The purpose of life is to be happy – so says the Dalai Lama. Jesus Christ said something similar when he said that he came so that ‘you might have life and have it to the full’. Unfortunately, however, having worked in the field of personal development for more than fourteen years, I have come to the conclusion that most people aren’t really quite sure what happiness actually means. And, perhaps, happiness has been confused with self gratification or pleasure. So what does happiness actually mean? Does it mean having lots of nice things – nice home, second home, nice cars, nice clothes, nice holidays? Because, certainly over the last few years, many people fell into the trap of judging their happiness based on these kinds of things – and of judging their happiness by comparison to the nice things that others around them had. Believe it or not, I actually had a client ‘phone me at one point to tell me that his wife was threatening to leave him because she said and I quote ‘The neighbours go on better holidays!’ ‘Help her pack her bags’, I said!
It seems to me that happiness is not about having lots of nice things. Don’t get me wrong though – it doesn’t exclude having lots of nice things, but they are not a prerequisite to happiness. Happiness is about having happy times or, as my clients day to me, ‘being gurdy!’ – a word that means something very special to myself, my family, my friends and my clients. Happiness is an inner feeling that you have that all is well with the world and your place in it. It is a feeling of wanting for nothing – not not wanting to travel further on the wonderful adventure of life’s rollercoaster – but simply of not wanting for anything right here right now.
Happiness is a now thing. And the big problem is that the normal mind is not present now, so the normal person is, in the normal course of events, unable to experience happiness. Psychology tells us that the normal subconscious mind is focused in the past, in particular on the childhood experiences that are etched on our subconscious and have made us who we are – or who we think we are! To make matters worse, the normal conscious mind is focused in the future, either looking forward to something good, wanting for something that we don’t have or, more normally, worrying about something that we don’t want to happen. In fact, as a result of all this mental turmoil, psychological research suggests that the normal mind is only one percent present. Under these circumstances it’s pretty much impossible to be happy.
To be happy, you’ve got to turn up to now – the only place and time that life is lived. In fact on the rare occasions when the normal mind does experience absolute happiness – for example, on the birth of a child or having your breath taken away by a stunning sunset – research shows that, in those fleeting moments, the mind is fully focused, fully engrossed, fully immersed in the moment. And herein lies the secret of true, lasting happiness – even in the course of our ordinary everyday lives. Remember, if you waste one moment of your ordinary everyday life being unhappy, you have wasted a precious opportunity that will never come your way again.
In other words, regardless of what you’re doing or where you find yourself, you have the capacity to be happy – and a free and happy mind is a mind that is alert and open to all the possibilities and opportunities that real living has to offer – right here, right now. However, it takes a focused and attentive mind to be present. This level of focus doesn’t come naturally to us as adults but it was second nature to us as children – that’s how we learned everything that we learned during our formative years, when our minds were sponge-like.
You’ve got to re-learn how to focus – or, plainly and simply, pay attention to the reality of the here and now rather than letting your mind take you on the Ghost Train ride of living in the past or worrying about the future. And you don’t need any special equipment or expensive training courses to re-train yourself – you’re fully equipped just as you are. You have five senses – you can see, feel, hear, smell and taste. When you were a child you made full use of those senses and really experienced your world. As an adult you pay almost no attention to your senses at all – instead, your subconscious mind makes up your mind for you in relation to what’s going on now, using what it learned during your formative years as its basis for decision making. Crazy!
So, you’ve got to come to your senses – literally. You’ve got to start deliberately start paying attention to what and who you see, feel, here, smell and taste – you’ve got to engross and immerse yourself in the moment, in the same way you’re immersed when you hit that all too rare natural high. Once you start doing this – on a regular and daily basis – you won’t have to go in search of happiness – it will simply find you. It is that simple to be simply happy.
Willie Horton has been enabling his clients live their dream since he launched is now acclaimed two-day Personal Development Seminars all the way back in 1996. His clients include top leaders in major corporations such as Pfizer, Deloitte, Nestle, Merrill Lynch, Wyeth, KPMG, G4S and Allergan together with everyone from the stay-at-home parent to sports-people. An Irish ex-banker and ex-accountant, he lives in the French Alps from where he travels the world as a much sought after motivational speaker and mentor. In 2008 he launched Gurdy.Net where is self-help seminars are now online. For more information visit Willie Horton’s Personal Development Website Gurdy.Net