I recently met a spiritual teacher, and was invited to ask a question. As this isn’t my first rodeo, I decided to ask a question that was heartfelt, but tricky.
I said: during the pandemic, I have had meaning and fun, but less happiness. I don’t believe happiness comes from inside. I find it a kind of inspiration. How can I entice my happiness to come to me?
The teacher gave this answer: “Happiness is a choice.” (I believe there is a book with this title, too.)
I’m guessing this person had forgotten about depression, bio-chemically indigenous or situational. And about grief. Not cool, in my book. We were strangers. I’d have appreciated more caution. What if I’d lost someone in the pandemic?
Also, I don’t really believe much in choice. (Unless it is Roe vs. Wade). Between character, fate, and chance, I’m lucky to have even a medium amount of free will.
On the other hand, I do everything in my power to practice gratitude, mitzvahs, self-amusement, and friendliness. That is, I practice enjoyment. But it is not the whole picture.
Well, that isn’t the teacher for me, which is good, because I’m incredibly suspicious of so-called spiritual teachers. However, I started to wonder how people I respect would answer the question. And to my surprise, I could pretty much channel their answers!
My old therapist: You ARE happy. But it’s clouded by your anxiety. Work on lowering that, and happiness will shine.
My old Zen teacher: You and your happiness exist in a mutual field. How can happiness entice YOU?
My great aunt Tillie: Life is not meant to be happy, darling. (A Jewish variant on the Buddhist “Life is suffering.”)
Shakyamuni Buddha: Follow the Eightfold Path—right action, right speech, etc.
The Sage Hillel: If not now, when?
The checkout lady (She is a mythical character for me, representing common sense): Do something for somebody else.
My deceased but not forgotten cats: You’ll feel better if you rest up.
My two-year old grand-daughter (psychic, her vocab isn’t that large yet): Watch cartoons, eat popcorn, and hold my hand. Also, this soft blankie—which I am not sharing with you—can help. Get your own.