Why is unhappiness so prevalent? Why we don’t know how to be happy? Why are we happy to be so addicted to antidepressants, illegal drugs, alcohol, violence, and so on?
Why are we consuming to the point of destroying earth? Why do we go “buying happiness” at the expense of our freedom? Why are we so invested on looking happy in our Social Media channels?
Are we designed to be unhappy? Are we flawed as a species?
We can blame it on the economy, our family, our politicians or a disease we may be fighting, but that is far from the truth. Perhaps there is a more intrinsic problem than that.
Who are you?
This seems to be a question so basic, so self-evident, that we fail to realize we don’t have an answer for it. At least not the correct one.
No, you are not your name, your social status, your gender, your title at work, your nationality or the name of your species.
You are not your zodiac sign, the food you choose to eat, nor the football team you decide to cheer – if you didn’t just inherit your preference from your dad or household -.
From the moment we are born we get tagged and labeled. We get accustomed to be defined by others.
Since we are put to school earlier and earlier in life, where we are bossed around every second of the day, we never get the time to be insightful.
We box ourselves into categories that are nothing but social constructs and we allow these categories to define us.
Why do I have to know who I am if others have already defined what I am?
And because after you are born, you are usually rewarded with more “definitions” as you close artificial cycles in life, we learn that we ought to “do”, to “achieve”, to “become”.
To only be isn’t even consider as something, because if you aren’t doing, you have no inherent value.
So when we ask ourselves who we are, we only generate answers that don’t fit the question.
Yet, deep down we know we are evading the question. Because knowing the answer, knowing at least who we are not, leaves us defenseless and in a territory we have never been before.
Who you are not
Since we enter this world we get “thrown into boxes”. We get “badges” to go along with the boxes. Things that we achieve that gives us a sense of pride.
At every step we feel that we are becoming. Becoming what? Becoming an image of what society tells us a good citizen, son, or student, should be. Boxes.
As we go, cheering our toddlers for “graduating” from Kindergarten, we blow their egos and we make them addicted to their next “fix”.
We make them believe they have “achieved” something, even that “something” is of no value. But this only makes them feel that to “be more”, they have to achieve more. They have to become something, because what they are is not enough.
They are incomplete. They lack, Being isn’t enough. You have to do to be. To do you have to be, but to be you don’t have to do.
After time, we put together a gargantuan mountain of achievements, most of them vacuous and inconsequential that only take us further apart from our own very self. That who you think is you, further obscures your essence.
You come to believe that your “past” makes you who you are. And you fall in love with the mirage.
But is that all we are? Are we really nothing else but an archive of things that we did, most of the time mindlessly, while we were pleasing everyone except our very essence?
No, we are not that. That is the ego and the voice in our head that chit chats endlessly is only its spokesperson.
The same that possibly now is yelling and screaming inside your head telling you this isn’t true.
The ego, the mind, is nothing but a misperception of who we are and our nature.
It is as if you try so many clothes on you, that you end up believing you are the coat, trousers, vests, scarves, shoes, etc., that you have been trying on.
Deep down you know this is not who you are, but you also have no idea who you are.
By now, your ego is so strong it has taken a life of its own.
If you are a doctor and you hear people like me telling others I can help them more than a doctor can, you flip out as if I have just killed your own mother.
Even others, invested on similar believes may have similar reactions, since their ego has recognized doctors as the only healers in our society. You defend your ego, and you defend egos you identify yourself with, because they provide a sense of safety and security.
You don’t want a punk to come and shatter one of the principles where you stand in life.
Yet the more you do this, the more you feel a void, you feel disconnected, but you don’t even know what you have to “connect” to.
How can you be disconnected from yourself? Only when you have never had the time to be.
You know your ego is not you, but you don’t have the tools to find out who you are. And western society has conditioned you not to look for answers in the right place.
The search of happiness
You go after the latest sport car, the fanciest dress, the most decadent dinners, or the newest trend of fitness.
You start seeking identity aligning yourself with a certain look, brand name, or lifestyle that will finally define you.
You look for a nutritional regime that makes you feel you are unique and special.
But not long after the void comes back. The dissatisfaction, the unhappiness is still there just deeper.
So you get a car, a house, a Master Degree and a trophy wife or a richer husband. But not long after you are again looking for a fancier watch, or a diamond tiara, as if either one of them was the only thing you needed to feel at peace with yourself. Happiness is flicker, it is a mirage, so you look for it elsewhere.
The fake search for spirituality
If you pursue looking for answers you will find at some point practices like Yoga or meditation.
But instead of sitting and emptying your mind,you realize you need an app to help you. Not long, you are browsing for the best trousers to meditate and incense to burn.
You surround yourself with similar souls and start gossiping of how some of the other practitioners move too much or make too many sounds.
You start searching for the nicest Ashram to visit in India or a buddhist temple in Thailand to deepen your practice.
Your Instagram is about to burst with all those pics of you meditating in gardens and temples.
Facebook becomes the high stand where you admonish your enlightened vision of the world.
But at night, deep down, you know, than you are now disconnected and without hope.
But why does the ego makes us unhappy?
First of all, because it is an artificial entity that has nothing to do with your true nature.
When you were born, you just were. You didn’t have to do to be, you just were.
You personally weren’t aware of being human or ant, male or female, normal or abnormal.
What was powering that piece of meat you were, was your true nature. But since it had no definition other than “life” and was doing nothing else but being, we misunderstand its importance.
It is as if all we can see is their potential of what they can become. They are incomplete, they are nothing. We have to prepare them, to make them into someone worth. Life itself is of no value to our society.
Second, the ego, being only a collection of memories or what we commonly call the past, doesn’t know how to function in the now.
The ego, which by now you may understand is nothing but the mind, is only good to categorize and compare.
The nature of the mind
The mind doesn’t recognize the things that happen in real time, it only partially perceives information coming from the senses as things to compare with the memories of the past.
Since the mind is a product of categorizing it only knows how to categorize and label.
So it breaks down its environment into pieces, pieces that have been labelled and prejudged.
You then, are not a product of the past, you are enslaved and conditioned by it.
Your absolute inability to accept life as it happens gets you in conflict, and your misery only deepens.
Now remember your last 10 bad relationships. Once you remember the bitter disappointment go and say hi to that person that you like at this moment. What are the chances of you seeing the person truly? None.
When you are your mind -your ego -, you aren’t talking to that good looking man or woman, you are talking to the bunch of people that disappointed you 10 times before.
Looking to the inside
There is no certainty for people to get this far. If the unhappiness isn’t insufferable, most people accept suffering as a condition of being human.
Some, succumb to this suffering and may even take their own lives.
Some other resort to some form of addiction. Drugs, sex, materialism, bad relationships, pride, etc. Anything that distracts us from the fact that is our mind, and nothing else, that keeps us in bondage.
All this unhappiness happens because we never looked to the inside.
We never stopped and looked deeply inside ourselves.
We never took responsibility for ourselves. We went from cradle to grave doing and believing. Too perplexed with the fancy neon lights of the superfluous, when all we had to do was quiet the mind and observe the self.
The self? Where joy, not happy resides
Again, who are you without name and form? Take away everything that can define you with words, all of it.
Strip from every title or condition, strip yourself from moral or ethical standards. Strip yourself from language and labels. Strip yourself from memories and past. Strip yourself from expectation and achievement. Strip from believe or limitation.
Strip yourself from doing or thinking. That is the “you are” I am talking about.
Untouchable, undefinable, eternal and absolute.
Whether you have the courage to get this far and pursue, or call this all nonsense, is up to you and you alone.
This is where JOY, not temporary happiness, but eternal joy lies.
Joy depends on no external factor. Happiness is flicker and only precedes unhappiness.
Joy is in you, it is you, it is being, manifested into being. Without name, without form.
Do you have what it takes to do nothing at all? To leave the pride? To renounce to that which isn’t valuable but makes you feel important?
Is there anything more important than being? Than existing? That being life itself?
The call is yours.