First, happiness is not a place. It is a process.
The other day I admitted to my friend an insecurity about blogging on these big life ideas. I was concerned about people who have known me in times of struggle and difficulty. “What if they think I have no credibility because I’ve experienced pain in this process?” In the next breath, I heard what I said and smiled. “I couldn’t have learned what I’ve learned without the pain. My process brings my joy.”
There will never be a place where you’re free from hurt and insecurity. When you see those uncomfortable times as part of a long process, you’ll tap into your joy.
Of course I shouldn’t care what people think. I shouldn’t think that I’m above feeling pain…learning from these insecurities is part of my process.
Second, you will never achieve happiness by waiting for it. You must be active in the process.
“People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you’re fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.” -Elizabeth Gilbert
You’re never going to find a consistent joy without participating in seeking it.
If your reality consists of constantly complaining, lots of work, little to no reflection, and escape through television, alcohol, etc., will you wake up one morning and feel consistently happy? In my limited experience, I have never seen or heard of this happening.
When I have seen and consistently felt happiness, three things are present: meeting the body’s needs lovingly, learning and reflecting on reactions, and seeking wisdom from various sources.
Practicing constant and active self-care will achieve joy. Practicing being a victim of unhappiness will not. It is that simple.
Third, you will not find happiness by always feeling pleasure.
Look, shit happens. No matter how much joy you bring into your life, it will continue to happen. We are faced with challenges not to break us, but to teach us. Turn those questions around and say, “If I’m experiencing this, there is something I have to learn.”
Take the sports metaphor… In The Power of Kabbalah, Yehuda Berg speaks about the process of winning. He asks whether in athletic events, is the goal actually winning?
“Suppose there were a magic formula that allowed your team to win every single game. No matter what happened, no matter who you played, you always won…What would that really be like? You’d quickly discover that the game had lost its appeal. Excitement would turn into boredom. So can we really say that winning is the ultimate goal? No. What we really want from the game is risk and challenge–that requires the possibility of losing. More than winning, it’s the test of our ability that makes the game meaningful.”
Happiness, this feeling of success, comes from challenge, a sense of accomplishment, and growth. You don’t want this to be easy. You don’t really want me to tell you how to get “happiness NOW!” …Otherwise, you wouldn’t know growth.
Love this ongoing process to achieve joy. Love your genuine effort to figure out this process. And, most importantly, love your ability to go through the dark, because your when you again experience light, you will know your depth. In that depth, is where you will find happiness.