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Why We Look For Happiness In All The Wrong Places

Time to look inward instead of outward

Our search for happiness becomes ever more urgent in our increasingly crowded and competitive world. An article on the HuffPost stated there are “over 75 million Google search results for the term and 40,000 happiness-related books available for purchase on Amazon… And it’s not necessarily helping us to become any happier.”

Maybe that’s because happiness is so elusive: we search everywhere for that one moment that makes all things feel good, only to find it slips away, changes, or isn’t as we thought, and once again we’re lost in the quest to find it. We know it’s near but where? As the Dalai Lama says, we all want to be happy and we have the right to be. Yet are we even looking in the right place? Do we need to change direction or find a new approach?

After years of working with the mind and spirit, meditating, training and teaching, we know that to find real and lasting happiness we have to look within ourselves, beneath and beyond mindless and endless distractions, beyond ideas and fantasies of the way life should be, beyond yearning for happiness through relationships or material things, to get to the wonder that lies within.

However, simpler said than done! It can seem far easier to believe we will, eventually, find happiness somewhere, anywhere, rather than looking into our imperfect selves. We readily believe we’re the dust on the mirror and could never be as happy as our radiant reflection beneath the surface. Yet how sad to believe that we can’t be happy when happiness is our true nature!

When we finally get that self-centeredness doesn’t lead to happiness, when we realize the pit of unhappiness is never really satiated no matter how much we feed it, or when we’ve just had enough of searching and lacking, when we begin to want something more genuine then the longing for real, inner happiness arises.

And that’s when we also realize that happiness comes naturally when we stop trying to find it, stop searching for it, when we focus away from selfishness, self-centeredness and self-gratification. This is when we see that happiness isn’t dependent on anyone or anything; rather it arises within us like a fountain, the essence of who we are.

“When we discover inner happiness, it wells up out of our being,” says Prof Robert Thurman in our book, The Unexpected Power of Mindfulness & Meditation. “We realize that our basic nature is happiness. We realize this through meditation, through the deepening of awareness.”

When we make friends with ourselves we find that we really are the radiant being behind the dust on the mirror. Meditation and mindfulness reveal this wonder; the very purpose of meditation is to find the inner peace that is our deepest joy. Then compassion, caring and loving become a natural expression of our happiness.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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