I hear you all over the place. I hear you in coffee shops. I hear you where you work. I hear you out with your friends at the Farmer’s Market, or in a park with your dog. You’ll be happy when. When this happens, or when that happens. When this person does this, or that person does that. When you obtain this object or person, or when someone else loses some object or person. When you accomplish this thing or stop that thing. When you have more money, when you have more time, when you have have have….
There is a stick tied to your head and out in front of you dangles a carrot. No matter how long you chase that carrot, you will not catch it because it is only an extension of the thoughts in your head. Because you’re looking for happiness outside yourself, you feel you have to go and get something before you’ll be happy. So when you get your latest carrot, you’ll immediately notice it didn’t make you happy and you’ll immediately begin looking for a new carrot to chase.
Do you see how single-minded you are? How focused on only one path, one set of signposts for success? You don’t want happiness with any other person, you want happiness with a specific person. You don’t want happiness because you have shoes on your feet, you will only be happy if you have specific shoes on your feet. You want just the right food, just the right traffic, just the right attitude from your clerk. You’re essentially a big baby that wants a bunch of stuff and if you don’t get it, then the whole room is going to pay.
Okay, be like that every now and again. But don’t live that way. There’s no need, and it’s agonizing. It’s like being a kid in a big yard full of amazing toys, but all of the other kids have convinced you to crawl through a narrow, dark tube where you can’t even see any other sources of joy other than the one you’re chasing.
You have to stop wanting things and people as sources of happiness, and you have to start understanding that happiness itself is the source of happiness. You don’t live some kind of good or successful life and then get some happiness. By being happy with whatever comes your way, you live a life full of happiness—and that is what a truly good and successful life looks like.
So what are you attached to? What is your happiness currently dependent on? Pay attention to your thoughts and you’ll discover what your ego has convinced you to need. Maybe it’s someone’s forgiveness. Maybe it’s someone’s apology. Maybe it’s a symbol of status or wealth. Maybe it’s a weight, or maybe a certain brand of clothes that you imagine everyone else would approve of.
Whatever it is, it will exist in language in your mind. It will be a conversation you have with yourself. That’s how that illusion will appear real—you will repeatedly talk it into existence within your own imagination. That is the only place that it will reside and it won’t relate to any other person but you. Only you create your ego for your self.
So quiet that wanting voice. Open your eyes. Look not for what you want, but what’s available. Because to a wise person, society looks like a large group of blind-folded people all standing among each other, with everyone wandering around arguing with each other about the source of a cure for their loneliness.
You are not alone. You are only attached to something. Let that go and join us in peace. Forgo your barrier-like ego conversations in favour of the quiet openness of true love. Or in other words, stop searching, take off your blindfold, and just embrace whoever’s closest to you.
Have a wonderful day.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.