Since we are children, through movies and story books, we are often indoctrinated to think happiness is the main goal; one we are to chase. We are not taught that it is our birthright; instead we are left with this uneasy feeling that we have to earn it. Neither are we taught happiness is an emotion not a state of being, this of course only sets the ground for further confusion and disappointment, for if one fails to be happy, then either there is something inherently wrong or one has failed in life. It is no wonder then, why so many people end up frustrated, resentful, sarcastic, bitter or in best case scenarios sitting in front of a therapist wondering why they feel so unhappy.
Kant claimed that happiness is the satisfaction of all our needs, but is that accurate? It seems a lot to ask of a person; a happiness as unattainable as it is distressing because it pushes people to live in a state of constant frustration. This idealized saying of his, paradoxically, becomes an aversive because one’s level of calm and peace, are lost in the face of a disproportionate and especially rigid conceptual demand. “All needs…”, seems to me too much to ask of human beings, as we are by nature mutable and so is life itself.
The search for happiness is an aspiration or desire which seems innate, and which has accompanied human beings since the beginning of time. Man, consciously or unconsciously, feel impelled towards pleasure and towards the tranquility of the soul–serenity and joy– that go beyond the immediate turbulence of sensations….the Greeks called it, eudaimonism.
Most people when point blank asked: what is happiness? are often confused….it takes them a bit to figure it out–are they seeking or lacking happiness, or is it the programming that demands it and leaves them feeling as if they do not have it? The programming seems to demand it to the point that one isn’t in control, but by inertia we push forward towards what seems an always elusive goal or mirage.
What are we talking about when we are referring to happiness? is it a place? a Nirvana? a state of being? I guess this varies according to the culture, society and programming you grew up with. However, as previously mentioned, happiness is an emotion and all emotions are transient; why then, do we spend so much energy trying to attain something that once achieved, will eventually leave us because that is its very nature. Is it possible that to be happy is best to be realistic? This doesn’t mean give up and simply live within a gray area; I simply mean let’s stop behaving like addicts expecting our next fix to bring forth a permanent state of happiness.
Is it possible, had we been taught happiness is just another emotion; like pain but enjoyable; we would be less harsh on ourselves and not so demanding and competitive? Maybe then, we would not have this incessant ill need to prove one is happier than the next person. After all, we are referring to a process not a place of being. A more realistic attitude about happiness would involve assuming two premises: (a) that it is not a goal, and (b) that it does not respond to the principle of all or nothing (you can be more or less happy).
Perhaps in learning to understand that internal peace with our essence (this peace can take place even when we are experiencing the worst of days) is a state of being, and happiness is a transient emotion, we would have more people feeling less pressured to always pretend and put a smile; acting as if everything in their lives is perfect and they feel nothing unpleasant–the result of fear….fear of being judged not just by others but by their own internal critic.
Is it possible that if we understood the above concepts (internal peace/happiness) appropriately, we would actually feel more moments of happiness?…simply because we would be allowing ourselves to just be–without judging or hiding whenever we are experiencing sadness, anger, depression, pain.
This constant neurotic feeling to be happy all the time, has also robbed us of something more valuable…the ability to live with passion. First we have dogma saying we need to live with rigidity in order to be worthy of a place in heaven or some other nirvana–it makes sense then, people don’t get to experience passion in this life; how could they? they need to avoid feeling intense joy and elation in all areas of their lives, otherwise they won’t be welcome within a mythological place–this castrating of themselves is supposed to be okay because there will be a reward in another life–but nobody has ever come back from the death to prove it.
On the opposite of the first group, we have those whom only add to the fear of experiencing passion, because their way of life is so out of their own control and in total disservice to their essence–they have equated their self abuse as passion. But passion never abuses the self–passion is the very fabric of life itself; it is intense, sensual (sensuality isn’t the same as raunchy or pornographic), alluring, loving, healing, energizing–the total opposite of self denigration or rigidity.
To live with passion, is to live…but again, let us not confuse intense momentary emotions with living with passion. Passion requires being aware…conscious. For those to whom it does not come naturally, it needs to be cultivated. How does one do this? by getting in touch with your unique self and by embracing your shadow–as we do this, organically we start to experience different layers and shades within our world. The world doesn’t change, but the way we experience it does.
Seneca recommended that at night, before going to bed, we ask ourselves if we have really lived that day….because every day is a gift. Live with consciousness which simply means to be involved in what we do and what we stop doing–to dive, to submerge ourselves in the moment–for those very moments will give us the fuel and the energy to overcome and transmute moments of pain or difficulties….which are bound to happen, for such is life.
It is true we are not always plugged in our highest capacity, but that does not mean we should surrender to the apathy of the insensitive, the sarcastic, the falsely rebellious or the rigid….where is the beauty in that?….
To the person who lives with passion, who feels it in his very fiber….beauty, sensuality, love, purity, magnificence are everywhere–like Spinoza’s God, the person with passion in his veins, experiences divinity every day; from the simplest most mundane things to the highest of pleasures.
Divinity and its beauty are everywhere; we stumble on it all the time, but we don’t see it. What could I possibly discover if I am locked waiting for nirvana or some lost paradise? The sage does not seek eternity, he already dwells in it. The real sage is not one who locks himself from the world and its healthy pleasures, but the one who has the capacity to be part of the world and using his discernment, knows how to identify and give himself to life’s healthy sensuous passions–for sensuality is in everything, from the tasting of a delicious piece of chocolate, the dance of a butterfly, the creating of something to the ecstasy of making love.
The plan is to lower the sensory thresholds so that the experience enters and shakes us to higher levels of consciousness. People resign themselves to lethargy, to the paralysis of the senses; to the point that they live dead while alive….hoping for some reward for their spiritual and physical castrations. Yet to be a good human being has nothing to do with rigidity or false merits….on the contrary to be a good human, you need to feel. When we truly feel, we become more empathetic towards ourselves and others.
Living implies being committed to one’s own self in such a way that nothing important escapes us; that every illusion, every dream, every memory counts: perceiving everything with intensity, remembering with luxury the details….shamelessly feeling, liking, tasting. I am talking about really feeling; but again, we only get in touch with our feelings when we allow ourselves to feel both: the good and bad within us.
Passion, the essential vitality of those who do not resign themselves to giving up. Those who know in life we will win some and lose some, but that doesn’t have to define us, nor can it stop us from moving forward once we are ready. Passion the beautiful motor of life; the one which lowers the defenses of the false ego, nurtures the healthy ego, cradles and fuels one’s unique essence and lets the capacity of the five senses multiply. Passion the feeling of the most beautiful soothing fire from within. Passion is not just part of you but your birthright!
“Believe in Your Heart. Believe in your heart that you’re meant to live a life full of passion, purpose, magic and miracles.”
― Roy T. Bennett,