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WHY HAPPINESS IS OVERRATED

The pursuit of happiness is big business. There are thousands of books on how to be happy or stay happy. And David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister has shown interest in measuring the happiness or wellbeing of UK citizens – taking inspiration from Bhutan where in 1972 they began to measure GNH – gross national happiness.

The intention of focusing on happiness and wellbeing is a good one. Everyone wants to feel good within themselves. We want to feel happy and know that those we love and care for are also happy or content. But there’s a downside to what is often a relentless pursuit of happiness so here is my take on it.

1) Life is a journey of bumpy roads, sharp corners and blind spots. That’s what makes it interesting and exciting. And as human beings, we are designed to experience a rich variety of feeling states. We can have a period of sadness that we may even find nourishing. For example the loss of a loved one and the feelings of appreciation for having them in our lives. At the same time, we may still consider ourselves to live in a general state of happiness or wellbeing.

2) The relentless quest to experience feelings of happiness or contentment can get in the way of being in the flow of life. We end up creating more of the feelings we don’t want simply by resisting the feelings we have in any moment. It’s our discomfort with our discomfort that keeps us stuck. The very act of resistance takes energy. It requires more thinking which creates more feelings. Can you see the Catch22 nature of this?

Having some insight into the nature of thought – recognising how all feelings are expressions of our thinking – allows us to move through all feeling states with more grace and ease. We can begin to have a different relationship with our emotions. We can see them for what they are. Insecurity isn’t a thing. It’s a thought which we turn into a thing.

3) As soon as we start to question how happy or content we are, we take ourselves out of the flow of life. The very act of checking and self monitoring moves us out of the moment and out of any nourishing feelings that we may be experiencing.

4) Happiness isn’t about more, different, better, easier, faster or slower. It’s not about accomplishments, status and other material things.
Happiness (as the ancient philosophers have been saying for millennia) is an inside job. It’s a state of mind that we can each experience effortlessly as we gain more understanding of the role and nature of thought.

Happiness and contentment are literally one thought away in any given moment. We innocently take ourselves out of our natural state of wellbeing when we innocently buy into thoughts that we’re not enough or that we need to be more or have more.

INNER PEACE & THE DELETE BUTTON

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to have peace of mind and feel content within themselves.

Many books and teachings will have us believe that peace of mind or contentment are something we must strive for – that they are somehow the result of doing and achieving.

They are portrayed as rewards for accomplishing results in the world.

We grow up being taught that feelings like contentment, peace of mind and happiness are outside of us.

For many years, I believed that doing well at work, being successful and being a nice person would bring me contentment and peace of mind.

Every time I set my goals, I innocently attached my happiness and self worth to my achievement of them.

I subsequently spent years wondering why I never felt quite ’good enough’ or ’happy enough’. And for many years, I tried various personal development approaches to help me find that elusive ‘inner peace’ and contentment and then a few years ago, I had the realisation that all the feelings we yearn for, are much closer than we think.

Peace of mind isn’t a by-product of adding, achieving or accomplishing anything. It’s a process of deleting, of reducing the noise, of taking away what gets in the way and ignoring what isn’t relevant. And what gets in the way is our own thinking.

Contentment with ourselves and with life, is what’s already there inside you when you stop thinking that you’re not enough or that you need to be more, have more or achieve more.

Peace of mind is what’s always there behind those thoughts of inadequacy and self doubt.

The ability to feel peaceful, happy or content is effortless. It’s simply a matter of seeing all the thinking we engage with and the ideas about ourselves that we’ve innocently been holding on to that keep us from feeling great and enjoying life unconditionally.

And the best thing is that we don’t have to engage with our conditioned and habitual ways of thinking. We don’t have to listen to the insecurity and self doubt. It’s just passing weather and behind it is pure blue sky. That blue sky is your natural wellbeing and whilst we are constantly being told otherwise, it isn’t dependent on any accomplishments or achievements. It travels with you and it provides everything you need to achieve optimal success and fulfilment at work and at home.

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