“But I really need that one!”
“This is the only chance I’ll get, I have to go!”
“I can’t possibly manage without….”
Your ex-cherub has hit puberty and demands are increasing. There are things they must have and must do to have any semblance of happiness in their life, or so they would like to make us believe – as they demonstrate their wrath when the desired answer is not forthcoming.
After all, as far as they’re concerned, we brought them into this world, they didn’t ask to be born (haven’t we all heard that one?), so therefore it is our responsibility to provide everything they think they need to be happy. With a spot of emotional blackmail they even have us thinking that we can’t be happy if we’re not successful in making them happy!
But have you noticed, , all the things we provided so far to make them happy, haven’t worked too well, as now they need something else to be happy – so that didn’t last did it?
Come to think of it, we’re pretty much the same ourselves aren’t we? Even if we don’t realize it, advertising agencies know it already. They constantly try to sell us happiness in the guise of cars, phones, furniture, washing powder, fizzy drinks, hair dye, face cream, perfume…the list is endless.
Have you ever seen an advert for soap powder featuring a depressed looking mum? No, because we all know that using the right soap powder and having the cleanest clothes makes us instantly ecstatic. Same goes for all the other adverts the media bombard us with…how happy are all those people with all those things…must rush out and get some straight away!
So as we have all bought some of these items in the past, why aren’t we a population of ecstatically happy people?
Because we’ve all fallen into the trap of thinking that to solve our problems of boredom, loneliness, anxiety and sadness, we need to go looking for something new “out there” to make us happy.
Has it worked?
Do the contents of our handbags, homes and wardrobes still make us endlessly happy? If so we’ll never need to shop again – we can all sit back smiling sublimely.
Of course, we know it isn’t true. We felt happy for a period of time until the novelty wore off. We may still enjoy having these things but we are still looking for something else to fill the “ happiness gap”….the gap between one item, activity or relationship giving brief happiness then fading away, and the arrival of the next hopeful contender.
Now there’s nothing wrong with a nice new shiny pair of shoes, the latest phone or a nice frothy coffee and cake, but if these things were truly a source of real happiness, then they would have the power, within themselves, to make us permanently happy, and the more we had of them, the happier we would become. But how many pieces of cake can you manage before your initial delight turns into belly ache and a need to visit the bathroom? Also if the shiny new shoes were themselves a true source of happiness, then surely everybody would want the same pair of shoes?
By the same token, you can substitute any other item : we can see by the rich and famous, who have the ability to constantly buy more, bigger and better, that none of these things, in themselves, have the power to make us happy, hence there are a lot of sad, lonely, depressed, addicted and disappointed wealthy people. Even those who don’t have these problems are not permanently happy and free from any of life’s usual difficulties, in fact they often have more of them – threats from stalkers, child kidnappers etc, we have seen it all in the news. (Would you like to live with a bodyguard following your every move, or the paparazzi hiding in bushes waiting to snap you with your bed-head, eye-bags and wrinkles on show?)
A true source of happiness would give only happiness, in the same way that a true source of suffering (the opposite of happiness) only gives suffering e.g. if we hit our thumb with a hammer whilst in the midst of bank holiday D.I.Y, we sure know that hitting it a few more times is not going to improve things, we will still suffer, it won’t change it to happiness!
So what about it? Don’t we deserve more? It’s not an either / or situation here. We can keep all our goodies and go look for permanent real happiness.
So where do we look? No further than the end of our nose, well not even that far actually.
Have you noticed where we experience happiness ? We don’t experience it “out there” in a nicely wrapped package, we experience it “in here”…inside our mind.
Happiness is a state of mind – it comes from inner peace, problem is that our inner peace keeps getting destroyed by all those uninvited negative states of mind such as impatience, anger, jealousy and greed (Buddhists call these negative minds Delusions, our inner enemies).
Just remember a time when we were all sorted, ready to enjoy a carefully planned night out, or a few hours on the lounger in the garden, and hey presto! our peaceful happy mind becomes overshadowed by a black cloud of something not so pleasant, some thoughts pass through our mind and we start to experience quite negative, irritated or angry minds……totally unplanned and uninvited. Destroying our inner peace, and with it our happy mind. We all have this problem and we think we’re stuck with it.
But actually we couldn’t be more wrong. When we understand that true happiness comes from inner peace we can train our mind to experience more peace and become happier, right now, in our own home…..completely free!
We can enjoy our usual activities even more because we have lost that expectation of them to provide lasting happiness. So no more disappointment when things don’t pan out as expected.
Also, knowing this, we don’t have to beat ourselves up with guilt when we decide to say “no” to our demanding teen, because we know that:
a) We are not denying them real happiness
b) Our happiness does not depend on their happiness, anymore than it depends on the ultra-white soap powder.
c) We are on the way to finding true happiness, which one day we’ll be able to share with them.
This method of training our mind is called ‘ Meditation’ and it takes only 5 – 10 minutes a day to get started…see this article for three easy steps. Those who have tried it already, can now understand why something so simple has such great benefits. Through meditation we are accessing the foundation of inner peace on which to build a stable, happy mind, which can remain calm in the face of adversity. It’s a pal for life, and it’s a pal that can help you through the turbulent teenage years to help you stay sane!
Alongside this we will learn how to start demolishing those inner enemies or delusions, which invade our mind destroying our inner peace, and causing us to be overwhelmed by life’s difficulties.(more later)