What do you value for happiness? Have you thought about it? Is it your achievements at work? Is it the pleasure you get from physical intimacy with another? Or is it the weekly gourmet food or shopping sessions you treat yourself to weekly? Perhaps it is a weekend of games and get-together drinking sessions with friends. Maybe it’s to spend as much time as you can with your family. Another goal pursued by many would be to be free from all obligations and be on your own traveling wherever you like. I think I have named the most common pursuits of humankind.
Do Your Pursuits Give You Lasting Happiness?
I have met those who become unhappy when they are made redundant at work. Needing regular income is one thing. But being made redundant also robs them of their self-worth. They feel useless for not having any work. But when there was work, there was this tug and pull with their bosses and fellow co-workers, the political shenanigans that don’t make them happy.
Some work to please their family because it is the goal of their parents to see them successful. Such as having their parents show off their Mercedes Benz or a landed property to friends, which makes them happy. And the next goal would be to make their kids do the same so that they too, can be like their parents showing off to friends later in life.
There are those who soak up in the weekend pleasures of food and alcohol. Trying new cuisine excites the taste-bud, getting drunk provides a story to share with co-workers. Then there is family time.
But if you look at every of these activities closely – do they bring you lasting happiness? Does a wonderful meal of duck confit satisfy you for long enough that you will not feel restless the next few days searching for the next great cuisine? Does having achieved a new higher status at work – a goal you have worked for, keep you satisfied for more than a year? Or does it make you want to climb higher upon attaining your latest position? Does buying your first apartment keep you happy?
Last but not least, if you have no obligations – does lying around on a beach and traveling the world keep you satisfied for a long time?
Our Value Of Happiness Might Be A Lie
Have you ever wondered why you seek one goal and another? Is it because you are bored? Or if it is to create a future reward, which you can strive towards to enjoy the pleasure later? Plus along the way, there is something for you to do, to share with those around you and to identify with?
You would like this goal so as to do as you please, to pursue what you want, and to find things that suits your mood. We all want a pleasant journey and in life despite setting up an idea of a future happiness to be savored later.
But the truth is, during the journey, there is no lasting happiness. There is only pleasures of food, wine and friends every now and then. Despite having a future goal to meet, there is an emptiness you feel.
If there is truly a happy ever after, shouldn’t it be a lasting experience? It does suggest bliss without a break right? If there are starts and stops to our happiness, how can there be a happily ever after?
Happiness Lies Within
If we are truly happy with all the pursuits in our lives, then there shouldn’t be any dissatisfaction at death. Many people have regrets on their deathbed. They regret not having lived more but devoting their lives to busyness. There are those who regretted not allowing themselves to be happy. There are others who regret not having done more – they should meet those who regret being busy.
Yet not being busy with work does not mean you are not busying yourself with activities. Watching TV, listening to music, getting a new hobby and many more. But have you fully experienced breathing in and out? The breath, which is the life force, is seldom experienced when we are alive.
We seek outer conditions to suit our moods and quirks. We don’t look deep within at what is troubling our behavior. When we don’t get our way, we either avoid or push our way forward like a bulldozer. We may not be honest with ourselves, and we are also not aware of it.
If You Truly Value Happiness…
If you truly care about having lasting happiness as an experience, it is time to stop seeking conditions that suit you. The world does not suit our whims and fancy. Your spouse is not always cooperative and your kids too. Your boss may not be the same boss you have forever. Your friends may not be there for you. People often renege on their promises – saying one thing and meaning another.
True happiness is about knowing yourself. It’s about going through discomforts. Discomfort such as being rejected by someone you like. About knowing how angry you may feel when people are not honest with you. To knowing the sadness within when you discover there is a limitation to your lifespan. Instead of reacting to show your frustration in this uncooperative world, look inside.
Are you able to look at your feelings with compassion and restraint? You see, once you are able to ride on one feeling you dislike to another, you will soon find freedom from what you dislike. You may also find freedom from what you like. When you find someone or something you like, you cannot guarantee they remain the same for you. How do you go through each moment accepting change and impermanence?
It is a fallacy to think that happiness lies in the future. When we attain to some goal, we may feel empty. Or we may not feel as happy as we thought we might. In fact, with every day lived, we are heading towards death.
Happiness also does not lie in the past. We may have been happy in the past. But if we were to experience the same thing over again, it would lose its freshness. Look within with mindfulness, and you will find more lasting happiness than what you have or had, in every moment.