Most of us never take the time to find out what real happiness is. Happiness is home-made; It is not like fast food that you can go and buy on the spur of the moment. You can, of course, but that does not mean it will be healthy, or nutritious.
Happiness is power and strength. In a state of happiness, I am able to do that which I want to do. When we are in a state of sorrow, unhappiness, regret, repentance, despair and joyless, then it takes tremendous effort just to pull the self into a state of normality, to even begin to find enthusiasm to do anything. But, when someone is happy, they have all the will, the power, and the confidence to do what they wish to do. Many people think that it is impossible to be happy all the time. However, when there is deep understanding behind all that is happening, then it is easy to be happy. When we struggle and find things hard to understand, when we are afraid, we lose our happiness. There is, though, a state of boundless, endless, imperishable, abundant, indestructible happiness that is achievable. We can get to that state if we so choose.
Most of us have been educated by the family and the education system to believe that happiness is something we have to work for, that it is something attained after passing that exam, buying that house, getting that job. We think that money can buy us happiness, which must mean therefore that all millionaires are happy; but it is clearly not so. We try to fulfil a myriad of desires to find that elusive state of happiness. In fact, it is desires that are the root of all unhappiness.
As with most things spiritual, we need to turn everything upside down, or rather the right way up, to see the truth of things. We also need to understand what happiness really is. Happiness is a quality, it is abstract and cannot be seen, it is not physical. Therefore, acquiring physical things will not bring happiness. A car is a car, but if my idea of happiness is projected on to that car, I cannot expect it to give me happiness. I may feel temporarily ‘happy’ but it is not sustainable, and sooner or later I will have to buy another car. It is an illusion to think that the physical world can complete us.
Therefore, we have to explore the happiness that is within. I am happiness, I am love, I am peace and kindness. Until we understand and learn to access all the innate qualities that lie within, we can never be happy. If I am not happy with a little, I will never be happy with a lot. If I choose to be happy, take life a little more lightly, do not take myself too seriously, I am planting seeds of happiness that can only produce happiness. If I have given happiness, it will boomerang back to me. The wisdom is to choose to be happy, no matter what.
Permanent happiness is found and developed in meditation, as is the experience of the awareness of eternity and a profound sense of freedom. There are some other practices that help me create my own home-made happiness.
First then, It is essential to spend time in meditation. This gives rise to self-reflection, really being honest with the self and looking inside at what is real and good. It is also important to have an attitude of gratitude. At the end of each day, we can note down 10 things for which we are grateful, and in the morning note down another 10 things worthy of our gratitude. This keeps us above mundane matters because we sincerely understand that we have so much to be grateful for. Take time for regular exercise; just an hour of walking releases any stress we have accumulated and perks up our spirits. All of us are creative, but few of us realise how liberating and fulfilling it is to create something, often. Paint, draw, do some gardening to move away from all the logical left-brain activity and move into the right brain, and create something beautiful. We can take a break from analysing – some things cannot be solved with logic. Finally, make relationships meaningful. We must find meaning in all we do, otherwise all our energy is drained away. Inject new thinking into old patterns and do the same things with a different mindset.
One word of warning – sometimes people get upset when they see we are always happy. Happiness is worth defending. Defend happiness at all costs, become spiritually powerful and magnificently contagious.
Aruna Ladva is an author and Rajyoga meditation teacher based at the Global Retreat Centre, Oxford, UK.