Once upon a time there was a little rag doll sitting on a market stall in Ormskirk.
Unknown to the little rag doll there was a family on the train from Liverpool for a day trip to Ormskirk, a mother,father,baby boy and a 6-year-old girl. On these day trips the children were usually allowed to pick a present to take home, so long as it wasn’t too costly.
The little girl fell in love with the rag doll, it had a smiley face and long shiny black plaits, the best plaits the girl had ever seen.
All day the parents asked her to pick another present as the doll was a little more than they wanted to pay, yet the girl could not imagine life without the rag doll. How could she ever be happy without the rag doll? How could she leave it there and go home alone? She felt pain at the very thought of it. She loved this doll, it was all she ever wanted or needed to be happy, forever. Nothing else could ever measure up to this doll, no other present in the whole world would be the same, make her feel so full of love and happiness. She would cuddle it, love it, and her whole life would be filled with joy.
Her parents relented, she took the doll home on the train, amazed at its beauty, its beautiful face and shining black plaits. She didn’t let it out of her sight for some time.
Years later she remembered the doll.
Whatever happened to it she couldn’t remember. Just another childhood toy.
Can you remember a toy like this from your childhood? It may make you smile, remembering. How easily we imagine happiness will come when we are a child, found in one little item we can acquire and making us happy forever, at least that’s how it seems at the time.
It is easy to look back now, deciding that obviously one little toy can’t make us happy forever, we were just innocent and naive then. We’ve grown up since then, haven’t we?
Problem is, that although we don’t realise it, we have carried this belief into our adulthood, it just comes in different guises.
What is the difference between the little doll and our iPhones, tablets, plasma t.v’s, and all the other gadgets we desire? The homes and holidays we save for,the promotion, the new partner plus 2.4 children which we imagine will make us happy for ever?
In reality there is no difference. We invest all our hopes for happiness in all these external objects and situations in the belief they will provide us with happiness.(Forever)
Unfortunately none of these things have that capability. Why?
Happiness is a feeling, a state of mind.
It is within our mind and cannot therefore be found outside our mind in any state or form. These outer things, people and situations which we run to can only provide us with temporary enjoyment, they cannot give us deep inner peace and happiness. This is why we become so disheartened and frustrated with life.
No sooner do we think we have ‘sorted it’ ,achieved our goal and everything will be fine from now on, than we begin to feel a bit jaded around the edges. The novelty wears off, or we decide that the problem is just that we chose the wrong partner, house, or iPhone.
If permanent happiness were to be found in these things outside ourself, celebrities lives would all be idyllic. They wouldn’t have problems with divorces, addictions, and rehab clinics. Sadly those that have invested in the belief that money and fame equals happiness are the most disillusioned of all.
There is nothing wrong with being fortunate enough to have money,a nice lifestyle, a beautiful partner, a yacht in the Bahamas. (Or a new tent in a grassy field!) The problem only comes when our expectations are too high i.e. we expect these things to provide us with permanent ‘real’ happiness.
These things do not ‘make us happy’ : A poor man can be happy, a rich man can be sad. We see this in different cultures on our plasma t.v.’s, very poor happy people in cramped housing in India, very rich miserable people in mansions, emblazoned across our ‘chat’ magazines and newspapers. So it doesn’t appear to add up.
The answer is really very simple.
If happiness comes from within our own mind all we need to do is train our mind to be more happy. This will transform our life. We can begin by observing our expectations of the things and people in our life. How many family disputes are caused by somebody insisting that they must have / do one particular thing otherwise everything is a disaster, we cannot ever be happy without this, nothing will ever be the same?
If we can recognise this mind within ourself and see how it has conned us all these years we can be more understanding of others who hold this belief.
That doesn’t mean we try to ‘put them straight’! It helps us become less demanding of others, we can see that we don’t always need to ‘get our own way’ (the programme, the item, the new gadget, the holiday etc) to enable us to be happy.
In fact, if we try to help make others happy, we become happier than if we are focusing on ourself and the external ‘must haves’.
If we wish to really improve our happiness, so that we experience a more positive state of mind, regardless of our external situation, we can start to train our mind.
If we can tap into the underlying ‘real’ nature of our mind, we will naturally become more, calm, peaceful and happy, from within.
Normally our mind is frantically busy and distracted, 24/7, so we rarely experience its true nature unless we meditate already.
Meditation does not mean we have to sit in flowing dresses (or trousers) with flowers in our hair chanting unusual songs.(Of course you can if you want to 😉 )
It can be as simple as sitting comfortably and quietly in a chair or on a cushion, clearing our mind of all its daily chatter and focusing on our breath.
Just our normal breath, observing it flowing in and out, feeling the sensation of the breath entering and leaving our body at the tip of the nostrils. Forgetting about the past and the future, simply focusing only on the present moment; giving our mind time off from its endless chatter.
A few minutes a day is all it takes to achieve a new happier you! (and it costs nothing.)
Anybody can learn to meditate, and enjoy its benefits.
For more information on meditation see this article, or download a FREE e-book here.(Also a great related article, on learning to meditate, from a brilliant blogger, Luna Kadampa can be found here.)
Tagged: buddhism., buddhist, family relationships, happiness, Meditation, self-help, WPLongform
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