Julie Umpleby, Contributor
“Happiness is a by-product. You cannot pursue it by itself.” Samuel Levenson
“Seek not happiness too greedily, and be not fearful of unhappiness.” Lao-Tzu
If you ask people want they want most in life, you will find the answer in the majority of cases to be that they ‘just want to be happy’. What is it within us that keeps us striving for happiness? Why are we living with a deep sense that we actually don’t have what we most want?
For a period of about 8 years as I engaged with one life challenge after another, I found myself questioning the concept of happiness. Here I was on a so-called spiritual journey, on ‘the path’ as others would say, and yet I felt anything but happy with it. I experienced interim periods of ecstatic joy and divine inspirations that kept me going, and then the grey cloud would appear overhead again and I began to question the entire nature of my journey. Would I ever really feel happy? I was trusting in my highest guidance and I knew beyond doubt that I was doing the right things and that there were deep wisdoms unfolding, yet still, I didn’t seem to be able to sustain a ‘happy’ state of being.
As I looked around at others, it seemed that many people were happier than I was. At the same time I was noticing a plethora of workshops, books and scientific programs all pledging “Instant happiness”, “Three quick steps to Happiness” or other similar promises. We are bombarded from every angle by clever marketers with guarantees that their product will make us happy, even that we need it to be happy. Nations and governments have introduced Happiness indexes for their countries and it has become another comparison game – which nation is happier? Happiness has become a competitive domain, a symptom of a society dominated by misplaced values and externalised loci of control. Each time our expectations are not met by that book, that workshop, that product we set off on another quest in pursuit of the elusive happiness.
The spiritual seeker is not immune & we find the same patterns promulgated throughout the Spiritual/New Age communities. Here, the promises of happiness are disguised in crystals, brain altering music, magical talismans and promises of Spiritual bliss and enlightenment. The messages in the advertising are the same – if you buy this, do this, follow me, you will be happy.
In a world where so many are struggling just trying to survive within the paradigms that have become our societal norm, anything that promises to deliver us from our burdens or unhappiness are hugely attractive. Don’t get me wrong, there are tools that can support us enormously in relieving stress, and anxiety, giving us some relief. It is wise however, to remember that they are only tools and we should guard against becoming overly dependent upon them. Sooner or later, they will stop working if our real source of inner happiness hasn’t been uncovered.
As I delved more deeply into my inner self looking for my own happiness switch, I found that I had also fallen prey to some of the illusions I had been sold. I found that I was still comparing myself, not only with others, but also with my own expectations of how I thought my life should look. I discovered I still held a belief that if somehow I did the right things and followed my soul calling, I would be rewarded by God, the Universe, Source etc. I found beliefs that told me I shouldn’t be suffering or struggling in any way. Instead of appreciating the strength that had been developing within me, I felt inadequate or wrong. I found out just how much of my identity had been wrapped up in what I did, who I was or the image I thought I should be projecting.
It was almost as if by observing and recognising all of this, I was given a choice to either keep those beliefs or to simply let it all go. It was a relatively short step into total surrender and acceptance. I accepted that my life would never be the way it had been before. I accepted that my journey was unique and began to list all of the wonderful insights, wisdoms and gifts that it had brought me. I gave myself permission to be perfectly imperfect. I accepted my life and myself with all my flaws. I allowed myself to grieve for all that had gone, for the false ‘me’ that was no more. I gave up searching and simply rested into the centre of my being as deeper understanding unfolded.
And in the surrender, I found peace. In the still, quietness at the core of my being I found what all the great wisdom teachers speak of – that what we seek is never outside of us. I felt more real, more present, more ME. And I found that I began to feel content. And from the peace and contentment, I found the stirring of a deep and natural happiness. It didn’t necessarily mean that my life circumstances changed much, however when another challenge presented itself, I was able to respond rather than reacting. I noticed that the old familiar tension in the face of difficulty wasn’t there anymore. I became calmer and yes, happier.
Synchronistically, as I began to write this article an internet link crossed my path. The link was to a new online docu-movie entitled, ‘Happy’. As a natural skeptic, I immediately assumed it was another extended sales pitch for something, but what caught my eye was that it was only $2.99 to watch online (that’s around £2). It wasn’t exactly a “Buy Me and I’ll make you Happy” price. It felt like more of a gift……and that was what I found. It is a beautiful movie full of insights that confirmed my own conclusions and experiences. I would honestly recommend it (and no, I am not a commission-earning affiliate!)
To return to the title of this article and one of my opening quotes : “Happiness is a by-product. You cannot pursue it by itself.”
When we are at peace within ourselves, we become more accepting, loving, compassionate and understanding of ourselves and others. We are more able to share, co-operate and be of service. These are the most important intrinsic factors leading to happiness.
When we say we ‘just want to be happy’, what we really want is the peace to make happy choices.
Today, may you find peace within. And may today you feel happiness and joy in your heart, for it is from that place that we will heal our world.
Happy, The Movie : http://www.thehappymovie.com/
About the Author
Julie is an energy therapist and international teacher of a number of spiritual development and energy awareness programs. She is the founder of The Diamond Light Grid Alignment, a system of advanced vibrational alignments for restoring energy field integrity and a higher level of balance. The Diamond Light Grid facilitates spiritual growth and soul wholeness in a very down to earth, modern way with updated practices from the ancient world. Julie also facilitates a number of hands-on Diamond development and other spiritual expansion workshops.
For more information, please visit: http://www.diamondlightworld.net
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