Chase Peace of Mind, Not Happiness
Searching for happiness seems to be one of the most important things in our lives today. In Bhutan, they measure their gross national happiness. All over the world, there are a number of online programs aimed at regaining happiness in seven weeks or learning to be happy through a 21-step process, and there are countless apps focused solely on boosting happiness.
All these things are telling us that we have to be happy. But they’re also trying to tell us that happiness is a destination — and it isn’t.
Happiness is an emotion, and it’s a small part of our lives. There’s also sadness, positivity, negativity, pride, jealousy, anger, contentment, and gratitude. None of these emotions are a destination.
Happiness Isn’t About a Timeline
The truth is that you're unlikely to reach happiness in seven weeks, because as soon as you collect your happiness certificate, somebody will come along and do something or say something that bubbles up a different emotion within you, and instantly your happiness will have disappeared.
Do you really believe a course on happiness is going to make you happy? Should that even be our goal in life? Personally, I don’t think so. We shouldn’t waste our time chasing happiness because what we’re doing is actually making ourselves less happy. We begin to torment ourselves by mentally reciting “I want to be happy, I want to be happy.” After some time, when we don’t feel constantly happy, we become depressed. We tell ourselves, “I should be happy, but I’m not happy; everyone else is happy except for me.”
Finding a Calm Mind Through Meditation
If happiness is not a destination we should aim for, what should we be aiming for? I believe we should set our sights on peace of mind, because when our mind is calm, it doesn’t matter if you’re happy, it doesn’t matter if you’re sad — you just deal with whatever life is throwing at you.
This is where meditation helps. We sit down and calm our minds by focusing on one thing which may help us to experience equanimity. Our body relaxes, our breathing becomes more balanced, and our mind begins to open. We become more peaceful.
A peaceful mind is important because our senses are constantly being bombarded by stimuli. There are always noises, smells, and things to see, taste, and touch. Everything is going on around us and our mind can’t concentrate because it’s being pulled in so many directions. In meditation, we’re trying to teach the mind to focus on one thing and stay focused on it.
Bringing a Peaceful Mind into Daily Life
What you learn on the meditation cushion can be taken out into your daily life. Remaining focused on a single thing is a wonderful skill that helps relieve pressure on our minds. A good example of how we can put this skill to use is when we are reading a book.
How many times have you been sitting reading a book and then halfway through, your mind goes off, but you keep going through the motions of reading? When you eventually realize you have lost your focus, you have to go all the way back and start reading from where you first were distracted.
Meditation teaches us how to stay focused, and this in turn leads to a peaceful mind. This mind is then able to deal with whatever life brings along.
It may take longer than seven weeks to achieve, but it is going to be worth it. Happiness is a short-lived thing, but peace of mind knows no limits. So, which one do you think we should be chasing?
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