One of the root causes of misery is that you are seeking happiness. That is what I alluded to in the last chapter. The more you want to be happy, the less happy you will be. That is why most mentally handicapped people seem so serene and content. They are never seeking happiness, so they are never miserable. They have no desires, so they are content. They never regret the past, feel sorry for themselves in the present moment, or worry about the future.
I remember one of my first volunteer jobs at the Northern Virginia It seems crazy, but if you realize how the human mind works, you will be able to recognize the truth of what I say. You may have heard about “Murphy’s Law”: “Whatever you fear will happen, WILL happen, and at the worst possible time.” This is because whenever things go as planned, there is not much thought placed in it. But once something goes wrong, all attention is placed onto that event.
Let’s say you drive to work every workday. Every day is the same. Then one day you have to be at work on time because you are making a very important presentation. And it is on that day that your car would not start. All the other times your car did not start made no difference to you, you ignored all those occurrences because there was not that much importance to you being on time. But there will be a day like the one I just presented where you HAVE to be on time, and over a period of time there will be a day when your car does not start. When those two event collide, you will be so miserable. This all resulted from your desire to have to perform at your work in an optimum fashion, and the typical employer in America has great expectations for all the employees.
America takes everything so seriously, and that is the root cause of all of its citizens falling into misery. Seriousness is proportional to sadness. As we discussed, whenever you are serious, you are not living in the “now”, but you are living in the fear of the future. All of this is because you are moving away from the present moment.
Anytime you desire anything, you are moving into the future, anytime you are regretting anything, you are moving into the past. What you are doing is moving away from the present moment, the “now”. Your desire for happiness basically means that you are not pleased with your present moment. Your desire for happiness, your desire for power, your desire for money, simply shows just how miserable you really are because you are not content with what you have.
And that is what America is all about, to be discontented. Because Society always wants to move faster and faster, and teaches all of its citizens that they should get “ahead”. If the model or paradigm was to simply “be”, and to be content, people would not be working crazy hours at work to get ahead, skipping their vacation time, not spending time with their children, trying to outfox their co-workers to get the promotion.
Your unhappiness is saying that someday into the future you may be happy, in some distant future. Do you see how the process is so flawed? So your mind is continuously move away from the present moment and your thoughts move away from your center and into the future. Then, you will start to feel this hollow feeling inside, and you will feel your misery start flowing all around you and into you.
When tomorrow does not bring the happiness that you seek (it usually never does), you will crave happiness even more while you remain disappointed, and then the vicious cycle starts. The more unhappy you become, the more addicted you will become seeking after periods of momentary happiness. You are like a rodent chasing your own tail or a hamster running along one of those circle wheels. The faster you run, the more you stand still. There is that U2 song even, “Running to Stand Still” which comes to mind.
The most important thing then is to not dream and hope for a better tomorrow beyond what is reasonable. And if you meditate on this, you will discover what “reasonable” is. If you engage in this dreaming, you are only feeding your addiction, like taking another hit of the crackpipe, or taking another drink of vodka. Yeah, it feels good and fends off the sadness for a short while, but then the misery will return. The smart thing to do is to put down the crackpipe and the drugs. As Ram Dass’s book goes, “Be Here Now”. Do this, get off of your addiction to seeking happiness, and then a tremendous revelation will be waiting for you to enjoy, because you can enjoy reality, which is the present moment, not looking all around you.