Friday, July 11, 2008
Through the years, most everyone I’ve talked to either wishes for or is actively searching for more happiness, peace and contentment. These wishes and searches can take many forms.
I’m sure most of us have experienced a time in our lives when we were convinced that if a certain event happened, whatever it might be, we just knew that we would be happy forever. We were confident that this event was the key to our lifelong happiness, contentment and peace. This particular occasion may have actually come to pass and we may have been happy, at least for a while. Then as time went by, we no longer felt consistently happier, more content or more peaceful. The question is why. If anything, this shows that we can see that this kind of happiness, based on outside circumstances, is fleeting. That is the nature of life.
What if lasting happiness comes from being harmonious or at one with our deeper selves? What if we can live our lives with this connection to our deeper selves and feel a deeper peace most of the time? Is it possible to find true deep lasting happiness?
Various spiritual traditions teach that on the journey to uncovering our deepest truths we start by first noticing what our truth is not. We spend our time discovering and revealing layer after layer what our happiness isn’t. In certain teachings, this is referred to in the Sanskrit term as “neti-neti,” translated “not this, not that.” In our path of self-discovery, we investigate and learn what keeps us from our true happiness. We can see as we explore that it’s not one particular desire or a fulfilled achievement that allows us to relax into peace and happiness. This process or elimination can be called “cutting through” and helps us discover the blocks that keep us from having our deeper selves and happiness as our constant companion.
So much of what we see around us is motivated by well-intentioned folks, like ourselves, looking for nirvana out there. We look for it in a new kitchen, a bigger house, more experiences, more wine or food. We all believe at times that if we can just find the “right” formula in our outward lives, we can have the happiness, peace and contentment that we long for.
All of us have certain basic needs and when they are not met, we tend to struggle. But if we look at the hurdles that most of us lay down before us in order to find more happiness, we can see that we have set an impossible bar. We won’t be able to have happiness with this thinking. For most of us, this struggle has an insatiable quality that can never be met. From here we are always craving and believing that ____ (fill in the blank) will makes us happy.
What we forget or don’t know is that a certain kind of happiness is available to us in every moment. Like right now. It is like the air. We don’t often pay much attention, but it is here at all times. It is up to us to do the internal personal and spiritual work necessary to open up to receive the flow of the Universe, God or any name that suits our personal tradition, and connect to ourselves inside seeing what might be possible. Rather than looking ahead to something else or behind at our memories, if we can open to it, we can experience the flow that is here now.
Let’s try this: Take a deep breath in and let it go. With your next breath, just for a moment imagine letting go of all your worries and concerns. Just for a moment let them go. Now, take another breath and let it go. In your next breath, imagine infusing your breath with more peace, contentment and happiness, whatever this means to you. Let these qualities permeate every cell of your body for just a moment. Now notice your body and how you feel emotionally.
Practice this a few times a day over the next few weeks. Let me know how it goes. Until next time…
Jennifer Howard, Ph.D. is an internationally known psychotherapist, Integrated Kabbalistic Healer®, life coach, educator, and author. She maintains private practices and is co-founder of the Healing Path Center with offices in New York City and Huntington, L.I., New York, as well as an extensive phone practice.
As a licensed psychotherapist, Dr. Howard brings together 24 years of experience, extensive training and expertise in mind-body psychology, meditation, and a variety of the healing arts. Dr. Howard has been frequently seen as an expert and featured guest, on national television shows including, The Maury Povich Show, Turning Point, America’s Talking, Rolanda, Charles Perez and others. Before becoming a psychotherapist, Howard was a professional actress and dancer. She is also the author of "Changes That Last", publication date to be announced.
For more information on Dr Howard, or to reach her directly, go to her SITE