The trouble with happiness is that we tend to believe it is a high, instead of a state of existence. Because of this we end up seeking to create it in ways that are not sustainable and it becomes just that- a temporary high. Picture an internal mechanical contraption that houses your spirit. Here are 5 components that when aligned, create a sustainable baseline of happiness deep within.
1. Your heart
Your heart is both the engine and the compass of this machine. It is a highly underestimated power source which can power you through things you don’t think you can survive, sometimes just by brute force. It also tells you what direction you need to pursue in life in order for your soul to be the most fulfilled, just like an animal somehow just knows which direction to migrate- sometimes thousands of miles, to get the nourishment it needs to sustain its life. It knows the deeper truth, beyond logic and we are never truly at ease when we are ignoring it.
At the front of this contraption, are lenses. They are the filters through which we collect information. The data points they detect are neutral in reality but the way we interpret and distort that neutrality is based on things that have affected us in the past. There are many published lists of cognitive distortions, but there are a lot of subtle personal ones too that are formed based on our story. For example, one of my personal lenses that I have always struggled with is Traps. I have a tendency to see everything and everyone slanted in such a way that I feel completely trapped and therefore powerless. At this point, I begin to suffer. The suffering used to feed itself and snowball to the point where the only way I could see out of it was to actually fantasize about death. It was a great milestone in my growth the day I began to see that this was a skewed perception of reality.
If you continually find yourself in pain, or just have a dull nagging feeling like you don’t really like life, you can benefit from exploring what exactly your lenses are, how they were shaped, and then work to adjust them in a way that gives you a view of reality that is in keeping with what your heart really wants to feel.
3. Thought system
Another component of this internal structure is our mind, which is our thought system. This is the part of the machine that processes the information brought in through the lenses and then gives the heart its orders on how it “should feel”. Often we end up in life with a thought system made up of scraps we have collected from previous generations, society’s conditioning, etc. – basically patterns of thinking based on the truths or limitations of others. This system doesn’t support our heart and this causes inner conflict and collapse. The bigger the discrepancy between the soft voice of the heart and the loud, logical voice of the mind, the greater the chance of depression, anxiety, and all self-destructive behaviors.
Often our thoughts actually take us in the exact opposite direction of what our heart wants to feel. Awareness of this gap without judgment is always the first step in fixing this. Surrounding yourself with teachers (people who have an inspiring way of processing life) and being open to what they show you is key. This can mean wisely selecting friends and mentors, or hiring a professional to help you rebuild the way you process the world in a way that feels good.
Your spirit is the sacred nature of who you are. It is the core of this machine, the reason the heart beats. A large source of pain in life stems from failure to spent time to get to understand it, and failure to see it as the most precious thing you have. This results in all sorts of other painful situations such as relationships that oppress and injure it. Often we have systems of thinking that cause us to inhibit our own spirit. We also often fear it, or fear that aspects of it are some form of mental illness or defect. Your spirit must exist in everything you do, for you to be living at your full potency.
Your voice is what gets this machine the nourishment it needs to keep running. When your voice speaks up for what your soul needs, that is how you receive things that make you feel alive. It is how you protect yourself from things that drain you. Often we don’t have language for what we need. And if we do, we don’t express it. This leads to a continual state of needing without any hope of having those needs satiated. It also leads to people never really knowing you, and a continual state of disconnect. Your voice is also the music that comes out of you. It is not just what comes out of your mouth, it is what vibrates out of you, into your life. It is what the people who know you, experience of you. It is your truth.
When you have lenses that give you a view of the world that creates joy, a thought system that is constructed to support the truths within your heart, and a voice that not only feeds your soul but also shows it to the world, that is when happiness becomes more than a temporary high, it is a state of living.