I’m serious, after many years of my constant search for happiness I decided to give up. Let me explain why.
While walking home just after dark, a women sees a man searching for something at the base of a streetlight. As she approaches him, she asks…
“What are you looking for?”
“My keys.” Replies the man as he continues to search.
After a short while of searching she asks “where did you lose them?”
“In my house.”
“Then why are you searching for them here?”
“Because it is dark in my house.”
Although this tale seems ridiculous, it makes a very good point of the way we search for this elusive happiness. It’s known as the `streetlight effect’ where we look somewhere different than where we should in order to find what we want.
What does this have to do with happiness? Well, everything. It has absolutely everything to do with happiness and let me explain why.
When we are born, we are neither happy nor sad and we do not have any notion of either. We are without desires because we are essentially without feeling, as we haven’t developed the understanding of feelings. All we have is basic survival instincts of how comfortable we currently are. When we have pain we cry, with no idea what it is we want. We develop based on how different experiences make us feel. So we then label things as good and bad, or wants and don’t wants. It could be our career; where to live; type of partner; family dog, or perhaps the car we drive.
We enjoy some good times and endure a few bad times and after a while we develop this excessive clinging to the good and pushing of the bad.
We develop a complete story within our heads of how things should be which includes everything from our friends, family and social circles to our future, career and our homes. To make this even worse, we believe other people should automatically be aware of what makes us happy and to treat us in a certain way, according to our stories and the role we allocate to them.
Wait, we were talking about this search for happiness, so getting back on topic…
Happiness is different from `desires and pleasures’. Desires and pleasures come and go. They never remain with us with the same intensity and enjoyment over time. In a new relationship the pleasures are huge, exciting and almost nothing can take that away. However, that intensity eventually starts fading, and when this now becomes the normal, we then want these pleasures and desires back.
Happiness is very different. Happiness depends on nothing! Happiness is a state of mind; a state of acceptance for the way things are as opposed to the way we want them to be.
While searching for this happiness we look to other people, government, family, friends and ultimately the universe to give us a little bit of this happiness. Is it really that unreasonable to want a little bit of happiness?
This is why you cannot find happiness by searching. Happiness already exists in your life, and in mine and everybody else’s. It is not somewhere over there… or over this way. It is right in the moment where you are now.
Happiness is in accepting without judgement the present moment for exactly what it is and not something you want it to be.
Now, desires and pleasures are still things that you should strive toward. There are things that make you feel better as well as things that make you feel worse. This is all part of being human with feelings, being aware and enjoying life. However, to be a happy person, you need to realise `things’ come and go from our lives and fade in the intensity over time. It’s just the way it works.
Stop the searching. It is right here with you right now, within you and on the outside as well as everywhere in the universe. It always has been and always will be.
Look within and accept yourself entirely as well as love yourself selflessly to such a degree that the only choice is happiness.
When you have reached this realisation and start living in within this state of mind people cannot make you miserable. Enjoy the good times and learn from the bad times. Stop trying to avoid the bad times by clinging to the good times. How is that working out for you so far? Apart from momentary times of joy, I’ll bet it isn’t all that great.
Simply stop the searching, stop the judging, and start accepting things just the way they are. I just want to say one last thing… this doesn’t mean we cannot improve our lives and make the world a better place. It’s about accepting where we are in this moment.