The realities of happiness, purpose, and self-awareness
Many of us wake and wonder, each day, what will it bring? What will I accomplish today? We’ve become entangled in a quest for that which we do not even know that confusion seeps in and we find ourselves without clear direction – further adding to the confusion. No clear direction is not to say that there are not many directions we are able to choose from. But how to choose?
The chess match we play with ourselves, with our lives, trying to see many moves ahead in order to make the correct move now obfuscates our objectivity, light wisps of clouds dancing in our heads seemingly to no purpose except to distract from those matters that should be brought to the front. Where lay the path for us – each of us? Advice abounds, well meaning and clear, from those we love and respect, but we know that the path our well wishers trod might not be, probably will not be, the right one for us. The guidance this advice may hide, however, is like a diamond in the rough. If we look at it closely, from all angles, envision the wisdom within, and then, with great care, chip away that which does not apply to ourselves, we see the jewel that was given to us freely. Like our own private Oracle these jewels, guided by instinct, intellect, and experience can help us in our quest to find purpose.
“Quest” – an interesting word to apply to ones life but if not a quest then is it a series of unconnected moments?
We all have our goals, our “quests”, in life and pursue them as best as our talents allow. But, so many times our goals have been pre-determined for us, sometimes outright and, at other times, that predetermination takes a subliminal approach into our personal mores – being built brick by brick, year after year, by the “master builders” we recognize as parents, teachers, friends, and associates – each dropping, unwittingly much of the time – a little more mortar to the structure of our lives. Before we realize it, we are standing on a foundation of a certain size and shape dictating the architecture of our lives.
It is not my intention to further define that foundation, rather to elucidate – a reminder really – with a little construction analogy, that like building our dream home on a plot of land, we can change the foundation to best suit our individuality. The land, provided by nature, is rolling, with large, strong trees, wildflowers and tall grass, a brook babbles through it. The manifest architecture we face is that our home should face “this way”, the pool goes in the back, and a two-car garage off the side would be the norm. The norm is fine and a reason exists why it is the “norm” – yet, it doesn’t appeal to our aesthetics. So we expand, rework the foundation to a more pleasing design; we make certain allowances for future change. Certainly we look to the future when building our home, we focus on the minutest detail considering what we may want our home to be down the road. As in life we consider, ponder, go over details, ask questions, receive guidance and make a decision. Of course this is a good way to go about decision-making; gather your facts and make your own conclusion. However we rarely look at the foundation of our lives, seldom do we take the birds-eye view of the excavation and decide to change that most predominant aspect of who we are. Instead, unlike building our home, we accept the foundation that has been laid for us – not realizing, possibly not willing to expend the effort, that this foundation, too, may be changed to better accommodate our sense of self. Not who we see in the mirror or who others expect us to be but who we truly are.
You’d think that this should be accomplished with ease. Who are we? Who are you? What do you seek? How to best use this finite time you have in which to find it? It is in the knowing of what we desire that we catch a glimpse of who we are. Desire is often construed as material want or possession, but that is dispelled with a single scratch of the surface. You may desire to bring others happiness, or a family, or to find faith. You may also desire success in your profession; this may be what brings you happiness. But true happiness is not fleeting. Desires based on accolades or professional success or monetary gain can be taken from you quickly, leaving nothing other than a sense of time wasted and nothing accomplished. But we should never forget that isn’t the case – we have the lessons we’ve learned.
Happiness is also one of the larger myths in life. We chase it constantly. But happiness is a quick bastard and just as you reach to grab hold it sprints out of your grasp. That’s not to say happiness doesn’t exist. It certainly does. But it is not a perpetual state of being. And it’s important to always remember that the negatives aren’t perpetual either. We should always remember that sorrow felt, brought on by something negative is, in part, that which allows us to recognize joy.
Again we ask, “who are we?” Perhaps we need to discover our purpose in life. Not some divine directive implanted in our very being but the purpose to which will bring us peace, joy, bliss. If you’ve ever truly experienced these things then you’ll know they are truly the golden fleece. But it’s a question not without certain difficulties to answer. In order to stand in front of the mirror and see ourselves as we truly are, we need to strip away all that does not reflect truth. The fear, uncertainty, rationalizations, expectations of others, doubt – just for starters. Even the positives do not always reflect what is real – remove the professional success, the comfort of the moment, even our fondest memories. I know these things, good and bad, are what have gone into the mix to make us what we are today but, to use the construction analogy again, these things are rooms, not the foundation. The foundation is what led to these experiences. We must always look deeper within ourself to rebuild the those aspects of our makeup that are not pleasing to us – while leaving those that are untouched.
So often we define our “purpose” by what we do, how we impact events, or those around us. We walk “purposefully” to – someplace. We debate with “purpose” at times, just for the sake of debate. I would postulate that, while these “purposeful” incidents are not without merit, how they impact our own self could easily be construed as having little meaning in the scheme of things. There can be no greater purpose than understanding ones own self, recognizing the truth of who we are. Only then can we understand one another. Understanding, truth, knowledge, and love will illuminate the shadows of confusion that shade us from ourselves. Armed with these powerful weapons we can then recognize ignorance and deceit, hate and fear, and destroy them with just the power of our thoughts.
This is all not to say that we should spend our lives in introspection. We must, by the very nature of things, work to achieve, to, by our own self-inflicted standards, succeed to that degree we feel we must. But, as I said, those “achievements” and “successes” are fleeting and, while they last, are much more heartfelt when self-awareness is so prevalent. To always know what a wonderful purpose is this life we have been given that we can, in a small way, shine some light into the dark corners of the world.