I believe that all humans seek happiness, and I’ve come to think that attaining happiness is our purpose in life. Whether an individual is religious or not (and it makes no difference which religion one follows) we all strive to make our lives better, which means some sort of movement towards attaining what we imagine to be happiness.
Yet, achieving true happiness in today’s society has become, more and more, ill defined, elusive, and ungraspable. For many, those moments of occasional joy that life brings are fleeting, and bouts of happiness feels like something that comes out of the blue, and disappears just as quickly.
Yet, I believe true happiness comes from understanding one’s needs, and training one’s mind to develop and sustain happiness. It takes inner discipline. It takes knowing yourself. It takes a willingness to change your habits.
I believe this because this is how I created a life full of happiness for myself, after decades of striving to achieve it. For me that first meant meeting several basic needs: a quiet home environment where I could write, a loving partner, caring friends, basic food and material needs. But I needed more to be truly happy. And that more, I eventually learned, was a willingness to reach out to others, to create a feeling of affinity and goodwill, even in the briefest of encounter.
The Dalai Lama once said, “My religion is kindness.” That simple statement had a profound effect on me. It seemed more compassionate than the old “Do Unto Others” I’d always tried to follow. After much thought, I made that my religion as well. Every hour of the day, I strive to show kindness to all living creatures.
It sounds simple, yet it was extremely difficult for me. And I’m still striving to make it a way of living. What is hard is crushing my ego so that I put others needs before mine, even people who rub me the wrong way. But with inner discipline, it can be realized.
I no longer compete with my fellow men and women. I put their needs above my own. Even when people are rude or insulting, I try to absorb those negative feeling and respond with kindness. When I hear political discussions where people are insulting one politician or another, I refuse to participate. Not that I don’t have my opinions on politics, I simply refuse to be rude to anybody.
And what I’ve found over the last few years, is this attitude of kindness is the key ingredient for making my life happy. Call it karma. Call it anything you want. Being kind to others makes me feel good. It brings happiness to my fellow humans, and it brings a double measure of happiness back to me.