We all want to be happy; why is it that some find happiness and others fail?
According to a growing number of psychologists, happiness is a choice, not something that happens to you or that you find on the outside. Happiness is an inside job: you can choose to be happy by making the effort to cultivate a life where happiness resides.
Mahatma Ghandi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
In other words, inner alignment precedes outer success. The pursuit of happiness consists less of looking for it out there, and identifying what it is that gives you a sense of purpose and fulfillment from within. We can boil that inner alignment down to four basic principles: belonging, purpose, transcendence and narrative.
In other words, happiness is not a gift that falls into our laps; it is a state of being that is earned. In Manuscript Found in Accra, author Paulo Coelho puts it this way:
“I fell asleep and dreamed that Life was only
I woke and discovered that life was Duty.
I did my Duty and discovered that life was Happiness.”
Happiness, then, is the fruit that grows on a tree where four distinct branches are dutifully nurtured and cultivated: belonging, purpose, transcendence and narrative. The more we cultivate these, the more bountiful the harvest of happiness it bears.
The need for belonging is hard-wired in our genes. From the earliest history of homo sapiens on the planet, humans have sought out communities and tribes to belong to. It affirmed their sense of identity and offered a sense of safety. But in the context of happiness, I am referring to more than superficial, tribal membership and groups based on belief systems.
The true sense of belonging I refer to here comes from understanding who you are as a soul and what your purpose and place is on the grand stage of life. Knowing your place in creation brings the realization that you are made of more than the stuff of belief systems and memberships; you are a unique soul who chose to embark on an earth life and become an integral part of the family of mankind. And as mankind goes, so do you.
In this larger context of identity and belonging, there is no place for petty grievances over race, gender or status. Instead, there is a shared purpose and destiny that we either fulfill and benefit from, or forfeit at our peril as some ancient civilizations had learned.
A true sense of purpose requires of us to align with that destiny that is larger than the sum of its parts: the call to awaken to our true purpose in life and embrace the opportunities for growth. It beckons us to uncover and develop our unique gifts, skills and strengths, and then to apply them in service to a cause greater than our individual comfort and existence.
True purpose requires us to step off the pedestal of privilege and instead of asking what others can give to us, to ask how we can be of service. It requires commitment, loyalty, discipline, effort and staying power, yet there is no joy greater than being part of serving the greater good.
Transcendence calls us out from the daily drama and petty battles on the surface of life to a Field much higher, much more powerful and much more meaningful than our individual ego identities.
All spiritual traditions speak of transcendence as a way to rise above the mundane into ultimate partnership with the Divine Creator and the Field of Consciousness. This Field holds the possibilities of all that was, is and can be. It is sometimes referred to as the presence of All That Is.
As we align with this Presence more and more, it slowly permeates our understanding so that we awaken to the process of personal growth and so transform our own consciousness into higher levels of being. Transcendence calls us to this higher way of living: it invites us to expand, grow and reach beyond the mundane in order to fulfill our highest potential.
Narrative refers to telling our story, and how it defines us. We can learn much from listening to the way someone speaks about their life; what they focus on and how they cast themselves in the plot.
Are you telling your personal story from the perspective of a victim or a victor? By breaking free from the limiting narratives of your life that constrain and disempower you, you will find freedom to create a new narrative for your life: one that honors the truth of your soul’s limitless potential, filled with deep meaning and satisfaction.
Together, these four principles form a solid foundation for a life well lived, blessed by happiness and fulfillment.
Finally, it is helpful to remember that all good things take time to develop – patience is perhaps the first quality trait needed on the journey toward self-mastery and happiness. In the book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the great German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche put it this way:
“He who wishes one day to fly, must first learn standing and walking and running and climbing and dancing. One does not fly into flying.”
About the Author
©Copyright Ada Porat. For more information, visit http://www.adaporat.com. This article may be freely distributed in whole or in part, provided there is no charge for it and this notice is attached.