Monday, 27 January 2014

On Happiness

I was meditatively sipping tea, when the guy at the next table said to his friend in a stentorian voice, "I always wanted to be a chef but I am frightened of food." I wanted to hug him and say, "Brother, soul mate, spiritual twin, I know how you feel!"
I discovered le mal de vivre very early on in life. When I was a small child, a sun ray came through the window. I looked at it, ready to rejoice, when I saw it was DUSTY. I learnt in that moment that beauty was impermanent, that everything gets covered in dust, and that, ultimately, life is a fight against physical and spiritual dust. I also discovered that my mind had a mind of its own, a trickster that created bizarre obstacles, unnecessarily convoluted thoughts, to keep me away from my goals. So, I became interested in happiness, what is it, is it fleeting or permanent, can it be achieved and, most of all, can you achieve it by actively pursuing it. I studied philosophy, religion, magic, meditation, nlp, cbt, positive thinking, negative thinking, not thinking. And decades later, I realised that my mind's mind was still playing tricks and that the world was still rather dusty. I felt that I had dramatically failed, because I had not achieved the wisdom that gave access to happiness. But then a thought occurred to me, "I don't NEED to be happy!" And that, well, that made me happy.
I asked my friends to give me their definitions of happiness, and here are some: a garden; a quiet moment, calm, ecstasy, beauty, making art. Happiness is something very simple, yet magical and fleeting. Sometimes it's just a moment, sometimes it lasts longer. We don't go to it, it comes to us, it's not in a place where you can always access it, the same garden will not always make you happy. Yet, happiness will always come back. But, for how hard you practise, you cannot run away from pain and sorrow, your mind's mind will always be with you with its bag of tricks, and you will always be you. I have not learnt how to be happy on command, but I have learnt to accept le mal de vivre as an annoying, yet stimulating, companion. I don't try to wrestle it to the ground any more. And happiness now comes back more often.

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