The Easiest Path to Happiness
By Andreas Ohrt / Excerpt from
After reading this book so far you might be thinking something along the lines of "Nothing is infinite, dummy. Our sun will die out in five billion years, snuffing out everything."
But how many suns are there? There are infinite suns. Do you really think in five billion years we will still be stuck on Earth? No, we'll be exploring the galaxy and finding new, beautiful planets where humans (or whatever we are by then) can thrive.
And by then, we'll know exactly how to live in harmony with whatever nature exists on those planets, because we'll be five billion years more evolved than we are now.
Or we might just upload humanity into the matrix of some universe-wide-web, and thus live forever in the universal cloud.
Whatever happens billions of years from now, it will definitely be something we cannot even begin to dream of now. But whatever, that isn't the point.
Maybe you believe the entire universe will eventually implode in the Big Crunch, or will continue to expand and dissipate and eventually end in the Cold Death of Everything (or is it a Hot Death? Whatever. Cold or hot, death is death. Bummer.) How long will that take? I don't know. I don't care. In relation to your life as a human being, it will take infinite time. Besides, even if the universe does die in some manner, you have no way of knowing if the universe will not Bang itself back into existence a few "moments" after its death. Maybe the entire universe lives, dies, and reincarnates in different forms forever. Ultimately, if the foundation of the universe is not physical, then it doesn't matter what happens to the physical universe, does it?
But why believe stuff that you cannot ever know and doesn't help you in any way? Why not believe something more helpful? Why not believe this: everything is infinite. Even the light of a dying sun, because the universe is in a state of constant creation (and destruction) in every instant.
You see, the universe wasn't created in some distant past only to die in some distant future. The universe is created in every new moment.
You are always standing in the present moment with the power of free will to choose your future path. This present moment is your point of power, because it is only in this moment that you can act.
In each moment the past is burned up into oblivion, never to return. You are free to carry the past with you, but you are also free to leave it behind and create a new version of yourself in every moment. And you can only do that in the now.
You might plan to take some action in the future, but when that future comes it will be this present moment. You can't escape it because it is all that exists. The eternal now is all that exists. So if you want to change anything, you can only do it now.
And if you want to be happy, and I know you do, you can only do it now. If you cannot be happy now, when can you be happy? There is no other time to act. It is always Now o'clock. You must do it now.
How To Be Happy, Part 1
Easy for me to say, I hear you think, because I'm already happy. But I know that happiness is a choice because I chose unhappiness most of the days of my life. I understand the insidious trick of depression. But now I stand outside the prison cell of unhappiness, and I say to you "Look, the cage is unlocked, you can step outside any time you wish. Let's go."
Happiness is a choice.
Unhappiness is the result of wanting something you don't have. Happiness is enjoying the things that you already have. You may scoff at my simplistic evaluation of happiness and unhappiness, and so you will remain unhappy. That's tough. Some online psychologists promote this formula: Happiness equals Reality minus Expectations. That's not quite it, but it's a good launching point.
Think of it this way: there are thousands (maybe millions) of things you would desperately miss if they were gone, and that would bring you happiness if they returned. And you already have them.
What if suddenly you couldn't breathe? If after a few minutes of dying you again started breathing it would be the happiest moment of your life. Yet you are breathing right now, and you barely notice it. Your body is processing a billion interactions inside of you so that you can casually disagree with me. If any of those functions stopped you would pray that they return and promise never to take them for granted again.
So try that now. Try appreciating the infinite little things in your life that go right every day in order to keep you physically and mentally sound. Try appreciating the air you breathe, the food you eat, the places you go, the experiences you have. Appreciate all the cities that other people have built, and the roads that someone maintains so you can easily travel through them. Appreciate gravity. Appreciate the fact that the Earth keeps spinning at exactly the right speed to create day and night. If the sun didn't rise tomorrow you would give anything for this most basic of miracles to return. Then there are the thousands of people who make your life easier every day, and of course, all those people who you care about in your life.
Including yourself. Try appreciating yourself, your body, your mind, your personality, and the fact that you have enough leisure time to waste on such a dumb book as this. If you were forced to work so hard that you couldn't even read a book for ten minutes, you would give anything to return to the days when you could. And that would be the happiest day of your life. And that is where you are, right now.
How To Be Happy, Part 2
Okay, let's say you have nothing to appreciate in the entire world. Maybe you are currently being tortured in a Middle Eastern prison. Fine, you win. Be miserable. Although for some strange reason they are letting you read this book, so I guess you could appreciate that. And you still understand language. That's cool. And your eyes still work. But there is another way to be happy, if that doesn't do it for you.
I think it's safe to assume you are not being tortured in some hellhole right now. You are probably just another modern malcontent surrounded by luxuries that the kings and queens of days past could only have dreamed of, but you remain unhappy because of some inane expectations you have of life. Or you may have some terrible medical condition which makes you unhappy. That's entirely understandable, but not necessary. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence and several scientific studies which prove that physical pain and psychological pain do not need to be linked. Again, it's a choice you make. It's a response to reality. You choose your response.
The way to be happy is this: be here now. That is, be where you are without mental projections. Be in this moment without expectation. Just be.
Take a slow deep breath and let it out. Relax. See where you are. Feel the light entering your eyes. Feel the sounds entering your brain. Feel the sensation of your body in this moment. Feel the energy that animates your body. Just feel it. Don't judge.
You see, all unhappiness comes from mental projection. Only your own thoughts can make you unhappy. Regretting the past, worrying about the future, judging the present. These are the only things that can make you unhappy.
You might think that some outside events are making you unhappy. But it is only your response to those events, ultimately, that makes you unhappy. You can choose a different response. You can choose happiness.
Being alive to this moment will never make you unhappy. The trick is to stop thinking about bullshit and just be in this moment as fully as you can. Then mental noise can calm down and you will feel a strange sensation as your mind becomes quiet. That sensation is happiness.
As you focus predominantly on the now, you begin to realize what an utterly bizarre situation it is that you are alive at all. And that perspective can instantly change the mundane world into an endlessly fascinating experience.
People get so excited when they first experience a mildly realistic virtual reality game. Yet you are living in the most amazingly realistic real reality you could ever imagine, and still you are bored.
People try to learn how to lucid dream, because a few seconds of being consciously aware inside the dream world is so cool that it blows your mind. Yet you are consciously aware in the most vivid way comprehensible for 16 hours a day, and still you are bored.
People go on elaborate meditation retreats to quiet the monkey mind. But you don't need all that expensive crap to be where you already are. You don't need anything at all from the "spiritual supermarket," as Terance McKenna brilliantly called it. It's free. And it's infinite. The eternal now is infinite.
Just look at the world. Hear the world. Feel the world. Smell and taste the world as it is in this moment. Not how you wish it would be. Stop wishing. Stop expecting. Stop thinking. Just accept life the way it is, right now, and you will be happy. From there, anything is possible.
If you need more elaborate methods of disengaging from your mind, read The Power Of Now. In that book, Eckhart Tolle gives some brilliant advice on how to stop incessant thinking and relax into the peaceful presence that you are beyond all thought.
Just remember that you are not your thoughts, you are the thinker. You are not your emotions, you are the feeler. You are not the experiences of life, you are life itself. You are the being that resides beyond all experience, beyond the mental processes which label every event on a spectrum from good to bad. Your inner being doesn't care about any of those judgments. All experience is simply as it is. It is what it is. Wiser words have never been spoken.
Simply, wake up. Life is a wild ride with more ups and downs than the most exciting movie or video game. You would pay a king's ransom to play a game as incredible as life. So play.
Besides, there are millions of people who would trade places with you in a heartbeat if they were given the chance. Whenever my mind wants to whine about some ludicrous first world problems, I think of my grandfather, who was of fighting age in Germany during the rise of the Nazis.
My grandfather hated the Nazis, hated war, and never wanted to kill anyone, so when they forced him into the military and shipped him to the front lines, he surrendered to the Russian army rather than fight and kill for a dictator he despised. For this, he was sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in Siberia, where he froze and starved and was worked to death for seven brutal years.
There is not a single moment in my life that was so hard that my grandfather wouldn't have given everything to trade places with me, if only for a single day.
You yourself might one day be dying in a hospital bed with no hope of returning to normal life, and in that moment you would give anything to a magic genie who could plop you back into the body you inhabit right now. And that would be the most amazing gift you could ever hope to receive. And you are living that gift, right now.
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