If happiness is a state of mind, where can we go outside ourselves to find it?
We have all read books on many subjects which seem to have a common theme of finding happiness. Most if not all of them highlight the need to know ourselves on a deeper level. In all cases it involves learning new information. This information is presented for one reason, to give us a different perspective. By changing our ideas about something we will start to see things differently. This after all is the key to happiness, because happiness is a state of mind. It does not come from having something, achieving something, retiring, going somewhere or being with someone. It is about finding that happiness inside ourselves. This is where many of us fail.
We are looking for something outside ourselves and therefore will never find it because it is already within us. The key to finding it is to uncover it under all our beliefs, ideas, thinking processes and systems of thought. It is there right now in every person and the only thing that prevents us from discovering it is our own thinking. Yes, that’s right, our own thinking is preventing us from finding the happiness within us. Ask any person who is truly happy, fulfilled or enlightened and they will corroborate this fact. They discovered their happiness by seeing themselves and the world differently. They came to this understanding within themselves and this is what led to their happiness. We cannot emphasize this fact enough. If we don’t understand this first and foremost then we can never change our experience of life. Everything will stay the same and our unhappiness and dissatisfaction will continue unabated.
So why don’t we change our thinking?
There are plenty of books that try to help us change our thinking, so it might be best to talk about why we don’t change our thinking. So let’s first go over some of the things that stop us from changing our systems of thought. We will not change if:
- We think we already know everything.
- We lie to ourselves about happiness.
- We have a closed mind and are unwilling to entertain new ideas, concepts or beliefs. We are unwilling to change our opinions.
- We are so rational or intellectual that we must be led step by step in facts in order to proceed.
We think we already know everything.
Well this one should be fairly obvious because when we think this way we are stuck in ourselves. In other words we are too afraid to admit we don’t know something. We therefore never want to find information that may change our mind because then we would have to admit at some point we were wrong. Pride takes over and we become stuck in our own arrogance. The only way we will change our thinking is by having something really bad happen to us. When we become humble we can then admit, we really don’t know everything. This is a tough place to be because we are worried more about our self image than we are about our happiness.
We lie to ourselves about happiness.
Some of us have such a strong idea about what we think makes us happy, that we will not admit our unhappiness. Those who have lots of money may think shopping all day makes them happy. Once they have bought everything they could possibly want, then what? or better yet, assume there was no one else in the world, would all that stuff mean anything? What if someone seeks power as their idea of happiness. Does having absolute power over others make someone happy? How about fame, there are many rock stars and actors who have killed themselves even though they “made it.” Made what? is the question. Maybe we think happiness lies in being with someone. Fifty percent of all first time marriages and eighty percent of second marriages end in divorce. Surely happiness can not be found solely in being with someone. The point is many of us spend a great deal of our life pursuing our idea of happiness only to find in the end, we are still not happy. We find we had the wrong idea about happiness.
We have a closed mind and are unwilling to entertain new ideas, concepts and beliefs. We are unwilling to change our opinions.
Sometimes we refuse to accept another idea or opinion because we are afraid. We get very comfortable with life and our way of thinking. We don’t want to “rock our world” with some new way of looking at things. We may be afraid of being misled or lied to, or we don’t want to be taken advantage of. We don’t want to look foolish, seem gullible, or be judged by anyone. We want to be accepted within our peer group, so thinking differently poses a threat to being accepted. It just becomes easier to stay the same. We may not be entirely happy but being so fearful we think it could be a lot worse. In other words we stick with what we know because its safe. This ensures things will stay the same, or so we hope.
We are so rational or intellectual that we must be led step by step in facts in order to proceed.
Here is where the rational, intellectual mind gets stuck. When every concept, idea and theory must be proven in a step by step process, we can never enter the realm of faith. Faith is not just a term associated with traditional religion, it is our ability to believe in something which cannot be seen. Happiness is subjective, it can’t be seen or touched, so it can never be proven through an experiment or scientific evidence. When we must be spoon fed facts in a rational sequential manner, we miss out on much learning and wisdom in life. In order to see an idea to its end requires a certain amount of faith. If we can’t get past the first idea or fact we don’t agree with, we will never allow ourselves the thinking to make it to the end of the concept. No one has the time, energy or power to “make us” change our thinking. We are the only one who can decide to change our thinking; therefore we limit what we can know based on rational argument. This is the realm of science. Ironically science is starting to reveal the concept that science itself doesn’t know what reality is anymore. Quantum physics leads to the realm of “spooky action at a distance,” “the zero point field,” etc.. If we are a true believer in science then we must admit the way of science leads back to more questions. Here once again faith is required.
Change is necessary in life in order to grow. If we don’t change we don’t grow. If we don’t grow we stay the same, is this a good thing? We all want to improve our life. We all want to be happier and more fulfilled throughout life, right? We can only do so by making changes to our system of thought and uncover the happiness that is waiting to be discovered with new ways of thinking.
Applying the idea:
- What is your current idea of happiness?
- How has that idea changed throughout your life?
- Did you pursue things in your life you thought would make you happy only to find out it didn’t make you happy?
- Do you attribute happiness to material things, or do you feel happiness is a state of being?
- What do you think is the one common denominator of happiness for all humans?
- What do you think is necessary to maintain a “state of happiness.”
In my next series of post we will examine consciousness. It is important to understand consciousness because happiness is a result of a “state of consciousness.” We will examine the ego in depth after that, because the ego is the biggest deterrent to happiness and the cause of all our pain in life. We cannot truly find happiness until we understand what the ego is and how it operates. Love, happiness, joy, bliss and peace awaits those who can subdue or transcend the ego. However getting beyond the ego requires raising our level of consciousness.
Please share if you found this post to be meaningful. I would love to hear your comments.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. : )