Happiness in Human Nature

There are scores of books about happiness that supposedly give us the secret to how we can truly find contentment and live more fulfilling lives. Happiness is big business as can be seen by the constant barrage of commercials in western countries like the USA, telling us that we don’t need to be depressed any more or feel hopeless, because there’s a pill that will magically eliminate our sadness and numb out our brains so that everything feels alright.Francois Lelord, a psychiatrist who was on the UWRF panel which discussed the keys to happiness, posed some thought provoking questions about happiness: “Does happiness depend on mastering the mind? “ And “Does money bring happiness?”

As I pondered the first question I understood without a shadow of a doubt, that happiness does depend on mastering the mind. Our minds generate both positive and negative thoughts which influence our emotions. If we are unable to stop a negative thought pattern, we will ultimately get caught up in our destructive emotions such as rage, jealousy, depression, disdain, etc. There is always a moment when we have the choice of whether to hold on to a positive or negative thought. When we master our minds, it becomes easier to choose the positive thoughts and let go of the negative ones. It is no small task to master ones thoughts, but through meditation and other mind, body, spirit practices, we can learn how to strengthen our minds so that we are the master of our thoughts rather than our thoughts being the master of us.

The cycle of suffering goes like this: first we have a negative thought, which then influences our feelings, which in turn causes us to react or take action in any given situation. Some people unconsciously and sometimes consciously, perpetuate this vicious cycle of suffering which is also known as ‘Samsara’ according to Buddhist philosophy. Through our own misperceptions, limiting beliefs and patterns, we become stuck in our lives and remain unhappy. All of us grapple with these issues on a daily basis, but the more cognizant we become of our misperceptions and limiting beliefs, the easier it will be for us to find true contentment in our lives.

Francois also posed the question: “Does money bring happiness?” and replied saying,

“Yes, for the very poor. As soon as we get the minimum form of security and have good relationships around us; after that, the increase of money will not increase your happiness.”

I honestly can’t say if this is absolute, since I’m not financially well off, but I can say from my own experience that there are just as many wealthy people who are unhappy as poor people, and conversely, there are also lots of poor people who are just as content as wealthy people. Why is this so?

Ketut Yuliarsa, another panel member who established the first book shop in Ubud, Bali in 1986, said, “In Bali we believe in the ‘Tri Hita Karana’ which is divided into three levels of harmony: happy with each other, the environment and yourself.”

This simple, yet profound philosophy is something that we can all aspire towards. The majority of people in the world are living in constant discord with one another, because of differences in religion, politics and race. They are dissatisfied with their lives and themselves, because they don’t feel accepted by their community or are unwilling to accept others who are different from them. This ‘dissatisfaction’ has become a worldwide epidemic that is spreading across continents like a plague.

So how do we cultivate happiness? Eiji Han Shimizu, a film maker and the third panelist, discovered the answer to this question during his journey five years ago while making the film: ‘Happiness’. One thing he never anticipated was that this film would ultimately evolve into a film about compassion.

“Happy people that I met seemed to have a connectedness to something bigger than themselves. It can come from religion, family, an ancestor or nature. Think about the five happiest people you know. Now think about the five most miserable people you know. I bet you will find that the five happiest people have a lot in common. I bet that they’re kind, compassionate and altruistic. Compassion has a lot to do with the brain. All these good juices get released like dopamine, serotonins and endorphins when people engage in acts of kindness. Our society is promoting children to be smarter, more competitive or quicker, but not many people are promoting kids to be kinder – this is the path to happiness.”

Francois asserts that there are four clouds of happiness:

  1. Excited happiness from external circumstances; hedonistic happiness like drinking or sex.
  2. Contentment – nothing is going bad and everything is going well.
  3. Happiness which comes from being engrossed in an activity with a goal or purpose.
  4. The kind of serenity that a monk feels or someone who is deeply centered and can effectively control their mind.

Ideally, a mix of all of these types of happiness can deeply enrich our lives, but in reality, we can’t be happy all of the time. It is also our periods of sadness, loss, disappointment and heartache that give us a greater appreciation for the times that we are happy and fulfilled in our lives. And yes, when we give to others without expectation, believing in something greater than ourselves, we can experience a sweet ecstasy that is better than any synthetic drug.

Michele Cempaka is an internationally renowned energy healer, teacher and writer who specializes in transforming people’s lives using a variety of tools. She receives direct transmissions from her guides enabling her to offer her clients greater clarity about specific life issues & assist them with resolution. Michele has lived on Bali for 13 years and incorporates the indigenous spiritual qualities within her unique teachings, providing a transformative healing experience for everyone she encounters. www.spiritweaverjourneys.com

Copyright © 2011 Michele Cempaka

Originally posted @ New Earth Institute

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