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What Makes You Happy?

What Makes You Happy?

Begin by asking yourself what makes you happy and just see what comes up for you. A great variety of answers usually crop up.

My dog makes me happy. Sunny clear days make me happy. Rain makes me happy. My spouse makes me happy. Good sex makes me happy. Good food makes me happy. Beautiful art, good music, and flowers make me happy. Consideration makes me happy. Being loved and respected makes me happy. Being healthy makes me happy. People thanking me makes me happy. Praise and acknowledgement make me happy. A new car makes me happy. Well, this list could go on and on as you can probably see. If all these things make me happy, I should be happy all the time or at least a good part of the time, right? Unfortunately, this is not so. Upon closer inspection the phrasing of the question has some problems with it. For one thing the “makes me” part is problematic because it implies that I am a passive recipient of happiness and it is situations and objects out there in the world that drive me to be happy.

Apparently, experiences outside of myself are the main things responsible for my happiness, as if happiness came with the situations or objects themselves. There is another problem in that these so-called things that make me happy are unreliable and are not guaranteed to make me happy. I may feel happy for a little bit and then something comes along that seems to make me unhappy. I am playing with my dog and then I get a phone call with bad news and my dog is no longer making me happy. With this scenario, there is no reliability with regard to happiness. Happiness becomes something I am chasing and may find briefly but then it goes away and I have to work hard to bring it back through one of these unreliable experiences or things. This is not a good system at all. If we described this system of finding happiness on Earth to a Martian, they might think this is a nutty and inefficient way of going about things, too fraught with problems.

How can a thing, event, situation or experience cause something to happen that is really an experience within you, an aspect of your awareness? You could say the object or experience causing your happiness was a simply a catalyst but that would not guarantee that it was a cause. Isn’t happiness something you already possess? Or is it completely absent until it is given to you by, let’s say, an experience as if the experience had a load of happiness that it could dump in your lap or mind?  Do situations and objects really carry happiness to give? We could take the question more biological and say that certain experiences, objects, or events trigger a cascade of chemicals in the brain that we call the feeling of happiness. That pretty much reduces us humans to chemistry that somehow evolved out of a primordial soup. I suppose this is possible but not satisfying and not probable because it implies that the body is the thing that produces the experience we call awareness or consciousness. How did something so incredibly vast as awareness or consciousness derive out of nonconscious meat that feeds worms when the body is dead? There is plenty of evidence that consciousness is not confined in the body nor even dependent on it. People have reported amazing awareness even after being declared clinically dead and of course there is all that inconvenient evidence of people being aware of things happening thousands of miles away as in remote viewing even when they are placed in a Faraday cage.

We could go to the enlightened masters, the great Spiritual teachers of the world and see what they have to say about happiness. First of all, there is general agreement among them that the body exists only in our imaginations based on memories, sensations, perceptions and the like, none of which are actually provable. They would say that consciousness pre-existed the human body and produced it, not the other way around. They say that consciousness, awareness or pure being is limitless, eternal and not personal. I don’t think I want to argue with those exalted teachers through the ages.

Furthermore, they would say that happiness is a condition of consciousness, a natural outflow of awareness not contaminated by dualistic thinking. What this means is that happiness already exists within us because it is a product of pure consciousness or being that does not depend on a body to experience it. That is a radical and ancient conclusion. Taken further this means that happiness cannot be produced by things that are limited, that are not eternal and limitless because happiness can only come from what is eternal and limitless. Otherwise, you only have a very limited version of happiness that we could call bodily pleasure, which comes and goes and is not reliable.

So, if I say she makes me happy this cannot possibly be so because at the essence I am already happy, I just got distracted by my beliefs and thoughts. I thought that happiness comes from certain things like food, drink, my dog, good movies, praise, etc. I believed I had to look for happiness, chase it in fact. It depends on my being with this man or woman companion, or having this good job making good money or any number of things I have to pursue to be happy. I manage to find it, feel happy for a few moments or hours and then the happiness goes away because this same companion annoys me or has bad breath or is interested in someone else. So, I chase happiness in a bottle or drugs, or making money or having power and so on and it never ever is lasting.

But why do these things make me happy for even a short time. The simple answer is that they don’t. When I finally experience good sex with the ideal partner the chase is ended and for a very short time I am relaxed enough and stress-free enough to experience the happiness that is already within me. The same thing happens with the big paycheck, the fun with the dog, the good movie, the strong drink, the pill, the new car and so on. However, I am so hypnotized by my domestication, by my enculturation and programming I fail to notice this very simple fact. I think happiness is outside of me, not within me already as it has to be if I understand there is no division, no separation, no dualistic thinking. In fact, happiness is not a product of thinking at all. Happiness makes no sense whatsoever. It is just so. Just is. Happiness is an expression of Spirit within me. It never went anywhere, never was lost, never was absent in any way. Whoa! How can that be? What about that suicidal depression I was in when my ex left me or I was fired from my great job. That suicidal depression was a distraction, based purely on thoughts and beliefs that make up the pain body, a miserable collection of false conclusions and pure and simple ignorance of what and who I am and what reality is.

This only makes sense if I understand that the condition of Spirit, God, the Creator, or whatever name I give the source of life, is happiness itself, is love, is beauty, is ultimate understanding. This awareness I call mine is not exclusively mine. My being is not a private personal experience as opposed to your being. They are one and the same at source. There is only one consciousness, one awareness, one beingness. I participate in that but it is not exclusively mine and that is a wonderful awesome thing. If I were truly separate I would be f—-ked for sure because there can be no happiness in the hoax of separation. That is misery itself. But you may ask, what about all those complete creeps and assholes that I have to put up with almost daily, that I read about in the news and so on? The ones that are ruining everything? What about them? Is it really them? Or is it me that is ruining everything if we are one and the same. Well, consider this: Just as Spirit is all one thing, so is the ego, the false personality that believes in separation. We talk about our own ego that we struggle with as if it were a private affair. It is not a private affair. The reason we recognize hatred, narcissism, selfishness, narrow mindedness, bigotry and so on in other people suggests we are also like that when we come from that egoic place. We are all alike, we just appear to be different. That’s a frightening thought. Well maybe it is also comforting too because it means we are never alone.

We are one being with many expressions. We can either focus on the many expressions and fail to see that they are from the same source or we can recognize the source that is the same and discover that the misery is actually a lie. It is like a dark room before the light is turned on. Turn on the lights. This can all be summarized in an aphorism. “If you knew that you were being what Spirit wants you to be, you would be happy. You are being that way, be happy.”


© All rights reserved. www.thepowerpath.com 

You may make copies of this writing and distribute it in any media you wish so long as you do not charge for it or alter it in any way. You must credit the author and include this entire copyright notice. While the text may be shared, no audio files including lectures, music and/or sound meditations may be posted on any site for any reason without written permission from the Power Path.

José Stevens PhD is an international lecturer, corporate team builder and organizational coach, consultant and trainer. A psychologist, licensed clinical social worker and author of more than twenty books and numerous articles, he is also co-editor for A Journal of Contemporary Shamanism and a board member of the Society for Shamanic Practitioners. He is the founder, with his wife Lena, of the Power Path School of Shamanism and The Center for Shamanic Education and Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating youth in indigenous cultures. He has completed a ten-year apprenticeship with a Huichol Maracame in Mexico and has studied with the Shipibos of the Amazon and the Paqos of the Andes for the last thirty years.

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