Thursday, November 10, 2016
Zen and the Art of Being Happy
Ask yourself whether you are happy? Then notice that when you do, you cease to be so The Laws of Paradox at work!
A long time ago long before I ever considered writing these lines, I made an interesting discovery. At the time it was more of an observation then discovery. It took all the intervening time for me to realize I had made a discovery, I suppose it was the slowest epiphany on record. What I also discovered was that most people in some way shape or form have been aware of it since the dawn of time. Yet, I think the word discovery is appropriate, because even though well known, I had never come across it described or theoretically explained by the relevant branch of higher learning, which in my case happens to be psychology.
So, directly and indirectly I spent the intervening 35 or so years, well over a quarter century, investigating this elusive phenomenon, directly or indirectly, in my practice of psychotherapy.
What I had noticed a long time ago was that happiness is not something that happens at random fault.
This thing has form and it follows rules and they seem to be:
o Happiness does not happen because of good luck or because the fickle finger of fate picks you out for some grand event. No one is special.
o Happiness is not something that can be purchased nor can it be controlled or for that matter caused to occur on command by some grand authority.
o Happiness particularly does not depend on the world about us, although conversely the world about us can affect some of the various outcomes of it.
o Happiness seems to be more an interpretation of the world both about us and within us, all taken in some sort of strange mix or recipe that is constantly changing and is difficult to replicate.
o Happiness, in fact, seems to be a condition that we must be prepared for, that we must cultivate, and then be prepared, if necessary to defend, but not from a place of unity but rather from a place of deep privacy¾as an individual.
o It also seems that people who learn to work with inner experience(s) will in fact be able to determine the quality of their lives as it relates to having or not having happiness, which, it seems is as close as any of us can come to being happy.
o It also seems a given that we cannot reach happiness by consciously searching for it. The very effort of trying to search for it seems to defeat our every effort to have or possess it.
o Happiness cannot be owned; it can only be experienced.
o Happiness seems to be the process of being fully involved with every detail of your life, subjectively not objectively.
o The key statement in describing the process of being involved in life seems to be as completely as possible, and completely as possible does not seem to depend on any opinion or definition of what is good or bad or how those cognitive markers are held in the mind of the beholder. Just because you are prepared to fight to the death for your beliefs doesn’t mean they are true.
o Happiness seems to occur because of the intensity of the involvement with life and not in the outcomes that intensity seems to want to provide so that it could be easily seen and judged by others.
o Degree of intensity of the involvement necessary to induce happiness will vary from individual to individual as well as situation-to-situation. Thus it follows that degrees of intensity i.e. very intense to mildly intense is not a marker that can determine the outcome of creating happiness. It is just a necessary factor that varies from time to time.
o The Laws Of Paradox seems to effect the outcome of having some or not; for instance: don't aim for it because the Laws Of Paradox will tend to cause you to increase the size and shape of the target you have set for yourself and then at the same time cause you to miss with greater frequency. Something like Chinese handcuffs, the harder you try the more difficult it becomes.
o Happiness and success cannot be pursued for their own sake.
o Happiness and success, to be most effective must sneak up from behind and envelop us ... It is something that happens to us while we are busy doing something else … as the inadvertent, unintentional after-effect of our efforts to simply get on with the business of being ourselves and by doing whatever is next simply because it is there and needs to be done.
o Then this seems to need to be taken into consideration with the effort made by the individual to be willing to work in the shadow of his or her spiritual self and then deliberately attempting to work with the spiritual forces of the Greater Way of Things.
o Again paradox. The Art of Trying Not to Try.
So how can we reach this elusive goal that cannot be attained by a direct route? My practice and practices of the past 35 or so years has convinced me that there is a way.
It is a circuitous path of going nowhere the long way in search of someone who was not lost and there all along … you, and it can only begin with a willingness by the participant to want to make the journey.