The Happiness QuestPosted February 24, 2017 in Spiritual Psychology
I remember driving home with my mom when I was in 4th grade, when suddenly an overwhelming ‘Ah-ha’ moment came over me; staring out the window, sitting in the back seat, I became completely captivated by a magnetic Knowing: “The point–the meaning of life, is HAPPINESS—to be HAPPY.”
I’m not sure what caused this existential (and potentially super-obvious) “Knowing” to envelope me, but what I recall is the complete feeling of this new awareness throughout my body. It did not feel like a ‘regular thought’; it was a whole-body-understanding. I realized this Truth had always existed in my cells and suddenly AWOKE. I experienced a transcendent moment as the Divine Consciousness of Reality communicated directly to me (some may call this God.)
I’m aware this experience has the potential to sound odd or inflated, but really, I think we all have a direct connection to experiencing Truth. (I know there is an abundance of arguing about what Truth is, or isn’t, on the planet–and I am not talking about dogma, but a personal, direct experience of Love-based meaning.) I don’t believe downloads of Truth are reserved for adults or Saints, but a natural form of communication from the Divine to humans (and other animals). Truth always quietly exists in the background, the Loving backdrop to the ever-shifting drama and appearance of our physical-world reality. Truth is the steady, constant and always available, pillar of EveryThing. She doesn’t play favorites–but waits for those who favorite Her. She is an equal opportunity reality.
But what does it mean to truly be happy?
I have had times in my life where I thought I was happy, but looking back I was most definitely not (HELLO my early 20’s—I salute you). I may have been experiencing what I thought was “fun” (a.k.a partying) but I was not experiencing happiness. In reality, I was doing my best to manically avoid my feelings and run from my Soul.
In conversational life-based assessments well-intentioned friends often ask, “Does this job/relationship/goal make you happy?” We all want happiness, but how does one maintain it? And is maintaining any state desirable? I do think that some of the most unhappy (manic, neurotic) people are those clinging to the need to always be happy. Any type of stubborn emotional attachment can create misery or disconnection, even (and especially) an attachment to being happy.
In the field of psychology this is known as the all-too-common condition of spiritual bypassing, where one represses the more embarrassing and messy ‘shadow’ elements of human emotion in exchange for a dissociated and blissed-out, supposedly spiritual state. (Think: Tony ‘the healer’ from the Bachelorette.)
You may have heard how one of the five main Eskimo languages has 50 different words for snow. And I think, in this vein, we could really benefit from 50 different words for happiness. In fact, one version that has recently caught my imagination is the Danish word ‘Hygge’. ‘Hygge’ translates roughly as a warm and cozy, safe feeling where loving feelings warm the heart. This video demonstrates how the culture has a common schema for how ‘hygge’ things are. Biking around town enjoying the scenery? That qualifies as Hygge. Warm cup of chai or porridge with friends? Total Hygge-fest. Candle-lit love-infused meal shared with family around a hand-crafted antique wooden table? Super Hygg-ey.
Our family has borrowed (culturally appropriated?) the term and we have been thoroughly enjoying the concept around our home. I have noticed that since we prioritized ‘getting Hygg-ey’, we have enjoyed many more moments of Presence, imbued with warm-fuzzy feelings (while simultaneously burning a small village’s supply of candles). I find when the home is filled with dim candlelight, my shoulders relax, as I walk a bit more slowly and breathe a bit more deeply.
To me these days, (although I would still like more than one definition) happiness is being comfortable in my skin. It is a feeling of being connected, to others and the planet, on a heart-level. It is knowing that everything is as it should be, even when it doesn’t feel good. It is feeling on-time and on-purpose, while sensing my place in the vast universe. It is feeling gratitude to be a human incarnated on earth, who is able to experience joy and giving. It is being present with my children and husband while taking in the beauty of my surroundings. And it is always experienced as an exquisite merging between my smaller egoic self and the eternal, always-Loving, and all-knowing Soul.
What makes you happy?