The events of my life over the past couple of years, particularly the last few months, have lead me to question the idea of happiness and the quest for it.
Happiness seems to be the unattainable goal that everyone is desperate to achieve, yet no one knows how to get.
Different methods of approach can occur, fancy cars, lavish clothes, meditation, drugs, alcohol, happy lists, positive affirmations and the Art of Happiness that so many of our enlightened leaders tout,
“Happiness is not in our circumstances but within ourselves. It’s not something we see, like a rainbow, or feel, like the heat of a fire. Happiness is what we are. – John D Sheerin
All these quotes tend to do is confuse us and make us despair even more. If happiness is within me why can’t I always feel it, and why do things keep popping up in my life that takes away my ability to be it.
I have reached the conclusion lately that we have it all wrong. I think we are confusing the concept of happiness with inner peace.
I think it is inner peace that is in reality within us, and the thing we don’t have to seek. I think inner peace is the power we need to tap into.
Happiness and Inner Peace- the difference?
Happiness is an Emotion
Happiness is an emotion, just like anger, sadness, frustration, and gratitude. Emotions come and go in our lives and they, if allowed, can pass by us very quickly.
Trying to get people to think that outside influences will never determine if we are truly happy or not is like trying to get us to search for the needle in the haystack. We get frustrated with the task, and feeling like failures we resign ourselves to eternal gloom.
If happiness is what we truly are, then we would also be truly anger, and truly sadness, and truly love. But you don’t hear anyone saying these things. If we are one, then we must be the other as they are all emotions.
Our emotions are signals
If only we understood that these emotions that we feel are signals to us as to what we need to do next or what we need to learn. We might not need to cover them over, run from them, or desperately search to find them. We might just accept them for what they are and allow them to walk in and out of our lives.
Let’s look at babies.
They are born without any labels of emotions or understanding them. I wouldn’t say babies are born happy and remain in this state through their first few months of being alive, which is really what they should be doing if this was our natural state of being.
One minute they are happy, the next they are crying the house down. Babies use their emotions to communicate their needs; and once that is done they let go of that emotion ready for the next one.
Despite the emotional crises of the first couple of years of their learning, you could safely stay that babies have an underlying sense of calmness or peace. This is evident in their abilities to let emotions pass. They inherently understand that their emotions do not define them, nor do they define the emotion.
Babies have a natural state of inner peace, which slowly they lose touch with once they begin to talk. They lose that deep connection they once had with their natural state of being when they learn unhappiness is to be feared and happiness is to be sought.
Inner peace is a Way of Being
I like to think of inner peace being the eye of the storm.
When all the chaos is flying around you, it is your inner peace, the eye of the storm, that holds you steadfast.
It is the eye of the storm that brings calm and peace to the emotional extremes you experience.
It is your inner peace that keeps you disconnected from your emotions and taking them on to be who you are.
I am happy, or I am sad, or I am angry.
These are not things we are, these are things we feel.
They come and they go. And there are circumstances in our life that bring these feelings to us.
Inner peace helps you to not become stuck in these emotions.
Am I unhappy?
I am not unhappy, I just feel it for certain reasons at the moment. By acknowledging that feeling, I know I can change it and create a different set of circumstances that will make me feel happy tomorrow.
All of our emotions serve a purpose that is not to be feared.
If I feel unhappy that is a signal to me that I need to do something to change it. If I feel happy, I can delight in this joy but not get too comforted by the feeling, knowing that it may leave me again tomorrow. This makes the happiness of the moment all the more sacred.
If I don’t understand this then how do I cope when the thing that helped me feel happiness leaves?
I am currently unhappy with where I live. Actually immensely unhappy. There is not a day I wake up where I don’t wish I was living in another place, or even another country, where I know without a doubt I will be happier.
You can tell me that I don’t need to run away to find that happiness, that it is within me, but I absolutely disagree.
I am not unhappy, I have inner peace and am detached from my unhappy emotion. I still go about my day with a certain sense of calm and steadfastness, but, I feel unhappy about my current living circumstances. If I didn’t feel unhappy then I would not strive for something better.
No matter how many meditation sessions I do, nor shots of whiskey I drink, I will never be able to tap into that inner state of natural happiness that would make me feel delight at living here.
I know how to fix that unhappiness I feel. Move to Thailand. Simple.
I know that when that Thailand happiness returns, something else will lie waiting in the future that will make me feel unhappy again, so I work on fixing that.
Just because I am unhappy with this part of my life doesn’t mean I am falling apart at the seams, about to jump off a bridge, or hating everyone and everything around me. No I am not. I am perfectly happy and joyous in other areas. I am not unhappy, I am just unhappy with a circumstance of my life.
I am not shattered or broken because I still have my inner peace.
How do we become inner peace?
This, in reality is the great search that every one is on to find. I think once you accept the difference between inner peace and happiness, and understand the purpose of your emotions, then finding your inner peace is easy to do.
Happiness comes from the outward things in our lives, remember these are the things that come and go. They have to it’s life- always changing.
To tap into our inner peace, the eye of our storm, we have to go in. It is a dark and often frightening journey of discovery, but one that when taken, will forever help you to remain steadfast and calm no matter what hell may be breaking loose around you, or what joy might be emanating.
Once you work through the discovery needed to tap into that inner peace,you will find it will always be there and you can handle and manage almost every emotion that comes your way. You can detach yourself from them and know they are just temporary.
So while one minute I am laughing, the next shouting, the next pulling my hair out, the next embracing someone in a love cuddle or crying my eyes out with desperate unhappiness, I know that my inner peace will carry me through. I know that once that emotion has subsided another will come along which I can embrace for its purpose and then let go when its purpose is served.
Stay tuned for posts to follow which will talk about how we can go in, to find our inner peace and stop this senseless search for happiness, the Holy grail, once and for all.
What are your thoughts on happiness and inner peace?