I’ve come to recognize that happiness is not something you seek out. It is not a skill that you acquire. It’s not even a side effect of pleasant things happening.
Yes, we’ve all experienced periods of happiness and at the time the feeling does seem situation dependent and most definitely temporary. Our child is born and we feel euphoria. Life is good and all the bad in the world is gone. For an instant, we feel truly blessed.
We meet a person who seems to connect to our very soul. That person looks in our eyes and sees the best in us. For a time, love envelops us completely.
We reach a long, hard fought for goal. We achieve something that seemed almost impossible. In that moment, we are truly proud of ourselves.
Then, reality starts to set in. That baby develops colic and we don’t sleep for months. That romantic partner starts to recognize that we aren’t so perfect, that we have flaws and baggage. Even that hard fought success is soon forgotten as we struggle towards the next goal.
In such times, happiness seems to have dissipated. Tiredness, depression, old ghosts, and the struggles of daily life once again become the forefront of our existence. Life becomes a struggle and we begin to see happiness as something fleeting and often just beyond our grasp.
But what I’ve come to realize is that happiness doesn’t go away. Happiness (contentment, balance, love) aren’t transitory. It is our awareness of that foundational way of being that actually changes.
Let me explain. During these precious moments when we feel happy, we are focused on the here and now. We are so caught up in what is happening at that point in time, we aren’t thinking about all the things that aren’t perfect, we aren’t fixating on all the loose ends, and we aren’t berating ourselves about how we should be acting or reacting.
In other words, we put aside all of those things that we normal use to indicate or judge that we aren’t happy (or rather that we don’t deserve to be happy). We ignore the belief that if things aren’t perfect, if we’ve had certain experiences, or if we have particular qualities that we can’t possibly be happy and if only for a moment allow ourselves to be happy. We open to the happiness inside of us. The happiness that is our foundational way of being.
Inevitable though, our conditioning kicks back in. We are reminded that we aren’t whole. We are broken. We’ve been through difficult experiences, we’ve made mistakes, and we don’t have the power, the wealth, the beauty, or whatever we use against ourselves. We aren’t enough. We aren’t worthy.
Deep down, we don’t believe that we deserve to be happy. Not with imperfections, not with mistakes, and not with complexities. Definitely not if we don’t precisely match some ridiculous notion of perfect.
So, we punish ourselves. We close ourselves off to our birthright. We put a veil over our happiness.
Eventually, we even start to believe that happiness is fleeting and something outside of ourselves. Something we seek. Something dependent upon us being healed, moving past our flaws, or achieving something special.