What I know about happiness is this: We are supposed to be happy, and being in the moment gets us there. Being mindful, aware and totally present in each moment is all there is to it. Easy, right?
About 20 or so years ago, I was walking out of, and locking up my house to go have a weekend with some chums out of town. Just then, the phone rang. Ooooh, shoot! Should I go back inside and get it? Maybe it’s one of my chums, so I went back in. Well, it was this guy I know saying,” I don’t know if you would be interested at all, but I have an extra ticket to see the Dalai Lama in about an hour.” So, I called my friends, told them I’d be late, and went off to hear His Holiness. I had the image of an auditorium with hundreds of people. It was a small room, holding about 40. Wow.
He came into the room, and walked up onto a little stage, and began to speak. I teared up just seeing him. The sound didn’t work. We couldn’t hear him. Suddenly, I was having direct eye contact with him, and I can’t even describe the feeling of total and utter blissful love that shot through my whole being. Then his eyes shifted to someone else. The feeling inside stayed with me for a long time. I bet he looked at everyone in the room. Then suddenly the sound came on, and he said, “People ask me why I am so happy all the time, given all I have been through, losing my country, watching my people get slaughtered in front of me. It is a choice in every moment. In every moment is the choice to be happy. It can be work, but it is always a choice.“ At the end of that sentence, the sound went out again, and didn’t come back on. That was the message we were all meant to hear.
A friend of mine heard him interviewed on TV. One of the questions posed to him was, “what is the happiest moment of your life?” He thought for a few moments, smiled and said, “Right now. This is my happiest moment.”
We can’t all be as enlightened as the Dalai Lama, but there are ways to go about being happy.
When present in the moment, we are neither stuck in the past, nor anticipating the future.
Many therapists will tell you that you have to dive way into your past and dig up all the skeletons lurking there. In my experience, while being in the present, the past will automatically come up to be healed. Much of what we learned in childhood is unconscious. The outer world, being a reflection of our inner reality, will present us with all the things we haven’t yet worked through, like a mirror. If we can, in the moment, dis-identify with the thought or feeling (ego), and watch ourselves react, we can use mindful self – compassion and self – forgiveness to heal the parts inside that learned whatever it is we are reacting to. Be the watcher, or the witness. Free yourself from your mind. Be the witness to your repetitive thoughts and patterns. Listen impartially without judgment, without clinging. Love the child. Embrace the pain. Let it go.
We are responsible for how we choose to respond. Not being identified with the ego takes its power away. Unresolved issues are not bad. They are a perfect opportunity for Soul growth. You are dealing with the past and dissolving it through the power of your love in the present moment.
If you don’t face the wounds from past experiences; If you don’t bring the light of your presence into the pain, you will be forced to relive it again and again, in different ways. Grieve. Do the work of healing. Bring wisdom into it, without clinging or judging. Just love. Ram Dass says, “It is a paradox of mindful living that without having embraced the past, we cannot let go of it. “
Listen to your body. It gives us symbolic messages about what needs to be healed. It begins by tugging on our shirt tails, then uses more drastic measures if we don’t listen.
It is easy, when reacting in a way that feels bad – in order to justify our inner state – to put blame on something or someone. We are inclined to say, “I am upset because…..” I am upset because the world is in chaos. I am upset because of climate change, and how we are hurting the planet. I am upset because we are losing our ecosystem, and the creatures that need it. I am upset because of something you did. The only real truth in these sentences is “I am.” Just- I am. These words indicate you are in the present moment. I am. Bring yourself back to the present, by saying, “I am.” Then you are automatically the watcher of your experience, not identified with it.
Events don’t automatically have to make us feel a certain way. The assumption that our feelings are because of something external is inaccurate.
It is easy for me to be in the present moment when I am home. When I look out the window or walk by the creek or in the woods, I see beauty. Beauty always grounds me in the present, because I am just observing and becoming one with what is. I am not thinking about it or creating some kind of commentary about it, I am just in it.
I can be 100% in the moment when I am in Nature. When I am doing tai chi in it, talking to lizards in it, meditating in it, laughing in it, crying in it, being 8 years old in it, being wise in it, being creative in it. I am happy, mindful and aware in the moment. I am not “happy because.” Rather, my state of being is at peace.
The harder part is being happy out in the world. I get upset because…..
I get emails from agencies that support Nature. There are always horror stories, all beyond my control. The news bums me out. It disturbs my peace. I am “upset because” of big business greed, or whatever the “because” is.
Ok, what I can do is meditate; do tai chi; put as much love and happiness out there as I can; recycle; volunteer; Love the planet; raise my vibration, pray for the highest good, and then TRUST. When in the moment, when in the witness, we can bring wisdom into the upset, and heal ourselves. When we heal ourselves, the vibration reverberates all over the world.
Another way we leave the present is fear of the future. I am afraid of so much. I am afraid of violence; I am afraid of climate change; loss of bees; poisoned water, air, food; the pain of loss; the collapse. I am afraid that I am losing my frogs. I am afraid of the pain of losing my beavers. I am afraid BECAUSE of the news and the horrors that are happening everywhere. I am anticipating pain. We don’t need to invite thoughts about the future into our minds before their time.
Inner disturbance isn’t caused by outer experience. Inner disturbance is projected onto outer experience. We are the authors of our experience, and not a victims of your autobiography.
“When you are not involved in the upset, you can be clear to address the challenging situation with wisdom, caring and effectiveness.” Ron & Mary Hulnick
This is acceptance of what is. Addressing the situation with wisdom is not resignation.
“We must be willing to open to all that the moment contains, including that which seems most threatening….to cultivate fearlessness.” Eckhart Tolle
It is what it is. Fighting reality never works. Let it go.
Be present and aware.