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Being Happy, Right Here, Right Now


(I wrote this on April 1, 2002)

I'm not always happy. I don't know anybody who is always happy. If I did know somebody who was always happy I'd assume he was lying. So, I don't expect myself (or anybody else) to always be happy.

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Depression is not the opposite of being happy. Depression is a mental resistance to happiness. Depression often results from a set of cognitive traps people set for themselves. Depression often results from learned behaviors, family dynamics, or traumatic stress. Depressed people focus on bad news, and ignore good news, and then tell themselves that the world is a horrible place. Depressed people focus on their faults, and ignore their successes, and then tell themselves that they are worthless.

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I want the opposite of depression. I want a mental resistance to sadness. I want to build a set of cognitive keys for myself. I want to learn to be happy in situations that other people would find upsetting.

Is there ever a reason for being unhappy? I suppose there are billions of reasons for being unhappy. There is always something sad somewhere in the world. People dying, people suffering, people hurting others ... injustice, unemployment, poverty, illness ...

If you want to be unhappy, there are always reasons.

But isn't the opposite also true? That if you want to be happy there are always reasons? People living, people joyful, people loving others ... justice, employment, riches, and health?

The world is always full of both. I can choose to focus on good news, I can choose to treat people with lovingkindness, I can choose to associate with people who are loving and kind ... I can shrug off bad news, I can forgive people who treat others with hatred ...

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More and more I realize that most of our suffering, sadness, and depression comes from wanting the universe to be something more than it is ...

"Every teacher of Buddhism is a debunker, not to be a smart aleck and show how clever he is, but out of compassion. Just as when a surgeon chops off a bad growth or a dentist pulls out a rotten tooth, so the Buddhist teacher is getting rid of your crazy ideas for you, which you use to cling to life and make it dead."

Alan Watts

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I don't want to be part of something larger than myself ... because I already am, and always was ... because the boundary between myself and the rest of the universe is both temporary and arbitrary. I don't need membership or labels to highlight my presence in the belly of the whale.


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