If you ask people what they want, ‘being happy’ often features in the response.
And whether something or someone ‘makes us happy’ is usually a barometer of its/their success.
But live for long enough, and you begin to see happiness a little differently. Maybe you’ll even start to see as a biochemical reaction; neurons firing, and lightening storms of the mind. Definitely nice to have, but pale in comparison with quieter joys, such as being able to focus (for example). You might even begin to think that happiness is an illusion.
Another thing. As a basic want, ‘being happy’ is too vague to inspire action. Which might explain why, although a lot of us would claim to want to be happy, our actions don’t really match that.
What we in fact tend do is chase comfort and ego/personality abatement. The false security of assets, friends, family, a partner, money. (False because the sense of security goes if they do). And often, pursuing those things contributes to our unhappiness, in the long game.
Seeking to live your truth produces happy feelings as a by-product.
This post talks about that.
1. Living your truth
This is the mother goal. The others are smaller aspects of this one.
I’m a real bore about integrity. I think it’s the most important thing for fulfillment.
It’s really hard to actually be living your truth – not just telling your truth, or even knowing your truth, which are already hard enough.
That is the first step though; knowing your truth. If you have no idea what that means, then start with doing one true thing per day. Also, think of the things you are the most grateful for. That should help.
For me, true things are: writing, reading, playing at yoga, variety, mental/physical challenges, love, talking to my friends, being with my family. Having these elements in my day makes me feel fulfilled. I would do these things every day if it were my last day.
There is a good question you can ask yourself to help you to be living your truth. If you are unclear, you should consider asking yourself it every day.
It is this: If you truly accepted your mortality to the core, if you stopped living like life was long, what would you do different? How would you live?
What is truth?
Of course, truth is subjective. Nobody dropped us off with an instructions manuals. Life is a series of choices and the best we can do is make them.
What helps with living our truth is (1) making decisions and (2) reflecting on whether they took us nearer or further away to what’s true for us. It’s a feeling.
It has taken me around three years to get my outer life lining up with what matters to me. It started when I was 30. When I was 30, I wasn’t living my truth much at all, although I didn’t really have a concept of that.
Now I’m 33. And the days, the way I fill the time, these things are now on point. Which doesn’t mean I’m happy all the time. But does mean I am fulfilled. My tank is full.
Each of us has our own evolution. It starts with noticing your auto-system, your reality filters, and how going unconscious in like takes you away from living your truth.
Here’s the bad news: living your truth is absolutely not passive. It is active. And also, hard. It is an ongoing process of observing, trying, reflecting and rectifying.
Here’s the good news: You’ll experience love for self viscerally the moment you begin seeking to live your truth. And love for self is the basis of many good things.
the present moment
If there is an objective aspect to living your truth, it is the knowing that the present moment is all there is. Our current experience is the only thing we have true dominion of. This is the same for all of us.
You can look at the past regretfully, wistfully, or with as many other lys as you want. You can do the same with the future.
But there is no power here and no truth. Only interpretations. Living our truth happens moment to moment to moment. Taking care of ourselves, and working hard to make conscious, harmonious choices.
Insights are good. But they are not the same as living them. We want to be using our insights where the rubber hits the road: in our relationships and self-expression.
It takes a lot of courage to be living your truth. To – as Marianne Williamson says – “endure the sharp pains of self discovery rather than choose to take the dull pain of unconsciousness that would last the rest of our lives.”
Adyshanti also speaks of the significance of courage. He says that life is continually calling us to step up.
How is life calling you to step up in this moment?
For me, I am being called upon to be patient with bringing my book into fruition. With persevering through loneliness, procrastination and self doubt. I am being called upon to stand in my truth in my friendships as well.
When we confront what we find difficult, we overcome our self-limitations. It is necessary for living your truth, and releases happiness as you work towards it.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t get a buzz out of breaking barriers. It’s exhilarating.
Whatever area of your life you want to increase your confidence in your ability to take action, you have to cross the threshold – the point of no return. Do it again and again until it is your norm. Then seek out new thresholds.
2. Having stewardship of your mind
Happiness happens in the moment you attach to positive thoughts and feelings.
Excitement; the bliss of early love; the gratification of a promotion. We can’t separate ourselves from the great experiences; we don’t want to.
A truer happiness happens when you witness positive thoughts and feelings, and you aren’t grabbing onto them for dear life.
A person’s ability to observe themselves is a reasonably reliable yardstick on happiness. Show me anyone that hasn’t got their mind on a leash at least some of the time, and I will show you a discontented person.
You make your mind your servant by training it and by exercising choice. Regardless of the situation or whatever the external experience is, choosing who to be in the moment. Often it feels like you have no choice, but when you examine your thoughts closely, you see that isn’t true.
All the power resides here. Not with other people or things.
3. Letting go of whatever isn’t serving
Life is a continual process of letting go. Just letting our feelings be felt and the thoughts happen without struggling.
Sometimes, they wipe you out, and spit you out onto the shore. But they move through you at least. You don’t need to spend years reliving things. You can’t have happiness without freedom, and you can’t have freedom without letting go.
It can be (and often is) your thoughts and beliefs that you need to let go. Otherwise, it is things in your life that aren’t working. Relationships and jobs.
It takes courage to let go of what isn’t serving you. That’s because quite often, it is more comforting to hold on. It’s that fake comfort again, though.
Letting go is also essential for healing. Oftentimes, what keeps us from experiencing happiness is being stuck in the past.
Healing comes when we find the gift from the experience, from the pain. There is always a gift.
After you discover it, that’s when you taste freedom.
This is not a definitive guide to fulfillment (that’s impossible). It is simply my own truth on how to experience happiness as a by-product of some other things.
For more inspiration on living your truth, I recommend the book of the same title by Kamal Ravikant.