Well, spring has come and we’ve launched a New Year. Will it be happy? This is what we say to each other isn’t it? HAPPY NEW YEAR! We do wish this for our loved ones and friends and even strangers right? But how many conversations have you had, have any of us had, over the holiday season, that center around how we plan to have a happy new year. What will make us happy in 2016? Well losing a few pounds can’t hurt, or saving money for retirement at last, or spending more time outdoors or with friends. Perhaps cutting back on the alcohol will make us happier, or upping our intake of vitamins. No doubt beginning in treatment with a psychotherapist will help us discover the holy grail of happiness, or at least help us deal with those purveyors of our unhappiness…the bad boss, the abusive sibling, the controlling boyfriend, the ghosts of our traumatic childhoods. Yes, if we can just learn to handle the difficult people of the world, just learn to handle our own inner and outer demons, happiness will be ours. Well…not exactly. I think all of this falls into the category of “necessary but not sufficient”. We do actually need to learn coping mechanisms for dealing with difficult people and we will benefit greatly from better self-care and financial responsibility. Letting go of destructive addictions will undoubtedly set the table for less volatile mood swings and the depressions that usually follow the “high”. But a nicely set table is not the feast.
So, what then will make us happy? Wiser, more renowned and more articulate others have addressed this topic and expressed these truths. But truth is rarely heard the first hundred times it reaches our ears or eyes and even more rarely is it understood. Truth bears repeating. And the truth is that happiness results from being in the present. The truth of this is that the present is all we have. Think deeply on that. Meditate on that if you will. It may take many lifetimes of contemplation to really understand the profound nature of the present. It is ALWAYS now. We spend our lives forgetting this, fleeing it, when all we have is the present. By forgetting and fleeing, we cease to be fully alive. And to be happy, we must be fully alive. We can’t be happy in the future if we can’t be happy now because the future will eventually become now. Living in the present requires attention and mindfulness. Pay attention to this moment; be mindful of what’s going on inside and outside of you in the present. As I sit at my computer looking out at the closing of the day, I am mindful of the light on the birch tree outside my window. Lovely. I am aware that I am nervous that what I write here might be misunderstood…but that’s in the future. Right now I’m enjoying the light and the writing. Future thinking has brought me anxiety. Living in the now has brought me beauty and satisfaction…happiness. It was possible just now to drop a future worry and enjoy this moment.
Today, I want to do things to be doing them, not to be doing something else. I do not want to do things to sell myself on myself. I don’t want to do nice things for people so that I will be thought of as “nice”. I don’t want to work to make money. I want to work to work. Today I don’t want to live for anything in the future or because of anything in the past. I just want to live. As a very wise soul, Baba Ram Dass, once said, I just want to “Be Here Now”.