Don't Worry, Be Happy!

There's a very interesting short piece on happiness versus pleasure by Steve Ross (famous yoga instructor) and Olivia Rosewood (spiritual writer) called: "How to Find True Happiness."
Most of the article is about what happiness isn't, rather than what it is or how to attain it, but nonetheless the authors make some worthy points.

Here's one:

"Pleasure comes from getting what you want: for example food, good sex, clothes, etc. But pleasure is short-lived and fickle. It lasts for as long as it lasts--a few hours at best. And then it's gone. Pleasure is fleeting. However true happiness is inexhaustible and permanent."

Yes. I frequently tell people that if they attempt to rest their sense of happiness on the attainment of "goals," for example, their time spent happy will only be a matter of moments - when the goals are actually achieved - whereas if they find happiness in the process that leads up to the attainment of the goals, their happy time will be much more substantial.

Here's more from Ross and Rosewood:

"Pleasure and pain are two sides of the same coin. One never goes anywhere without the other, and they alternate. You may eat, but you'll be hungry again. You're lonely, then you're in love, then you're lonely, then you're in love. Then you're lonely and in love at the same time (and hopefully writing country western songs). Love and hate, war and peace, hot and cold, success and failure, rich and poor, and on and on. But true happiness transcends the pleasure/pain principle."

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, who coined that term, "pleasure principle," says it this way:

"The primordial or initial principle of life is the pleasure principle. The aim of the pleasure principle is to rid the person of tension, or if this is impossible, to reduce the amount of tension to a low level. Tension is experienced as pain or discomfort, while relief from tension is experienced as pleasure or satisfaction. The aim of the pleasure principle may be said, then, to consist of avoiding pain and finding pleasure."

Okay, so according to Ross and Rosewood and Dr. Freud, pleasure comes from the momentary gratification of a desire and the momentary elimination of pain. But where does happiness come from?

Back to you, R & R:

"Happiness is in you, it is you, and it's not coming from an external source. Happiness doesn't come from the objects of satisfaction, it comes from you. This is where many people are erroneous in their perception, and also why people stress out, worry, and suffer: They believe happiness is out there...somewhere."

Beautiful! HAPPINESS IS US! I love it! It's us, and it's in us, not "out there." Right! "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you." When I was a kid, sitting in church, I used to listen very carefully, not to what the priests and nuns were saying, because that was mostly controlling, scary, arrogant bullshit, but I'd focus on the actual words that Jesus was saying. He was saying that Heaven was inside of us, not up in the sky somewhere that you have to die to get to. No. "Within you." Woah!

So, then, what's the road to happiness? It is the road to the self. It is finding, within, and then being our true selves on a day-to-day, moment-to-moment basis. In other words, happiness comes from uncovering and connecting to ourselves, not from the pleasure of attaining the satisfaction of our desires or from avoiding pain, both of which are excellent goals, mind you, just not the source of happiness.

Needless to say (But I always say it anyway!), we're back to the need for some kind of self-work if we've lost our way and disconnected from our true selves, and that self-work very often requires the help of some kind of guide (i.e. - in a full spectrum, mind-body-spirit process). But the good news is, when you do reach out for help, you can start feeling happier right away - again, because happiness isn't a goal, a "prize" at the end of a journey; happiness is a state you can be in while you're on your journey.

Alexander Lowen, the brilliant creator of Bioenergetics, explains it eloquently:

"The act of reaching out is itself the basis for the experience of happiness. Happiness is the feeling of being fully alive in the here and now, which means to be fully alive in the bodily sense. Happiness is more than the release of tension and the satisfaction of needs, though that is part of it. In happiness, the will recedes and the ego surrenders its rule over the body. Happiness cannot be possessed. One must give oneself over to the happiness, allow the happiness to take possession of one's being. To have happiness, one has to 'let go', that is, allow the body to respond freely."

Click here for a little meditation you could do on a daily basis:

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