I have been exploring the concept of happiness lately, specifically from the Buddhist perspective. My exploration has caused me to ponder: Is happiness fleeting? Meaning, does it come, go, pass through us, even pass us by at times? Or, can we connect with happiness at any time if we choose?
And, what if someone is feeling depressed? Is it still possible to connect with an inner happiness on their own, or does it require outside assistance (i.e., therapy, medication)? From a clinical perspective, as well as having my own personal experience with depression at times, feeling depressed sometimes requires the support of a safe person to talk to, as well as a brief period (sometimes longer) of taking medication to assist in stabilizing one's mood.
This is especially true when one or more significant and challenging events occurs in our lives and we do not have the inner resources to face the looming dragon of depression and fear. Therefore, getting outside support while we strengthen our inner resources is often beneficial. With that being said, wanting our happiness to come from the outside creates a separate sense of self because we are constantly thinking that something is always missing. Thus, we keep happiness at bay in our search for the next best thing (or fix).
We are actually hard wired to pursue gratification while avoiding any sense of threat; this is embedded in our DNA. So, even in this day and age when we get what we want, we often feel like it is not enough. We get stuck in this illusive, fear based way of thinking that there is NEVER enough, and even worse, that there is never going to be enough.
We often crave something different, something more. We crave love, safety, an "easy" way to feel better. This often leads to addiction; wanting what we want when we want it from something or someone, and at any and all costs.
One of the sayings I tell people in recovery is, "You must go IN to go out, not the other way around." Meaning, what we each seek IS WITHIN US. It is not without us.
The core teaching of the Buddha is this: The source of all suffering is that we want life to be different.
When we fixate on an outward mode of happiness, the idea that "I have to have…" we suffer. We suffer because we are fighting with reality; we are arguing with the truth of this very moment. When the conditions we want to be happy are not there, we inevitably are going to feel pain.
Ask yourself: "How often do I attach to something outside of myself thinking it will bring me happiness or well-being?
Whether it is money, sex, losing weight, a nicer home, a better car, more romance, my partner showing me more love or support, or kindness (etc., etc.); a higher paying job?" Is it really possible for you to feel lasting happiness from something or someone else?" Why or why not? What is truly between you and happiness (i.e. with your weight, with money, in your relationship, etc)? Notice how often you say, "If only…." For instance, "If only my spouse would … then I'd be happy" or "If only I had … I would be feel better" etc.
Does this way of thinking really serve you?
Here are some helpful things to say and do for yourself daily, starting now:
- Nothing is missing in this moment. I have everything I need right here and now
- I am SAFE. I AM OK. This is just sensation
- I am always taken care of and provided for; I have proof of this!
- There is nothing between myself and my inner well-being
- Make a daily list at least 3 things you appreciate in your life (there is a lot to be thankful for!!): For instance, your health, life, relationships (even if you are struggling), lessons and learning, children, pets, being able to breathe air, having a roof over your head, a car that runs, your family, recovery, a sponsor, another day, an inspiring book? friends, etc.).
- *Note: I write a gratitude list daily and have done so for years now. It creates increased abundance and well-being when we acknowledge what we already are, do, and have in our lives.*
~YOU ARE WORTH IT (practice saying this too!)