I recently went to see a woman speak on the Science of Happiness. She was an engaging, informative, entertaining speaker and I really enjoyed myself. I even patted myself on the back because I do so many of the things she recommended to be happy:
- Eat right
- Get plenty of rest
- Choose work you love
- Create meaningful, supportive relationships
- Spend your money on experiences not things
- Put away your cell phone when you are with others
- And meditate.
Guess what? I woke up the next morning feeling very depressed.
And for a moment I was mad at that speaker, because I had done all the right things and I didn’t have the prize. You see, my long term intimate relationship ended not so long ago, so I am in a period of loss and grief. Which is appropriate, and healthy even. But it highlighted for me the frantic search in this culture to be happy.
We spend so much energy in search of the right relationship, the right job, the right body, the right friends, the right therapist, the right answer, the right moral code, all so that we will finally win the prize of being happy. Like Happy is that Garden of Eden we are enroute to, and once we reach our destination, we will reside there forever.
Then one day we meander through the valley of the shadow of death and we think we have lost our way. Failed. Lost the prize. Or maybe we have been in that valley much of our lives, and we wonder what is inherently wrong with us?
News Flash: We are not on a journey to happiness. We are on a journey to wholeness, to connection with Source, Spirit, God, or however you name the mystery. That journey includes travel up sunny mountaintops, down through dark valleys, and across dry arid deserts. And there is no road map. But there are also no wrong turns — just different roads that all lead home. Personal and spiritual growth requires exposing of all the places we are in error and distortion and duality. It involves surrender and loss and letting go. It doesn’t always feel good.
But searching for eternal sunshine is hollow, unfulfilling, and quite frankly, exhausting. And it leads nowhere.
Taking care of yourself and creating a meaningful life can do a lot to enable a deep sense of well-being. But if you haven’t fully met yourself, you can have it all and still feel empty.
So in addition to doing all the right things to attain happiness, I find it important to be gentle with myself while summoning the courage and honesty to acknowledge and meet the places in me that feel sad, angry, afraid, or depressed. In fact, the willingness to face those less than lovely days with humility and compassion, to reach out and receive support when things aren’t so rosy builds a confidence and a freedom and a sense of integrity that is the strongest foundation I know of on which to build a happy life.
These days I am so grateful for my dear friends who are sharing this amazing if not always pleasant journey with me. They have been the wind beneath my wings lately. And I am grateful for the Pathwork teachings, which encourage and support me in welcoming all of who I am and what I experience.
We are human. Life is a twisting, winding path. We have strengths and limitations. We have a diverse array of emotions. It’s not necessary to reject some of them to have others. And when we allow the full range of our emotional landscape, we connect with the deep peace and joy and love that underlies any surface level of emotion. Because that is who we truly are at our core. It’s not something we have to attain.
I’d love to have you join me in sharing the ups and downs of your journey! What is your secret to Happiness?
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TREASURE IN THE DEPTHS: Identifying Hidden Obstacles to Fulfillment.