Just imagine what an awful place the world would be if we were all happy the whole time. For a start it would be terrible for the economy: nobody would need to buy endless consumer products, distract themselves with TV and video games, or numb themselves with alcohol and medication to escape the crushing monotony of daily life. In a world filled with blissfully contented human beings, there would be no need for anybody to do much at all, except eat, sleep, have endless sex and maybe a bit of dancing. Who would want to live in a world like that?
To prevent this nightmare scenario from unfolding, we have created this guide to unhappiness. Just follow this simple formula to guarantee a lifetime of dissatisfaction, disappointment, and depression.Me + X = Happy
How It Works
This simple formula works by placing a condition on our happiness. Be as creative as you like: the X can be absolutely anything. A new car, that dream job, the perfect partner: anything that, once you get it, you can finally feel happy. Following this formula will immediately create a sense of incompleteness: a gaping hole in your life which, until filled, will have you in a constant state of dissatisfaction. You may even be able to feel it physically in your body: a burning sensation in your chest, stiffness in your back, or that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach.
But what happens if you obtain that “X Factor”? What happens when you find yourself driving in your new shiny car, with your perfect partner beside you, on the way to your dream job? Will you not then slide into that horrible state of happiness that we are so desperate to avoid? Well here is the really clever part. The reason the formula works so well is that once you get the object of your desire, after a brief period of joy, you will return back to your previous dissatisfied state, choosing a new “X Factor” that you now need to be happy. This process continues forever: the human mind is so creative and powerful that it can effortlessly generate an endless number of conditions, ensuring that you are never, ever satisfied.
The “Me + X = Happy” formula guarantees we are never in the present moment (the only place where true happiness can be found) and instead are constantly in a kind of tense daydream state. You do not have to dream of the future – another great way to use this formula is to dwell in the past. If only you had the perfect parents, then you could have been happy! If only your partner didn’t leave you, then everything would be OK. Setting the “X-Factor” to past events is especially effective as, unless somebody invents a time machine, there is absolutely nothing you can do to change things. Placing a literally unobtainable condition on your happiness is a sure-fire way to keep those wheels of suffering rolling forever.
If you are struggling for inspiration to choose your “X Factor”, don’t worry, our society provides an abundance of opportunities for unhappiness. Aside from the relentless bombardment of adverts, expertly crafted to induce a profound sense of dissatisfaction, we have created a number of social myths that ensure happiness is always something out of our grasp. The concept of a “Soulmate” is a particularly good one. Out of the billions of human beings on the planet, your ex is literally the ONLY person who can make you happy. They may be married to somebody else, you may have spent half your relationship shouting at each-other, but they are your Soulmate and unless you get them back, you are doomed.
What If I Don’t Want To Be Unhappy
If, for some crazy reason, you don’t actually want to be unhappy then you have to abandon the beloved “Me + X = Happy” formula forever. The key to doing this is concentration and awareness. If we become aware of the workings of our minds (for example through meditation) it will soon become clear that what we previously thought to be the source of our happiness is in-fact a hindrance to it. If you observe your desires as an impartial witness, you will see that they come and go like waves rising up then falling back into the ocean. By staying mindful you will notice what really happens when you obtain your “X Factor”, and you will soon see that, in the spiritual path, true happiness has nothing to do with the temporary buzz you get from fulfilling a desire.
This does not mean you need to live naked in a cave, eating only moss. It simply means cutting the attachment we have to external objects, not letting them define us or be conditional for our happiness.
True happiness can only come when we drop the feeling that something is missing, when we learn to feel complete. In fact we don’t really even need to learn to feel complete, we are already complete but somehow we fell asleep and forgot.
The world IS unfair: some people are truly dealt a terrible hand – inequality is universal and only seems to be getting worse. However, we will not be able to improve the situation for ourselves and others until we learn to feel genuine happiness. The ego says, “When everything falls into place I will be happy”, whereas the spirit says, “When I am happy, everything will fall into place.” When we realise that happiness comes from what we already have then we will never need another “X Factor”.
“He who has once known the contentment that comes simply through being content, will never again be otherwise than contented.” – Taoist Proverb
Alternatively, you can stick with the formula: maybe when you get that new car, eternal bliss is guaranteed!
Top Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
If you enjoy our articles and want to learn more, then you may be interested in joining the Vagabond Temple Online. You can receive our beautiful teachings wherever you are in the world and practice with a supportive community of like-minded people