I have a question for you, and I’d like you to really think about it before answering.
Do you know what makes you happy?
Happiness is personally defined by each of us, but its general definition is just that: “a state of being happy.” It is associated with words like content, fortunate, and favorable but these are just more states of being. What is it in our lives that brings about this state of being and how do we go about creating it?
Unfortunately, we’ve been conditioned to believe that the wrong things will bring us this happiness. In turn, our efforts are directed toward things that we think will make us happy while we, often unconsciously, deprioritize or disregard the things that actually do. A classic example: sacrificing time with our families in order to work more, to make more money, to secure a future “tomorrow”. We have come to believe that this is the game plan for lasting happiness but, in all my work, I haven’t come across a single case of true happiness as result of this method.
Think for a moment about milestones you were certain would bring you complete happiness. That promotion. The bigger home. The new relationship. When you reached them, did they bring about the happiness you expected? If so, did that joy last?
I’ll go out on a limb and suspect that it didn’t.
I think this holds true most universally in our pursuit of money as a source of happiness. Author and Harvard University Psychology Professor Daniel Gilbert pointed out that “we think money will bring lots of happiness for a long time, but actually it brings little happiness for a short time.” This is the reality of so many of our perceived sources of happiness. And in our constant chase of such dead-end pleasures, we end up ignoring more effective routes to happiness. All of this considered it’s no wonder that as material prosperity rises, so do cases of depression and anxiety.
Luckily there is good news.
While a new car, a new job, more money, or higher status all might seem sparkly and feel like the answer to every problem — they aren’t. They aren’t because they aren’t supposed to be. Everything that we see, hold, and taste in the physical world manifests from the world of the unseen. Kabbalists teach that the world that we engage in with our physical senses accounts for 1% of our experience. The other 99% exists in the unseen. Our emotions, our intuition, our thoughts, and ultimately our connection to the Light.
Think of it as the Law of Attraction. This law states that the universe (unseen) takes what you think about the most and creates it in your experience (seen.) And this is where I find that many of us trip up because we overly-focus on the material. Our thoughts are powerful manifestors; our entire lives are created based on our habitual thoughts. If we are always thinking “I’ll be happy when I have ___” we aren’t creating happiness. We are creating the experience of chasing happiness.
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahatma Gandhi
So what’s the answer? It’s surprisingly simple (not to be mistaken with easy!) Instead of trying to change the outer picture by acquiring things you think will make you happy, cultivate the happiness within you right now and watch the outer picture begin to change. Try this exercise:
Close your eyes and think about something in your life that you really love and that brings you joy. If any thought arises that is negative just gently release it and focus back on the pure feeling of joy that this aspect of your life brings to you. How does it feel? Really focus on the feelings. Do you feel excited? In love? Relieved? Peaceful? Whatever the feeling is, amplify it until you’re feeling total happiness. Then open your eyes and look around. That feeling of happiness is still there, and YOU created it with your thoughts. Nothing in the outer picture needed to change at all!
This is the power we have in each moment, to free ourselves of this notion that happiness hasn’t yet been attained and to create our happiness right now. The more that we can cultivate an inner state of happiness and joy, the more our lives will reflect back to us more reasons to be happy and joyful. The picture doesn’t matter; only the feeling does. As we align with happiness and practice releasing ideas of “I’ll be happy when _____” we are actively inviting in blessings we would have never been able to imagine on our own.
When we dedicate ourselves and our thoughts to kindness, peace, and happiness, we create those things in our lives and in the lives of others. We free ourselves from a distant future happiness and, instead, choose how we want to feel moment-to-moment.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
Do this exercise once a day this week and record any changes you feel or notice in your days as a result, even if it’s just that you feel happier