When the Dalai Lama toured Portugal, he marveled at all the construction, some of it quite luxurious. The story goes that one of his colleagues commented about living in the penthouse of one of those luxurious buildings. The Dalai Lama remarked, “If you’re deeply unhappy within, then all you’re going to look for is a window from which to jump.”
We all have a desire for happiness, but have you stopped to think what happiness means? My guess is that it has different meanings for each of us. I like a recent meaning I heard from the Budhist scholar, Jack Kornfield, which was a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment; a state that underlies all emotional states and all the joys and sorrows that can come ones way.
He gave a beautiful depiction of what this means: When we watch waves coming to the shore, there’s hardly any depth between the top and bottom of the wave; at the bottom of the wave, you hit solid rock, or depression, and at the top of the wave, you’re elated. There’s no depth; you go from elation to depression.
On the other hand, if you look out at the high sea, there might be calm ocean like a mirror and there may be storms, but the depth of the ocean is still there unchanged.
The key is to have that depth, despite what’s happening in your life. You could travel to a paradise island and still be miserable. Conversely, you could live in a ghetto and be filled with inward happiness. Probably the best example of the latter is Viktor Frankl who felt inner peace despite that he lived in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany.
I understand that feeling happiness can be challenging, especially when we feel overwhelmed and our lives are spinning out of control. This is the time when we need to dig in deeper and find that place within us of inner peace. You have probably heard it said that even on the most dreary days, the sun is always shining above the clouds. That’s kind of what it’s like with us; no matter how dismal we feel, there’s a place of serenity that is always there for us to access.
The fastest route to happiness is selfless generosity, which is doing good deeds anonymously; that is, we don’t need the recognition or gratitude.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and/or alone, please reach out to me at lauri@EmbracingMyself.com, which is an online community here to support you!