If the Pursuit of Happiness is in our Constitution, then why are we so unhappy?
Every year a variety of publications produce reports on the top 10 happiest countries in the world. The USA is never in the top 10 on any of the lists! Our northern neighbor Canada is in the top 10, but we are not.
The pursuit of happiness is written in our Constitution, but statistics show that Americans are some of the most unhappy people on the planet. So we get to pursue happiness but we just don’t ACTUALLY get to experience it. However, because we believe in the pursuit of happiness, we are always trying to achieve it. Therefore, we end up being great achievers but we are not very happy people. So the people that believe most in the pursuit of happiness are actually the most miserable.
What’s even worse than that is that we really believe that we are the most happy. Even though studies show we are not happy, we believe we are the happiest of them all. This is one of the illusions of our very large egos. Ego is simply the thoughts we have about ourselves or the thought constructs that our mind imagines us to be. At the EGOIC level, we have absolutely no control over our lives. Do you doubt that statement? Right now if I asked you to sit in silence and have no thoughts for five minutes, could you do it? Or, if you are feeling some strong emotions, could you just drop them on demand? I think not! Our lives are made of our minds reliving the past, anticipating the future and a very little bit of what actually is in the present moment. So we have no control over our minds and therefore we have no control over our lives. The funny thing is, is we are absolutely convinced we have control. Basically we are all acting like Pavlov’s dogs with conditioning reactivity. That is the life at the level of the ego. This is what I realized in my late 20’s when I became disillusioned with my singing career after I learned meditation. I woke up and slowly over time started to live a more aware and happy life.
So we struggle because there is so much pain living life at the level of the ego with the illusion of control and so much pain and suffering. When we feel life is difficult we struggle more instead of surrendering to the process. It’s human nature and like being in quicksand, the more you struggle, the deeper and faster you will sink. When you struggle with conditioned mind, you only get yourself caught more in conditioned mind. My teacher Adyshanti calls living in the mind, living in the dream state. The simplest way to get out of the dream state and out of ego living, is simply to stop struggling with the mind. However, we struggle within our own consciousness which keeps the dream state intriguing. Therefore we remain stuck in the vicious cycle of life and the endless pursuit of happiness.
To me, this is not living. To be at the whim of life when it tosses you around, is not living. This is what got me started on the spiritual path years ago. When you change your thinking, it helps, but ultimately that is just rearranging the checker board as the dream still continues on. So how do we wake up? Well that is what meditation and yoga is all about. I was fortunate enough to have found meditation in my 20’s closely followed by taking my first yoga training also in my 20’s. Yoga and meditation is a life long study and discipline. After having study with amazing teachers such as Rama Berch and Saul David Raye my yoga has now morphed into Corrine yoga that we call Awareness Yoga. If you have the desire to stop struggling in life, come take a class here at the Ivy House. We welcome you with open and nurturing arms.
Is your time and attention. Most of us would sooner hand a stranger $5 then give them our time and attention. Therefor the most valuable commodity in your busy life, is truly your time and attention.
What do focus your time and attention on? Wherever you put your attention, grows. Pretty simple math really, but do you realize what it is you are focusing on each day, day in and day out?
They say each of us has 85,000 thoughts in a day and 95% of those thoughts are the same thoughts we had yesterday. Are you aware of what is in your mind and what you pay attention to each day? Your mind goes to the same habitual thought patterns over and over again, so think about what yours are.
Basically if you focus on work, work grows. When you focus on your relationship, it gets better. Kind of like tending a garden really. I have planted my little seedlings and every day I check to see if they have sprouted and how much. The next step will be taking my babies outside and into the garden. But if my attention goes somewhere else anytime over the next six months and I forget to check my garden, fungus may grow and ruin my tomatoes. So I must put time and attention on my garden each and every day. It’s the same thing in your life. If you want to manifest your soul mate then you must put effort towards that end, same thing with a new job or place to life.
I was blessed to find meditation and yoga in my 20’s and they have been the foundation of my life for the past thirty years. That means daily for thirty years I take time to meditate and do yoga. These practices ground me and fill my soul enabling me to live a happy and contented life. From that centered space I go out and live my life. Therefor I have spent my precious commodity of my time and attention on cultivating my inner world every day for thirty years. So when you plant a tomato seed a tomato plant grows and you get tomatoes. When you plant the seed of happiness and contentment, then happiness grows. Whatever you put your time and attention on, will grow.
So again, I ask the question, where does your mind go each day? Are you grateful or do you always want more, or both!? What is your overall attitude each day? If you are 80% happy then you will draw happiness to you. If you are 80% frustrated then that is what you will see. Because what we see in the world, is what we are on the inside. What your mind thinks about each day will tell you what you have planted in the fertile garden soil of your consciousness that creates your future!
Being present and living in the moment is another key to this equation. How many times do you arrive at work and don’t recall the drive? Or in the middle of chatting with a friend, do you all of sudden realize that you did not hear the last several minutes of what they were saying. You were caught up in your own mind thinking about something else you obviously found more important or intriguing then what your friend was sharing. It happens to all of us. The mind is powerful and potent and sometimes people find their thoughts more interesting then what is happening in the moment.