Happiness as the Side Effect of (Non-Religious) Spirituality
Happiness = Spirituality; Unhappiness = Ego
After a considerable reading on themes of happiness and spirituality from motivational and mental health sources, I can't help but notice a major misconception prevailing when it's about attaining either of them.
Namely, it seems that they are focused on "removing" unhappiness, and also attaching spirituality to religiousness---while neither of these positions sits right in my mind.
Talking more from personal experience than from literature of this genre, happiness is so much more than "absence of unhappiness". As a matter of fact, if we succeeded to remove all those causes of our being unhappy, we wouldn't automatically end up with happiness.
The reason being that unhappiness, with all its psycho-physiology is in the domain of ego, while happiness is a matter of our awakened spirituality. So, by bribing our ego into somehow leaving us alone---usually by excitements like excessive shopping, sex, amassing possessions, partying, gambling, and other forms of emotional stimulation---we won't do anything for our becoming more spiritual or happy.
Spiritual Doesn't Mean Religious
Another point worth mentioning is that spirituality is not to be mistaken for religiousness---the two concepts that are frequently presented as synonymous with each another.
The basic difference being that religiousness is getting the inspiration from the outside sources---a deity, a holy book, a holy place, a preacher, and suggestive rituals, whereas spirituality comes from within, from intuition and heart, coupled with a conscious intent to explore new and better forms of psycho-physical functioning.
Spirituality seeks that divine essence in ourselves while insisting on finding our place in the creative scheme of everything in the universe---and religiousness is putting us on the second place after god, ascribing to us attributes like sinfulness and imperfection in their variety of facets.
Unlike religiousness, spirituality does not deal in any way with dualities of "good and bad", divine and evil, pure and sinful, and ultimately doesn't make a distinction between a universal intelligence and our own---while seeing us as an embodiment of it, as potential avatars. As such, it is intuitionally guiding us towards what is positive and life-promoting, while ignoring what is less than that.
Warriors of Soul
Spirituality is hard to define for this very reason that it's basically an experience, not a system of beliefs that would be easy to verbalize---like it is the case with religiousness. No wonder that love, happiness, and peace of mind generated by spirituality cannot be defined - other than mention an absence of their opposite values.
For another important distinction, with spirituality we change, evolve, and what was yesteryear's level of our processing reality---inner and outer--- may be replaced with a new one this year---whereas religious belief insists on its fixed tenets.
Spiritual folks are sometimes called "warriors", not because they are in a conflict with anything or anyone, but on the contrary---because they are disabling into silence their vulnerable ego which feeds on conflicts.
Not by fighting it, but by loving it, and allowing it to be. Someone said it so nicely: "When you let your ego be---it lets you be". Fighting it is like fighting your way out of the quicksand---you just sink faster into it. Loving it, you disarm it, because it has no opponent to fight.
A Test of Faith
In a recent experiment I intentionally stirred up an emotional debate about unshakable nature of religious faith by asking some uncomfortable questions---with a purpose to get yet another proof how in many of the cases religiousness stems from a need of ego, not from spirituality.
It's amazing how many of those who presented themselves as being deeply into their faith jumped the gun by defending it, totally oblivious to the fact that by defending it they were acting contrary to their faith.
Namely, when we are at peace with ourselves and with our world, it doesn't matter what other people choose to believe, because faith is not an item of a competition. And regardless how big a step it may take from that defending to a religious war, the underlying ego's motive is always the same and right there.
Addicted to Unhappiness
Needless to say, something like peace of mind and happiness cannot be generated and maintained by the whimsical emotionalism of ego, with its ups and downs commonly rationalized and excused as "being only imperfect human".
Many folks don't seem to realize that "being only humans" means being happy, because happiness is our most natural state of being and functioning in life. It is unhappiness that is strange to our nature, and we had to work really hard and for a long time against ourselves in order to end up with that kind of an emotional addiction.
Yes, you read it right---addiction. According to that brilliant scientist in the field of biochemistry Candice Pert, any repeated emotion tends to fill our opiate receptors in brain making it pleasurable.
Thus after a while we seek those life situations and circumstances which stimulate those emotions---good or bad. I mentioned it elsewhere, but it also suits the context of this theme while defining both a hypochondriac and anybody with an ego-guided emotionalism : "It's someone who only feels good when they feel bad".
Not to Be "Implemented" - but Allowed
We cannot "train" ourselves to be happy by imposing happy feelings, although it seems that way as we are "allowing" those feelings to be. Really, there is a thin line between a control and a surrender. As we are falling asleep at night, both could be said---that we are actively dismissing all daily thoughts, and that we are just drifting into a passive state of relaxation while ignoring those thoughts.
Likewise, being happy is really a simple mental shift. Kids don't need a therapeutic modality or a technique to be happy, so it's not about having to do something "more" but something "less" from what we do.
That's where spirituality comes into picture, because it provides an inner environment in which it is possible to make that simple shift. We might say that happiness is a natural side effect of being spiritual.
Adulthood Could Be an Emotional Advantage
Quite paradoxically, it should be so much easier to be happy in adulthood than in childhood, because kids are being constantly corrected by so many prohibitive measures interrupting the flow of their naturalness. Besides, kids are too young to be able to understand what's going on and somehow cushion those suggestive advances from family and society.
On the other hand, as adults we have that advantage of being free from all that, but unfortunately, by the time we have reached adulthood, we already have our ego fully operating and setting the limitations to our awareness about our innate freedom to choose our thoughts and emotions.
Don't Take Ego's Counsel
Right now, if you happen to think how happiness is a long shot, ask yourself who-in-you is choosing those limiting thoughts. You see, you have to somehow close that gap between that state of "can'titis" and a simple sense of "I can because I want to".
You may be a depressed person or anything, but right this moment your physiology is fully ready to allow a smooth shift into a gear of happiness and peace of mind. If you think you can't, how can you be sure? O.K. maybe you tried a wrong way.
The most frequent mistake in such cases is "trying too hard" to remove what we don't want in our emotionality---instead of a light, almost casual focus on what we do want. Remember, whenever you fight what you don't want, you are "present" in your ego, not in your spirituality, because ego as a function of our survival instinct is almost totally about conflict, about warding off anything that doesn't support psycho-physical survival---according to its program picked up from family and society.
Instead, you have to create by your spirituality an inner ambient void of any struggle, which will automatically result with an emergence of happiness and peace. Above all, you have to learn to love that ego of yours with all its silly game of "surviving" while nothing is really threatening around.
Love what Seems Not Lovable in Your Emotions
That's right, take a look inside, don't pierce with your mind's eye, just relax your attention on those lousy feelings---and love them exactly as they are. Befriend them. Go into their very fabric and be comfortable there. What if they are not really "bad" but they become so while filtered through the criteria of ego. What if every emotion is just the good energy of your vitality, but requalified by ego into something that's not pleasurable?
So, what if I told you that there are no "bad" emotions, but the ego's resistance to that free flow creates an inner friction that feels bad. Ego is fighting everything that doesn't belong to its script of "normalcy". Ever tried to quit smoking? Why was such a good intention feeling so bad? Think about it.
So, how else to quiet down that ego but by a spiritually motivated act of loving it--- so to weaken it in the absence of your knee-jerk reaction of hating your "lousy feelings". When you hate how you feel, you join your ego in its strife to keep away happiness and equilibrium.
Have you noticed how those folks who are dominated by their vulnerable ego constantly find something "wrong" about just about anything in the world?
Experiencing That Spark of Life in Us = Happiness
Could you accept that your body already enjoys incredible happiness and harmony on all of it is levels---cellular, organ and functional? That unfathomable intelligence that's orchestrating life in you from millisecond to millisecond simply has to be in a harmony in order to produce life in you.
It's unimaginable that our nature is run by a similar mess that we call our emotions. So, why not start this wonderful process of becoming happy by this very realization that we just have to join an already existing state of happiness in us---by being more spiritual? By allowing that happiness to well up from the depth of our essence which is good and life promoting---otherwise we wouldn't be alive.
Our ego and its fearful shaking over our wellbeing is a pathetic imitation of that incredible life giving source in us stemming from our genome, our cellular intelligence. Fifty trillion cells know exactly what to do in each moment, and every aspect of vital energy in us is making this dynamism called "life" possible.
That's the alpha and omega of spirituality---this awareness that all answers and all solutions are already in us, and we just have to lower down our animalistic tendencies to allow those divine ones to take over.
That emergence of our inner harmony into emotional outlets is called "happiness", and there is no other kind---if it's to be genuine one, not artificially stimulated by chemical crutches, money, power, prestige, and the rest of ego's pacifiers.