The Art of Happiness

young love

A common lesson that keeps showing up for me on my journey is the idea of attachment vs. letting go. I believe Happiness is an art form and to enjoy it you must learn to cultivate your talent like an artist. Without this understanding people rest in a state of disconnection from true joy. When you plug into and internalize this idea you have learned what I believe is The Art of Happiness.

To learn any craft takes a healthy dose of discipline, the discipline to understand your own methods and patience to establish the most effective way for you to enjoy your art form. One thing that has not changed for me, not even for a minute, is my desire to change, evolve and succeed. I needed to learn The Art of Happiness to move forward. It is that urgency, commitment and discipline that have helped me internalize the lessons of attachment, one of the more challenging assignments for me personally.

Most of the suffering that I was experiencing, and that I see around me, is from people trying to control and shape every inch of their lives. There is never a moment to just accept and enjoy the moment as it is. Letting go is about understanding how the story you create and cling to is what is causing your pain, your fear, your stress. Clinging to something does not mean you keep it. It means your hands are occupied when what you really need is right in front of you. Learning to acknowledge attachment means you can begin to let go of what is not serving you.

A good way to absorb this lesson is by taking a look at the difference between attachment and love. Attachment is based in fear and dependency and focused on the self. Love without attachment is about giving to others and not asking anything in return. How much of your life is based in attachment and how much is based in love?

A wonderful example of this distinction is young love. Falling in love when you are young can be a stubborn, whimsical attachment to all you have learned love is supposed to be. Whether you have found your soul mate or are simply attached to an idea is hard to understand. Later, when you learn how love changes through time in every relationship around you, your tendency to attach and let go may change as well. With wisdom we can learn how to manage love, patience, cravings, desire, sadness, aversion, fear and all those human emotions that make us vulnerable. When you become brave enough to sit with your vulnerability and just experience life happening around you without attaching to it, you have truly let go. 

Feeling happiness is an art form, it takes time and desire to cultivate the skills needed to manage a happy life. Feeling true happiness means learning the difference between love and indulgence, appreciation and extravagance. When you let go of overindulgence and embrace gratitude for what is, you let go of suffering. One of the hardest things to do is let go of something you really want, but that’s the only way to truly hold on to it.

“Stress is an alarm clock that let’s you know you’re attached to something that’s not true for you. A thought is harmless until we believe it. It’s not our thoughts but our attachment to our thoughts that causes suffering.” -Byron Katie

“Sometimes we are so attached to our way of life that we turn down a wonderful opportunity simply because we don’t know what to do with it.” -Paulo Coelho

“You only lose what you cling to” -Buddha

photo courtesy of kakisky on morguefile.com

Inquire Within

Image

I woke up feeling reflective and distracted this morning, so I took a ride over to my favorite spot down by the lake.  I used to go down there when I was a kid.  From the minute I got my driver’s license, I would hop in my car and head straight to my spot.  I used to bring my lunch down there during high school.  So for 24 years, this spot has been my quick escape right in my own “backyard”.  I have many treasured memories sitting with close friends at this spot catching up, reflecting, or just sitting and enjoying the view.

So what was on my mind this morning?  Why was I so distracted?  Love.

Over the 24 years I’ve been going to that spot by the lake, love has meant different things to me.  I’ve gone down there to think about friends, boyfriends, and even family but now I just went down there to think about love.  Just love in general.  I thought about the many kinds of love I have experienced since I started visiting the beach.  At first, there was my first love… mmmmm …. and the love of friends getting to know what life is all about.  Later, I learned about the love between a mother and child from both sides, the love of a husband and wife, the love between two girl friends as a kid and as an adult, and the love between myself and other moms as we enjoy this wild ride together just to name a few.  And, over the last few years, I’ve gotten far more familiar with my own love for myself.  And now, I realize that my sensitivity to my own ideas about love is really the only kind of love that actually exists.  As Byron Katie tells us, the important thing is “loving what is”.  The rest is what we believe is conjured up by others and sent our way.  We interpret that “love” and create a story around it.

The only thing with more optimistic power than love is the idea of “tomorrow”, the idea of what is to come.  To feel genuine love for another and feel the promise of that love being there tomorrow is no less than magnificent.  What I understand now is that my love for myself will be there tomorrow, and always.  It is a striking reason to continue this journey of finding more ways to fall deeper in love with myself.  It also inspires me to find ways to feel confident in my love of my friends and loved ones and their love for me.  “Do you want to meet the love of your life? Look in the mirror.”  -Byron Katie

My heartfelt wish for myself and for everyone is to feel and experience non-judgmental, unconditional, mind blowing love in every way possible in your life.  Whether it be from your dog, your lover or your mother, breathe in all the love in your life and breathe out delight.  Just be sure you continue to inquire within for the love of yourself.  Every bit of love that you experience is the result of how you perceive love, no one can give you love, you simply feel what is in your own heart.  “Peace doesn’t require two people; it requires only one. It has to be you. The problem begins and ends there.” -Byron Katie

“Love” is one of my favorite songs by John Lennon, but the only line in the song that really needs to be sung is the last one.

“Love”

Love is real, real is love

Love is feeling, feeling love

Love is wanting to be loved

Love is touch, touch is love

Love is reaching, reaching love

Love is asking to be loved

Love is you

You and me

Love is knowing

we can be

Love is free, free is love

Love is living, living love

Love is needed to be loved

-John Lennon

photo above was taken at Park Ave Beach

myhappypromise

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