Did you know true happiness cannot be achieved by having something or doing something? It is not the result of figuring things out or knowing how things are either. It is neither about going somewhere or being someone. Actually it surfaces as a result of gaining insight into what is not, how things are not, who we are not! In other words, true happiness and joy are always here; they are the fabric of our being. We don’t need to have something or do something or know something in order to be joyful. Rather we need to see who we are not, how things are not, what reality is not. Then, and only then, our self-made shields blocking our light–blocking natural joy–begin to gradually crack and melt away to allow true happiness to shine through.
The self-made shields I am talking about include the identity labels we attach to ourselves and our beliefs and assumptions. Our identity labels could be anything like taking oneself to be say an engineer, a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a plumber, a baker, a parent, a child, a sibling, a relative, a friend, a student, a spiritual seeker, and so on. Our beliefs and assumptions include all familial and socio-cultural ones, and religious, political, philosophical and scientific ones.
We must practice scepticism and develop a kind of lifestyle of continually examining our identity labels and beliefs and assumption without fear or favour. Such practice would gradually help us to be more present and begin to simply experience natural joy and feel happy for no good reason.
I must emphasise that this does not mean that everything in our life situation would be “good” or “positive”, not at all. The so called “bad, unpleasant, unfortunate, …” events will still keep happening; for they are always part of life too. The difference would be that we do not judge our experiences and do not label them as good or bad; positive or negative. We will do what is needed to be done in response to such events without making (the usual) internal stories about them. This means that we would still come across hurtful and confronting situations and we might still feel hurt, sad, angry, powerless, and so on; but we won’t become depressive, paralysed, confused, aggressive, or escape the reality by fooling ourselves. Talking about the famous fight, flight or freeze reactions; the more present we are, the less we become psychological victims of such reactions (Don’t worry, in real and present danger situations our body takes over automatically and does what is required before our mind even notices the danger). Depression (freeze), anger and aggressiveness (fight), and avoidance, self-distractions and justifications (flight) are nothing but reactions to what we experience. Through being present we stop reacting and begin responding to situations that arise.