The Source of Our Happiness Is Closer Than We Think

by Daina Lynn
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The Source of Our Happiness Is Closer Than We Think

Last Sunday, I set out to expand my horizons, which is how I ended up at a space exploration show. Somewhere between the stuffy scientist explaining how far we’ve come and the vivid images of what space looks like, I realized something pretty deep: It’s amazing the distances we’ll travel to find answers instead of sitting with ourselves and discovering what’s simmering within.

We create distractions and look for tangible evidence to bolster us because it’s immediate feedback in the short term. But achieving true, authentic happiness requires that we explore our edges and seek answers from inside ourselves.

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AN EXTERIOR AND INTERIOR FOCUS

Pretty deep stuff for a lazy Sunday morning, I know — especially since I rarely deviate from watching sports, Animal Planet, “Family Guy” or “Impractical Jokers.” This idea isn’t a knock on science, we still need to explore and advance, but it’s about not neglecting the opportunity to look within. So let’s run with this thought: the idea that we search outside ourselves to find peace that is already within us. An exterior focus emphasizes gossip, seeking self-approval from others, overeating, rampant spending habits — it runs the gamut of short-term, tangible things. An interior focus emphasizes meditation, self-reflection, prayer, volunteer work — in other words, things that are less tangible but equally real and arguably deeper. When we heal ourselves, we help others around us.

If I channeled Sigmund Freud, I might say something smart like: Exterior focus seems like a self-defense mechanism. We are so terrified and tormented by our deepest fears, desires and past afflictions that we end up distracting ourselves before we ever face what’s inside. In reality, our mind and our sense of purpose are the only things we can really control. We can’t control what happens with our bodies or our possessions — yet we live in a society that puts the focus on those tangible things that don’t preserve our inner beings. An interior focus shifts our perspective from, “What can I gain from this situation?” to “What can I give to this situation?” Remember, just like when we find our edge on the yoga mat, we need to look for what we can take off our shoulders, not what we can add to them.

Here’s the trick: less can still be more. The process of strengthening yourself is through meditation. Sit alone in a quiet room or out in nature, close your eyes and listen to the sound of your breath. Remember, everyone’s path is different. For some, meditation may take years to feel comfortable, yet others may find it useful the first time they try it. But don’t be discouraged. We are all on our own path.

HOW TO GIVE TO A SITUATION

Let me put my psychologist’s hat back on as we sink our teeth into the meat of this idea of how you can give to a situation. Deep down, it’s about how you make others feel. Can you give that coworker who is struggling some positive feedback? Can you put your smartphone down and smile or acknowledge people when you’re standing in line or walking down the sidewalk? Simply put, can you make someone feel like they are an important human being? The cliché is true: People don’t remember the shoes you wore, the nice purse you had or the expensive watch on your wrist. They remember how you made them feel.

How you make others feel can be one of the biggest imprints you leave behind on this earth.


READ MORE > “BLACK-ISH” STAR AND PANEL OF INFLUENTIAL WOMEN DISCUSS THE POWER OF PAIN


To help others, you must help yourself first. It’s like the oxygen mask on a plane, put yours on, then help your child or someone else next. Remember: You cannot quench the thirst of another if the cup you are trying to pour from is empty.

REMEMBER WHO YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN

The Buddha said, “what you resist will persist.” If we ignore our problems or ourselves in exchange for time with our phones or working or seeking the approval of others, we are letting our suffering persist.

My best friend told me the other day, “at 28 years old, I finally sat down with myself. I finally gave myself a chance to get to know me.” Let me ask you: How many years has it been since you got to know you? Somewhere along your path, you felt or saw something that helped shape the person you are today. Choosing to go inward is choosing to remember who you’ve always been. It’s choosing to peel back layer after layer of distraction to find the source of your suffering so you can begin to turn it into the source of your happiness.


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  • Bill Brytan

    Just Curious, instead of quoting from Buddha as if he were some sort of god, why not quote the real God who is the REAL SOURCE OF HAPPINESS?

    • Lytrigian

      She misapplied the quote too. But if you’re going to insist that everyone believe as you do — Buddha was primarily a philosopher, and is not believed to be a god by anyone — I’m afraid your thinking is disordered.

      • Bill Brytan

        My point was: Instead of looking to a human for advice as if he were a god, why not consult with the real God? How is that didordered?

        • Lytrigian

          First, you’re projecting. One might as well quote Socrates as Buddha. In neither case are you looking to either “as if he were a god.” If you never get advice from human beings, perhaps you should start.

          Second, not everyone believes your “real God” exists, and it’s disordered of you to think otherwise.

          • Bill Brytan

            Not everyone believes Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969. I guess NASA was projecting too.

          • Katherine

            Hahahahaha I loved the Socrates comparison.
            I guess technically NASA was projecting- just differently to you.

          • Lytrigian

            Yes, NASA projected a man to the moon.

            It means something different in this case. You assumed the Buddha was mentioned in a certain mode and projected that assumption onto the discussion where it does not actually apply. No one is calling Buddha a god here but you. I tried to make you notice that by referencing a different, and unquestionably mortal, philosopher, but you failed to take the point.

  • Sarah Wheeler

    Love this. And it is so true – the distractions and fillers we seek outwardly in life are not what bring us peace. It is true work to sit down with yourself, which in my experience is a sacred precursor to sitting down with the Divine, so to speak. Thanks for another thoughtful article full of truth.

  • Lytrigian

    After reading something like this, I have to conclude that most people don’t have real problems in their lives. No amount of meditation will help some situations.

    • Heather

      Sometimes I do my best problem-solving after I’ve slowed down and put things in perspective. One of my biggest problems with stress is that it overwhelms me and I struggle to see a workable way forward. I’m sorry that you didn’t find this helpful. I’m not the author. I’ve just come to a place where I realized that some of my issues need to be addressed internally in order to maintain and continue the progress I’ve made. As with anything, something that works for me may not work for you and visa-versa. Weight loss is super tough and I used to think “fluff stuff” was a cop-out. I’m seeing things a bit differently. I may not be comfortable with meditation but I’m at least trying to wrap my brain around mindfulness when it comes to behaviors that I thought were “automatic” that are working against my efforts.

      • Lytrigian

        Weight loss was easy. That’s the least of my problems. What this article seems to reference as suffering is unrecognizable to me as such. I see real suffering every day. It isn’t this.

  • Heather

    I want more of this kind of content, please! It really made me stop and think. I know HOW to lose the weight, but emotional/mental stuff is an obstacle that I seriously have to deal with. Managing stress and problem-solving and getting to know yourself seems key, and I think it’s something that’s either poorly addressed or rarely addressed. Thanks for this!

  • Free2Bme

    Bill, believe in what you want to believe in. It doesn’t change or force anyone else’s beliefs. Too bad, everyone is so hell bent on making someone else what they want them to be.