Happiness Right Now VS Planning for the Future


Good morning friends, Happy Monday. I know Mondays can be kind of pressure cooker-feeling as we leap into our weeks together. So, first of all, maybe we can pause for one minute together and just breathe.

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Okay, so now, I just wanted to check in with you all about a couple of things that have been on my mind a lot lately, especially the last few days and certainly this morning.

One.

I think that I like, perhaps, many of us, frequently struggle with discerning between different ideas about happiness. And these different ideas, can cause us some suffering.

On the one hand, I, like you perhaps, want to set goals, accomplish things. I have the idea of creating a happy life in which I live to my fullest potential and help others reach their fullest potential too.

Two.

Then, on the other hand, I know from my experience meditating and from studying the very good guidance the Buddha offered (as well as other spiritual teachers throughout time), that our only really possibility of happiness exists right here and now, is this moment. Not the many gazillions of moments which have already flown past and not the ones which aren’t here yet. Just now.

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Here is what Thich Nhat Hanh says in his book, “no death, no fear”:

Each of us has a notion of how we can be happy. It would be very helpful if we took the time to reconsider our notions of happiness, We could make a list of what we think we need to be happy: “I can only be happy if…” Write down the things you want and things you do not want. Where did these ideas come from? Are they reality? Or are they only your notions? If you are committed to a particular notion of happiness, you do not have much chance to be happy.

 Happiness arrives from many directions. If you have a notion that it only comes from one direction, you will miss all of these other opportunities because you want happiness to come only from the direction you want. (Emphasis mine) …

…Please remember that your notions of happiness may be very dangerous. The Buddha said happiness can only be possible in the here and now. So go back and examine deeply your notions and ideas of happiness. You may recognize that the conditions of happiness that are already there in your life are enough. Then happiness can be instantly yours.

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So, perhaps what we need to remember, amongst other things, is to try and develop a more nuanced approach to our happiness. Realizing that indeed the conditions for happiness are present right here and now. That our happiness doesn’t depend on outer conditions. We can practice to adjust our attitude to conditions and be okay with what is, right here and now.

That doesn’t mean we have to drop all goal setting or planning. We don’t have to stop dreaming of a future in which we feel perhaps, even more passionate about our work and how we are making a positive impact on the world. But we don’t sacrifice our present to that future. We realize that we are on the path already, no matter where we are. We try to see clearly into conditions, recognizing our happiness here and now and building our lives at the same time.

Make sense? What do you think? Where do you struggle with this process? Or where do you feel like you can really exist in that balance? I’d love to hear from you. And know, friends, that I’m out here working on it too.

May all find peace.

Live your legend.

Carpe  diem. Carpe pacem,

Hillary

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Author: Hillary Johnson

Improvisational documentary and fine art photographer.

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