This is where the earnest get lost. We think they’ll reach enlightenment first because they’re so dedicated. They moved to a temple or shaved their head or studied theology in university. They’re invested in their pursuit. And yet in the end, you never know who will find it when. Because the problem with trying really hard to find your way to where you’re going is that you’re ultimately not going anywhere.
The point is that you started exactly where you should be, so you can’t go find where you already are. So all the effort in the world won’t get you there. You have to relax into it. It’s why I call this whole thing Relax and Succeed. You don’t relax after you’ve succeeded. The relaxation is the success. That’s why it’s got names like going with the flow or in harmony with the universe. It’s because we imagine that there is a current to find or a direction for us to follow. We feel like we have to earn our peace when the truth is we’re born with it and it is never outside of our reach. It is a place that goes wherever we go. It is a place within our own minds.
The Happiness I discuss here is not necessarily you being happy every moment. It’s that you’re happy with your life. Including the dramatic bits. So you want to see your life more the way you would see your favourite TV series. You don’t expect it to be 100% happiness every minute of every episode. There wouldn’t be an episode if it weren’t for the conflict. The Greeks figured that out ages ago. No conflict, no drama.
So you sit down at your TV expecting conflict. You expect drama. And you’re good with that. You’ll invite friends over and spend money on fan gear. All so that they can torture you with sadness, fear and anger (among other things). And yet if you experience those very same emotions in your regular life, suddenly it’s “bad” and we have to make the go away with a pill or a doctor or a relgion? It’s the exact same set of feelings you experienced watching your favourite series. Why do you suddenly mind them now? It doesn’t even make sense.
Happiness is being okay with whatever’s going on. If we don’t personally like what’s happening we can have that experience and still not think it should be the world’s experience too. That sort of openness leads to the emotional effects being fully experienced, and yet as in the case of watching a show on TV, somehow the non-personal aspect to the experience makes it interesting rather than agonizing. But if we’re sharpening the point of that personal aspect—if we’re telling ourselves a story about how we’re not happy and how we have to get happy—then we can’t be happy if we need to become happy, so any argument in favour of happiness is also a barrier preventing us from actually fully achieving it. So rather than discuss happy vs not-happy, we are better to simply Be. We can always be that ego kind of happy later, after the fact, when we stop being and our ego starts judging our past again.
Sure, work toward a better life. But don’t become so religious about happiness that you become all ritual and phrase instead of being open and alive. Remember, you’re not trying to acquire a skill. You’re trying to enact an unrestrained core sense of being that is the basis of the most fundamental parts of you. You aren’t trying to reach something or get somewhere. You’re only trying to consciously recognize your own role in shaping the universe you live in.
Don’t give yourself reasons to be happy. Just be happiness itself. Leave the naming of it to others. Do that and you will have created a very special and worthwhile day. Enjoy.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.