Allyn Lyon (Meditation Teacher ) gives expert video advice on: Is happiness or contentment worth pursuing?; What are the essential ingredients of happiness?; What gets in the way of happiness? and more...
Is happiness or contentment worth pursuing?
No, not as a goal. I think they come as a side effect of pursuing your passion, of pursuing waking up, pursuing being helpful to others. There are many things that you can do that you aspire to that will cause as a side effect happiness and contentment. And there are others which are guaranteed to cause misery.
What are the essential ingredients of happiness?
The basic requirement for contentment is a sense of well being that is not conditioned by having particular things.
What gets in the way of happiness?
Thinking that things should be other than they are is a major cause of aggression. Trying to fight with the world rather than getting to know it as it is. When you know it as it is, then you can work with it. But if you're fighting it, you don't know it. So I would say aggression is probably the biggest obstacle to contentment.
How can I cultivate happiness?
You could take up sitting and practiced meditations which will help you tame your mind, relax a bit with who you are, make friends with who you are. And if you are happy with being who you are then you are going to be happy with others as well.
What mistakes do people make in trying to attain happiness?
People can let their fear get in the way. And this desire for security, this desire that nothing bad can happen, completely gets in the way of any spontaneity and responsiveness and playing with the world. And so people tend to lock themselves into little boxes and they do not want to go out and play because something bad might happen. And so they are not happy in their little boxes. Whereas, if they were to go out and explore the world, they would find a great deal. It is delightful.
Why are some people chronically unhappy?
Well you know, I think the brain chemistry does have something to do with it. That there are people who, for whatever reason, karma, or genetics, however you want to put it, do have a problem with their brain chemistry and that it does need to be worked with and acknowledged and so perhaps they need to be on medication. And I don't particularly think this is a bad thing. It will help them cheer up. And then once they are more cheerful, then they can work more skilfully with their worlds and create situations that will cause more happiness.
What is the danger of ignoring unhappiness?
We try to hide from it as much as we can. We try to fill our minds and our lives with entertainment to keep from having to be with ourselves. You have to develop a certain degree of subtlety of your awareness to notice those little niggels of discontent that then grow into problems, issues, things like that.
Does complaining help or hurt the quest for happiness?
We are a nation of complainers, and it's a bad habit. It just creates a habitual pattern in our minds where we're always looking for what's wrong rather than enjoying what's there. It does lead to discontent.
Is happiness a choice?
Actually, you don't have a choice in what arises in your mind because we're all conditioned beings. I mean we've been raised since we were very small to have certain views, certian attitudes so that when we encounter certain situations stuff arises.And we do have a choice as to whether we're going to spend a long time dwelling on that or if we can let go of it. And to the extent that we learn to let go of things then we tend to develop a more contented state of mind.
Does society place too high a value on happiness?
There's this constant striving it seems in this culture in particular but you know to think that there's something if you only got it then you would be happy forever you know and then they lived happily ever after. That's really a very almost primitive view you know I mean the truth of the matter is we're going to get old, we're going to get sick, we're going to die these things are going to happen. We're going to feel sadness; sadness is not the opposite of contentment although it might be the opposite of happiness.
What makes you happy?
I thoroughly enjoy teaching, sitting in front of a group of people having a good conversation. I love dancing, I like to travel. There are all sorts of things that I enjoy very much. Yet if I find myself not having those it's ok, the happiness is not dependent on those things, I just enjoy them.