1. Realise consciously that the only thing you REALLY want is to be deeply happy.
2. Understand that happiness is an inner experience. It is inside yourself, or nowhere! Therefore nothing and no one can give it to you.
3. Look inside for that happiness, and cultivate it consciously, doing (as much as possible) only things which make you happy!
4. Accept your mistakes, failings, and so on… don’t resist them, it will slow you down (in other words, if you have a bad day, and you really struggle to be happy, don’t worry!. Tomorrow is another day: every day you get better and better in every way)…
Most people spend ALL their time trying to either: seek pleasure, or avoid pain.
This is because we remember pain in the past. And we choose (obviously) not to repeat that pain. And we imagine pleasure in the future (also based on our memory of it in the past), and choose (obviously!) to repeat it.
However, memory (past) is not real. It is just an idea. It has no substance. Two people remember the same thing differently – it is not fixed. So our memory of pain is also not real. Trying to avoid pain is like running away from your shadow – it’s pointless.
And the same can be said for the imaginary pleasure – imagination is not real, in the same way that memory is not. So, most people are living in the past or the future, and not being present.
Happiness is not outside you. It is not in the new car, the beautiful partner, the lottery which you might one day win – actually studies have shown that amongst the highest risk groups of suicide are those people who suddenly get rich!
It is either within you, or it DOES NOT EXIST in a meaningful way. It is an experience. Our motivation for avoiding pain and seeking pleasure is that we really want to be happy. But we didn’t stop to think – where and when is happiness? Is it in the future imaginary pleasure, or the past remembered pain?
If we really think about that question, the only possible answer is – it is here and now, inside us. Or not. But it cannot be anwhere, or ‘anywhen’, else!
So, if happiness is what we want, and happiness is HERE AND NOW, what to do about it?
BE HAPPY! Do what makes you happy! Follow your JOY! Let go of all else. Buddha said: “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.”
Is it easy? No, not if, like me many years ago, you have a habit of doing pretty much the opposite. But if we practice it, it gets easier and easier, like anything.
And imagine a world (this is what the imagination is REALLY for!) where everyone did only what made them happy… every person would be PRESENT. That means that there would be no room for jealousy, resentment, anger. All the negative emotions are in the memory or the imagination of pleasure and pain… they DO NOT EXIST here and now. To be present; to BE HERE NOW; is to experience peace, love, and simplicity: true happiness.
10 years ago I was in India on a long train journey. At one station a young boy, about 10 years old, came along cleaning the floor with a cloth – the dirtiest cloth you’ve ever seen! He was wearing only a filthy pair of pants, and was begging for money from the people whose feet he was cleaning around. They were mostly paying him no attention. All of my western education and conditioning led me to ‘feel sorry’ for him – “poor kid, no money, dirty, probably hungry, no future, what a terrrible situation”… and then he came to me, and I saw his eyes. To this day I have seen very few people with the joy and happiness and shinging light in their eyes that he had in his. I deeply realised in that moment that external circumstances are unimportant. All that matters is to be happy.