Of course, there is an instant path to happiness — if you happen to be the Dalai Lama or equally-enlightened spiritual seeker. In which case, you understand that suffering is an illusion and that you are the master of your reality, and you simply choose to be happy.
But, for the rest of us (around 7.4 billion complicated mortals), simply deciding to be happy is a pipe dream; one shrouded in unconscious longing, deep emotional wounds and unresolved psychological need.
“Self-development and well being practices are useless unless you are also prepared to dig in, and do the work.”
The idea of discovering the “key” to unlock happiness and fulfillment is, I admit, incredibly tempting. Even more so, if you could lock it again at will; if you could shrug off self-enlightenment to give that a**hole in the rush hour traffic a piece of your mind, or throw a good ol’ fashioned tantrum because you’re overtired and someone’s left their wet towel on the bed again.
But the truth is, as with everything, there is no fast track to contentment; no short cut to bliss. I have no doubt that some may benefit from the plethora of tips, tricks and titillation on offer (for instance, the healing effects of gratitude, mindfulness and positive intention are well documented) but practices like these are not a Willy Wonka Golden Ticket to Well Being or a Fat-Burner for the Soul.
In fact, like the multitude of skin creams, diet shakes, ab-trimmers and memory enhancers in my cupboards, self-development and well being practices are useless unless you are also prepared to dig in, and do the work.
In my experience, if you are a mere mortal, the only fool-proof, guaranteed path to happiness and contentment is to:
Have the courage to look inside, face your demons and work through the emotional and psychological mindsets that stand between you and joy. If you’re not willing to process a bit of pain or release a bit of shame, then you’re not travelling, baby.
Nobody makes you feel anything. Nobody makes you do anything. Every reaction you have or judgement you hold is a reflection of something inside of YOU that needs attention. Own that responsibility, and choose your thoughts and actions wisely.
Keep your mind open, and be prepared to change your story; the story of who you are, your priorities, what you are capable of, what is “right” or “wrong”, and what you “have to do” to succeed.
The Universe is far more amazing, complex and miraculous than you can imagine and the answer to fulfillment is hidden in the mysteries of who-we-really-are. To taste this magnificence, you really have to let your reality become just a little bit unreal.
Be an individual. Your life, your beliefs and your journey will not resemble anybody else’s on the planet. Don’t emulate; formulate.
Personal and spiritual development is a life-long process, so don’t expect to reach some amazing point of enlightenment and bliss. Instead, embrace your imperfect human-ness, stay curious and grow a little every day.
Kim Forrester is an award-winning author, educator and intuitive consultant with over 15 years’ experience as a professional intuitive and spiritual teacher. She combines cutting edge science with traditional spirituality to offer the latest understandings of psi, consciousness and holistic well being. Find out more at www.kimforrester.net
Originally published at medium.com