Monday, July 4, 2022

STOP Delaying Happiness: You can choose to be Happy TODAY

Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

A couple of years ago my friend Sophie, who is now a Buddhist nun, asked me in a text message, "How is your happiness going, Marco?"

I didn't answer anything because the truth is that at that moment I wasn't feeling very happy. As a matter of fact, I had not been feeling happy for a very long time. And the pandemic had made matters even worst, as you can imagine.

You can either continue reading the full story below or watch the video version instead, or both if you wish.




So every time she asked that question I was reminded of my situation. I was very aware of it but it was quite disappointing for me to acknowledge.

I've been studying the teaching of the Indian yogis for years, even decades perhaps, and they all have the same message:

“True happiness lies within.”

One of my favorite quotes says,

"Never seek happiness from any person, matter, or event. Seek it from within."

I know these teachings with the core of my being. I don't just blindly believe in them, I know them to be a fact. Yet, even with all that knowledge and countless hours of meditation, I still wasn't feeling very happy.

But a few months ago something started to change.


I started asking questions


As I was doing my daily journaling I asked myself:

“If I had the power to change absolutely anything in my life right now, what would I change?”

So I wrote down all the things that I wasn't happy about, the things that I wanted to change or improve in my life.

They were in all areas: relationships, health, finances, and spirituality.

Then after having that list down I asked myself:

“How would I feel if would actually attain all those things or if those changes would take place?”

So I closed my eyes and observing all those changes taking place in my life I imagined how I would feel: happy, joyful, relieved, fulfilled, satisfied, grateful, and so on.


I was unconsciously delaying my happiness


At this moment I realized something very obvious but at the same time very powerful.

As I was feeling all these positive emotions I realized that I do have the power to choose the way I want to feel.

I mean, there was nothing outside of myself that created those positive emotions. It was just my own mind.

And as I continued journaling I realized something even more important.

All this time I've been expecting those things in my life to change or improve to be able to feel happy, to feel fulfilled, or to feel good about myself.

In other words, I was unconsciously delaying my happiness until a future event that might or might never take place.

I'm sure you are very familiar with this. We do it all the time.

“I'll be happy when I find the perfect job, when I make a certain amount of money, when I can buy my dream home, when I find the perfect relationship, and so on.”

Right?

So, this was an important realization but I knew it wasn't enough. So I asked myself the next obvious question:

“Why on earth would I wait for those things to change to be happy? Why can't I just feel happy today?”

Will achieving my dreams make me truly happy?


As I wrote down all sorts of possible answers it finally became clear to me.

For the longest time, I had had this crazy idea that achieving my dreams, fulfilling my needs, or solving my problems would make me happy.

Now you might think, well that's not crazy, that's very reasonable. Who wouldn't be happy if they achieve their dreams or solve their problems? That's what everybody wants, right?

Well, that's exactly what I used to believe but, is it true? Is it a fact? or is it just a belief?

Will attaining our dreams, fulfilling our desires, or solving our problems truly make us happy?

Or is it possible that if we do attain everything that we desire we might realize in the end that we are still unhappy?

So I looked into my own past experiences. For instance in relationships.

I've had a few girlfriends in the past, and yes, of course, there were many happy moments in all of them, especially at the beginning. But there was also struggle, pain, and even heartbreaks in the end.

Yet somehow, after every breakup, I still had the belief that once I find a girlfriend I was going to be truly happy. I had created an ideal in my head, the illusion that everything will be perfect once I find the perfect relationship.

I'm not trying to be negative or pessimistic here. I know it is possible to have a happy harmonious relationship.

I'm just pointing out to the fact that sometimes we create this unreasonable expectation, this belief that once we attain that which we desire we will enjoy endless happiness as if things will never change and will always be perfect.

So we unconsciously add disproportionate value to something that isn't real but is just an ideal.

Besides, let's be honest. We all know that our desires are never ending. Even people who seem to have attained everything and are successful still have problems.

Ok, I know these thoughts are nothing new. You've probably heard about this countless times before, but I guess it was finally starting to make sense to me.

And it felt somehow liberating because if I'm aware that all those things that I wanted to attain or that I wanted to change, might not make me truly happy in the end, then I am free to feel happy today.

But I still had that question that you might also be asking yourself:

How the heck can I choose to be happy when I'm broke, when I'm sick, when I'm going through heartbreaks, when I'm alone, when I've failed at everything, and so on and on?

How the heck can I be happy when my life is not working at all? How can I be happy when everything seems to be going in the wrong direction?

I still didn't get it.


It's all about being present


Then, after contemplating this question for a little while, I wrote down in my journal:

Well, I have two options. 

For instance, let's say I'm broke. 

I can either choose to be broke and unhappy, or I can choose to be broke and happy.  It's that simple.

I know I can't change being broke, at least not in the short term. That might be my reality, my present. But I can change in a fraction of a second the way that I feel about it. I have that power. We all have that power.

That led me to another very obvious but very important realization. So I wrote down.

“Ahhhh, it's all about being present. Duh!”

You see, the only way to be happy today, regardless of the good and the bad, is to learn to accept and welcome the present as it is.

This means that happiness is found only in the present moment, not in the past nor in the future.

In other words, to be present is to be happy, and to be happy is to be present.

I know this sounds cliche, and perhaps too simplistic. I mean, seriously, “How can I accept all the negative stuff going on in my life?” But if I feel I'm unable to accept my present then I can at least try to surrender to it.

Like I said before, I can always change the way I perceive or interpret things, but I can't change my present. That's not an option.

So if I want to be happy, I have no choice, I better just accept or surrender to whatever the present moment is bringing me.

The alternative would be to resist it, avoid it or run away from it. But that means that we will be moving into the past or the future, which will lead to even more unhappiness.

Which one would you choose?


Will I lose the motivation to improve my life or attain my dreams?


This was such a powerful exercise. Just by asking a few questions, I had already started to feel a change in me. I started to see things in a different way.

But I still had more questions.

If I am happy today and if I don't need to wait for things to change to be happy, then, how would I have the motivation to improve my life or to attain my dreams? Why would I even bother?

As I started answering that question I realized that the question itself was a revelation.

What that question was actually saying is that I believe that in order to pursue my dreams I need to be unhappy, unsatisfied, or unfulfilled. Or in other words, I was using unhappiness as a motivation to attain that which I want.

So then I asked myself again:

Is that really necessary?  Do I need to be unhappy in order to pursue my dreams, or can I be happy while I go for my dreams?

The answer was pretty straightforward.

Happiness involves all sorts o positive emotions: joy, bliss, peace, fulfillment, satisfaction, gratitude, and so on.

When we are experiencing all these positive emotions we will naturally have more mental clarity, creativity, inspiration, and motivation to work on our dreams or to solve our problems.

On the other side unhappiness, sadness, depression, stress, anxiety, and fear makes us stupid.

It doesn't matter how hard we work, when we are unhappy we are not able to make the progress we want to make, we don't get the ideas that we need to get, we are jut not able to think clearly. Nothing seems to work at all.


It's all about the journey


So to allow myself to be present and happy today is clearly the best thing I can do to attain my dreams or to solve my problems.

And then, even if I fail at whatever I'm trying to accomplish, even if I never attain the things I want to attain, it wouldn't matter because I would have been present and happy throughout the entire journey.

You know, as the saying goes, “It's not the destination that matters but the journey.”

To put it in other words:

If I'm not present and happy today is useless to expect to be happy in the future. On the other side, if I am present and happy today whatever happens in the future is irrelevant cause I'm already happy.

I think if we could adopt this mindset everything would change.

Then the motivation to do the things we want to do would not be the end result, the expectation of some future happiness, but rather the desire to do what we love to do, what we are meant to do, or simply the desire to fulfill our purpose.


Am I the happiest person ever now? 


So through this simple journaling exercise, I learned quite a few things about myself.

All this time I had been delaying my happiness, believing that something in the future would make me happy, while all I needed to do is to choose to be happy today by accepting the present as it is, as ugly or as beautiful as it might be.

You know, even if nothing was working out at the moment, and my whole world was collapsing around me, why would I choose on top of everything, to be unhappy? Why would I punish myself with unhappiness?

And what if I am never able to attain the things that I want to attain, or make the changes I hope to make?  Should I just remain unhappy forever?

So allowing myself to be present and happy is always the best choice I can make.

Alright, that's great, but, has this made any difference? Am I the happiest person on the planet now?

Well, no of course I'm not but, I do feel good right now. And the interesting thing is that nothing has changed in my life. Everything is exactly the same as it was before.

I have no idea how I'm going to feel tomorrow, in a week, a month, or a year. But today, right now, I'm feeling pretty good.

I've been feeling so good that I had the inspiration and the motivation to create this new type of video that I had never tried before.

And the quote that I mentioned at the beginning now seems more realistic and accessible to me.

“Never seek happiness from any person, matter, or event. Seek it from within.”

You see, we are able to live in the present moment only when we feel contentment and satisfaction with who we are and what we have.  And that is, in my opinion, to find happiness within.

Now full disclosure. This is not the only thing I've been doing. If you watched my previous YouTube video you know that I've been having the greatest time surfing here in India.

Surfing has definitely played a very important role in my overall happiness. But I do think this dialogue with myself has also had a very big influence.

Alright, that's all I wanted to share today. I hope this was helpful.  

Oh and by the way, if you want to know how surfing can influence your level of happiness and well-being make sure you watch my previous YouTube video here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post :) I also feel better after reading this. Even though we know all the answers sometimes just reiterating it makes a difference :)

    ReplyDelete