There is no way to happiness

Via Ben Ralston
on Oct 12, 2010
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Or is there..?

1. Realise consciously that the only thing you really want is to be deeply happy.

2. Understand that happiness is an inner experience. It is inside you, or nowhere! Therefore nothing and no one can give it to you.

3. Look  inside for that happiness, and cultivate it consciously, doing (as much as possible) only things which make you happy!

4. Accept your mistakes, failings, and so on… don’t resist them, it will slow you down (in other words, if you have a bad day, and you really struggle to be happy,  don’t worry! Tomorrow is another day: every day you get better and better in every way)…

Most people spend ALL their time trying to either: seek pleasure, or avoid pain.
This is because we remember pain in the past. And we choose (obviously) not to repeat that pain. And we imagine pleasure in the future (also based on our memory of it in the past), and choose (obviously!) to repeat it.

However, memory (past) is not real. It is just an idea. It has no substance. Two people remember the same thing differently – it is not fixed. So our memory of pain is also not real. Trying to avoid pain is like running away from your shadow – it’s pointless.

And the same can be said for the imaginary pleasure – imagination is not real, in the same way that memory is not. So, most people are living in the past or the future; not really here!

Happiness is not outside you. It is not in the new car, the beautiful partner, the lottery which you might one day win – actually studies have shown that amongst the highest risk groups of suicide are those people who suddenly get rich!

It is either within you, or it does not exist in a meaningful way. It is an experience. Our motivation for avoiding pain and seeking pleasure is that we really want to be happy. But we didn’t stop to think – where and when is happiness? Is it in the future imaginary pleasure, or the past remembered pain?

If we really think about that question, the only possible answer is – it is here and now, inside us. Or not. But it cannot be anwhere, or ‘anywhen’, else!

So, if happiness is what we want, and happiness is HERE AND NOW, what to do about it?

BE HAPPY! Do what makes you happy! Follow your JOY! Let go of all else. Buddha said: “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.”
Is it easy? No, not if, like me many years ago, you have a habit of doing pretty much the opposite. But if we practice it, it gets easier and easier, like anything.

And imagine a world (this is what the imagination is really for!) where everyone did only what made them happy… every person would be PRESENT. That means that there would be no room for jealousy, resentment, anger. All the negative emotions are in the memory or the imagination of pleasure and pain… they DO NOT EXIST here and now. To be present; to be here now; is to experience peace, love, and simplicity: true happiness.

10 years ago I was in India on a long train journey. At one station a young boy, about 10 years old, came along cleaning the floor with a cloth – the dirtiest cloth I’d ever seen! He was wearing only a filthy pair of pants, and was begging for money from the people whose feet he was cleaning around. They were mostly paying him no attention. All of my western education and conditioning led me to ‘feel sorry’ for him – “poor kid, no money, dirty, probably hungry, no future, what a terrrible situation”… and then he came to me, and I saw his eyes. To this day I have seen very few people with the joy and happiness and shinging light in their eyes that he had in his. I deeply realized in that moment that external circumstances are unimportant. All that matters is to be happy.

Please leave a comment – your comments make my post look good, and more people will read it, and hopefully more people will be happy, and the world will become more peaceful… all because of your lovely comment: a simple ‘thank you’ will do!

Also feel free to facebook ‘like’ it (same reason), and share amongst your happy friends.


About Ben Ralston

Ben Ralston is a therapist, healer, advanced Sivananda Yoga teacher, and writer. His writings have been read by millions of people and can be found on Elephant Journal, Rebelle Society, and various other portals online. He has been teaching Yoga for 16 years in hotels, ashrams, beaches, gyms and rooftops worldwide. And he runs a busy international therapeutic practice from his home in rural Croatia. Offering sessions in person or via Skype, his therapeutic work is based on healing trauma, and the tools he uses for this are varied – mainly RPT, Shamanism, and energy work. He has also developed some of his own methods, particularly in the area of abuse trauma; ‘resource state’ awareness; and boundary reconstruction. He regularly runs retreats combining Yoga and other energetic exercises with his therapy. He would love nothing more than to see you on one of these retreats, since he believes that this approach to personal development is really the only effective way of bringing love and peace to global human society. Connect with Ben on Facebook. Read more of his writing on his new website with integrated blog! Yes, he's excited about that :)


33 Responses to “There is no way to happiness”

  1. elephantjournal says:

    if we practice it it gets easier and easier …….
    ?….. 😀

  2. Dominique says:

    Thank you!… Such a simple and beautiful request to honor.

  3. Ramesh says:

    you did it again! By expressing the simple, timeless message of yoga, that less is more, that happiness is within.

  4. Ben_Ralston says:

    Michelle Cross:
    Great! Happiness is the way… My mantra for today… In fact Any day :-) will share this post
    Thank you

    Kathleen Starr Warren:
    Happiness comes from within. One must, first love one's self in order to love others. This is not selfish. It is the lesson.
    I enjoy my own company. I don't mind being by myself. Actually, being alone is not the same as being lonely. My alone time helps me to love and care for me. Then I can go out and love the Earth, my friends, my family, the beauty around me.

  5. Emmanuelle says:

    Lovely post Ben, thank you! :-)

  6. Nicole says:

    Thank you Ben, much love!

  7. Padma Kadag says:

    Serial killers are not happy until they have slit someone's throat. The butcher is happy at the sight of a fresh carcass. The whore is happy when she is paid….

  8. Thank you, Ben! Always love to read your pieces and this one came at the perfect time. xoxo

  9. Dan Slanger says:

    Ben, thank you for this and all of your previous posts. And thank you for all you do for the elephant community.

  10. LeahS says:

    Thanks Ben. I love that you can tell "it" to people in such a clear way, your words resonate with many. Thank you. Keep on writing, and we'll keep reading!

    If I may, I wrote last week on my own tiny blog , it was called " is it a sad day or a happy day" because it is up to us, in each minute. Here's a link.

  11. Sarah Sunflower says:

    I love this… Thank you for sharing… :)

  12. thank you ben. i figured this out somehow in the last few years and my life has changed. contentment and happiness are my choices, even in the midst of the chaos of primary school classroom, money struggles, marriage ups and downs and the occassional existential muddle. i can still be happy and content in the shitstorm of life. i never thought that was possible. and the more happy i am, the less trouble i see. i seem to be attracting positivity. being happy puts us in the universe's good graces i believe. i guess it's true…"practice and all is coming".

  13. Marci says:

    Loved this! So simply true, why do we make things so difficult?

  14. catlyn777 says:

    agree, happiness is an inside job :)

  15. ARCreated says:

    as always… a light in the world!!!

  16. Ben_Ralston says:

    Yes, now is all there really is. Focus on it enough and you can't help feel good. Because our essence – in reality – is joy.
    Love, Ben

  17. Michael says:

    When in alignment with the universe, it is amazing what you produce and how many lives it touches and SAVES. Thank you!!! all the way from Portland OR I needed this at this exact moment in time……

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