The Pursuit Of Happiness…
Live Meaningfully – By Ayesha G. Shenk, M.A.
I was recently doing some reading of and listening to minds far greater than mine and, as is wont to do, a specific message kept weaving its way through the narratives towards me.
The wisdom I noticed coming through a number of different voices and applications was a reminder of something that is not necessarily new but that is one of the easiest pitfalls into which I believe we all fall.
The message was about our mental tendency to see and come to our lives through a lens of ‘not enough’ or scarcity rather than through one of abundance. Whether it’s money, time, happiness, entertainment, friends, or otherwise – we generally have the proclivity to feel as though we need to find and have more of it.
We assess and measure our bank accounts, our homes, our social calendars, our children, our bodies, our careers, and our lives in relation to that which we believe others have. We study their social media accounts, walk by their homes, listen to them speak, or take note of their material things as evidence as to the disparity between what we have and feel and what they must have and feel.
Let me assure you, from the experience of sitting in my chair, I can guarantee you that they do not. No matter the person, their situation, their abundance or their walk of life… everyone is guilty of doing it. You may be looking up to someone who you believe has more than you and who ‘must be happy’ – but those people are absolutely doing the same and feeling the same level of discontent and frenetic desire as you are, as a result.
“The idea that “I need to be happy” or “my child deserves to be happy” comes from a sense that the present moment is somehow lacking. In other words, we see our life through a lens of scarcity, noticing all the things we don’t have instead of the abundant way the universe provides for us. And so…we set off in “the pursuit of happiness,” not realizing that this can never bring us happiness. On the contrary, it’s the breeding ground of discontent and disappointment.”
-Dr. Shefali Tsabary
It is the full experience of the ‘now’ in all its essence and through all of its facets that actually offers the promise of happiness and wholeness. It is the current (and constant) opportunity we have to be fully present and fully grateful that offers us our best and most guaranteed joy. It is the antithesis of the comparison to other people, places and futures that grounds us in the ‘enoughness’ of this very moment.
You may be uncertain as to exactly how to go about changing such an ingrained pattern within you, but it may very well be the simplest thing we can do.
There is a litany of emotions we can experience, most of which we are able to feel at the same time. We can be both happy and sad, given a specific circumstance that perhaps benefits us while not benefiting another. For example, maybe we got something we were hoping for while a friend didn’t get it. We can be both joyful and grief stricken. For example, perhaps we are celebrating the birth of a child while also feeling the loss of not having a parent or loved one there to witness it. We can feel almost any two emotions at the same time, with one exception…
It is impossible for us to experience gratitude and self-pity at the same time.
Which means what, in regards to the earlier mandate?
It means if you are to take a moment, ground yourself in the very essence of the present and take an inventory of that for which you are grateful… it’s impossible to compare yourself to others or see the world through a lens of scarcity.
That’s right. Try it.
Find just one thing at this very moment that feels whole and like a blessing. Center yourself on it and allow the gratitude of it to sink into your bones. Feel the fullness of your heart, your world, your life and savor the flavor long enough to return to and remember it when next your old habit of scarcity comes knocking again.
Till the next time,
Be Well; Live Meaningfully.
Ayesha G. Shenk, M.A. practices at 2150 Park Avenue North as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and can be reached at www.livemeaningfully.net or 407-796-2959.