How much of your time do you spend trying to find happiness? Has any of what you’ve tried ever worked permanently?
Maybe you’ve been looking in the wrong place.
Just about everyone on the planet is constantly engaged in trying to figure out how to be happy in one form or another.
We are conditioned to push away what we don’t want and to continually look for what we do want.
However, even when we get what we think we want, the newness wears off and it doesn’t take long until we’re trying to find happiness in something else we are convinced will make us happy – a new job, a better relationship, more money, a good diet, or even more TV channels.
So why doesn’t getting what we want permanently make us happy?
Because staying engaged in trying to find happiness is predicated on the belief that it isn’t already HERE.
The very search to find happiness keeps our attention distracted away for the true essence of happiness we already are.
All experiences in this dream we call our “life” are based on polarity: up / down, yes / no, feels good / feels bad, getting something / losing something. Embodiment is a constantly shifting experience.
Have you noticed that you never stay at one end of a polarity? No matter how hard you try to hang onto feeling good, at some point I promise you it will shift into not feeling good.
You’ll never permanently find happiness in a constantly shifting terrain.
But you CAN find happiness. In fact, right now, in this very moment, at the core of your reality you are already permanently happy.
So how can you find happiness within? We’ll get to that in a moment.
First, let’s look at what we do to make ourselves suffer.
All suffering comes from believing the thoughts you tell yourself ABOUT yourself and your life.
When we believe our thoughts to be reality, we create an illusion of an identity which we think is what we are, as well as concepts of other identities “out there.”
This automatically creates painful emotions because we are identifying with (and reducing ourselves down to) something we’re not — a mental concept of who we think we are. We also believe other people are our story about them, so we don’t experience the truth of their being either.
When we do this we can’t find happiness because we can't feel the reality of what we ALL are — awareness, beingness.
When we narrow our attention down to a mind-created concept or personality and believe that IS what we are, there is no way we can avoid creating suffering for ourselves and those around us.
In my experience there is no way to find happiness and live within it without all three of these essential keys:
The only way we can find happiness and know true peace is to notice and feel the real truth of what we are and what everyone and everything is, already and always.
Fortunately, fully awakening to the reality of beingness is assured for all of us because beingness already is what we are.
At night you might dream you are a different person with a different life from the one you usually experience, but at some point you wake up and discover you aren’t that character.
However, even while you were dreaming of being the character in your dream, you were aware. You were aware of each and every experience in the dream, just as you are aware of everything you experience in this moment.
The awareness you are right now was also present during your dream last night. This awareness which is present no matter what appears IN it, is you.
As we begin to awaken from the trance of believing we are our thoughts, we notice and become curious about the awake beingness which is here in the background of our every experience.
We start to realize this awake, aware beingness isn’t affected by our thoughts, emotions and experiences, and it is the only place we can find happiness permanently.
Want to know how to be happy?
In this moment right now, take a moment and simply decline to refer to any thought. Just be here.
Notice what is already still and present within you, which you are able to be conscious of when your attention isn’t on thoughts.
This which is here is still, alive and aware. It is what you actually are. It is consciousness conscious of itself.
This conscious awareness is sometimes named God, or Spirit, and many other names.
Feel into and sense this alive presence. You are this shining aliveness, simply here, aware, being.
You, awareness, have no polarities and no opinions about “right” and “wrong.” You, awareness, are ALWAYS calm, still, and at peace.
You don’t have to make yourself into something that has no polarities or opinions. Just notice what ALREADY is free of them.
Even though you may not notice it, this nameless, wordless, awake presence of YOU is always in the background of every experience you’ve ever had, including this moment right now.
This is like the screen of your computer. When you have programs open, your attention and involvement is tangled up with them, and you’re not aware of the peaceful, undisturbed screen in the background, within which all your activity on your computer appears IN.
When we decline to refer to our thoughts, even if just for a second, beingness (which is what we already are) notices itself. Instead of having attention fused with what it is usually focused on — thoughts, feelings, body sensations, objects and people – attention becomes aware of itself and we find happiness.
Returning to our computer screen metaphor, this would like be the computer screen noticing the peaceful emptiness of itself, rather than being lost in all the goings on of all the programs open within it.
All our experiences arise IN this beingness, but you, beingness aren’t changed by whatever arises in you.
To bring more attention to the truth of who you are and deepen your feel for it, see the section below on self-inquiry.
When we believe the sum total of what we are is a body / mind, we are
constantly engaged in trying to find happiness. And in order to be happy
we think we have to change something about ourselves, our environment,
other people or the world.
It is a natural tendency for all of us to want things to be better. There is nothing wrong with it. We’re sort of wired that way.
However, to stay in this state of mind keeps us constantly in conflict with what IS, which keeps us always resisting in some way, making it impossible to find happiness.
Usually we’re conditioned to try to make every unpleasant feeling or experience go away as quickly as possible, and to keep trying to find a way to create more pleasant experiences and emotions.
All of this keeps us churning within mind, trying to find happiness, but chasing thoughts keeps our attention distracted from the very happiness we already are.
Just for this moment, let everything in your life be exactly as it is.
Let your relationships, career, bank account, perception of yourself, the emotions you experience right now, your thoughts, your entire world and your life, be exactly the way it is right now in this moment.
For just this moment give up struggling against any of it. Do nothing about anything.
What do you experience?
Does it bring up fear? If so, let that be here as it is also. Don’t try to fix it, change it or heal it. Just see it. Do nothing with it.
“What is it that is aware OF fear (or anger, sadness, depression, etc.)?”
“Is this that is aware of this emotion bothered by it being here?”
Don’t ask your mind. Just get curious and notice what it is that is aware of a feeling or sensation. Then check to see if it is bothered by anything arising.
Is it trying to find happiness? Or is it already quite content?
I recommend taking some time to do this type of investigation daily.
Bear in mind that I’m not saying that to let everything be as it is means you shouldn’t ever take action in your life.
By first letting everything be as it is, action may still spontaneously happen through you, but it will flow from a place of peace, compassion and love rather than resistance and inner turmoil.
Where we are coming from determines the quality of our actions and the energy we increase in ourselves and the world.
Generally, we are taught and conditioned to develop and identify with an identity — a package of self-concepts.
As a child, how you were treated by your parents / caregivers was a
result of their concepts and beliefs about themselves, including any
unhealed emotional wounds they carried.
From infancy onward we develop a mental identity and personal psychology based on what we experience and the feedback we interpret from other people about ourselves, especially those who we perceive are in positions of power in our lives.
As children we depend on the adults in our lives for everything — food, shelter, caregiving, and love.
Since the fulfilling of even our most basic needs comes through the adults responsible for our care, we automatically, without even realizing it, assign great meaning to the feedback those people give us about ourselves.
If our caregivers are living life through the lens of a wounded self-concept themselves, they are almost guaranteed to view US through that lens as well. In other words, if they themselves don't feel good enough they will generally see and treat their children as not good enough either.
This doesn’t make them “bad.” This is just cause and effect in motion.
The most basic self-concepts we begin adopting even on a non-verbal level as very young children are:
“I’m a package of body / feelings / perceptions / mental activity.”
“I’m female / male.”
Then as we get older, more subtle layers of identification we believe about ourselves can form along these lines:
“I’m not good enough. My looks aren’t pleasing to others. I’m not smart enough.”
“I’m left out. I’m never going to be happy. Other people have life all figured out and I’m clueless.”
Since everything on this plane is based on polarity (up/down, feels good/feels bad, right/left, etc.), any self-concept can flip to it’s opposite in any given moment, when triggered by an experience.
Sometimes even the most painful self-identify can temporarily flip into something like:
“I did it! I’m smart. I’m good at this. No one else can do this as good as I can.”
However, if we identify with either end of a polarity, because it IS a polarity, identification will flip back to its opposite again at some point.
As we continue to grow and develop physically and mentally, we also automatically take on certain familial and cultural identifications such as:
“I’m a Christian / Buddhist / Muslim / Jew / Hindu / atheist, etc.”
“I’m an American, Yugoslavian, Australian, New Yorker, etc.”
“I’m hispanic, black, oriental, white, etc.”
As we accumulate more experiences and form conclusions about what we experience as we try to find happiness, there are more layers of self-concepts, identifications and beliefs which we consciously or unconsciously live by, such as:
“I’m a student, athlete, waitress, etc.”
“I’m a spiritual person.”
“I’m a meditator.”
“I’m a vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian, etc.”
For most of us, this entity (a combination of body / mind / beliefs / emotions) we believe we are is actually a movement of mental / emotional energy that is a viewing of the present moment through the lens of past experiences and the thoughts we tell ourselves about ourselves, each other, and the world.
As I’ve learned from my teacher Adyashanti, we can’t change the past but we CAN decline to keep telling ourselves the same old story about the conclusions we came to about ourselves and others in regards to what happened in the past.
What we tell ourselves NOW about the past determines can continue to create suffering for ourselves in the present, no matter how hard we try to find happiness.
More importantly, however, is to realize that what we REALLY are isn’t something we tell ourselves. It isn’t a “something” at all. We are the felt sense of awareness which is aware of everything we experience but isn’t changed by any of it.
Essentially, peace or the ability to find happiness isn’t about trying to change your thoughts about yourself. It is about asking within, “What is it that is aware of these thoughts?”
As I mentioned before, don’t ask your mind. Just get curious about what IS aware of thoughts, emotions, and body sensations. Then turn your attention toward and notice this that is aware.
Our self-concepts / identities can range from obvious to very subtle. A way to become conscious of them is to notice if you feel any kind of upset when:
Before we get into the answer to that question, I feel it is important to note that when there is a self-concept / identity we believe IS us, we naturally draw to ourselves experiences where we perceive and experience being treated as if we truly ARE that self-concept.
For example, if I believe I’m a body / mind which is unimportant and “not good enough,” people and situations will show up in my life that reflect that back to me and seem to confirm it.
Other people may actually HAVE the attitude (based on their own unhealed wounds) that I’m unimportant and not good enough or I may simply PERCEIVE that’s how they see me, even if the other person doesn’t necessarily see me that way. Or it can be a combination of both.
What we believe we ARE is the lens we view our entire lives from. It is literally the blueprint we experience our lives from even if we're efforting to find happiness in a myriad ways.
Your belief system is like the operating system on your computer, which flavors your entire experience every moment you are on your computer.
Accordingly, when we experience an insult, disagreement or experience of being devalued by someone, whether they actually see us that way or we PERCEIVE they see us that way, this goes right to heart of our worst fear:
“Here is more evidence to prove that it’s true:
I’m a body / mind and I’m unimportant and not good enough.”
Obviously, it is very painful to have this belief triggered – to feel that what we are IS unimportant and truly ISN’T good enough.
However, we may not be conscious that our upset is due to having our own pre-existing belief triggered, which makes it hard to find happiness when we identify with it.
Consequently, what often happens is that the focus stays on the other person and what they said or did which triggered the reactivation of our own painful belief, and we find ourselves upset and feeling in conflict with the other person.
Also, because this entire dream of duality is based on polarity, an imploded self-identification can flip to the opposite: “I’m wonderful and important and I should be treated that way.”
So again, if we experience NOT being treated as wonderful and important and we are identified (if even just temporarily) with a self-concept that we ARE wonderful and important, we feel that what we actually ARE is violated if we don’t feel treated well. Otherwise there wouldn’t be any upset.
However, neither concept of either being wonderful and important or NOT being wonderful and important is what you are. You will never find happiness in a concept.
You are not a concept!
If we know ourselves as beingness and aren’t identified with being an identity or self-concept:
On the other hand, when we are identified with actually BEING an identity or self-concept:
1. First of all, let the feeling of upset be as it is.
Bring your attention within and notice the feeling of upset — the felt sense of it itself, without the mental commentary.
Notice that there is a place in the body that feels tight or uncomfortable.
Notice that the feeling is a nameless energy, a vibration.
Decline to label it as “fear” or “anger” or anything at all.
Let this energy be exactly as it is. Do nothing with it. Just see it.
Decline to judge yourself for having this energy. You’re not doing
anything wrong because it is here. This energy is simply showing you
what is produced when you believe an untrue thought is true and identify
Give this energy room. Put space around it, allowing it to fully be as it is without trying to change it any way or to make it go away.
2. Ask within:
“What is the identity or concept I have of myself which I believe IS me which is being triggered or feels threatened in this situation?”
“What am I telling myself ABOUT myself in this situation?”
I find that writing this out makes it much easier to bring this material into conscious awareness.
Writing it down helps to open up the deeper layers of what your mind tells itself and what you actually believe is what you are.
More details about this here.
3. Is what you’re telling yourself about yourself actually true?
After you’ve written out what you’ve been telling yourself about yourself on paper, now go back and read what you’ve written.
Feel the sense of the overall identity / being you THINK you are – what your mind tells itself that you are. Feel the energetic feeling of it.
Once you’ve gotten a feeling of this identify you believe yourself to be, then one by one, ask yourself the questions below.
The questions serve as pointers to point your attention through and past what you think you are and wordlessly toward and into the TRUE reality of your being, the only place you will find happiness permanently.
When you ask, don’t ask your mind. The mind actually can't tell you the answers to these questions. Also, we’re not looking for another mental concept to replace the old one.
Instead, we are simply questioning the reality of what we literally THINK we are. By questioning it instead of continuing to blindly accept it, this organically loosens our attachment to it.
Space is automatically opened up around the tightness that came from believing a concept is what we are.
Take some time with the questions below, even 5 or 10 minutes for each question. This is more of a meditation than a question / answer session.
To find out if something is true we have to ask Truth itself, not a mental concept of what we think is true, or what we’ve read in a book or had someone tell us. Truth itself is the beingness you experience when you don’t refer to your thoughts.
One at a time, ask each question below silently within. Direct your question to the beingness you experience which is here when you don’t refer to any thought.
This beingness is what is simply looking through your eyes right now. It's not trying to find happiness because it already IS happiness.
As you ask each question silently, be alert and aware. Don’t look for a specific answer. Your “answer” will come not as a thought but as a felt experience. Let go of any ideas about what you think you should experience.
Just be empty and open, standing in the unknown.
The questions just serve as pointers to shift your attention to the beingness which is here beneath the thoughts about what we THINK we are.
The simple, awake, still beingness you actually are is always here no matter what is arising.
Later, I also highly recommend looking at each individual belief you tell yourself and to question it’s reality as well. This link will guide you through it.
We must investigate and inquire within, asking the types of questions above for ourselves in order to discover the truth of our being.
This isn’t something you can discover in a book, although some books can point you within. Neither is this something anyone can give you, although someone who has discovered this for themselves can point you to the reality of being within.
Ultimately this can only be discovered for yourself and by yourself.
Look within, investigate, and question what you’ve been telling yourself about yourself. See what is actually true. Are you a concept or are you the beingness which is aware of the concept / thought of an identity you have about yourself?
In order to find happiness, we must discover for ourselves that there is no real, eternal identity anywhere. All of it is just thoughts! Any thought, any identity you have about yourself is not what you are. What you are is identity-less.
You are not your story of who you think you are.
Likewise, the people in our lives are not our story about who we think they are either. The world isn’t what our thoughts tell us it is. NOTHING is what thought tells us it is.
If you’re looking for peace and trying to find happiness, you will only find eternal, unlimited peace and happiness in this beingness you already are, in the luminous shining empty-full-ness that all thoughts, emotions, and experiences appear in.
In this short audio (under 5 minutes), my teacher Adyashanti speaks of the necessity of finding out the truth of who you are:
I share these realizations and information with you in deep gratitude to my teachers Adyashanti and Ramana Maharshi. Their presence in my life continues to be a profound wake-up call to the reality of being. Together they lovingly, patiently, clearly and simply continue to guide my attention back, again and again to the truth of beingness.
And to you, Dear Reader, I walk right beside you as we continue to awaken into the reality of beingness ever more deeply...together…
I offer WellBeing Alignment Sessions to help you.
These coaching sessions have an organic flow of their own depending on your needs when we meet, encompassing many different facets of two main components: