Yeah, right! We are on the brink of war with Iraq, We have a President whose I.Q. we can’t even find and we are screwing up the planet! Let’s all party, get happy and live it up!

Do we really even know what happiness is or how to achieve it?  Maybe it has more to do with our perception and perspective than George Bush and our bank account. The Dalai Lama says, ”The purpose of life is to be happy.” Yet, as Mark Epstein says, “We seem to have a love hate relationship with happiness. On one hand, we see it as our right and something we need to pursue above all else, and on the other hand, we denigrate those in pursuit of it, labeling them frivolous, shallow, superficial or not responsible. “

Until now we have dealt with happiness by way of addition and subtraction; subtract poverty by adding money, subtract loneliness by adding a partner, subtract depression by adding a pill…and the majority of us have still not created lasting happiness with all these pursuits.

Maybe happiness, as well as unhappiness is an inside job. Is happiness really about getting rid of the things, the feelings or the people who make us unhappy?  Or, is it about the sense of equilibrium that the masters talk about of walking in balance holding both ends of the continuum, the joy and the sadness of life, without being attached to either.  We are so busy fighting the challenges and hard feelings that we are missing all the good things in life.

In my belief system there are always opposites; what I perceive as good vs. unpleasant, joyful or sad, close or distant, and when there is an up, I know there will inevitably be a down. It’s all about how I choose to deal with it.  It’s all about two sides of the same coin.

Most of us just want the high. A high profile client of mine in the movie industry exemplifies this dilemma. After a great day on the set, she wants a gourmet meal and to be taken care of by her husband. After a great meal, she will want a cigarette.  After a cigarette, some on-line shopping and emails to friends is in order. Then she’ll want to make love. She’s never really happy in the moment, just being with herself or being herself.  Instead, she’s constantly manipulating her external world in order to get satisfied. Nothing is ever enough. Nothing makes her happy. Some of us go from one relationship to another, one addiction to another, one job to another or one place to another…always seeking the same thing, happiness.

Happiness is already here, inside of you.  It lies in simple acceptance – acceptance of ourselves, acceptance of our paths and challenges in life and acceptance of others. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive for the best possible life, but we also need to remember that is not about avoiding the challenges in life because they are unavoidable. It’s about how we choose to deal with them.

It is all about how we view the world and the events in our lives. It’s about our perspective.  Everything just is what it is…life happening – no hidden agendas, no ulterior motives or bad luck, just life happening.  When the stock market takes a dump, no one was out to get you.  When the person you’re dating finds she’s not interested, it’s not about you being unlovable. When the company has a big lay-off, you didn’t do anything wrong. When some guy rear-ends you, you’re not having bad luck. It’s all just life happening.

Happiness is about being able to tolerate the down sides of life, and knowing the next wave will be an up one.  Stop, what you are doing right now. Take a breath. Listen to the birds, or the traffic or the sprinkler outside. It’s an absolute miracle that you are here, alive, and able to participate fully in your own live. Happiness arrives when you are fully present and aligned with yourself. When you are not happy and can’t find anything for which to be thankful, it is you who is at fault, not life. Happiness is a choice. See what happens when you choose it.

© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013
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