“And they lived happily ever after.” Think about this line for a few minutes. Are you living happily ever after? If not, what will it take for you to get there?
How do we define happiness?
Pema Chodron suggests, “But in working with this (happiness), one of the ways of phrasing this that seems to be more digestible for people is to think of happiness in a very profound sense of May I fulfill my potential—during this lifetime, from now until I die, may the days of my life add up to waking up and fulfilling my potential, actually connecting with the deep and rich potential that I have, and wishing that for other people as well”
At the root of everything is basic goodness, a Buddhist view that each of us is fundamentally awake and compassionate, yet we tend to look at ourselves from a place of badness, explains Pema. We spend our lives in self-doubt and confusion, attempting to be perfect and get it right. But life is about being open to whatever might arise, including feelings of uneasiness as well as feelings of contentment and peace.
Rather than asking “How can I get out of this?” ask “How can I stay in this moment of discomfort and begin to soften?” It is in that moment of softening that you will find your open heart, teaches Pema Chödrön. Everyone has the longing to feel the open heart, because it is a deep happiness that can never be taken away.
So happiness in that context is a worthwhile goal for me,unlike the ‘Happily Ever After’ ideal which is a Fairy Tale-esque concept suggesting waltzing of into an endless sunset free of troubles. Life can be hard and yet if we seek to be still and present and to accept what life brings us with gratitude, then a deeper contentment, a word I prefer to happiness, can be developed.
A sense that life is what it is and we should endeavour to find contentment in all it’s facets and not just somewhere over the rainbow.
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