Everyone is pursuing happiness. It's all we've ever been doing... Time to stop now, and consider the goal.
Everyone pursues happiness, so where is it? Is it scattered about in lots of different places and we can all keep collecting little bits? Is there some really big piece somewhere and if you stumble across it, it's so enormous and lasts so long, like flames dancing off an ever-glowing sun, that it shines forever and you can give up the pursuit because you've found the prize?
Back to basics, is there any definite, solid happiness indelibly linked to anything in the world? Take something you love, fried chicken, for an example. You love it, it makes you happy -- but you might have a friend who detests it. So although fried chicken causes happiness in you, we can't say that the happiness is inside the chicken or it would make everyone happy.
Plus, if you ate ten kilograms of fried chicken it certainly wouldn't make you happy.
What if you are sitting at work one day, very hungry, and decide that after finishing work in two hours time, you'll go to your favourite restaurant and eat fried chicken. You mentally picture yourself in the restaurant eating the chicken and the thought of it makes you happy.
So now fried chicken is making you happy... but you haven't actually got any fried chicken, yet, it's the thought of it that's making you happy.
So is that where happiness and unhappiness is, in our thoughts?
Say there's someone at work that you hate. There's a terrible chemistry between the two of you, and every time you meet, a screaming argument ensues. One day you have a particularly bad fight, it's so aggressive that four hours afterwards you are at home, mentally reviewing the fight, and feeling as angry as hell. What's making you angry at that exact moment? It can't be your adversary, because you're alone at home and they're not there. It must be the thought of them.
From this, can we say that emotions are inside our thoughts?
Well, why don't you just look for yourself? Think of something that can make you feel happy right now, a future holiday, good friend, recent accomplishment or whatever. You create thoughts and mental pictures all the time, did you ever wonder how? Exactly, how do you decide that you want to think a certain thing, and then 'create' mental pictures. Look into your mind and create mental pictures that make you happy. You kind of just will, or expect, the mental pictures to come, and they do.
So now you're sitting there happy. Mental pictures and happiness exist in you. Is the happiness inside the mental pictures? If you turn the mental pictures off, does the happiness instantly recede?
Imagine you received a letter in the post that informs you that you've won a million dollars in the lottery. You have all sorts of mental pictures which cause happiness: you on a yacht, you living in a mansion, you going skiing in the alps.
However, you earlier promised a sick neighbour that you would go and supervise the landscape gardeners for her that afternoon. So now you go over and do what has to be done. There's no time for mental pictures, the job at hand takes full concentration
But there's a spring in your step. You constantly smile. You're friendly and enthusiastic to everyone.
So, if happiness is not in any thoughts, mental pictures or objects... where is it exactly? More importantly, what is it exactly?
Make yourself happy with a mental picture. Let the picture fade and observe the happiness that lingers. What is it, alone, all by itself, in essence? If you really, really look, it's a vague physical sensation, and a kind of 'invisible upliftedness' in the mind.
Do the same with a negative emotion. Think of something that makes you angry, then observe the anger alone. Is it any more definite than happiness?
If emotions aren't indelibly linked to anything, then are they under our control? Do we need a reason to be happy?
In the same way that it's possible to create thoughts and mental pictures by just willing, or expecting, them, can you create the vagueness that is happiness, anger, grief, joy or whatever, without mental pictures, without reasons.?
If emotions are free, can you dance with them? Can you think of things that make you happy while feeling sad on purpose. Can you think of things that make you sad while feeling happy on purpose?
If emotions are free and you can dance in your mind, can you dance in the world?
Could your life be a dance?
About the Author
J. Lowet is a full-time writer, specialising in human potential.