“It’s better to walk alone, than with a crowd going in the wrong direction.” - Diane Grant
We all want to be happy and achieve some peace, and to go after this ideal in our life can bring us a lot of satisfaction and joy along our journey...but it really depends a lot on how we see life. We talk today about the direction we take in life and how it impacts our happiness.
To go toward happiness, you have to make sure first that you know where you are headed and that you adjust your direction if you go astray, and in order to do that you can benefit of...your own experience. While many people will say this is bad or this is good...where you go really depends on how you feel and visualize life. If everyone tells you that stealing is bad yet you don’t feel that way, you will incline toward stealing and happiness will go away. And in the opposite direction, if everyone tells you that charity is bad...yet you feel otherwise inside and do it, happiness will follow.
This view is deeply ingrained inside of you, and while it is normal to be drawn to follow it blindly...it is better to wait and meditate on it than to rush toward that direction...After all, that direction is probably misguided already because there is much that you don’t understand about life. Let’s do an example though to make sure we are on the same page:
“I want to be myself happy while not taking care of others”
In this case, while this person’s direction is not ideal (because his own happiness actually depends on him caring for others)...it is still a direction he could take. He might not be able to feel yet that his direction is skewed because of his miscomprehension, but if he meditates long enough on his view...eventually he will start to see how skewed his direction is and change it slowly.
With calm, concentration, and open-mindedness one can change his view toward a more beneficial one. Our view of life is the element that can direct us the most toward more happiness, or lead us the most further from it. If our view is greatly distorted all the effort put toward that path will not result to a lot more happiness...but if it is quite right, then little effort will lead to a great boost in happiness.
To be wise is really to have an accurate view of life and its guidelines. Knowledge of life is key to building happiness, and knowledge can be acquired quite a lot through inner investigation. So what you need to work on first is...grow knowledge in your life.
Most of us heard the saying that “money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness”. From there, most reduce their effort toward acquiring money seeing that it is not a good direction. This saying has evolved now into the idea that “acquiring things does not necessarily give happiness”. Again, most reduce how many things they own seeing that it does not lead necessarily to more happiness. Finally, a new saying comes along “having information does not necessarily give more happiness”, yet not many people realize it and follow it.
Yes, the new direction is not to have more money or things...but more information. While it is a beautiful effort and causes less problems than the quest for more things and money...it can still lead to much much unhappiness in one’s life...for it is a misguided direction.
What is actually a much better approach is to seek knowledge, not just mere information.
To be more happy depends quite a lot on being wiser, which is a product of knowledge acquisition through time and effort. Here we are talking of knowledge and not mere information. Knowledge is not only the acquisition of information but a deeper understanding of each information and how they are related to each other.
For example, a man might acquire all there is to know about American history, yet be mean to others and have selfish goals. He doesn’t seem to know that being kind to others is more important that knowing about history.
In this example, there is a lot of information external to one’s self (past events of other people), yet not enough information about oneself (not feeling much compassion for others). The emotional inner side of information is quite missing in this case and that is throwing off that person’s direction quite a bit.
In our current world, most of us have acquired a lot of information about the outside world (history, math, language, biology, chemistry…) yet so little information regarding our inner worlds (sensations, emotions, thoughts…) and a lot of us end up with very misguided directions.
So, in order to have a better direction we can grow knowledge...and to do that we need to calm down and let our mind process all the information already inside of us.
Let’s see how we can practically increase our knowledge now. First, knowledge comes with calm, mindfulness, and concentration. In order to build all those elements at the same time, the practice of meditation came forward. It builds calm by reducing the level of activity in one’s body and mind. It builds mindfulness as the task of meditation requires one to focus on what is happening in the present moment. It builds concentration by reducing the movement of one’s attention on a single meditative object.
If you do not feel that meditation would lead to more knowledge and therefore won’t try it, I suggest you take the time to think more deeply about the strong relationship between your calm, concentration, and understanding. For example, when you are anxious, you can concentrate much less, and make jugmental mistakes...but when calmer and focused suddenly your jugment become clearer and wiser.
To build more knowledge in your life, you can simply practice this exercise:
If you do this exercise daily, you will see clear increases in your knowledge and changes in your life direction...and be more happy with time.
At headpause, we organize activities that will help you improve your direction toward more happiness for you and those around you. We have a free meditation group every week to help you practice meditation and build the skills you need to grow more knowledge and a mindfulness workshop to help you understand better how your thoughts, emotions, and sensations have a big impact on your happiness.
13 March 2018