The Fear of Happiness
If you were to review the tapes of my life, all the books I’ve read, the podcasts, the movies, the lessons I took away from those movies… you’d think that I was doing whatever I could to seek happiness.
And actually, maybe that’s most of us. Not everyone is into the genre of self-help, but most people I know are trying to help themselves through whatever possible means. An old friend of mine got into Jiu Jitsu in order to better his physical and mental abilities. That may not be equivalent to reading Tolle but if it isn’t self-help, I’m not sure what is.
Clearly, the happiness that we seek is hard to find. Do you know anyone that’s gotten there? I don’t. That doesn’t mean that I don’t know happy people, but all of them attempt to better themselves in one way or another, all of them are dedicated to the process, to the journey. Happiness, or the idea of it, becomes more like a carrot than a treasure chest.
But if we were to really dig into it, what would we find happiness to be? Is it a stress-free life? I don’t think that’s what I’m after, and I don’t know many people who I think would say that is what they’re after either.
Because achieving a stress free life would mean no more challenges. And we need challenges. And if it’s not a stress free life after, then maybe happiness is simply an attitude that we wear, the notion that we can handle anything, that bad thoughts and events will come and go we’ll still be standing… until we aren’t.
The dark side of this is that many people actually fear this kind of unconditional happiness. That their dissatisfaction is what drives them to make change in their lives and the lives of others. That if they were to be unconditionally happy, oddly enough, there would be no reason left to live.
So perhaps we’ll settle for a middle way: being perfectly and unconditionally happy with never really being happy.