While you’ve been busy with your attention captured by feelings and thinking of yourself as separate and limited, you’ve missed the absolute truth: you have always been all that you ever wanted.
The self-help industry is fundamentally flawed. It perpetuates the myth that we are limited, damaged, inadequate selves who need to be fixed. Sadly, it keeps millions of people just like you hoping for a better future when they will finally be happy and fulfilled.
But what if this inadequate self isn’t who you are? What if it’s possible, at any moment, to be happy and free?
Discovering this possibility is a journey that leads you to the amazing fact that all you seek has always been here. What you discover won’t be new or unfamiliar. You’ve always been who you really are despite your distractions.
You’ve already delighted in the burst of joy that comes out of nowhere, if only for an instant;
You’ve felt the all-consuming feeling of love;
You know the wondrous sense of the unity of all;
You’ve experienced the spark of unexpected creative expression, and
You’ve dissolved into a bout of uncontrollable laughter.
You know in your heart of hearts that you’re bigger than your imagined limits.
Happiness isn’t nearly as elusive as we might think—if we know where to look for it. There’s a current alive in each of us that flows toward contentment, toward resting effortlessly in peace and ease. This current is so strong that every action we take is an attempt to find happiness.
When you seek approval, you’re trying to feel whole and relaxed. If you strive for money or material goods, you’re searching for the moment of ease when you finally fulfill your desire. If you overdo anything, you’re really looking for happiness, peace, and relief from inner turmoil.
You might think you want a relationship or the perfect job or even your mother’s love. But, your real desire is the inner longing to be free of conflict, satisfied and complete, with no sense of something missing.
This is the ease of being you’ve been searching for your whole life. And you absolutely can know it in your own direct experience.
But you won’t discover it in the objects, people, and situations in the world. You won’t even discover it in your own thoughts. These are changeable, unreliable forms you can’t trust to make or keep you happy. If this is where you’re looking, then you probably already know your search will fail.
The good news—the most amazing news—is that the peace you long for is available, here and now, in this very moment…and endlessly. You come to know it when you learn how to stop relying on ideas about how you wish things were—and say “Yes!” to the reality of how things actually are.
The path to realizing the unlimited potential for happiness in every moment is radical. It involves a shift in consciousness that invites you to question everything you take to be true—all the stories, beliefs, hopes, expectations, and feelings that make up who you think you are—and discover that they’re the very source of your dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and personal suffering.
Take an honest look at the thoughts and feelings that consume your attention. Are you:
Waiting for others to do something so you can be happy?
Obsessing over all the things you don’t like about yourself?
Recycling thoughts about what should or shouldn’t happen in your life?
Living in fear, shame, worry, or depression?
No wonder you’re not happy. These everyday problems set you up for frustration and disappointment. They make you think the present is unfulfilling, and they delude you into believing that the ease you seek will be available at some future time.
This “if only” thinking keeps you chasing happiness rather than living it. And while you’re distracted by these thoughts and feelings, the deepest peace and happiness—available right now—go unnoticed.
Let me be clear: we’re not just talking about that smile-on-your-face feeling we call happiness. It’s not even the satisfaction you feel when things are going well—these are expressions of it. When you deeply accept everything as it is, the inner war with your own experience ends, and you’re not only peaceful, but joyful and content, as well.
This is your natural state: what you knew before any conditioned habits or emotional pain concealed it. It’s the pure aliveness that remains—when the pressure to do, fix, try, and accomplish falls away. Fear subsides, and you feel intimately connected with everything.
This is the happiness that is always available, always ready to be discovered. Even though you may not consciously experience it, you and I both know that it’s here. Even if it’s hidden, this loving presence is alive in your true heart.
An excerpt from the forthcoming book, The End of Self-Help: Discovering Peace and Happiness Right at the Heart of Your Messy, Scary, Brilliant Life by Gail Brenner, Ph.D