10% Happier.

I’m listening to an audiobook of a memoir right now written by Dan Harris, which basically describes how he discovered meditation and became a student of Buddhism.

(I love memoirs. They’re my favorite right now!)

I love him. He’s critical and witty, and though his writing can be overblown (the descriptions of people, for example), he’ll say something like this:

But it was in this moment, lying in bed late at night, that I first realized that the voice in my head—the running commentary that had dominated my field of consciousness since I could remember—was kind of an asshole.

Haha. So true.

But this one got me yesterday:

We live so much of our lives pushed forward by these “if only” thoughts, and yet the itch remains. The pursuit of happiness becomes the source of our unhappiness.

I had to stop the book, rewind it, and listen to it again.

And then I did it again.

And again.

I’ve been working hard in the past year or so to find a way to happiness, real happiness – the stuff that doesn’t just come and go in the moment. Because, intellectually, I can SEE that I have a lot in my life to be thankful for. I have a good secure career, a son we are fortunate to have, a beautiful house, good friends, a loving family.

But, under it all, there’s all the wanting. I often want another child and a chance to experience pregnancy all over again, and I grieve that we didn’t have that chance. I want a career I’m passionate about. I want to travel more than we do.

So I started meditating in the hopes that it would help me appreciate what I DO have.

Except that it has turned into a want too.

I WANT meditation to make me happy. I’m attached to the idea that meditation can change me – because aren’t there articles out there which talk about how it can rewire your brain? And so I expected it to make me completely different – peaceful, zen, okay with chaos, type B.

But I’m not that kind of person. I’m me. And so I’ve been frustrated, and the little asshole voice in my head says to me: This is useless. I’m no different than I was before I started meditating.

That’s why Dan’s comment is so perfect. That’s where I am: the pursuit of happiness has become the source of my unhappiness.

So I’m going to let go of this, too. I’m going to keep meditating, but not with some ulterior motive to make me happier or turn me into a different person.

I’m going to do it just because.

Why not, right?

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2 Responses to 10% Happier.

  1. Deborah says:

    Hmm. I’m trying to think how this applies to me. I think I really AM happier when I’m working on improving something, or making a plan for improving something, or getting closer to a goal. Forward movement really does make me feel happy. And yet I see how it can be a trap, too, making you feel like what you have isn’t good enough. If it’s possible to be happy with what you have while still working to improve, that sounds perfect.

  2. Catwoman73 says:

    I really think there is something to the idea that letting go of ‘want’ could be the key to happiness. It is something that I am working on now as well, and I already feel like a different person. Acceptance and gratitude do seem to come easier when we aren’t pining away for something different.

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