The Big Question

 As many of us sit around contemplating our naval and the big question "What is the meaning of this life"? Could it be that we are missing the sublimely obvious?TranquilityCredit: chopsooy

 You don't have to be a genius to know that most people have a primary goal in life, which is, finding happiness. Even if they don't actually realize that it is the underlying reason we often work ourselves into the ground to earn a buck and find ourselves in an often constant mode of "If only I had" ....... more money, a house, a college degree, more time, the right car etc. The list can often be never-ending. Why?

Where Do you look For Happiness?

Maybe you find pleasure and happiness shopping  for clothing or try to channel happiness through gaining  love from a partner. Maybe cigarettes, alcohol, sex and drugs or even crazily chasing money to fill as many of your wants and cravings as you can. The common trait with all these forms of 'finding' happiness is that they all rely on external factors to keep the happiness train running. There is a problem with  chasing and grasping at happiness in this way.

When You Rely On Other People, Objects and Things to Provide Joy and Happiness.

Happiness found using these learned behaviours doesn't last. It is fleeting, sometimes within seconds, minutes or hours and sometimes weeks, days or months but the feeling fades and it's not long before you start adding to your mental list again, looking for the next thing to bring you the excitement these external factors have momentarily given to you. We form attachments to these things and it becomes not only that we want them to make ourselves feel good but suddenly that we NEED them to keep the happiness in our system. It's almost like hooking ourselves up to an intravenous drip, pushing as much external happiness into our blood as we can and when the levels drop in our system, we head back to the external sources once again to re top our happiness levels back up. 

Getting What You Want.

Another interesting point to look at is that often the  immediate act of getting what you want, is not nearly as enjoyable as the build up to obtaining it... in fact even often reminiscing about past things bring us more happiness than the real time event that actually happened

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called. ~A.A. Milne

 

Lifes PanoramaCredit: chopsooy

Where Do you Find Yourself?

So it would seem that chasing happiness as if it is something we need to physically make happen, is a limiting way to go. Are there really other things we can do that don't involve money and attachment to people and objects? Can contemplating your naval actually really hold some of the answers?

Personal Development

Many people busily go about their lives, the inner mind constantly chattering inside, and it's not till they push themselves to a breaking point that they realize that things have to change. It's the cycle of making mistakes and hopefully learning from them, experiencing suffering so that we can move through to better things.

There’s two things people do with the shit of life. The first person puts it in their bag, in their pockets, up their shirt, down their trousers. They carry it around with them! ‘Why me? It’s unfair, it’s terrible, it’s not nice!’ That’s called ‘carrying the shit.’ Now you find if you carry shit around you lose a lot of friends…But there’s the other thing you can do with the cow shit of life….You dig it into your garden! So instead of just complaining about it, you make use of it…It takes a long time sometimes when you’re in the middle of this. You can’t just get rid of it in an instant. It takes weeks, sometimes years. You keep digging in a little bit every day and something always happens. That moment occurs when you look out of your front door and that whole pile of shit is gone. It’s vanished. It hasn’t gone nowhere. Something’s happened in the back garden… beautiful flowers that are so fragrant, people walking down the street can smell them and they like to visit your amazing garden. And your fruit trees - the apples in there are so delicious and sweet. So much so that you give them to all your friends…Your garden which you grow from the shit of your life is not just for you. It’s for everybody who comes close to you.

Ajahn Brahm
Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?: Inspiring Stories for Welcoming Life's Difficulties
Amazon Price: $15.95 $7.86 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 27, 2013)
This is the first book by the above quoted monk, Ajahn Brahm. It is jam packed full of short stories containing real pearls of wisdom. I can't recommend this highly enough. In Australia the exact same book is titled "Opening The Door Of Your Heart".

Find Some Peace

It seems that everyone holds the key to their own personal development and it's within this that answers are found. People caught  up in attachments and conditional happiness tend to be less spiritually awakened and can easily "bah ha" things such as Spirituality, Meditation, Relaxation, Yoga and Tai Chi  (just to name a few) but these are the kind of things that ease forward our personal development in a gentle less forceful way. Meditation is an amazing place to start. For many people learning the art of meditation is quite difficult, especially at the beginning. To make sure that you don't get put off by finding relaxing your mind too difficult, many places now days offer free guided meditation classes to get you going in the right direction.

Brand New Black/red Zabuton Zafu Set, Yoga, Meditation Seat Cushions, Kneeling, Sitting, Supporting Exercise Pratice Zabuton & Zafu Cushions.
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Meditate like a master, or at least be comfortable as you let go of all your stress. Not the most expensive of meditation chairs or cushions, but looks and is reviewed as the most comfortable and best value for money.

Gaining Independence

Not feeling dependent on external sources and participating in more peaceful activities  can awaken a new more positive energy within us. It can enable us to become non dependent on others and other things for pleasure, and as we begin to learn to tap into a much deeper happiness and joy that is completely free and always there we can learn to quieten our analysing minds and see life in a whole different light.

A Meditator's Handbook

Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond: A Meditator's Handbook
Amazon Price: $16.95 $8.21 Buy Now
(price as of Jul 27, 2013)
Ajahn Brahm teaches meditation and gives Dhamma talks every Friday night if you are lucky enough to live in Perth Western Australia. For those who aren't that lucky you can still access his teachings with his books like this one on Meditation.