Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Source of Unhappiness



‘I am unhappy and I must be happy.’ In that very demand that I must be happy is unhappiness … When you demand an experience of truth or reality, that very demand is born out of your discontent with what is and therefore the demand creates the opposite. -J. Krishnamurti

Today as I felt incredibly unhappy, but instead of distracting myself with television or games, I sat quietly. My children ran around the place screaming, beating each other with weapons born out of miscellaneous household items, a pillow, a cardboard tube, Nerf guns.

What I notice is my incessant uneasiness at being unhappy. I do nothing about this. Why must I be happy?

My mind wants me to solve this problem. My natural inclination is to (1) identify the source of my unhappiness, and then (2) change my circumstances. I have finally reached a place in my self-journey where I can recognize these inclinations leading me down a dangerous road.

The source of my unhappiness

The truth is, unhappiness does not always have a source. Emotions float through our consciousness as they please. Sometimes they are triggered by a situation, but even these “terrible” events are often not as bad as they seem. Other times unhappiness comes to us like an unexpected guest.

Happiness comes to us the same way, but we don’t consciously notice it. We think we have a right to always feel this good. It’s not true. When happiness comes, we let it in. When it goes, we should let it go.

In the past, I had a tendency to blame my unhappiness on my partner. “I’m feeling bad because I’m lonely; you don’t pay enough attention to me.” “The messy house is putting me in a bad mood. Why don’t you clean up after yourself?” (If I had no partner at the time, I would blame my lack of a partner. “If I only had Prince Charming to make me feel better.”)

Changing my circumstances

Nagging my partner to change, shockingly, never made me feel better. At least not long term. Ultimately, the false change only caused discord in the relationship as my partner felt he needed to act counter intuitively.

When loving actions are given the space to flow on their own, I feel them deeper. I know they come from a place motivated by my partner’s feelings and reflective of my partner’s individuality. (Their unique brand love is why I want to be with my partners in the first place. No one can love me the way they do.) Every person must feel free to act in the loving matter most natural to them. Expectations outside of what feels right, only creates rifts between partners.

Recognizing that my bad mood has no source makes it illogical to change my circumstances in order to feel better. I have what I need. Even better, I have people who love me, and opportunities to expand and grow.

As Krishnamurti said, my unhappiness is born out of the false idea that I should or need to feel happy all the time. And I don’t. Truth is, I can just be. And appreciate the wonderful people around me.