Be Happy Nonetheless: How To Escape The Perpetual Cycle of Seeking Happiness
Updated: Feb 8, 2019
(Note to the readers: In this blog post, I am going back to the basic. Instead of talking on spiritual awakening or spiritual transmission (shaktipat), I will talk about something that confuses many people - the relationship between desire and happiness.)
Part - I: The ONE thing we all are looking for
If I were to ask you what is the single most important thing you want out of your life, you will probably reply:
Happiness. Okay, instead of saying happiness, you will probably come up with different answers, such as a buff bank account, a perfect partner, superb health, rock star like charisma, a mansion above hill overlooking the sea or power of a king. You probably want all of these to some extent in their life. These are all acceptable answers, but why do you want these thing in the first place?What exactly are you craving for that only money, fame, fortune or love can bring? Please don’t list the benefits of having these in your life. Even a teenager knows that. You want money, fame, fortune love, etc. because you believe having them in your life will make you happy. That’s right. It is happiness that you are looking. Imagine you have all the money or fame in the world yet no peace of mind. Without happiness, these things are like itchy clothing labels. They are good for letting others know about brand value, but they also itch a lot!!!
But I am not finished with you yet. Keep going further. You want happiness. True. But you don’t want temporary happiness. You want happiness that last. There is no value investing your heart and soul in a kind of happiness that doesn’t last more than few moments or few hours (or months). What’s the point of working your ass off for happiness that will not anyway. What you want is to be happy and remain happy for longer period of time.
But you just don’t long lasting happiness. Deep down inside, you want to get happiness that comes without a price tag. How amazing would be, if you can just become happy without any particular reason. So what if you don’t have a body or looks similar to a model on GQ Magazine or Vogue? So what if you don’t have adequate bank account to travel the world carefree or have a partner that checks off every item of your must have list? If you can become happy without these, I guess these things will not matter that much to you anymore. Sure, you may still want to get these things, but you need to realize that having these in your life doesn’t guarantee happiness. But you have the capacity to be happy with or without them. In the end, you just want to be happy without working for it. You want happiness that comes without a price tag. Does this sound too wishy-washy to you? If so, please withhold you judgment until I first show you our current way of seeking happiness. You’ll exactly learn why your current way of pursuing happiness is deeply flawed.
The flawed way of seeking happiness
Look at the simple graph above.
Our current way of seeking happiness is kind of very similar to the approach described in the graph above. At first, you have a desire. You then go out to bring your desire into reality. You think by fulfilling your desire, you will be a one happy fellow. In this mode, happiness is a result or more of a “state” that you produce after your “hard” work. In this mode, a common perception is that you have to earn happiness.
The word “desire” has many negative connotations, since many religious scriptures defined desire as the starting point of downfall for men. Well, I am telling you otherwise. There is nothing wrong with desire itself. As a human being, you can have many desires. Sure, not all of your desire is pure. Some of them are indeed harmful. However, it’s very difficult to label desires as good or bad. A desire to have a decent lifestyle for your family is a good desire. However, if you are thinking about cheating your way to wealth to achieve this, your original desire may very well turn your soul into a hollow empty lifeless shell.
What I am trying to say is your problems do not start with your desire. You start having problem only when you associate fulfillment of your desire with your happiness. When a desire arises in your heart, you will probably start looking for a way to have your desire manifest in your life. But you need reminding yourself that, despite your best effort, sometimes you can’t win. Life is not always fair and doesn't always work like a mathematical equation. Sometimes you get your desire, sometime you fail miserably.
When you are not feeling success, you think you have the right to become unhappy. This is where you make your greatest mistake. Your happiness and your peace of mind have nothing to do with either of your conventional success or failure. This is a hard truth to grasp, so I am saying again: Your happiness and your peace of mind have nothing to do with either of your conventional success or failure.
When you succeed in anything, good for you, it means you have the result you seek. If you fail, it means the result doesn’t match with your expectation. Either way, don’t let your success, or failure defines your happiness.
At this point, you may want to argue against what I have said above. After all, it was equally hard for me to believe it first. To be honest, the idea of me being happy, regardless of how my life turns out to be, was so outrageous to me that I would have rather believed in the existence of Unicorn than opening myself up to the idea of being happy for no reason. That’s why I am requesting you to give yourself a benefit of doubt until next paragraph where I am going to show you the emptiness of our ordinary happiness.
The emptiness of thought based happiness
In most cases, the happiness you pursue is not real happiness, rather it’s some form of temporary happiness. I call this kind of happiness by a mouthful acronym: “thought based happiness.” Why?
Because thought based happiness is exactly what it sounds like. It is based on your thoughts. You probably have lots of pre-conceived ideas, beliefs and false notions about what happiness should look like. Unfortunately, your definition of happiness is probably a total mismatch with real happiness. Thought based happiness is like a tip of an iceberg. It can only give you a glimpse of real happiness. If you want to get real happiness, you need to dig deeper.
Characteristics of thought based happiness
Temporary happiness or thought based happiness has five very interesting characteristics.
Impermanent: Thought based happiness will not last forever. You will be certain that one day it will go away. Nothing in this world is permanent. So is our thought based happiness. Just imagine one of your happy moments in your life. It could be your wedding day or the day when you land your dream job. It could be some gross level of happiness, where you get laid after a long period of drought or stomach a Big Mac after starving yourself in the name of some fad diet (only to be regret later). Problems of these kinds of happiness are, however sublime or gross it may be, they don’t last very long. You can’t hold onto this, no matter how hard you try. Soon or later, it will evaporate and you have to start looking for happiness, again.
Based on the currency of improvement: Ordinary happiness has some strange connection with self-improvement ideas. If you keep improving yourself, then you would be happy. That’s one of the premises of thought based happiness. Improve your looks, and then you would be happy. Improve your body, and then you would be happy. Improve your financial status, and then you would be happy. You get the basic idea. Unless you improve yourself, you can’t be happy at your current position.
Based on circumstances: You are happy as long as the circumstances around you are perfect for you. If there is a slight alternation in your world, you happiness crumbles down like an old building in 8.0 Richter scale earth quake. Your perfect morning can be ruined by an unexpected gridlock of traffic on the road. You are perfectly content until your spouse pushes your hot button. You go from being content to being miserable in an instant when you see Instagram pictures of your filthy rich friends having vacation in an exotic island with the bikini clad babes.
Based on perfection: Now, this is a slightly trickier subject to handle compare to others. So, I will try to explain this as simple as possible. You see, hidden somewhere in your subconscious mind, you have a vision of your perfect life. You expect to reach it within this lifetime. Now, it doesn’t matter what is the definition of “perfect life” according to you. Your version of perfect life may not be similar to that of a billionaire or Hollywood Star. You have already set your expectation low. You don’t want to work hard just to earn slightly better pay grade. You don’t need hundreds of friends and social connection as long as you have few genuine friends. You don’t want your life partner to be flawless, as long as you are in love with him/her and expect your love to be reciprocated. But this is precisely where you fall into the trap of your ego. What will happen when your so-called low expectations are not met with desired results? You will probably lead a miserable life just because your current life doesn’t match your expectation.
Based on perpetual seeking: Your seeking of happiness never ends! This is the curse of seeking thought based happiness. Because you seek happiness in your desire, you start running out of happiness as soon as the utility of your desire starts depreciating. Desires are like leafs of an oak tree. They are countless of them and they will always be all replaced by another batch of countless desires. There will always be another milestone to reach, another achievement to unlock, another object to acquire. The list goes on. So you keep remain busy seeking happiness.
So why go through all these roundabout ways just to end up with temporary happiness? There is a better way to achieve lost lasting happiness and inner peace and it’s far more effortless than you think. Interested? Keep reading.
Happiness of being – The only happiness worth having
If the happiness you are running after is not real happiness at all, is there any way to find real happiness? Do not fret, real happiness does exist, and achieving this far more easier than reaching out for thought based happiness. Truth to be told, you don’t actually need to do anything to get your hands on true happiness. True happiness is effortless. Why? Because reaching true happiness is as easy as being your True Self. Your True Self is literally the embodiment of happiness. Therefore, you are, my friend, happiness itself.
But what is your True Self exactly?
Your authentic being is your True Self. Your beingness is like a vast open blue sky. It’s utterly unperturbed by any human experience that you are having right now. Your human experiences are like clouds in the sky. Sometimes you have good times, sometimes you have bad times. But they are not going to affect your beingness any more than clouds affect the blue sky.
Your beingness is the foundation of your existence. It supports your human endeavor, whatever it may be. When you’re driving on the road, you usually do not think about the road anymore. You focus tend to be remained on the roadside traffic and the destination itself. In a same manner, because you have been so much focusing on your goals and dreams, you tend to forget your True Self. Remember, you may have been out of touch of your True Self, but that doesn’t mean your True Self ceases to exist. It is what you truly are.
Attributes of Being
So, what do I mean when I talk about beingness? To put simply, being-ness means embodying the state of being your authentic self.
Beingness = the state of being your authentic self.
I frequently referred beingness as abiding as authentic self. I also referred beingness as “natural state.”All of these terms actually are the same.
Beingness = the state of being your authentic self= the state where you abide as authentic self= the natural state.
If beingness indicates the state of being, what is this being?
Being means existence: In order to think, feel, sense, do or have something, you need to "be" there in the first place, isn't so? Your existence or being needs to come first before everything else in the world.
Being means primordial awareness or consciousness: Being and awareness are the same. Your being is not inert. You are able to tell about your beingness or existence only because being is endowed with the capability of awareness. Without you being aware, will it be possible for you to feel, think or act? Hell, will be possible for you to be aware of anything else in the world?
Being means true happiness: Every other form of happiness is temporary and conditional. Every other form of happiness is temporary and conditional. It is the ultimate contentment and peace. Unlike thought based happiness, true happiness doesn’t decrease over time. Can you separate the vastness from the sky? It’s not possible. In a same way, you can’t separate happiness from your beingness. They are totally inseparable. You don’t need to think/feel/do/have anything in order get this kind of happiness. Happiness of being doesn’t follow cause-effect relationship. That’s why happiness stems from your true being is called uncaused happiness.
Being means true identity: It is your essence of who you are. Every other identity is either imposed upon you, or you chose to assume them. You have Gender Identity, Cultural Identity, Sexual Identity, Professional Identity, Political Identity, Religious Identity, Social Identity, etc. The list can go on. Some of these identities can be changed or morphed into another one.Some of them fall away with time. All these identities stack upon each other to create a complex and dynamic perception of your worldview. But if you observer closely; beneath all the layers of your identity, you will find yourself just to "be."
Many refer this state of just be or beingness as Self-realization. Self-realized people are those who realized their (True) Self. The state of beingness is the state of Self-realization.
The state of your being or beingness is your True Self.
Your beingness is synonymous with true happiness.
True happiness is something that you already are, and accessing it as simple as just being your true self.
Therefore whatever happens in your life, you will never ever for a moment be separated from happiness. It’s not possible.
Therefore, your happiness has nothing to do with whatever happens in your life. Your happiness is completely independent of your feeling, thinking, doing and having.
Part - II: Happiness and the art of Being-ness
Time to analyze another simple graph, again! Take a look at the graph above.
The process of working with the desire is pretty much the same as described before: you have a desire, you then start looking for ways to fulfill your desire. In the end, either you have your desire fulfilled or unfulfilled. After that, you basically start with your new desire or restart the process for unsuccessful ones. This is a cyclic process. In case if you haven’t noticed yet, unlike the old model, the process has nothing to do with happiness. The process goes on forever, but your beingness or happiness remain as it as, constantly, throughout the whole process. At any point in your life, you are NOT detached from your beingness. Therefore, you have the capacity of being happy at any point in the process described above. The process, under any circumstances, can’t interrupt your happiness. Just like clouds can’t force the sky stop being the sky, your present situation is not capable of changing your True Self.
In this mode, happiness is not a result of your fulfillment of Desire. Similarly, you will not end up the unhappy even if you fail. In this mode, happiness is NOT a psychological state, rather a base or foundation of human experience. You know you will cycle through success and failure many times in this lifetime. You accept this as a fact and go on with your life as happy as you could be.
What I am trying to say that, regardless of how many desires will come into fruition for you, you can choose to be happy, nonetheless. The outcome of your desire has nothing to do with your happiness.
Happiness and fulfillment of your desires are two separate area. You need to learn and internalize that, and you need do that FAST!
Don’t look for happiness in anything other than your own being. Everything in your life, other than your beingness, is bounded by cause and effect relationships. Your ability to make your dreams into reality are bounded by many cause and effect relationships. To start a family, you probably want to settle down with a suitable partner first. But to do that, you need to find a suitable partner first. Even after finding a suitable partner, you may be found it difficult to start a new family as your dream partner may be more interested in taking it slow approach. There are simply way too many variables present to get this work. Some of them are under your control. Some of them are totally out of your control. If your partner is taking a go slow approach, you don't have many things to do to change her mind. You can't control other person's behavior.
Granted, right now, you may don't want to start a family, but you may have other desire that you so want to fulfill. Again, chances are, there are many variables that needs to be fit in perfectly in order for you to get to the fruition stage.
So, while you are busy working your projects, would you choose to remain unhappy all along until the fruition of your desire finally happens? How that is even makes any sense? What if you can't make most your desire into reality? Would you remain unhappy?
Ask yourself these questions again and again to see what response you will get:
Does it make sense for you to wait for happiness until you find your perfect partner? What if you can’t find the right one? Will you forever be unhappy? Will you keep playing the dating game till you die?
Does it make sense for you to wait for happiness your until financial situation sorted out perfectly? What if you will never be able to earn enough money to support your ideal lifestyle? Will you forever be unhappy?
Does it make sense for you to wait for happiness until you find your passion, fire your boss and become self-employed?
Does it make sense for you to wait for happiness until you ticked all items off from your bucket list?
If you have carefully read all that I have said so far, you will come to conclusion that you simply can't afford wasting time to be happy till your life sorts itself out. Your life will always be a big WIP (Work-in-progress). You don't have to settle for unhappiness or meager happiness till your life becomes perfect.
You can choose to be happy right here, right now. After all, your True Self is happiness itself. When you let go of all the preconceived notions about happiness, you are giving yourself a chance to accept the present situation as it is. This means, you are giving yourself permission to be yourself. The moment you do that, your beingness comes forward easily. Like a ray of sunshine penetrating the dark clouds, your beingness start to penetrate through all those useless preconceived ideas and beliefs and shower you with happiness and peace. Your True self or your beingness is happiness, Remember?
Is it possible to be happy by sitting on a couch and doing nothing?
If you be can be happy without doing anything other than being my true self, then why bother running after any objects at all? Why should you give a crap about your desires? I hear you asking me, “Can sit on your couch all day and be happy all the time?”
That's actually a valid question. Yes, you can sit on your couch all day and be happy. If you have enough money to live that kind of lifestyle, by all means go for it. But you'll continue having all kinds of desires. It's just the way it is. Some of them will be created out of necessity, like the desire to eat and replenish your body and the desire to protect your loved ones. You'll also have an urge to put a good use your unique gifts, knowledge, skills and abilities. As long as you are inhibiting a mortal body, you'll continue having desire.
But whatever happens to desire, you have the right to be happy, nonetheless. The foundation has already been there. Your existence is the proof of that. Go on with your life as you seem fit for you, but please don't forget your own being.
Great! I have learned all about beingness. But Why I am STILL Unhappy?
Now, the million dollar question remains: If happiness is the natural state your being, then why you are unhappy RIGHT NOW? If you are nodding your head, presumably denying you are not unhappy right now, then let me rephrase my question:
If happiness is the natural state your being, what prevents you accessing your beingness all the time?
With all these knowledges about your True Self and beingness, you are supposed to feel content and peaceful. After all, I just handed over one of the biggest secrets in the universe to your hand. You should be feeling liberated. You should be feeling enlightened. You should start smiling like this guy:
If you are having those special effects that I have just talked about, great! You don't need further reading. But if you are unsure, please keep reading.
Yes, your beingness is utterly pure. Yes, It's is true that happiness is your inherent nature as being equals to happiness. And yes, you are closer to your being than you are closer to your hair on your skin.
But knowing this fact is not going to change your life in an instant. To be honest, even after knowing the secret of happiness, you are no different than those who have a no clue about it and still running around in a hamster wheel. Right now, your mind is riddled with by millions of unnecessary thoughts, beliefs, and negative emotional patters. These extraneous thoughts, beliefs and negative emotional patterns are constantly creating mental fog and thus preventing you from seeing your true nature; similar to the way the dark clouds prevents the light of the mighty Sun.
You need cutting through these redundant thoughts to feel your beingness. But, this is easier said than done. An average human being faces around 50,000 to 70,000 thought or more every single day. It is not an easy task to win them over. This requires considerable patience, dedication and time commitment from your end. Unfortunately, you are most likely NOT a monk living in monastery. You likely to have a job and (or) family. May be you are a college student with a tight schedule. Clearly you may not have the time and dedication to battle through each and every thought of yours, even if you have intense desire to do so. Does this mean you’ll never be able to access true happiness? Not quite.
What if I told you that there is another way to win this battle. What if I told you that you only need to see through only ONE type of thoughts? Just ONE type of thoughts. The rest will fall down like how magic puppets fall down when their puppet master dies in movies. Sounds cool? This ONE type of thought is called the "i"-thought by Ramana Maharsi. He prescribed his own technique, now popularly known as "Who am I" technique, which is a particular type of self-inquiry practice to see through the "i"-thought.
I am going to write a step-by-step , detailed and easy to follow blog post on how to practice this self-inquiry or "who am I" technique very soon. However, there are also many books on self-inquiry that can be found on Amazon. You can also download this excellent FREE book by Ramaji.
How my feeling "Not good enough" leads me to a life of shame, guilt, debauchery and how I found my peace
Like everybody else, I have searched for real happiness all my life. Before I came into contact with my spiritual guru, I had my own view on happiness. To me, happiness was kind of hodgepodge of positive thinking and dopamine rush. It was later evident to me that I defined happiness wrongly as pleasures. But they are not the same.
I was fairly noncompetitive and timid in my childhood. I never played any sports. I never fought with any of my classmate. I never missed my class. I never tried speaking with the cute girl that I had a crush on. To say I was a submissive bookworm would be an understatement. I had no friends other than my books. As a result, I had developed an intense desire to be liked by all.
I was the only child of my Parents until my sister was born ten years later after my birth. My parents wanted me to grow up "perfect", and as a result, they placed many restrictions on me. I hold an immense grudge against them for this reason for a long period of time. I didn't want to be grown up as a poster boy to my neighbors, all I wanted to do what other kids do normally at their age.
When I was a teen, I was heavily invested in Self-improvement area. I was an avid reader of Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, and Tony Robbins, etc. I swear I could recite every line from Dale Carnegie's famous book "How to win friends and influence people" and yet I couldn't even make eye contact with unknown people, let alone befriend and influence them. You can't learn how to ride a bicycle solely by reading books. You need to get out there and learn it by trial and error method. But I couldn't do it. Fear of failure was so immense in me that it froze me every time I tried doing something outside of my comfort zone.
I was never good with women in general; so in my early twenties, I became interested in pickup literature and human psychology. I wanted to be able to pick up women, so that I can boost my ego. Needless to say I failed miserably and ended up in learning superficial knowledge about many things that ultimately didn't matter at all. I did find some success in this area, though. I was able to pick some women up with deceptive technique. But I lied and cheated. I abused them and get abused in return.
So, by the time I turned 23, I had become a walking pressure cooker. I had many emotional issues. I had seriously low self-esteem, low confidence. I didn't like the way my body looks in the mirror. I was getting abysmal grade in my class, even though reading books was my forte. To make matter worse, my girlfriend cheated on me and dumped me for someone else. That incident devastated me emotionally. I knew I had problems to sort out. Unfortunately, I just didn't know how to release them or how accept them for good and move on. The techniques described in the self-help books were not working for me. No Self-esteem books on the market was of no use to me. No relationship advice seemed to stick.
At the age of 24, I realized my futility of "fixing" myself. Every technique I learned from books was essentially useless to treat my problems. They only treat the symptom, but they didn't get to the root of the problem. (This is when I was introduced to the idea that we may have different levels of consciousness, but this topic is outside of the scope of the blog post)
My problems arose because I viewed fulfillment of my desire as same as happiness. This materialistic view was not working for me anymore. I started looking for the answer. Thus, I become seriously interested in Spirituality in my late twenties. So much so in fact, I tried everything under the sun in the name of spirituality: New Age, Ascension, Buddhism (several schools), and Sufism, etc. My seeking leads me to this knowledge that I am sharing with you right now.
The thing is, I have invested so many years to make my desire into reality, I never paid attention to living in the present moment. Until I realized what true happiness is, I was never able to forgive my parents. I was never able to let go my vanilla childhood or appreciated my life as it is, and thus, never felt the taste of real happiness that's just sitting there all along in my heart.
It was mind boggling for me to realize how much preoccupied I was in my whole life running after my desires while totally forgot WHY I was running after them in the first place!
When I finally got snapped out of it, I have already wasted countless hours of my time, money and effort. I missed the simple things that makes life wonderful. I missed the opportunity to cherish my relationships with my dear ones. More importantly, I missed out living this thing called life.
I am sure some day you will get snapped out of it too.
(Note: I have written a follow-up article that builds upon the concepts discussed in this article. You may want to check that article out)