Happiness is the mother of all pursuits.
Anyone chasing success, fortune, fame or love is inevitably chasing happiness.
All too often, we chase after happiness by trying to get that perfect boyfriend, the ideal wife, or more money and higher “external” status in some way.
Or maybe it’s “being cooler” than the other person by being more fashionably, saying the cooler thing, whatever.
It’s too bad this is the wrong way to go about attaining happiness, because many of us spend a lot of time doing this and actually get good at achieving these goals…at getting what we want, only to find that happiness is fleeting or non-existent.
Especially, once we have our so-called holy grail in hand.
Often it’s just a recipe for more low self esteem.
Dr. Srikumar Rao has a hypothesis which is that “we are wired to be happy.”
He says that “there is nothing you have to get, do or BE in order to be happy in his TED Talk.
Happiness is your innate nature. It is hardwired into you, it is part of your DNA.”
Dr. Rao gives his lectures because he wants people to wake up in the morning with their “blood singing” and feeling “radiantly alive several times throughout the day”.
That’s a bold statement, and I think he’s mostly right.
But what is more accurate and appropriate to this conversation that I’m presenting here is this: the primary cultural paradigm we are raised in, is one where we are taught to pursue things that we THINK will make us happy, but don’t in the end.
So it’s hard to figure out how to be happy, when all of our so-called happiness training has come from a poisoned paradigm of striving for more and more.
Think about the idea of retirement. Live for the future to make all the money you can, so THEN you can enjoy your life. Wow, that’s one broken model of living and happiness. Anything that you can get, you can unget.
If wealth can make you happy, it can disappear tomorrow.
We human beings are often like fish in water when it comes to belief. What we believe that will make us happy, that won’t in the end.
Basically, we are raised to be unhappy given values based on achievement of goals, then another and another and that “someday happiness will arrive”.
We are taught that what we get, what we achieve will make us happy, instead of where we are at, and what we are focusing on or doing right now.
Each time we engage in decisions and behaviors that lead to maximum achievement, we are literally running away from the happiness potential that lives within.
Easier said than done right? Well yes and no.
This is a deeply installed belief system, that we need to get, achieve and even be a certain way to be happy is a recipe for productivity and output, but not one for happiness. As Dr Rao says “it is a flawed mental model.”
Well, it’s not flawed if we talk about it in absolute terms, but in terms of being in a state of happiness, yes I agree that it’s flawed. It’s used as the carrot when there’s a big stick at the end constantly bapping you over the head to get the carrot.
This mental model of chasing happiness, is simply a culturally installed belief system, which leads to a great amount of unhappiness and suffering. It’s a conditional type of happiness, also known as “if-then” happiness.
“If I get the big promotion and pay raise, then I’ll be happy.”
“If I get married by 25, then everything in life will fall in line.”
“If I didn’t have those extra 10 lbs right now, I’d be so much happier.”
You see whatever goes after the “if” doesn’t matter. You can put 1 million dollars there or one bar of ice cream after the if.
As long as the if is there, you won’t be happy until you get what you want.
But more than that, another if statement will come along soon enough, to make you miserable again.
Ain’t that a B?
Even if we don’t verbalize our if-thens, we often can feel them right down to our bones this is what I mean by the depth of our beliefs.
This if-then model is what brings about conditional happiness, which is not the model to be followed, if you want to experience regular blissful happiness day-to-day.
Unconditional Happiness is Right Here, Right Now
Think of a moment that brings you into serenity. A rainbow, a valley, the mountains, the sea. A beautiful smile on a lover’s face.
You were in tune with the moment of now and accepting the universe exactly as it was. Quite simply, being present with what is, brings unconditional happiness right in the moment.
You can even learn to feel sad, and feel this underlying happiness, but it takes A LOT of practice, especially if you have been practicing achievement-based, conditional happiness for so long.
You need to retrain your mind and body to this “new” paradigm of unconditional happiness.
So how do we do this? How do we begin to live in this state of unconditional happiness?
Well, it’s going to take some retraining and practice of new skills and a redirected power of intention.
In Part 2, I’ll explain some of the best methods that I know of for how to do retrain your mind for this.
You can read How To Be Happy Part 2 here.