People often want something different, something more. We find it quite hard to see the potential for happiness in the present, even when the present is fantastic. Even during our “most exciting times,” we tend to think about what’s coming next. On vacation, we’re thinking of the next day’s surfing, of the friends coming to visit, of the great dinner we’re going to have. It’s hard for us to “just be,” to eek out all the joy in what is happening right here, right now.
That little voice inside your head? What guff has that guy been feeding you now?
When you’re thinking about your dreams and aspirations, you might discuss them with your friends, your family, or your parents. These people might tell you that you can do anything you set your mind to, or they might tell you not to try so you won’t be disappointed. They may have your best interest at heart, or they may have ulterior motives.
But the bottom line is that they don’t know you the way you know you.
Throughout your life, you will get a lot of advice. Some of it will be awful. Some of it will be right on the money. Some will be unsolicited, from passing acquaintances, and some welcome, from people who know you well.
But none of it will be from the most knowledgeable perspective. That perspective is yours and yours alone.
We all have the responsibility for our own lives. That may seem obvious, but there’s a big difference between acknowledging that fact and actually incorporating it into how we live our lives. If we truly embrace our responsibility for our lives, we live our lives according to what gives our lives meaning and what makes us happy.
It’s extremely easy to live a reactive life, bouncing around based on what’s happening to you and using external cause and effect as the foundation for where your life is going. But the fact is, the direction our lives take is totally and completely up to us. It may not seem like that sometimes—we all have elements of our lives that seem totally out of our control—but if we take a closer look, we might find that many of those elements are in our lives by choice. We could choose to drop them if it came down to it (see “Choice”). We also might find that we’re letting those things dictate the direction of our lives when we could be taking more control of some of those “out-of-our-control” elements.
Why is it that many people view everyday life as boring—something to just get through?
Many people spend their lives waiting. Waiting to achieve something. Waiting to get something. Waiting to be happy.
Conditional happiness is overrated. If we think that some future event or condition is going to make us happy, or turn our lives around, or bring us fulfillment, then we’ve missed the point. If we don’t have the capacity for happiness in “everyday” life, some future condition is unlikely to make us happy. We all have the capacity to be happy—some of us just don’t realize it.
Happiness is available to all of us right here, right now.
It’s inside all of us. If it’s not there, then no level of achievement, material gain, or lifestyle change is going to bring it to us.
When most people think about peace, they might immediately jump to the absence of conflict or war, but there is so much more to the idea. Peace is an attitude that we can keep in our hearts; it is an intention we can strive to fulfill. Peace is an approach toward life that, if we stay true to it, will allow us to move through our lives in harmony with those around us. However, it is more significant than that. Peace is an ideal we must aspire to—a condition that the human race must eventually evolve toward if we are to survive.