Happiness has become the new enlightenment. It has become the new heaven. An unattainable goal, a finish line that we keep chasing. When spiritual teachers (including myself) emphasize the importance of happiness and god forbid say that the purpose of life is happiness, the automatic assumption is that if you aren’t happy, you are doing something wrong. That only adds to the unhappiness. There is a kind of shame that arises within us when we are unhappy. This is especially painful when we identify with being unhappy. Some of us don’t have any idea what happiness really is, because we have never felt it. We feel the very worst about ourselves because we can’t seem to “get life right and be happy like other people can”. We begin to feel like we are karmically destined to suffer. This issue of attaching to happiness is just another branch off of the tree I like to call “trying to get life right”. We believe that if we are happy, we are getting our life right and if we are unhappy, we are getting our life wrong. We are holding onto the painful thought that we should be happy, even when we are not. This reaction to being unhappy only makes us unhappier. A lot of times, when we think we should be happy and we aren’t, we develop great resistance to our own negative emotions. We become resistant to suffering and to unhappiness. When this is the case, the desire for happiness doesn’t feel good. Instead, it feels desperate because we want something we don’t think we can have. We want happiness, but we don’t think we can have it. So we are focused on suffering and on unhappiness. Whatever we resist persists because by resisting it, we are feeding it with our energy, and we are feeding it with our focus. So what is the best thing we can do? The answer is… Give up on happiness. I know the idea of giving up on happiness may sound very odd coming from me because I have dedicated my life to teaching people how to find happiness. But many contradictory teachings are in fact quite complimentary. This is one of them. If you give up on happiness, you are releasing resistance to suffering and/or unhappiness.
Imagine that you lived your life in a continually flowing gale force wind. When you are resisting something, it is as if you are turned face first into the air current. It is hard to breathe, it’s hard to move because you are pushing against a strong air current. It is exhausting. When you stop resisting something, you allow the gale force wind to blow you wherever it wants to take you. Now imagine that this gale force wind has one prerogative, and that prerogative is to take you to what you have always wanted. Now do you see the benefit of releasing your resistance and going with the wind? The thing is, the universe is this gale force wind! Have you ever heard of a person who wanted a job promotion for years. They wanted it desperately, until it got so painful to keep desperately wanting that promotion that they gave up on it and started looking for another job, only to get a phone call hours or days later that they got the promotion? This is not the universe playing a cruel, ironic joke. What happened was, in the giving up of their desire, they did not get rid of the desire all together. After all, you can’t un-want what you want, but they did release resistance to what they didn’t want and thus, unconsciously allowed themselves to go with the wind and flow in the direction of what they did want, which was the promotion. The universe already knows you want to be happy. That is the only thing you really ever wanted. Everything else, such as that promotion, that boyfriend or girlfriend, that house, or that car, is just a means to that end, which is happiness. Not only does the universe know that you want happiness, the universe is pushing you, like a gale force wind you towards it. It is arranging all necessary conditions for your happiness. The only way the universe can achieve more expansion through your perspective is if you manage to go in the direction of and experience your own desires. The universe will facilitate your happiness every step of the way. So what happens if you let go of your resistance to being unhappy? What happens if you let yourself go with the wind? You will allow yourself to flow in the direction of what you want, which is happiness. The beliefs that perpetuate unhappiness, such as the belief that we are karmic ally destined to suffer, turn us against the air current of the universe and thus in the opposite direction of what we want. There are many beliefs that cause us to suffer, but sometimes it is the desperate quest for happiness that causes us to resist happiness and suffer the very most. When we become desperate for something, we feel that deep sense of need arise within us. When we feel that deep sense of need arise within us, it means that our desire is coming from an acute awareness of the lack of something in our life. We cannot be focused upon the lack of happiness and feel happy at the same time. Sometimes our awareness of our unhappiness and desperate desire for happiness is so strong that the path of least resistance is to release our attachment to happiness all together.
When happiness ceases to be your goal, where you are cannot be wrong or lacking in any way because you cannot compare your now to your imagined future happiness. You cannot feel bad because you aren’t there yet when there isn’t anywhere in particular to get to. You cannot cause yourself to not want happiness because you cannot cause yourself to not want something that you want. But you can shift your focus so you are not focusing towards the now as if the now is unwanted. The best way to let go of the destination we call happiness, is to fall in love with what is. Fall in love with the now.
The only reason that any being suffers is because they are currently believing a thought that contradicts what is. The “should” thoughts are the best example of this. If I am thinking “I should be happy” and I’m not, I’m believing a thought that contradicts what is. I am in resistance to myself in my current state. Our stress in life is caused by arguing with what is. We can use should to our advantage by embracing the idea that what happened should have happened and was supposed to happen. Embrace the idea that nothing can go wrong, that everything that happens to us is actually happening for us. The reality is, no one wants to lose their job or have an argument with a loved one or to get in an accident. But these things happen. None of us maintains our vibration at a level where nothing ever happens to cause us to feel negative emotion. And so it isn’t helpful to mentally argue with the things that happen by thinking “that shouldn’t have happened”. Or “I should be happy right now even though this is happening to me”. It is much better to begin switching your focus to embracing what is right here and now. Besides, if none of us maintains our vibration at a level where nothing ever happens to cause us to feel negative emotion, perhaps that means no one is meant to maintain their vibration at a level where nothing ever happens to cause us to feel negative emotion. Focus at what is, with the intention of looking for what is right about what is. We have to begin to look for positives within every “unwanted” thing that is currently occurring. Not only does this cause us to feel better, it increases our vibration and causes us to release resistance to what is occurring. When we release resistance to what is occurring, we often find that we are no longer a match to what is occurring, so it ceases to be our experience. One day, I was on my way to a date that I had been looking forward to for days and my car broke down. At first I was very stressed and unhappy because I was believing the thought “my car shouldn’t break down, this shouldn’t be happening right now.” Two strangers pushed the car to the side of the road after about thirty attempts to re-start the engine. I called a tow service and sat there waiting for them in a downward spiral, feeling as if the universe was picking on me. I wanted to feel better, so I opened my positive aspects journal and wrote, “the car broke down” at the top of the page. I made myself write a list of positive aspects about the car breaking down. I tried to look for proof that the car breaking down was right instead of wrong.
Here are some examples of what I wrote that day: I broke down right next to a pull off on the side of the road. The model of car I am driving is simple to fix. The electricity in the car still works so I’m listening to good music. There are tons of people willing to help in the city. This is an opportunity to practice being flexible. I’m happy that I am focusing positively instead of negatively right now. I have no way of knowing that the date would be enjoyable or in alignment with my highest good. The leaves blowing around on the street are artistically beautiful. Etc. Somewhere in the middle of the exercise, I felt my mood lift. I felt relief. I did not have the resistance that I had to being broken down and guess what happened because I had released that resistance? The car miraculously started as if it had no problem in the first place. We can take this one step further when we have developed resistance to being unhappy because we desperately want happiness so badly. By looking for positives about being unhappy, we find approval for unhappiness. We start to look at being unhappy as if something has gone right instead of wrong. How is it right for me to be unhappy? I will give you some examples:
I suffered a big disappointment; anyone in my position would be feeling this way, or worse. Being unhappy causes me to know strongly what I don’t want and thus strongly what I do want. Strong desires = big expansion. It gives me clarity on my preferences. I am facilitating universal expansion by allowing the universe to know through my eyes, what it is not. If we only experience happiness, we don’t know what happiness is. Experiencing unhappiness leads us to self-exploration and self-discovery and introspection. It facilitates self-awareness. Unhappiness causes us to question the meaning of life itself. Being unhappy helps me to relate to other people that are unhappy. It can bring people together so there is an opportunity for collective healing. It causes me to have to figure out how to get happy. As a result, I can teach other People how to move in the direction of happiness. Being unhappy makes for some really poignant art. Unhappiness is very grounding and it puts into perspective what really matters. Being unhappy makes you so uncomfortable that it forces you to have to move forward and get un-stuck one way or another.
Another thing we can do to let go of happiness so as to find happiness is to set a more attainable goal than happiness, which is on the way to happiness. Happiness is your birthright and it is attainable, but most of us don’t believe that and so happiness feels unattainable. When we feel like happiness is unattainable, we have to set a more believable goal for ourselves. It is up to you to decide what desire feels attainable for you. One example of a more attainable desire is the desire to have three moments of contentment per day. Another example of a more attainable desire is the desire to feel a sense of fulfillment at least one time each day. You will find that it will be much easier to facilitate this goal, because you believe it is reachable.
Another way of letting go of happiness is to realize that you see happiness as a goal. Because happiness is a goal to you, happiness is like a receding finish line or horizon line that you will never cross. The closer you move to what you think happiness is, the further it recedes off into the distance. When happiness is about attaining your desires, and your desires will never cease expanding, you will never truly achieve happiness. Sometimes realizing that you will never achieve the goal of happiness helps you to stop chasing it in the distance and find contentment with where you are. It doesn’t make you lazy or passive or apathetic, it just helps you to be able to enjoy the process of life instead of obsessively chase the promise of future happiness. When you are feeling stuck in negative emotion, you do not have access to purely positive states like happiness. Happiness seems so far away and unreachable, that all focusing on happiness does, is to remind you of how happy you aren’t. This is why it is good idea to begin to live your life according to the feeling of relief instead of happiness. No matter where you are vibrationally and emotionally, you always have access to the feeling of relief. Relief is the byproduct of release. Release causes relief. When you are feeling guilty, thinking something that causes you to express anger will cause you to release your attachment to guilt and thus you will feel a sensation of relief in the body. Any release of a lower vibration and movement into a higher vibration will feel emotionally like relief. So chase relief instead. Perhaps the best way to do this is to become aware of the only choice that exists for you in the present moment; better or worse. At all moments of the day, you have one option, better or worse. Does the thought I’m thinking feel better or worse? Do the words I’m speaking feel better or worse? Does the action I’m taking feel better or worse? Begin to live your life thought-by-thought, word-by-word and action-by-action according to what feels better. Choosing what feels better, will feel like relief where as choosing what feels worse, will feel like stress. By doing this, you are following your emotional guidance system and by following relief, you are using the feeling of relief to steer you in the direction of your happiness. Thoughts are what cause us to feel unhappy, but a thought is powerless and painless until we believe it. Have mercy for your thoughts. Meet them with understanding. They are not out to get you; they are not hell bent on hurting you. If you can stop believing the thoughts you think, by withholding your commitment to whether they are true or not, they will have no power over the way you feel. You are not your suffering, you are not your story, and you are not even your identity.
Nothing has gone wrong if you are suffering. You cannot make suffering wrong without making learning and expansion wrong too. Our attachment to happiness and our striving towards happiness makes us resist unhappiness and thus, perpetuate unhappiness in our lives. Happiness will not be possible for us until we realize that happiness is not something that can be created or achieved, it is an ever present essence which must instead be allowed.