Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Happiness Is Here Right Now

Gina Lake

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Many would define a successful life as a happy one, and we go about trying to get that in many ways. Some try to get happiness through material things and accomplishments, while others try to get it through spiritual means. The problem with this is that happiness is not something you have to achieve but something you have to notice. If you are trying to achieve it, then you are overlooking it. The ego tries to get happiness from doing or having or being someone, while the spiritual ego tries to get happiness from transcending all of that. Spiritual freedom, or enlightenment, can be just another thing to be achieved.

Wanting happiness and freedom from the suffering of the ego is a worthy desire. The problem is that wanting it implies that you don’t already have it. You believe you aren’t free when you already are. This is very difficult for the ego to grasp. It doesn’t notice the happiness that is already present in this moment because this happiness doesn’t look like the ego imagines or wants it to look. When true happiness shows up, the ego is bored with it—it’s too plain, too ordinary, and it doesn’t leave you feeling special or above the fray. It doesn’t take away your problems, which is the ego’s idea of happiness. The ego wants no more difficulties: no more sickness, no more need for money, no more work, no more bad feelings—only unending pleasure and bliss. That is its idea of a successful life; however, the happiness the ego dreams of will never be attained by you or anyone else. The ego denies the reality of this dimension, where challenges are necessary to evolution and blissful states and pleasures come and go.

The happiness that underlies all of life is happiness that comes from just existing. Happiness is actually a quality of your true nature, and your true nature loves challenges because it loves the growth that comes from challenges. It embraces all of life, not only the pleasurable and fun moments, but the more difficult ones. Then, who is life difficult for? The only thing that experiences life as difficult is the ego—the idea you have of yourself and all of the ideas this self has about life. These ideas are the only thing in the way of true happiness. Ideas—just thoughts—keep you from experiencing life and experiencing the happiness that your true nature is experiencing as it is alive through you.

In any moment, you can experience this happiness if you just notice that it is here right now. It is much more subtle than the giddy high we feel when we finally get what we want, which never lasts for long. The ego wants happiness to feel like a high that never goes away, which is why many want enlightenment. They imagine that it will be a state of unending bliss, which it is not. In short, the ego wants the feeling of winning an Olympic Gold Medal in every moment, but this will never be. True happiness is a quiet contentment with life and an openness and availability to life. This happiness is steady and constant, although it seems to come and go as our attention moves off of it. Usually our thoughts take us away from the happy peacefulness of the moment because the ego doesn’t appreciate peace and prefers drama and feelings. The ego wants to feel intensely good all the time. That is its idea of happiness.

If we stay in the moment long enough, we experience our true nature rejoicing in life—relishing the experience of being alive in this ever-changing and mysterious moment. That is true happiness. It doesn’t have the excitement or glamour of winning the lottery or of a spiritual experience, but unlike these, it doesn’t come and go. When you are very present to everything that is arising in the moment rather than to just your thoughts, you see that life is unfolding perfectly without the ego’s attempts to manipulate life. The ego tries to intervene in every moment, as if it is responsible for shaping it, but it is not that powerful. Its interventions only take us away from life and bring us into its mental world, where it creates an imaginary life full of dreams, hopes, and fantasies—the life that it wants.

The life the ego wants will never come to pass. What it wants is unrealistic and not connected to the flow of life, out of which reality is born. Life doesn’t follow the ego’s desires; it has its own momentum and reason, which is mysterious and can’t be known by us ahead of time. The ego doesn’t like not knowing and not being in control, so it pretends it can be the creator, and through the mind it is. But the mental world it creates doesn’t affect life except by taking us away from it.

This mental world is an illusion that will never become real. The ego really believes in its illusions, though. It believes that its dreams and fantasies may come true if it thinks the right thoughts and does the right things. It doesn’t recognize that something else is at work here, giving birth to life. When we are in touch with this rather than the ego’s ideas about life, we stand a chance of being really happy—not because of anything that happens, but just because we exist in this miraculously ever-shifting moment in time and because what we are loves life.

The moment is complete and fulfilling just as it is. Nothing needs to be added to it. It can’t be made any better because it is already as good as it gets. The ego will tell you otherwise and promise you its version of happiness, but its promises are empty. Will you chase after its dreams or are you willing to see that happiness—true, real happiness—is already here and it is enough?

After having an awakening in 1999, Gina has dedicated herself to writing and teaching about awakening and is the author of Radical Happiness, Anatomy of Desire, Return to Essence, Choosing Love, Getting Free, and Living Your Destiny. She is also an astrologer and a channel with a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology. She has been supporting people in their spiritual growth in a counseling practice for over twenty years. To order her books, to read excerpts, to listen to talks, to get a free newsletter, or to download the free e-book Radiance: Experiencing Divine Presence, please visit

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012