It’s the beginning of the new year, or a new month or a new day. You are ready to rock and roll….but the question you may be asking yourself is, What should I do first?
What will be the most effective use of my time? How can I reach the most people or get the most done with what I choose
to do in the next minute, or hour or day? What can I do that will make this year the happiest ever?
Notice how all of these questions are about doing something. There’s an implicit assumption that if you just do something, anything it will bring you closer to having what you want in life….which for most people ultimately is happiness.
But sometimes action is just a way to stay busy and may actually distract us from being happy. Those are the times when we do something, anything to …well…be doing something….like scrolling down our Facebook page or sending a few tweets. Or maybe you just surf the net or watch a video about the latest way to become wildly rich by next week…who knows maybe you’ll find the one deal that isn’t a scam. Or maybe you clean your house or do your laundry or watch a movie. There’s nothing wrong with any of these activities unless they are a distraction from the main event..being happy.
Unfortunately when we engage in mindless activity just to have something to do, it tends to be unfocused. While this may help us feel busy, in my experience, at the end of the day I am tired and frustrated because although I was busily doing something all day, I didn’t accomplish anything worthwhile and my goals are still out there in the future somewhere, unrealized. This kind of activity for its own sake is a little like being a rat on a treadmill.
Why do we do this?
It’s easy to buy into the idea that if we just do enough with enough intensity that we will have what we want or need and then we will be happy.
And if we aren’t happy then the solution is to do more, or work harder or find a different job, or have multiple streams of income or whatever. Somehow more is the answer to having and then being happy.
Oddly enough (or maybe not) when I was thinking about this post I opened a piece of mail which turned out to be a solicitation to subscribe to a spiritually oriented magazine. There was a flyer in the envelope with a quote from Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known Buddhist monk who is originally from Viet Nam . The quote said, “If you want happiness to bloom within you…simply water the seeds.” He goes on to explain that “Our emotions and perceptions are like seeds in the garden of our minds…When we water the seeds of joy in ourselves, they will grow and flower without struggle or effort. This is one of the simplest and most wonderful of miracles.”
In other words, if you want more joy or happiness in your life, focus on the joy in yourself. What do you have in your life right now that brings you joy? Your spouse, your children, your job? What about your home, a good book, some music? A fire in the fireplace on a cold night? When your focus is on cultivating joy in yourself you will automatically be, a happier person with a lot less struggle.
This concept can be expressed in another way. Rather than the do more, have stuff, be happy model we discussed above, switch to the be (happy, joyful, grateful), do in an inspired way, have enough of whatever you need or want approach.
This means, focus first on your inner state of being and from this will flow inspiration about what to do next, which in turn will allow you to have or manifest whatever it is you want. But it all flows from your state of being rather than from mindlessly doing.
And if as Thich Nhat Hanh explains you can experience joy without struggle and effort, then you will for sure live younger longer. Give it a try.
Share ways that you have found to nurture the happiness that naturally lives inside of you.