Happiness is found in Reality

The Most Happiness is Found in Reality

Happiness is found in Reality.

Happiness is found in reality.  I can imagine that idea may not sit well with you.  It certainly didn’t with me when I was first starting to wake up to my life and Joy, Peace, and Contentment.  Reality seems hard; in our culture, reality has a negative connotation.  This negative belief is partially built into humanity because we usually only associate reality with negative events.  It’s as if positive events can’t be reality.  “Avoid reality, it’s harsh,” is the unspoken rule.  This thought continues, and we falsely think that if we avoid reality, we avoid negative things in our life.  And so the problem creates a circular logic and reinforces itself.  I suspect that a big part of the problem is the false perceptions we have of reality.  So let’s define reality and happiness.

What is Reality?

I know this seems obvious, but let’s start here.  Reality is what is seen by emotionless outside observation.  For instance, a video camera sees reality.  When someone watches the video camera’s recording, though, what that person experiences as they watch the recording is not reality.  Reality is not what we sense, think, believe, or feel about any given situation.  Our senses and our internal thoughts, beliefs, and feelings are our own experience but they are not reality.  I refer to our sensory experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings as our internal dialogue.  In other words, our actions are reality but our sensory experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings about reality are not.  

What is Happiness?

If we were to look at our brains in an fMRI machine while we felt happy, basically we would see that happiness is just an emotion like any other emotion.  I realize that this may sound boring but it’s the truth.  Happiness will come and go with our perceptions of different situations, just like all emotions do.  Emotions fade into new emotions, like clouds in the sky fade into new clouds, all the time.  Happiness is just an emotion that we feel.  There is one important point about happiness though.  Happiness will arise naturally if we give it room in our minds.

Happiness if we allow it

Happiness is our natural state of being if we allow it to be.  Thus, one definition of happiness is we feel happy when no “needs” or “wants” dominate our minds.  We have “needs” for survival and we have “wants” for life satisfaction.  There is nothing wrong with having them.  When we give those “needs” and “wants” control over our thoughts and actions, we no longer have room in our minds for happiness to reside naturally.  Once that space is full, we think we have to acquire our “needs” and “wants” to feel happiness.

Happiness is a pleasant feeling to us.  And the desire for pleasure is built into us.  For example, if a baby is massaged and then the person giving the massage moves away, the baby will crawl towards them or cry until they return.  As adults we react the same way, except we may not be so blatant with our crying.  The problem is that as we grow, we learn to associate happiness with pleasure from external stimuli and that association is constantly reinforced in our culture, institutions, media, and relationships.

If our emotions are congruent with reality, then our lives are easier.

I feel pretty confident predicting that no one feels truly happy for very long, or at all, when they are using a particular brand of laundry soap.  The same goes for tires, bathroom products, fizzy drinks, or even clothes.  Yet the advertisers sell us the idea that if we buy the product they’re selling then we’ll be happy.  Although the pleasure that something gives us can last a long time, once we buy the product we often find the happiness we may feel from that purchase is short-lived at best.  Learning that the pleasure we feel from an idea or thing is not happiness is an important step towards achieving that happiness.

For instance, soap is soap.  It serves an important purpose in life, but that is all it does.  The clean feeling soap can give certainly feels good, but it is not happiness.  That is an example of reality.  Once we let go of the desire to feel happiness from the brand of soap we buy, do we find we are less happy?  I doubt it.  Instead, I suspect that you will have a bit more room in your mind to feel happy because you’ve let go of the “need” to be made happy by soap.

When we let go of our “needs” and “wants” to be made happy by the things we buy or the ideas we believe, we open up all kinds of room in our hearts to feel happy naturally.  We no longer expect happiness to come to us externally.

How do we let go of our “needs” and “wants”?

Here is a simple mindfulness exercise to help you start opening your mind for happiness.  It entails watching your behavior.  The next time you go to a store, or a restaurant or cafe, ask yourself why you are going there.  The easy answers will be, “Because I want to”, or “I need to eat.”  Look underneath those easy answers, though.  If you’re going to a store, ask yourself if you are going to buy something that you think will make you happy, or if you are going because you enjoy shopping.  If you’re going to an eating establishment, ask yourself if you will feel pleasure by having a full stomach, or if you will enjoy eating the food.  As you do this exercise, you’ll become more aware of the reasons that you’re doing certain things.  That awareness or mindfulness is key to opening your mind to happiness.

A mind that is aware is a mind that can be happy.  As you start to understand the deeper reasons you’re behaving in certain ways, you’ll probably start to find ways to lessen the hold on your mind that “needs” and “wants” have.  Then you can start letting go of those “needs” and “wants”, opening up room for more happiness in your life.  It takes practice and diligence; it’s usually not something that happens after one try.  If you keep practicing mindfulness, though, you’ll find that your daily mood will become more positive.  You’ll find that most happiness is found in reality.

May Joy, Peace, and Contentment fill your day.

Your Dreams and How Astronomically Important You Are

Your Dreams and How Astronomically Important You Are

“A midlife crisis is when we find out how absolutely small and insignificant we are in the universe.  And we learn how astronomically important we are to that Universe!”
-Robert Nichols

Many of you don’t know that I own a recording studio.  Through that business I have had the fortune to record many leading spiritual thinkers from all the world’s major religions.  That fountain of wisdom, combined with modern science and psychology, is the basis of my message of Joy, Peace, and Contentment.  Unfortunately, I didn’t make the effort to understand that I needed to train my brain for Joy, Peace, and Contentment until I suffered fourteen months of depression.  It was during this time that I finally understood how to live Joy, Peace, and Contentment in my daily life, even during times of crisis.

The whole year of 2009 I suffered depression.  Some days I could function; most days I could not.  I was lost in an indelible black ink that covered my whole world.  It was horrible.  One day, I was delivering a job to a client’s business.  The owner of the business invited me into her office and asked what was wrong.  As her business was a valuable client of mine, I tried to answer without giving too much information away about the depressive state I was in.  Shaking her head in sympathy, she asked me to turn around and look at a picture she had hanging on her wall.  It was a field of stars seen from an opening between pine trees.  She said, “When I feel lost, I look at that picture and remind myself that every star is an opportunity if I look for it.”  A couple of months later, for my birthday, she sent me a framed miniature version of the picture.  Today it still sits in my studio, where I can look at it every day.

Later that year, I was talking on the phone with another client of mine, Robert Nichols.  Robert is an author and he is a deep mystic.  He knows about the human spirit because he has studied his own so intensely.  During our conversation, we talked about the depression I was suffering and the hopelessness I felt.  It was then that Robert made a profound statement.  He said, “Midlife is when we find out how absolutely small and insignificant we are in the universe.  And we learn how astronomically important we are to that Universe.”  I immediately thought about the star field picture sitting atop a speaker in my studio.

At our deepest level, each of us has dreams we are born with.  If we fulfill our deepest dreams, we contribute positively to the whole world.  We may feel small and insignificant in the universe, but no one else can fulfill the dreams given to us by the Universe, and so we are astronomically important to that Universe.

Your Dreams and How Astronomically Important You Are

As we are emotional beings, it’s easy to get sidetracked chasing shallow emotional desires.  Yet when we do that, we often sacrifice our real dreams without consciously realizing it.  If we’re not going in a direction that furthers our dreams, a personal crisis can be the first warning that we’re not following the path that we’ve subconsciously laid out for ourselves.  Thus, when a crisis enters our life, we have a choice.  We can yell and fret about the crisis, or we can take the opportunity the crisis offers to re-evaluate our life’s direction.  In other words, a crisis is a chance to realign ourselves with our ultimate dreams.   Additionally, a crisis can be a wake up for us to see that paths that we thought we had are now closed to us.  That is when we have to look up at the star field and remember that there are other opportunities out there if we look for them.

As humans, we all experience personal crises from time to time.  It’s okay.  Those periods of crisis are key times to learn about ourselves, our life’s dreams, and how we need to realign our lives to achieve those dreams.  That is what the comment by Robert meant to me.  The greatest gift of a midlife crisis, or any individual crisis, is a chance to meet yourself.  It’s a chance for you to find out how astronomically important you are to the Universe.

May Joy, Peace, and Contentment become your habit.