True happiness comes from within. I know this is true because it has become my experience. However, in order to understand and learn how to cultivate inner happiness, I had to first of all confront my own mind. You see, although I have cast aside certain materialism: I don't have or need so many 'things' to make myself feel happy, the truth is, what I have been doing, albeit it subconsciously, is making conditions with myself: ‘I will be happy when the clouds make way for the sunshine’. ‘I will be successful when I can spend all my time doing the work I truly love’. ‘I will be happy when I feel successful’. 'I will be happy when I live in a peaceful home'. I will be a success when I have the means to do all the things that make me happy'. And so I have waited in the shadows of joy for my dependants to bring me happiness and success.
Further investigation into the art of happiness has illuminated a clearer perspective, which is best relayed in these few words: the key to happiness and success, is being able to feel it before it arrives!
The sensation of happiness and of feeling successful arises out of a personal choice, founded on where we decide to place out thoughts and focus our minds. My dependants have been founded on my beliefs about what will make me happy. But, these beliefs are not the truth; they are just ideas in my mind formed from my early conditioning and blinkered perceptions. When I opened my mind to a broader perspective, encompassing my inner world, what I discovered is that I can make choices about how I think and feel, in this very moment, even if the sky is grey.
It took battling anxiety to find this ability to make choices. In this sense, what challenged me, is becoming a liberating and empowering gift to learn and to share. I learnt that just as our brains may release adrenalin in response to fear triggers, through conscious decision making we can also generate feelings that make us feel calm, and happy and successful, through the images and perceptions we hold in our minds eye, and the thoughts we choose to tell ourselves which in turn affect our natural chemicals. Happiness and success is a chosen perspective created in our minds. When we make this choice to hold positive perceptions, thoughts and feelings, they becomes our experience.
So now, 'I am happy, because I choose to spend my free time on developing the work I love'. 'I am successful, because I can create happiness within'. I am happy, because I choose to live in a place where the sun shines often'. Of course, I have my goals; I still want the sunshine on cloudy days, wonderful success with my career, and I'd love the financial means to do and achieve many more things in my life, but I am already feeling happy and successful, before these things arrive. And so now my only dependent is my own mind, which I am slowly learning to master. Cultivating this ability to improve perception and focus the mind, even in stormy times, is indeed an art that I suspect may take at least a life time to master. I am glad that I have begun.