Just the nature of “being in pursuit” implies something is missing, akin to the grass is always greener on the other side. The one in pursuit believes he or she lacks the very thing they are pursuing. In the act of pursuit, what you’re after, in this case ‘happiness’, will always elude you. That’s the nature of pursuit.
It’s only when you give up the search, in the absence of looking, and in the stillness, can you find what you’re seeking.
This applies to almost anything people pursue, such as success, love, wealth, or fame. However, for the purpose of this post -I’ve focused on happiness as an example.
The pursuit of happiness reinforces our misery and dissatisfaction because we believe we haven’t found it yet. Even if there’s a glimpse of happiness, perhaps from something out of the blue, it goes unrecognized or unacknowledged because it wasn’t enough, or wasn’t presented in the way we were envisioning, and therefore gets dismissed. This happens more often than not. Many times, we’re unaware of gifts presented to us that we’ve overlooked simply because we didn’t like the packaging.
We think we know what will finally make us happy:
- “When I graduate, then I’ll be happy!”
- “When I start my career, then I’ll be happy!”
- “When I get a new car, then I’ll be happy!”
- “When I make my first million, oh yes, I’ll be happy!”
- “When I get married, then I’ll be happy!”
- “When I get divorced, then I’ll be happy!”
However, we all know, as these milestones come and go, our excitement and happiness wanes and we end up in the same state as before. But what if getting to “happiness” isn’t the point? As a matter of fact, who said finding happiness is what life’s all about anyway? When we place our attention on the lack of happiness, as is implied when we’re looking for it, we get more of what we place our attention on: lack of happiness. It’s the universal Law of Resonance.
What do we do then? Search harder?
No, just the opposite.
Let’s examine this and dispel the myth of believing we can find happiness. Let’s say you’ve embarked on a happiness pursuit. Ask yourself these questions:
- How would you even know when you achieved happiness?
- How would you measure it?
- What would it look like?
- How would it feel?
- How often would you be feeling it?
- Can it be quantified?
We’ve been told (and know this to be true if we’re lucky): No thing and no one can make us happy. However, it doesn’t stop us from expecting it and from being disappointed over and over when we don’t get it. The pursuit of happiness sounds like a set up for disillusionment and dissatisfaction.
Happiness doesn’t “live” anywhere. It’s not something to “get” and hold on to. That’s impossible.
So why all the advertising? Eat this and be happy! Don’t eat this and be happy! Take a pill and get happy! I’ve seen happy, smiling people paraded across the TV screen, but to what end? Why make us feel like we should be happy all the time? Is it to remind us that we’re not happy? Take a pill, do crunches, go skydiving, buy the latest and greatest contraption . . . and be happy. Am I doing something wrong if I feel sad, or anything but happy?
So many mixed messages out there, it’s no wonder people spend loads of money and time trying to get happy.
There are many deep, rich experiences available that don’t include happiness. How can we know happiness without sadness? They live equally side by side. What about grief? Sometimes grief is more comforting and appropriate than happiness. Compassion is an incredibly, warming, heart-felt feeling I wouldn’t want to miss. Gratitude is also wonderful and fulfilling. Personally, I prefer having a balance. Why then, focus on happiness?
We are, at the end of the day, human. We’re vessels for feelings and thoughts – some wanted and some unwanted. Just try to stop feelings and thoughts coming into your mind. It’s impossible. They just come. Nothing we can do about it. Even in meditation, thoughts come, and for the most part, witnessing them and staying in the moment is a good outcome.
With so many thoughts and feelings available, why then would we expect happiness to be our final destination?
When we allow thoughts and feelings to exist, to drift in and out, we gain power over our reactions, allowing for conscious choices to be made. Oftentimes, we get caught up in believing that the thought we’re having is ours, or this feeling we’re feeling is the truth right now.
When we believe thoughts or feelings are ours, like we own them, and become identified with them (I am……) we react, giving up our power of choice. By stating: I am happy, we leave the door opened for disappointment because we are sabotaged by our expectations and hidden negative beliefs. It can’t last.
Perhaps instead, we can feel happiness when it comes around. I feel happy in this moment. This can be true for all feelings – even unwanted ones. Acknowledge these feelings as passersby, most likely, they’re not yours anyway. Resonance is the key.
Happiness, then, I say, isn’t at the end of the pursuit, it’s in allowing all feelings and thoughts to pass through without resistance, judgment, or personalization of any kind.
Giving space for it all to just be, no matter what you think or believe is the ‘truth’ about yourself or others, allows the freedom to be who you are in every aspect of your life. Allowing it all to exist – and looking nowhere, except maybe inside of your heart.
It’s in the allowing that things can change because there is no resistance.
The pursuit of happiness is a lie. Let it go so you can enjoy your life. Give yourself a break. Savor those moments of true happiness as it is occurring – listening to your favorite song, smelling fresh cut grass, being in nature, enjoying your children, or walking your dog. It’s all good!
As you progress on your awakening path, your resonance with the good things in life will increase. You will feel feelings like happiness, love, and compassion more often. Until then, continue accepting and healing your shadow side and allowing all feelings to pass through.
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