by Bede Nicholson
Happiness is the name of the game. I have never met any person who would say they don t want to be happy. Some may believe that this is unobtainable. Some may think their happiness only awaits them in the after life, or for others, in some kind of political utopia. But regardless of race, creed, or colour, everyone wants to be happy. A statement of the obvious perhaps, but when reflecting on this fact, it s hard not to wonder why, for most people, true and lasting happiness seems to be out of reach.
I m not suggesting that human kind is a totally miserable bunch. We all certainly have periods of happiness in our life – a new love, a great new job, our first child. There are infinite lists of things that can make us feel happy. Our happiness may last for a day, a month, or even for a number of years. Some of us may be lucky enough to have more of these happy things happen to us, and others find themselves in less fortunate circumstances. But what is undeniably true is that happiness, as we know it, seems to be a transitory, and sometimes, a fickle creature.
If I am starting to depress you at this point, I apologize, but the first step to dealing with a problem is to face the truth. The truth is that while we are offered happiness at every turn – every toothpaste ad, every Hollywood movie, every politician and every street corner preacher offer us happiness. But if we look at the world, it s not a particularly happy place.
At this point of realization we can become cynics, and believe that unhappiness is just part of the human psyche, that we are destined to be a self destructive and selfish lot. From this perspective, life is just a struggle and the best thing to do is to try as best we can, to try to eek out some little corner of the world where we can grab for as many happy moments as possible. A new partner, a new dog, a new car. Consumer society is all about recognizing people s general unhappiness and how to exploit it.
The other option is to recognize that dealing with unhappiness in ourselves and in others is part of the great human project of evolution. Humanity is at this point of crisis at this point in time, at this juncture, for a reason. For me personally, I find this a much more empowering and meaningful explanation of events. We are being presented with an opportunity an opportunity to both personally and collectively change our consciousness.
From this perspective, new ways of thinking and approaching the problems we face begin to present themselves. We can see the developments in communication technologies, such as the internet, as being opportunities to share knowledge and ideas that have not been present in the past. We can see the environmental crisis as a pathway to reconnecting with nature. We can see the spiraling rates of depression and mental illness as symbols of dissatisfaction with the emptiness of consumer society, and an affirmation of the need for community and family.
I do not believe happiness is an impossible dream, but we first have to honestly confront the illusions of happiness being presented to us, and to recognize them for the empty distractions that they are. Letting go of our illusions can sometimes be a painful process. Some of our illusions can be more deeply embedded then others the romantic illusion is a classic example. But in the end, when we confront the reality of how unhappy the world really is, then we can begin to go about changing it.
To reach true happiness we first must see all the illusory happiness out there.
We cannot reach true and lasting happiness on our own. We can read as many self-help books and inspirational novels as we want. But in the end, happiness at its essence is a shared experience. No-one finds telling a joke to themselves enjoyable. Happiness is something we want to share with each other.
From Sarah: Bede is part of Gaye Wright’s team. Bede is well known as a relationship expert and he uses his wonderful expertise to offer advice on handling age-old and 21st century problems. Gaye, a gifted psychic, has a huge site, with all kinds of free information. Just go here to get Gaye’s free newsletters.