CAUTION: If you happen to be someone who doesn’t have ANY kind of Spiritual path/philosophy you care about (or don’t believe YOU have a Spirit that guides you in any way), please don’t read any further. Doing so will either confuse you and/or piss you off.
It can’t be a secret to you how volatile life seems to be feeling these days. You’re probably used to gauging how “good” things are by looking at your economic picture first, if you’re like most people I know. If your money’s good, then everything else can be “taken care of.” Yet, there was an article in the Huffington Post recently that spoke of the rising suicide rates in Europe, as they are going through their version of what we’ve been in the midst of for the last several years. Reading it horrified and saddened me, because it made it all the more clear how much we’ve come to see our value, our identity, our worth, and our reason for living to be so fundamentally tied to whether or not we’re ok financially.
I’m not disputing that financial well-being is good; but, as a meaning for life and a main criteria for whether you want to hang around on the planet!?
There’s also the volatility around social change, both in our country and around the world…and it’s only accelerating (much like life, and time, in general). Haven’t you noticed how, in the midst of all the various political hot potatoes happening now, civility, compassion, and respect seem to have gone right out the window? Whether or not you happen to be someone who believes in global warming, there’s no disputing that Mother Earth seems more than a little pissed off, or at least has a lot of heartburn going on.
This all seems to be coupled with levels of personal turmoil, drama, and upheaval I don’t think I’ve ever seen before in the 16 years I’ve been working with people.
So, in the midst of that, how do you possibly stay happy?
At the risk of sounding like a cross between a bad Lifetime Network movie of the week and Scrooge, I believe that the beginning steps are 1) let go of having your life be about being happy all the time (more on that shortly); 2) have love be THE focus of your life; and 3) do everything you can to cultivate mastering being present.
One of the most disturbing and upsetting things I ever heard was when a noted Spiritual Teacher said to an audience years ago that “The secret of having the happiest life is to realize you’re not here to be happy…you’re here to evolve…to have your Soul evolve.” Well, no one was particularly pleased to hear that (certainly not me), and it took me years to finally “get it.” If you can realize you’re here to go through the whole spectrum of experiences (including pain & dissatisfaction), you can stop chasing the 24/7 dream you may say out loud you KNOW isn’t possible, but inside keep wishing/dreaming that you could have someday, if you just figure out the formula. Your ego will likely say, “Hell no!” Your Spirit knows better.
No matter what’s going on in your life – good or bad, happy or sad – love is the only thing, I believe, that will get you – and humanity – through what you’re in the midst of. If you look into so many faces, for example, in New Delhi…a city with massive levels of poverty and squalor…you can see peacefulness and serenity in their eyes, even as they may be sitting in their own waste. In our culture, we seem to need a major disaster to happen to tap into a sense of universal love that inspires us to selfless action.
If you want to be “happy,” you must make it the number one priority of your life to live Love in every waking moment possible. It must start with you, and how you treat yourself, your body, and others in your life. I know…basic stuff, right? But, our current global situation makes it pretty damn clear we’re not handling the basics. If you’re struggling with loving yourself, one rapid way to get to a loving feeling is to love on someone else selflessly. Be of service. Go serve meals in a homeless shelter, and see if you can see Spirit in the eyes of those you’re serving who have nothing left but life itself. It may not make you instantly gratified, but it will bring you and Love into quick communion.
Lastly, do you have any idea how present you are? If you need a long time to answer that question, chances are pretty high that the answer for you is “not very.” Take a moment right now to stop reading this article, and just close your eyes, feel the soles of your feet, and scan how your body literally feels (that is, what are the sensations) right now. Notice how your heart feels, emotionally. If you would do that once an hour, every day…your life would be radically different…and happier. Would you always feel happy? No. But, would you be feeling…at least for that one hourly interlude? You bet. And, love, awareness, and presence all start not in the mind (contrary to what your ego wants you to believe) but in the body.
My Teacher recently equated the struggle that we face individually, and as a Species, as if it’s a battle between the Soul (our own, the Soul of the Earth Herself, and the unified oneness of all beings) and ego for supremacy. If you were to look at Love as one of the purest forms of Light, the more love you allow in and emanate, the more your ego goes into conniptions. Look at it like putting a steak on the grill, and the steak gets grilled and cooked by the Light. If you’re not happy in your life, I suggest that you see if you’d be willing to let your ego identity be put on the grill to be cooked not out of existence, but transformed into the finest quality piece of digestible, loving Essence that forms the focus of all you do and all you be. I know for me…I’m taking my steak well done, thanks. Is it going to be easy or fun all the time? No. But, you don’t have to look very far around you to see how poorly the alternative’s working.