10 Jan The formula for happiness!
My sister sent me an interesting article, already read by millions it seems. It was talking about why the generation born between the late 70s and mid 90s are so unhappy. The article was quite entertaining, talking about how and why we (since I am also from that generation) have sky-high Expectations of successful and fulfilling lives and careers. According to the article each of us also have the belief that we are very special and at least when it comes to the voice in my head that is very true:
I am going to change the world, millions will read my thoughts, I will be in TV-shows and radio programs. I will also stay unusually young with my Babyface, but also masculine like a he-man and all girls will adore me. I may be the new Jesus and I will probably get enlightened no later than the age of 45.
I’m not kidding, the voice in my head can actually say these things! If I knew how to type in one of those “embarrassment smileys”, I would use it now…
Back to the article. According to it we have huge Expectations and when our lives (=Reality) turn out to be average, which they generally must be, we get unhappy because our Expectations are higher. This is among other things fuelled by the social media where we get a picture that everyone is having awesome lives. Partying with friends, travelling the world, eating the most incredible art work of food (I can’t stand any more food pictures, please STOP them NSA!) and smiling all the time. So our Reality doesn’t live up to our Expectations and everyone else seems to have better lives than us. This leaves us unhappy. Read the article here if you want.
I like the article, even though I lack a feeling of empathy through it. Especially I am very grateful for the absolute brilliant formula for Happiness presented:
Happiness = Reality – Expectations
Looks quite simple does it not? As you read above many of us are unhappy because our unrealistic Expectations widely exceed the ordinary Reality of ours. Let us now investigate the parameters for happiness and see how we can turn this around.
I sent the article to my mentor and he liked it too. He and many other spiritual teachers have always said that it is important to have No Expectations. What does it mean to have No Expectations? I guess for most of us it is an expression that makes sense, but the truth is that approximately 99,9999% of people in the world don’t know how to do it. We have Expectations on how our partner should behave, on how the weather is going to be, on our career development, on the quality of food, that the car will work and also on subtle things like how we hope to feel tomorrow. Hopes are really nothing but Expectations. I realized when meditating and contemplating this morning that my constant search for a better state of mind is also driven by Expectations. That I should feel deeper peace, more love, more joy. That it is just around the corner. It is like a little mechanism that is constantly a bit dissatisfied with the present moment. It feels like a subtle contraction in my awareness, like a mini-Babyface is sitting somewhere in my brain saying “not good enough”. This can then manifest as being unhappy with millions of excuses in the outside world like career, food or weather, but the truth is that it is all the same mechanism. The same contraction.
So what if we could truly learn to live without Expectations, without that little mechanism that have a picture of where we should be and hence drive the constant searching? If we could just be open to Reality as it is without a sense that something should be differently? Well, the formula then tells us:
Happiness = Reality – 0
That is an interesting formula. Happiness will be our Reality. Somebody would perhaps argue that it is better to try to have very low Expectations, so that Reality turn out better than our Expectations. The problem with that approach is that there still is this mechanism of thinking about how things should be, instead of coping with how they are.
Better to drop the Expectations, and hence the searching all together. Better to set Expectations to 0. But it is of course more easily said than done, it is a gradual process.
What about the other aspect of the formula? If Expectations can be adjusted to increase happiness, perhaps Reality can be adjusted as well? An interesting thing I have learned from spiritual teachers is that there seem to be at least two sides to each thing, more than one truth. Yes Reality is as it is and we’d better accept it, but that does not mean we cannot act in a way to create a better Reality for ourselves. That is another reason we don’t want to have very low Expectations, perhaps leaving us in indifference or apathy – not striving to improve our lives. The trick seems to be to do our practice to improve our sex life, take care of our bodies, increase our devotion for others, unlearn egoistic behaviors and follow our longing to use our talents to give our unique gift to the world – WITHOUT having Expectations on the outcome. I have heard my mentor say this for two years and I am slowly starting to understand what the hell he means. We can still create a great Reality around us, not only for me but for others as well (even though my Ego thinks that is a complete waste of time). So the new formula will be:
More and more Happiness = Better and better Reality
This is what I like about tantra, there are always two perspectives. The masculine and the feminine perspective. Even though the world is one whole connected melting pot, as soon as we try to describe it there are at least two sides to everything. From the masculine side everything is perfect as it is and nothing needs to be done. From the feminine perspective there is life and lust, so why not enjoy it and do the most of it while we are here? Both seem to me equally valid and essential for a happy life.
My mentor has said life can be like ice-skating. Right and left. I have faith – but no expectations, I have faith – but no expectations. I have faith in a happy world, which is why I keep on writing. I will do my best to drop the Expectations. 🙂