WHERE TO Find HAPPINess
I remember my first night on Bali. I arrived from South India and was mesmerized by the sudden pleasant quietness and peace I experienced on the island. I caught the last tails of monsoon but even the last downpours added their additional spirit to this yet unknown place.
The streets were scarcely walked-on when a sudden shower just fell from the sky and I quickly found shelter under a roof. Barely anyone was around and the rain hushed everything in silence.
After coming from busy and guzzling India, I felt like I entered a different world. Gamelan tunes enwinded me, the streets were colorfuly decorated with girlands and paper ornaments, and the cooling rain winds made my thoughts retire.
I don’t remember how but suddenly a handsome Balinese stood next to me holding a package of cigarettes towards me, mumbling a Hi! while lighting himself a cigarette. I kindly accepted and with it I was bestowed a beautiful friendship.
We found some stairs to sit and long after the rains had disappeared, the world around us seemingly had disappeared as well.
I still remember his very calm energy and soft tune of voice. He told me about his lost love and I told him about the love I gave up in order to find true happiness.
Nowadays “true happiness” — those insidiuous words make me smile benignly.
I used to think that happiness hides somewhere and must just be waiting to be found by me. Or if I would live in a certain way and if I would only find that right way then I would be happy. I also thought that happiness would lie in the extraordinary and the more extraordinaries I would experience, the happier I would become. A bit like, the higher the mountain peak, the more excitement.
Our conversation however taught me differently.
My friend said: “I do not understand. You came all the way to Bali to find happiness?”
And I replied: “Well, yes, I mean not just Bali of course. But I guess this is somewhat what I’m trying to find through traveling and this spiritual journey inwards…”
And he said with his calm and slightly bewildered voice: “Happiness is in you. Wherever you are there is happiness too.”
This left me a bit disorientated, almost light headed.
And all I could obliviously mumble was: “You mean, I carry it with me?”
And he replied: “Yes. Happiness is a choice. You decide to be happy and then you are happy.”
I could not believe my ears: Can it really be that simple?
Let me translate his words: I choose to be happy and then I am happy?! Well, that sounds easy.
And I replied: “But if it is so easy and if we all have it, then why are people so seemingly unhappy?”
He smiled humbly and said: “Well, that is because just like you, everyone is looking for it in the outside.”
After my first slightly stunned reaction, it dawned on me.
I recalled moments of deep happiness that did not include fancy experiences or super duper company. Of course there were great moments, unforgettable adventures and people I warmly loved and yes, then I felt happy as well. But unfortunately this feeling never lasted. Just like the moment passed away, so did the feeling of happiness fade. And then just like rainclouds, moments of dissatisfaction, exhaustion or sadness flew in again.
Nowadays my perception of happiness has changed and his very wise words continue to echo in my life and heart.
Happiness is a mere choice. In the morning when I wake up and got bestowed with a new day, I can choose how my mood is. I can either start the day with a smile and gratefulness in my heart or get annoyed by something before I am even out of bed. And the same law applies to the rest of the day.
I can choose how to react in situations and how to weigh them. That does not mean there are no more shitty and annoying moments in life — of course there are and thank God for that! — but it is my choice how I want to react to them.
There is nothing wrong with being angry for an instant, crying wholeheartedly or feeling treated unfairly as long as we remember not to get caught up in all the drama. As long as one remembers that not the whole wide world depends upon it. Something happened that does not please me. Ok. Ackwowledged. Thank you. That sucks. Ok. Well, what to do! Thank you. And move on.
Deep down, this modest and abundant contentment for life can still be breathing and smiling. Whatever happens, I can still develop gratefulness to be alive, to inhabit a body that supports me vitally with a heart that pumps up to 100 beats per minute, and that there are people I love and that love me. And this gratitude list can go on forever…
It’s like the rain — after the rain comes the sun. In fact the sun is always shining even if we don’t see her. Either she’s on the other side of the Earth or just veiled by some passing clouds. And so is our daily life — stuffed with fading clouds of which some deliver wind, rains and storms. Now when we learn to occupy ourselves less with those clouds in the sky and instead keep looking for the sun then we can build a condition for ourselves to find freedom. Then being becomes thrilling and the ordinary becomes extraordinary no matter where we are, what we do or who is with us.
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh -