It is not just important that we figure out how to be happy and at peace, it is vital. When something disrupts our well-being, our first order of business needs to be in restoring that well-being, not in analyzing why we fell out of it.
Making happiness a priority means we value feeling good over feeling bad. This does not mean we “act” happy as a weapon against those who have hurt us and pretend we are fine when we are not fine to give an illusion of strength we don’t really have. We are not advising anyone to keep up an appearance of cheer. We advise settling for nothing less than actual peace and joy.
How do we get there when there are so many reasons and obstacles?
We start by asking ourselves what we actually believe. Our beliefs are our life experiences. Once we locate what our true belief is on the matter, we decide if we want that belief in place.
The contents of our head- our beliefs- may not be things we agree with. Our beliefs, unless we actively and consciously pursued them, were most likely put there by the outside world, starting with our family. What our family believes is what our world view turns out to be. We often have a lot of objections to our family’s belief system and do our best to get away from it. But having conditioned our expectations, we often find people to connect with who have a similar belief system or who enable our engrained system to stay in place.
It can be quite challenging to peel back the layers of belief we are operating from. Those beliefs are a bit like plastic wrap- clinging perfectly with an invisible quality to everything we see and hear. But it is possible to peel back layers of incorrect assumptions and expectations. The place to start is by observing how much conflict is present in the conversations you have with others. What statements do you hear yourself saying? Are they statements you would say to a young child?
Changing how you speak to yourself and others is how you change the world around you. Evaluate the proportion of negative commentary to the proportion of encouraging, and compassionate commentary that occurs in your day. Then make an effort to stop analyzing wether or not there are reasonable grounds to allow for contentment, and just decide that the conditions at hand are good enough to grow good feelings in. We have to start somewhere.
But, you say… this situation I am in is really impossible. And of course I don’t understand this and it needs to be explained to me- all the reasons why peace and well-being can’t happen for you.
The only reason it can’t happen is because you are perceiving a situation incorrectly based on your personal interests rather than what reality is. In reality, each individual person is not any more important than any other person. What I want is often tangled up in my conditioning that I am not aware of the fact that I don’t really want what I think I want. I believe I am supposed to want what I think I want and if I don’t want it, if I let myself stop wanting that image and appearance, then I might die.
What will die is a false notion of who I think I am. In it’s place will be the truth of what I actually am, which is always smaller, and less important than what my ego would have me pursue. A need to be important causes a large amount of pain in the world. It is a relief to let go of the need to be important, or to achieve some distinction in a field solely for the purpose of distinction. It can be a relief to let yourself be no one in particular and to learn how to truly enjoy the day.
What else could be more important to do in this life than to earnestly discover what truly makes you happy? Who are you? What are you? Can you let yourself be whatever that is even if it means the structure of your so-called life falls apart?
Whatever falls apart is always a construct in the way of happiness. How great such a thing has fallen away. When some life situation falls apart, be of good cheer! It means you are even closer to that which is real, and true, and well.
We are not designed to know what is best for the whole world. We are not even designed to know what is best for ourselves. We are designed to experience, learn, and discover.
When we resist happiness and peace, we contribute to the field of suffering and hold ourselves in that suffering.
The art of happiness involves the skill of choosing not to spend time on that which does not feel good. This is an eternal process of discovery. We will never get it right once and for all. We simply learn to not let our attention be pulled in a direction that leads us no where. We do not engage discontent whenever it comes. We let such waves lift us and lower us and leave.