We were designed to be unconditionally happy. Unconditional happiness is not predicated upon having more money, a new love interest, a better job or more vibrant religious experience. Paradoxically, these things often make it more difficult to find unconditional happiness. That is because unconditional happiness is only found in quiet moments at the very core of our own being.
Why, then, is there so much pain and suffering in this world? Why are opioid and antidepressant medication use, especially in the U.S., at record levels?
There are two root causes, both of which involve our mindset: The first is that most of us have decided that happiness is the same as the absence of pain. Science has proven over and over that most humans will do far more to avoid pain than to gain happiness. But pain, as manifested in the daily struggle of life, at least, is often what produces our greatest happiness.
It is painful to mind our diet or go to the gym regularly. But the happiness of our new body is worth the struggle. It is painful to do homework faithfully. But the “A” is worth it. It is painful to forego all the daily impulse purchases we wish to make, but having a significant savings account is worth it.
The second, and more important, root cause of us failing to find absolute happiness is that we fail to look for it inside of us – where it is always found. In order to find unconditional peace and inner happiness, we need to stop looking for happiness in money, acceptance, job security, love, the weather and our kids’ report cards.
Instead, we must slow down, relax for a few minutes, and focus on ourselves. Spend a few quiet minutes reflecting on all the various thoughts and feelings you are experiencing. You will find a host of disparate emotions and sensations – some enjoyable and some painful.
If you quietly focus for just a few minutes, you will find amongst these feelings a calm sense of security and comfort. It may be the simple and mild pleasure of spending a few minutes by yourself, relaxing without stress, worry, or to-dos to accomplish. Remain focused on this relaxing feeling and just observe it as if you were sitting on a comfortable chair near the bank of a calm river on a sunny day. Just watch the water drift lazily by you. Listen to river and relax. Resist the urge to make the emotion better or larger. Simply observe it. You will find that your feeling of security and well-being grows on its own as you focus on it. Feel the warmth of the sun as you sit — without a care in the world – watching the water slowly flow by.
If other thoughts attempt to intrude on your perception of well-being, simply place those thoughts in your “mental river” and let them float downstream. Then return to the inner happiness that is always within you.
You will sometimes find this process easy. At other times, you will feel strongly enticed to give in to negative thoughts and emotions instead of simply feeling and experiencing your “river time.” If you make this ritual for five or ten minutes a day, however, you will soon come to realize that all of these negative thoughts and emotions are nothing but illusions. You will soon learn that you can call upon this sense of unconditional peace, security and happiness – anytime you wish.
If you faithfully take a few minutes each day to sit beside your “river” and just be – rather than doing anything — you will find that negative thoughts and emotions have a harder and harder time ever penetrating your mind. Your inner emotional scenery will soon change into an eternal idyllic sunny day by your river. You are human and may still endure an infrequent rain or periodic hail storm, but nothing will ever be able to drag you far from the banks of your beautiful river.
And you will always know that the sun will be shining again soon.