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
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
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