Wednesday, April 11, 2007
The Non-Pursuit of Happiness
Born Happy (photo by minotte)
The Oprah show today featured Dr.Robert Holden --a man who has dedicated his life to studying the pursuit of happiness. The psychologist is the founder of the Happiness Project in England and the author of 10 best-selling books, including Happiness Now!.
Holden's spiritual teacher told him: "You have to understand that the pursuit of happiness is a mistake. You don't chase happiness out there. You learn that you're happy inside you and then you go running. Then you go into the world."
You can't pursue happiness. Happiness is within you.
I never thought of it like that but it does make sense. I know happiness does not lie in the watch you wear, the car you drive, or how big your home is. Holden says we were all created happy. How we perceive our experiences in life is what teaches us how to not happy. There is also what he calls the "happy-chondriac," --those who are afraid to be happy because we were taught that happiness has a price, and there will be a fall, a payback.
Holden says that chronic sad sacks and complainers are happy-chondriacs. They like to live life and complain. Sometimes, we think we don't deserve what we have. But really, we all have to dare to let life be great, and to trust that good things can happen, and that they can last.
"One way to do that is to surround yourself with people who already know that. I think it's also great to have some friends around you who can remind you, because we do forget," Dr. Holden says.
Also, Holden suggests that we let go of our imperfect past. We can't have a perfect past anyway. "And then take a vow of kindness, be kind to everyone," he said.
Destination affliction is the condition Holden coined for those who promise that they will be happier in the future, when they have a certain job, when the kids are grown, when they have their own home. These people live in the not-now. Holden promises that they will not be happy when they reach their destination. A bigger house will mean the lack of proper furniture and the empty-nest will mean loneliness.
I should remember this because I tend to put my dreams on hold because the kids are young. I want to travel--Italy, France, Greece, I want to learn how to rock-climb, live in a small house at the foot of a hill and own a small bakery. And then I realized that I can save up to travel now--with them--if we are lucky, on a cruise, why not? I should also check-out rock-climbing sooner than later because I don't think arthritis and rock-climbing are best friends. I also started honing my bread-making skills now (not later). I should also remember to dream big and to want to earn money, and not feel guilty about a windfall or two. Or not to put myself down when I am doing well. I should remember not to be afraid of my light.
Take the test
and find out how happy you are. Read about the whole show here and hope it helps you find your own (inner) road to happiness.
Posted by TOW Blog at 7:15 PM