By September 27, 2013 6 Comments Read More →

Gratitude – Happiness Made Easy

Flickr - Flower - CJ Schmit1Dylan Charles, Editor
Waking Times

What makes you happy?

Happiness is rather elusive for many people, if not for most people in our society. This is a remarkable statement about the world we’ve created, which offers unprecedented access to food, shelter, health, entertainment, convenience, mobility, wealth, safety, security, and so on. With all this going for us, it should be easy to be happy, right? After all, we already have so much, and do so much, don’t we?

Where is happiness?

Happiness is a state of mental and emotional well-being, of satisfaction and contentment with life, and the easy ability to enjoy whatever circumstances arise. It is intangible, priceless, and there are many, many impostors of it. Even though the pharmaceutical industry may try to prescribe it, or the entertainment industry may try to sell it, or the government may try to provide it, happiness, genuine, true and lasting happiness is something that comes as a result of an inner process, a transference of one’s awareness from expectation to appreciation. A maturation of the understanding of one’s relationship to the self, to other people, and to the world at large.

For those who really know it well, happiness is both the purpose of life, and the secret to a good and meaningful life.

Learning how to be happy in this life is of sincere practical value because happiness affects attitude, positively influencing everything we do, having a powerful effect on those we interact with, and making adversity and calamity easy to overcome. We live in unusually perilous and complicated times, and so the skill of being happy is of particular use in mitigating the fear and uncertainty that accompany this, and for becoming the type of person that can help others along in this adversity.

Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude. – Dale Carnegie

So, just how is happiness ‘caught?’

Turns out it’s rather simple. Gratitude produces happiness. The mindful act of being thankful for someone or for some appreciated quality of life, if even for just the beating of your own heart, is the most powerful technique we have for re-connecting with happiness.

This isn’t some new age way of falsely convincing yourself that negativity doesn’t exist in this dastardly world, but rather, this is a useful tool, a skill, and a sign of mental discipline and fortitude. It is a means of developing the personal qualities that can lead us out of this darkness.

Gratitude is a mental and emotional exercise. As an intentional act, it is as simple as purposefully thinking about and considering the things that one has or has experienced that make life better, like a conscious mental roll call of whatever good things one can find to appreciate. When included in meditation, expressing gratitude and consideration for life deepens the experience and one’s connection to the harmonious and loving currents moving through ourselves and our world. As an outward expression of thanks to another being, gratitude lifts up others.

When practiced as a daily supplement to life, gratitude brings enduring happiness, much more readily and effortlessly than any of the other salves that we consume to conceal our dismal condition. It is a much easier and practical approach than reading books about happiness or becoming a disciple of religion, philosophy or some school of thought that promises happiness, and gratitude certainly yields results more swiftly than pursuing rigid self-discipline or asceticism in order to be happy.

One who conquers himself is greater than another who conquers a thousand times a thousand on the battlefield. — Buddha

Those who can master themselves and the habits of mind and emotion are in deficit today, and sadly our culture has emasculated gratitude… yet here we are, in need of happiness still yet.

As evidence of the effect of gratitude, take a look at this inspiring video, noting how the intentional expression of gratitude brings color warmth and brightness to the faces and voices of the people in this candid experiment:

About the Author

Dylan Charles is a student and teacher of Shaolin Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, a practitioner of Yoga and Taoist esoteric arts, and an activist and idealist passionately engaged in the struggle for a more sustainable and just world for future generations. He is the editor of WakingTimes.com, the proprietor of OffgridOutpost.com, a grateful father and a man who seeks to enlighten and assist others with the power of inspiring information and action. He may be contacted at wakingtimes@gmail.com.

This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It’s okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and all links remain intact.

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  • lacey

    something a bit like this perhaps?!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNLJDR-XbVY

  • Leigh

    I would replace the word happiness all throughout this article with the word joy, there is a distinct difference between the two, happiness being a temporary illusion and joy being a state of pure bliss.

  • delphinius

    Hi Dylan,

    I really like the simplicity of your teachings here. I am reminded of the Taoist Inner Smile Meditation. I know of many people who have healed physical and emotional ailments with this Qi Gong practice. We smile to each of our organs and bodily systems in order to shift frozen or stagnant energy, basking in the healing glow of compassionate loving gratitude.

    The Inner Smile is so profoundly subtle it can probe powerfully into the depths of our unconscious. It can dissolve patterns without destruction by gently massaging our selves with this heart centered salve.

    Master Mantak Chia remembers his Taoist teacher One Cloud (Master Yi Eng), “One Cloud had the most incredible smile. He was always relaxed and smiling, it made me feel like the sun was shining on me when I was around him. His smile made me feel wonderful. I always wanted to be around him.”

    One Cloud offers nine levels of practice to achieve enlightenment. It starts with the Inner Smile and ends with the inner smile.

    Inner Smile: Open Secret behind Tao Practice

    “Openness is the image of Heaven. Calm is the image of Earth.
    When open, one accepts all. When calm, one perceives all.
    When open, one can accept people. When calm, one can deal with events.
    When openness and calm are practiced for a long time, we become clear.
    Open acceptance and calm is how Sages achieved the Tao of Heaven and Earth.”
    – The Book of Balance and Harmony, Li Tao-ch’un

    • Hi Delphinius,

      I almost mentioned Mantak Chia in this article, actually. A long time ago I was curious about meditation and found his book ‘The Healing Energy of the Tao” or something like that. It is a short guide to a Taoist meditation of the micro-cosmic orbit, using the ‘secret smile’ or inner smile you referred to. I followed the guidelines diligently and daily for several months, then one day, boom!, I was struck with a profound awakening of this energy. During the meditation I experienced dramatic, not at all subtle, symptoms like loud ringing in the ears, a hot liquid-like energy moving through the face along the meridian lines he mentioned in the book, dramatic feelings of peace and fear governed by this inner smile, and so on. This was one of those awakening moments where you realize there is so much more to the world than you’ve previously known, and so began my interest in Qi Gong.

      Have a sweet day,

      _Dylan

      • delphinius

        Hi Dylan,

        Thanks for your reply. What an amazing experience! I too found the microcosmic orbit though a book by Micheal Winn. He was a student of Mantak Chia’s and has done much to continue Chia’s work to bring these secret teachings to the West.

        My brother has participated in one of the Taoist dark room retreats, (a week spent in complete blackness, emulating the meditation caves of the Taoist Sages). He described seeing the light within the dark and said the process of internal alchemy was life-changing – I was never quite that brave!!

  • Thank you, Dylan!
    A wonderful post.
    As you say…

    * One who conquers himself is greater than another who conquers a thousand times a thousand on the battlefield. — Buddha

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