40 Questions We’re Afraid to Ask – #17
You say, “Yeah, I’ve got a great job, I’m in a great relationship, I just paid off my car, and I’m planning two weeks in northern Italy this summer. Who wouldn’t be happy?”. Well, in all honesty, a whole lot of people.
The question isn’t are you happy
about your life circumstances.
There are millions of people out there who are living what one might call the dream life, but they’re absolutely miserable, although most of the people around them would never know it. They may not even realize it themselves unless they stop long enough and stop running around like headless chickens. To quote Anthony Robbins . . .
Most people aren’t really happy, but they aren’t unhappy enough to do anything about it. That’s a dangerous place to be.
We spend a good part of our lives looking to the world to provide the things that will make us happy. Madison Avenue has built an entire industry on this very thing. So have the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries.
Many look to religion as a source
of happiness and fulfillment . . .
But even in religion, for all practical purposes, the source of happiness and fulfillment exists outside ourselves. Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, all are filled with unhappy people looking to a higher power to provide all their needs and serve as a source of happiness and fulfillment; but at the very heart of every major spiritual tradition is the idea that happiness begins on the inside. It is not a result of outside circumstances or influences. When Jesus told his disciples, “The Kingdom of God is within you,” he was, in essence, saying the same thing as the Buddha and others who taught, “Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
Many people look for happiness in relationship with another person.
In one of my all-time favorite books, The Power of NOW, Eckhart Tolle writes, “If you continue to pursue the goal of salvation [happiness/fulfillment] through a relationship, you will be disillusioned again and again.” We simply cannot find permanent happiness solely in another person.
I speak a lot about the Six Human Needs we all share —
. . . the first four of which are Certainty, Uncertainty (Variety), Significance, and Love/Connection. We all have an innate need to satisfy each and every one of these needs to some extent (different for each of us) in order to survive.
Unless, however, we find positive ways to fulfill the last two needs, Growth and Contribution — sometimes called the “needs of the spirit” — we cannot find ultimate fulfillment and happiness within ourselves. It’s a fact of nature that if we aren’t growing, we’re dying. If we are not contributing in some way to something beyond or larger than our self, we become self-focused and self-centered.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is so much wisdom in that ancient teaching, and I truly believe the key phrase is “as yourself”. If you don’t love yourself and are not truly happy and content and at peace with yourself, there is simply no way you can truly love your neighbor, or spouse, or children, or the stranger on the street, or anyone else.
Mike Worsman has set out on a mission to travel the world
and learn what makes people happy
. . . what makes them smile.
His facebook page already has attracted more than 21,000 followers, including myself. In his travels through Sri Lanka a few months ago, Mike came across a man whom he has come to call “the happiest man alive” and created a video that has gone viral in a massive way. The reason the video has attracted so much attention, I believe, is because it hits at the very core of a universal desire — to be happy with myself no matter my circumstances in life.