How Not to be Un-Happy
Happiness is something every one of us is seeking. While meditation apps like Headspace and its vital competitor Calm, have grown to million-dollar companies, most people in the world seem to be unhappy. Yoga and meditation do help with the concept of ‘being present’, it seems to not work for most of us. I am personally fond of yoga for flexibility and meditation to soothe my mind, right before I sleep (I guess the alpha beta waves in the background music is my favorite), it does not give me a direction to achieve happiness in all respects. However, though we tend to be polite and make it feel easy, being ‘Happy’ is hard. I wonder why monks spend the whole day out in the mountains practicing meditation in monasteries or introspecting and practicing Vipassana (silent meditation), or why Steve Jobs and the Beatles spent time running to India to learn Transcendental Meditation from Maharshi Mahesh Yogi.
Although all these seem to be extremes of all cases and somehow unsustainable efforts, Racheal Hollis has come up with tools that do help with the happiness aspect in our practical life. In her new New York Times Bestseller, ‘Didn’t See it Coming’ the first thing that she mentions that creates unhappiness is identity crisis. We are always fearful of losing positions, jobs, relationships. What if you lose your job? Or what if your husband leaves you? And we tend to act in the way that’s against our will. She says that what you have earned already is yours, even though you don’t have a name attached to it. Eckhart Tolle had mentioned this concept in his spiritual book ‘The Power of Now’, as a conceptual identity. It is like living another people’s life and thinking about how you would reach a goal which might make you feel happy. The strategy is to change the thought process and think about what you want and to go for it.
Those who practice meditating would be more familiar with the word, ‘Present’, which means the moment that you are in and to feel the moment. Through personal experience I felt the act to be really hard but what it leads to is you becoming more aware of your body feelings, senses and emotions. That in itself makes your life worth living. The idea of death from mental illness comes from the fact that nothing around you seems exciting, or your life seems miserable. But looking at hardships is like going through a tunnel, and the other side is always brighter than the darkness inside. Unless you see the dark, you cannot feel the light.
Hollis also talks about an interesting concept, ‘Perspective vs mindset’. Perspective is a relative notion where you take comparisons whereas mindset is fixed. This rolls back to the thought, why bad things happen to me and the feeling people around seem happy. It’s a mindset question, because you are fixed in your thought. Everyone has their own struggles, just that you can’t hear their voice. She says, ‘However I hate to tell this, life isn’t fair’. And most people use coping mechanisms to deal with the crisis, like wine, drugs, work whatever it may be. The key to be happy is to be motivated. ‘Depression usually kills motivation’, she says. In summary she asks us to be strong in our identity, to be aware of our feelings, to be motivated and most importantly to do things that make us happy, versus leading someone else’s life.