Spirituality, Liturgy and the Tao of Inner Peace
One of the biggest lies of our culture is that we “should” be happy at all times. WE are bombarded with messages that reinforce the idea of constant happiness is the goal of life. That if we are not constantly happy we need medication. TV adds and social media facades are full of this notion, buy this fancy car get this amazing partner in life, your dream home. We are all guilty of the Facebook facade as I call it…all happy smiling family photos when behind the scenes we are falling apart.
What if I told you we are not meant to be “happy” all the time? Further more, the happiness we do seek is not found in new cars, and romantic love, and successful careers?
One of the first things I studied in the Tao of Inner Peace was death, yeah I know exciting. My first mediation was on death, the idea that death comes for all of us, that it is the one thing you can count on to happen. This is the great equalizer and keeps us humble. It gives us a new perspective on life and of what is actually important in this life. Is it the valuables? the education? What will it matter when we are gone?
This idea that we should all strive for a 100% happy life can be exhausting. I propose that the valleys of life are the times that make the mountain tops better. If we release the idea that life is for us to be happy we are freed from the constant nagging depression that our lives are not a constatant flow of happiness. This constant deception of life should be always happy has also led us into a society that is all about “me.”
True happiness is first of all not from external things — the earliest Buddhist writings have one truth to begin the practice, there is suffering in the world, much like death we must first accept this truth, it is a given, and much of that suffering comes from our attachment to “things” — “a keeping up with the Jones'”, if you will, attitude. Delving even deeper, we are attached to our partners, our need for affirmations, our children’s love and acceptance. If we can release, let go of those ideals, we can reach a nirvana or peace. It is extremely contrary in thought that we must let go of our vain quest for things and people, to become free, “happy” if you will. Moreover, if we can release ourselves from the thoughts of the nightly advertising that we “should” be happy all the time we arrive at a much lighter less burdened self. What if today we gave up the the albatross of constant happiness? Life is not a train, we don’t get on in Birmingham and arrive 7 hours later in New Orleans. Life is much more like a sailboat, we start off on a sunny day in the Florida Keys and make our way around the world, storms are not a maybe, they are a definite! SO be ready and accept that there will be storms, there will be fights, there will be times of plenty and times of none and that’s — Okay. Let that sink in….Life is not a straight shot, it’s not a life made by constant happiness, it’s just a life. Life has ups and downs and sometime the downs are the most meaningful, the greatest lessons, and the reasons for the happiness to come. How can we fully appreciate the light without the darkness.
So I challenge you to first re-write the script, that is force fed us, that life is about being happy all the time. Acceptance that life is a boat trip with storms and times of calm and sometimes tsunamis! That we are not made happy by “things” or other people. Have you ever known someone that cannot be happy alone? They are defined by who loves them, they cannot ever get enough love, affirmation, or attention? That’s because they are not filling their own tank of acceptance and love. If you find that person you can love them and fill them up with words and gestures a plenty, but you will never fill that void. Filling that void must come from them, and I would say from a higher power to be fulfilled. We need the belief that there is more, that we are wonderfully made, that there is a purpose for us in this life.
Take time today to meditate on the fact that you ARE enough, just you, no things or accolades required …. You are Loved, You are Worthy of Love.
Whether I am in a hovel or a palace of a king, I am enough, I have enough and I am Loved and Lovable.
Kick this lie of perpetual happiness and just live!