This post was inspired by the title of a well known talk by Alan Watts. I've linked to the video at the end of this article.
We are often unhappy. And if we’re not noticeably unhappy, we have a constant nagging dissatisfaction within us.
We have many ways to distract ourselves from these uncomfortable feelings. The ways we distract ourselves are well documented.
My preferred way for a few years was alcohol and drugs, etc. I've now been completely clean and sober since 1997. I was fortunate in that my distraction preference was so obvious and self-destructive that I was able to wake up. Scared straight you could say. Yours might be more subtle...
So, how can we find happiness? We’ve been conditioned to believe that it exists outside of ourselves in things such as the approval (or disapproval) of others, status, a certain partner or job and myriad other goals and ways.
When we get that “thing” then we can be happy. At least that’s what we tell ourselves.
The interesting thing to me, is that when observed closely, it’s pretty obvious that it all stems from a feeling of not being enough. Never feeling complete or whole. Something’s always missing.
Since we are so strongly identified with a psychological structure that is an extension of our physical bodies, we believe that our existence ends abruptly at our skin. In other words, we subconsciously believe we are separate from the rest of Life. This is why we feel incomplete and cut off. This is also why so many insignificant things are experienced as a potential threat.
Our bodies have a flight or fight mode of survival that has hijacked our minds. We’re like an animal who is always on edge — unless something works out the way we want it to. Or we use our preferred method of distraction…
But the root cause of our dissatisfaction is still there...
Is There A Way Out?
In my experience, absolutely. And it’s not through a religious belief or hypnoisis or “reprogramming” the mind.
It’s from a deep recognition that the present moment is the only place where Life is.
Read the above sentence again. Because it’s so simply, we overlook it. We think the answer must be complicated.
You can never get to the future where you think you will be complete. The future never arrives. It’s an imaginary fiction in your mind.
When you get “there” it will still be the present moment.
This is NOT about apathy or not creating “to do” lists and strategies. No. It’s about becoming aware of a deeper dimension of Life. A deeper dimension of you.
As a matter of fact, live life with gusto! Go for it. When you are at ease in the present moment (the only place where Life actually is) you liberate great amounts of energy with which to create and act. And you aren't as easily discouraged when the results aren't what you'd hoped for. You continue to learn.
We usually get so caught up in the very narrow focus of our beta brain wave linear waking state that we can’t see the forest for the trees.
Watch The Video "Life Is Not A Journey" by Alan Watts
I’ve linked to a very powerful video. It’s brief (4:00 minutes) that I highly encourage you to watch. And then ponder. And ponder some more.
It’s by one of my favourite writers/philosopher/mystics of the 20th century, Alan Watts.