The drive for human happiness implies that we have a dissatisfaction with the present moment and that greener pastures lie just ahead. From our earliest memories we’ve been marinating in the mantra of our parents as they said, “I’ll be happy when.” “I’ll be happy when you get a pay rise, I’ll be happy when we move to a bigger house, I’ll be happy when we get a better car, I’ll be happy when you remember to take out the trash, I’ll be happy when we go on holidays, I’ll be happy when we retire” and before long we start the same mantra within ourselves of, “I’ll be happy when I turn five, I’ll be happy when I go to school, I’ll be happy when I leave school, I’ll be happy when I find the perfect partner, I’ll be happy when I get married, happy when I have children, happy when they leave, happy when the divorce comes through” And before long we’re deeply enculturated to believe that happiness lies at some more distant time when things are different from how they are right now in this moment. The marketing people and the advertising companies would have us believe that we’ll be happy when we’ve bought their product. And of course now they build in obsolescence so that we’ll need more of their product shortly.
That we want their product in a range of colors that we need the latest model of the stuff, that we want the most fashionable stuff. And then of course none of the cords from the old stuff fit the new stuff until the whole planet is pretty much stuffed! It becomes second nature to us to look for happiness in things outside of ourselves. We believe that some new thing in our life, some new relationships, some new possession will bring us some measure of happiness; And oftentimes we bump into one of the “D’s” in life. And an D might be a disappointment, a drama, a disaster, a divorce, a diagnosis, a death, a disfigurement, a disability, a debt, a drought, a depression, a dementia. We bump into an D and everything that’s becomes second nature to us doesn’t work. It might be second nature to us to blame others for our unhappiness it might be second nature to us to believe that other people are happier than us.
But in this circumstance this deed demands more of us than we may ever have had to bring to the circumstance before. And we’re faced with that question about “who am I? What am I doing on the planet? Am I living the life I came here to live? If not, why not?” Michael Sage says, “Life is like a river, constantly flowing, Life is like a tree, constantly growing.” It’s the belief that somehow it will be found outside of ourselves but in fact happiness is an inside job not derived from outer circumstances and when we bump into one of these D’s in life it causes us to become quiet inside.
We realize that happiness is found in the present moment that’s where the meaning of life is founded upon. We find peace, we find love, we find connection, we find that deep sense of being at peace within ourselves. When suffering happens, it is how we’re going to embrace the moment. “Where the clocks are beatingThe journey starts”- Josie Parrelli.
How do we embrace our anguish, our misery, our pain, our joy, our peace? Because that is in the present moment. And can we embrace these things without being overwhelmed by them? Or being defined by them? So how do we embrace the full gamut of human experience? Because that leads to a deep and lasting happiness not a momentary pursuit of pleasure. If the topic of this debate this evening were being happy makes us miserable, we could see how ludicrous such a statement is. It’s the pursuit of happiness that causes us pain. It’s the pursuit of believing that happiness lies in the future, rather than right here right now.