I saw a friend for the first time today in many months. We had a socially distant visit on the stairs in her back yard.
I was crying when I told her how much had been happening inside of me, how many things I was uncovering about my life and my world, how many truths I was excavating, and how it had broken me.
She’s supportive, and kind, and asked how therapy was going, and then commented on how I didn’t seem happy.
I’m not happy, and I told her that. And then I don’t remember exactly what I said after that, but it was along the lines of, “Am I supposed to be?”
It got me thinking about the society that we live in, about the beliefs or assumptions that we’ve adopted because of what we’re exposed to, in the media, on the internet, from our friends and family and the other people around us. From governments and corporations and workplaces. And I realized, not for the first time – not for the four hundredth time – how much we have bought into ways of thinking and belief systems, without ever realizing that we have.
The belief in happiness, and its pursuit, is one of those things we’ve been exposed to on so many levels, on so many platforms, for more than a decade.
We have come to believe that we should want to be happy, that we should all want happiness for ourselves, both personally and collectively. Happiness has not only become a worthy pursuit in our minds – it has become both necessary and achievable, to the point that we believe that we are miserable without it. But are we miserable without it? We believe that we are, so much so that we unwittingly push each other to reach for it.
But why? Why do we want it so much? Is it because happiness is a pleasant experience or feeling? It’s also pleasant to be drunk, to be high, to be in love, to orgasm and to eat ice cream, but are we pushing each other to drink or orgasm in every single moment of our lives? That would be an unreasonable expectation – and an unhealthy one. Are we using a goal of happiness as a way to avoid feeling uncomfortable?
There is such a push for the individual, in our society, to pursue happiness. It’s like an elusive pill, a drug. Such an expectation that we should all want to pursue it, while we are quite possibly the farthest from happy we have ever been.
And rightfully so.
Because the pursuit of anything presumes or implies that we don’t already have the thing. If we want it, and try to get it, it’s because we believe that it’s not already here. And so it’s not here.
It’s not our fault that we want it. After all, we’ve had the message pounded into our brains over and over. We’ve been exposed to thousands of messages in thousands of ways over many years, from toothpaste ads to diet plans to wellness days at work. Corporations and governments everywhere jumped on the happiness movement bandwagon, encouraging us to want it and to pursue it. It was a great way for them to place the “responsibility” for happiness (a positive version of reality) on the shoulders of the individual as a way to absolve themselves of any responsibility for enacting positive social change. The US Constitution itself told Americans that they were guaranteed the right to “the pursuit of happiness”. Not the “having” of happiness, just the pursuit of it. What a great way to set us up for failure way back then.
We keep looking for the next best thing, the next greener field. We believe that our field is not green enough, that there are not enough beautiful “things” in it, that we will be happy only when and if we can have the ultimately perfect field.
Some of us have come to believe that the purpose of life itself is to achieve – and possess – the greenest field.
The point of life itself is happiness?
I would like for us to stop for one moment and look around at our world with a critical eye (not a negative eye, just one that can think critically). For all of the suffering in our world, for all of the ravaged countries and ravaged lives, for all of the trauma and oppression and the fight for survival, for all of the things that need drastic improvement from their present state… how can we look at this reality critically and then rationally decide that the underlying purpose of human life on this planet is to be happy? If you do believe that, I’d like to ask you: Who told you that?
Then I’d like to ask: And what were your reasons for wanting to believe it?
Maybe it gives us hope, a sense of optimism or possibility. That’s fine, we all need hope. But if we’re going to use that belief to pressure – and often harass – other people into believing that they’re not enough, just the way they are, that’s problematic. We become an agent that stops people from embracing what is right in front of them, the opposite of pursuit. I’m talking about the state of Being, the state of acceptance that recognizes that we simply are. We have become so preoccupied with doing and achieving and pursuing that we have forgotten that, inside, we already are everything. WE are what we have been looking for.
I’m talking about the state where we no longer feel the need to complete the sentence, “I am….,” with some kind of adjective or descriptor like “happy” or “sad” or “successful” – the inner state of being where the statement “I AM” is already complete in and of itself.
As long as we are led to believe that there is a happier reality out there that we should pursue, we will always believe that we are not enough as we are. And that right there – that’s what ultimately makes us unsettled, restless, dissatisfied, disconnected – in essence, unhappy.
I am not in any way saying that we shouldn’t try to make our world a better place – I’m actually saying the opposite. Our inner state of being-ness, of inner allowance and acceptance, is the foundation upon which all positive change is built.
By choosing to disconnect from the voices that tell us to pursue – the ones that tell us that we are not already good enough as we are – we disempower the forces that would like us to stay small and insignificant. By embodying our inner state of being and wholeness, we become the change.
I told my friend that I am broken because I am – I’ve been breaking all of the holds that these forces have had on me. I’ve been breaking all of the messages of disempowerment that I’ve internalized from years of trauma and oppression.
When I started to understand how much of those outside influences I had taken into myself, how deeply they had become imbedded in me, how entwined with my sense of self, I reeled. I fell. I broke.
I needed to break, because those stories – those expectations – they are not me. And in the breaking of those falsehoods, I am returning to my state of simply being, to the place within my centre where I remember my soul and eternity, where I know with every fibre of my heart, mind, and body, that I am enough. That I AM.