The purpose of life is to be happy

The Dalai Lama

Spring has arrived and with it a new sense of life and of joy. We see the signs of growth all around, buds on the branches, birds building nests, spring flowers in bloom. Seeing all that this week has made it easy to feel joy, that inner experience that is deeply refreshing. It liberates us from our fears. It allows us to be content.

This has been a strange week, with news of sadness and with success in other areas. And as such it is the stuff of which life is made. We sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that joy is only to be found in a life without difficulties. We can think that happiness will only come if the circumstances of our lives change a lot. However, as the phrase reminds us, difficulties – ups and downs – in life are inevitable but suffering is not. It depends on how we work with the difficulties. We discover joy in the midst of the ups and downs of each week, of a life. All things change constantly, even those which are most precious to us; it is just the nature of this life.

And in the midst of life we discover that each one of us has inside ourselves a natural deep joy that we can access. We can drop into it and let it bloom. This allows us to celebrate our lives – the small and large things in each day – and not get caught up in complaining and resenting what happens. As nature blooms we can see that we are connected to a wider life and come to realize that our own personal story is unfolding in a much larger context. It leads us to practice gratitude for all that is happening, which helps the mind expand into a fuller sense of life. We then can notice that we frequently have a choice – to celebrate what is happening or to reject it. Mindfulness practice is a type of training that allows the mind develop an inner narrative that leans towards acceptance, kindness and joy and away from rejecting, from fear and from sadness.

We learn in our guts, not just in our brain,
that a life of joy is not in seeking happiness,
but in experiencing and simply being
the circumstances of our life as they are;
not in fulfilling personal wants,
but in fulfilling the needs of life;
not in avoiding pain,
but in being pain when it is necessary to do so.
Too large an order?
Too hard?
On the contrary, it is the easy way..

Charlotte Joko Beck

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