Are we meant to be happy?
Is there a right to be happy?
Is it even possible to reach a state of continuous joy and happiness?
The view that we are supposed to be happy has some obvious downsides: If unhappy, discontented or just feeling more or less ok, we assume that something is wrong, either with the world, with our loved ones or ourselves.
The striving for life as a constant row of pleasant experiences, puts a lot of pressure on us. It leads to extended consumerism of already dramatically dwindling resources ("Buy yourself and your loved ones happy" - I read on a billboard in an airport earlier this year). We need more of the same, or a different, more intense pleasure if we wish to consume happiness in the form of sense pleasures.
The wish for happiness can turn into a constant self-improvement project, where we read yet another self-help book or try yet another diet. We make ourselves responsible for not being able to be constantly cheerful, effective or on the top of our game. We might expect others to nourish and fulfill our wishes. Blame and shame corrode the relationships to others as well as to ourselves.
The assumption that happiness is just another promotion, another job, another meditative experience or another relationship away keeps us constantly on the go. The ongoing mindless hunt for joy and pleasure leaves us empty and hungry.
Happiness thus, as nice as it sounds, can be a tricky concept. All too easily we confront it with the quick-fix of pleasure and get ourselves entangled in the old familiar push-and-pull of greed and aversion.
What would be a helpful way to refrain "happiness"?
What is worth striving for?
How can we appease the contraction of the heart and the agitation of the mind?
Let's explore these questions together!
Come online with me to the Dharma Practice Group WorldWide Insight on Sunday the 16th at 6 pm German / 7 pm UK time.
It is free to sign in and participate. I will offer a guided meditation, a Dharma Talk and we will have time for reflections and questions.