As the cold Pacific storms crossed the skies above my Northern California home, I found myself deep in a rot. This condition caught me off guard because I had no particular reason to feel this way. I’m usually a pretty happy guy. As a result, I began questioning the whole origin of happiness, down to what makes us happy?
This quest of mine wasn’t going very well. Ah, sitting around trying to figure out the timeless questions! As a matter a fact, it was making me feel even worse. What if I’ll never be able to figure it out, I wondered. Clearly I just needed more time to contemplate.
At that very moment, my thoughts were interrupted by a doorbell. My next door neighbor stopped by to ask me for a hand in his yard. I reluctantly agreed. After all, what could be more important than pondering life’s greatest mysteries? Lazily, I assisted him with his work in hope of quickly returning back to my thoughts.
However the work gradually drew me in, and I found myself actually starting to enjoy it. The thoughts which clouded my mind most of the day dissipated. My attention was now entirely in the moment. As my mind became clear of thoughts, I found myself at peace and happy!
A few hours later, as work came to an end, my body cried with fatigue, while my heart celebrated the satisfaction of the accomplishment. Suddenly I broke out in laughter, realizing that once again life taught me a valuable lesson!
I was standing in the yard covered in sweat and dirt, with a grin on my face. I saw that happiness cannot be the direct goal in itself. Happiness can only be achieved as the result of other actions. One does not wake up in the morning claiming happiness as the day’s goal. Happiness and joy are born from love, compassion and benevolence.
Happiness Through Giving
There is a beautiful energy emanating from offering service and giving. This energy is expansive. It stimulates others to continue the gift of giving. Offer selfless service and giving, without any expectation of a reward. The rewards is in the act of giving itself.
Giving, does not have to be limited to material objects in nature. It can be through giving of your time and attention. Offering comfort, listening and supporting, are all gifts that are much needed and appreciated. It is only when we offer ourselves to others, can we experience true happiness and satisfaction.
Happiness Through Acceptance
In terms of happiness, acceptance plays two roles. The first, is the general acceptance of your life for what it is. It’s having what the Buddhism refers to as “the beginners mind”. It’s the practice of acceptance that is devoid of judgement and criticism. In order to be happy, let go of the control, and trust in the Higher Power to guide you to your destiny.
The second role is to practice acceptance of the gifts that are offered to you. It’s to understand the cycle of giving and receiving. Giving is a form of energy. If the gift is denied, the energy associated with the spirit of that gift is also blocked. For it to be fully effective, the gift must be received and reciprocated.
Happiness Through Detachment
Detachment has been practiced in ancient cultures for a millennia, and it leads us to freedom from ourselves. Attaching our emotions to an outcome of an event, will only lead to disappointment. Practice healthy detachment. Keep in mind that letting go, is much more rewarding than accumulating. This includes detachment from objects, outcomes and emotions.
Happiness Through Peace
The state of happiness is undoubtedly a powerful, uplifting emotion. It is however of impermanent nature, as are all strong emotions. I would much rather live a lifetime in a state of peace, than experience moments of intense happiness alternated with sorrow. Engage in activities such as meditation to calm down the mind and develop a peaceful state of being.
I find that love, acceptance and giving, are the paths that lead to happiness. Happiness is the culmination of these qualities, and not their cause. If you’re looking for happiness, then you need to engage in creating the environment that will lead you to it. To summarize it, put happy in, get happy out!
Vlad is a blogger, dreamer and a minimalist. As a spiritual counselor, he encourages people to live a life of self discovery. To experience purpose. You can find him on his blog at Simpler Life Today and on Google +.
Photo credit: ‘Sunrise‘ by Big Stock