention And Restraint
You may think from reading the above paragraph that restraining ourselves is no happiness at all. In fact, happiness should come from others as well, who should make things easy and nice the way we want it?
Have you ever looked deeply at the things you want? Do the things you want always remain the same? We can be really hard to please but we do not know. We think others are also hard to please. Why won’t they (friends, family, and even the government) give me what I want? In fact, why can’t the weather be always cool and nice as well?
You see, for many of us, we seek happiness from outside – in others, in the weather as well as our environment. But you can see from yourself that what you want always changes as you grow. Therefore, how can anyone or anything always make you happy?
The logical thing would be to accept that happiness is a deliberate intention we bring about from within ourselves.
Our Happiness is Short-Lived
In order to be deliberately happy, we have to understand the obstacle to well-being. What are the obstacles to wellbeing? If you look deeply within, you may find – selfishness, jealousy, anger to fear dormant inside of yourself. These feelings manifest when you don’t get what you desire.
What we desire in ordinary life is to survive. When survival is ensured the next desire is for merriment. No one seeks suffering. Do you seek to take someone’s mental depression so s/he can be happy? Do you seek to take someone’s physical pain from an illness so s/her can be relieved of it? Do you want to take the place of someone suffering from poverty and hunger?
To be happy does not mean we have to take on someone else’s suffering or to suffer ourselves. But even if we don’t take it on, suffering inevitably comes. We don’t get what we want in our jobs, from our bosses to our family members. We all grow old and suffer bodily pains. Eventually, some illness comes to take away the stories we have built on this earth.
How To Be Deliberately Happy?
Knowing that sooner or later, we have to face some form of suffering in life, it would be worthwhile to start understanding our obstacles towards well-being and to make intentions to be happy. Happiness is a deliberate intention. What does this mean?
It means that when we start feeling fear or anger, we pause first. Pause and contemplate. Where does this fear come from? Is it from someone or from ourselves? If someone has sent us fear, why do we fear? Is this fear rational? Do we want to give this person the power? Do we want to give our power away to this debilitating emotion?
Fear is common because we all want to survive. There is always a threat to our existence. From the coronavirus, to natural calamity and the inevitable death that awaits us all. Is this fear rational?
Illness and death are normal. To be born, there will be death. In order for death to come, there will be a deterioration of the body. We can take care of the body and mind. But we cannot avoid death. Therefore, fear of this inevitability is irrational. What we can only do is to relax and to accept this cycle of life.
After you contemplate, you may find fear disappearing from within. You can do the same for anger, jealousy, and sadness as well. These are all obstacles to well-being.
It is not difficult to contemplate, but it is difficult to be aware of the obstacles to your well-being. Awareness in the present moment is essential in order for you to recognize when an obstacle towards well-being has arisen within you. Mindfulness is the tool for training the mind to be present and gain victory in your heart of the many obstacles towards happiness and well-being.