When was the last time you felt happy? Take just a moment and reflect on what the moment was like, and who or what was involved with it?
My answer was scuba diving. My team was drifting off a great, rare, deep wreck ,and I spent 25 minutes ascending in pure happiness, while I finished my decompression stops. When going out for a deep technical dive, there is a lot of stress in planning, assembling the gear, and organizing a dive team. Add the pressure of things way beyond my control like wind, weather, ocean currents and visibility, and diving becomes a real gamble. In over 1000 dives I have learned to be happy by experiencing the dive instead of how the dive was. I couldn’t control the weather, so I stopped letting the weather determine my level of happiness with the dive.
A few times we do all this work and miss the wreck. There is nothing to look at but sand. What anyone would consider the ultimate frustration seeking blame in the team, captain, or the GPS coordinates again became a lesson in my ability to learn to choose to be happy.
I thought I had found and understood the secret to happiness, but he swami did a better job of explaining it, ready?
Happiness is the cessation of thought and additional decisions.
Now apply that concept to the last time you felt happy. Can you see it now?
The feeling of external happiness comes at the end of accomplishing a task. A project at work, a personal goal, or the end of a game, when we have the results, and there are no more decisions to be made.
In my scuba diving, the happiness came at the end of the dive. When all the planning was over, my tank was empty, and I had the memories of the experience.
Here’s an example of a more common experience. You decide to buy a new car, you shop, compare prices, negotiate with the dealer, and eventually drive home in a new car. Ah, the happiness, the car is finally yours! Then we become attached to the car, and the first scratch in the paint or repair and all the happiness is gone. The car no longer has the power to make us feel happy anymore. Worst yet, a new model comes out with better features, and a neighbor parks one in the driveway as a reminder of how old your car is.
So the lesson is that external happiness is fleeting and can be costly. It happens naturally at the end of accomplishing a task. But true happiness, internal happiness is under our control at all times because it is a choice. If you want to feel more happy, chose to. Break the steps of any goal or progress down so that it is an easy choice. Chose to be happy that you can afford a new car. Choose to be happy to explore all the opportunities. Choose to be happy during the negotiations. If you don’t feel happy at any time, walk out and try again or try a new dealer. Choose to be happy with each dent and ding, and let it serve as a reminder of a happy choice you were making at the time of its occurrence. The first ding in my new car happened in the mall parking lot, when taking my boys to see Madagascar 3. They loved the movie and had a great time. I chose to feel happy instead of ruining a great experience with the family.
As I write this post, I feel happy after each click of the keyboard. I can’t wait for you to read it and I hope to hear your comments on the blog, facebook, or emailed directly back to me!
Remember: Happiness is the cessation of thought and additional decisions.
PS: Now can you guess why it is said mediation is the pathway to bliss and happiness? Meditation is the practice of turning your rational mind “OFF” to experience the cessation of thought.