What is it you want more than anything else in the world? Ask yourself and answer truthfully. Answer as if it was the night before Christmas and you were a little kid and could have whatever you wished for. Take out a piece of paper and write down your answer, your honest answer.
My son Tim Ray and I have been holding lectures and workshops in many countries... and we often start by asking the audience this question.
After everyone has written down what they want on a piece of paper, we ask people to share. And this is what they say.
Why Do You Want What You Want?
One person answers, "I want to have a good relationship." And then we ask the person "Why do you want to have a good relationship?"
And then the person usually answers, "Because I want to experience love."And then we ask, "Well why do you want to experience love?"
And the person will say, "Because it will make me feel good." And then we say "And why do you want to feel good?" And then the person will say, "Because then I'll be happy."
Then we'll take the next person who wrote, "I want to have a job where I can use my creativity and talent." And then we ask, "Well why do you want to have a job where you can use your creativity and talent?"
And the person will say, "Because it will give me a feeling of satisfaction." And then we ask, "Why do you want to feel satisfied?" And the person will say, "Because then I'll be happy."
And then we'll ask another person and she will say, "I want to be strong and healthy." And then we ask, "Why do you want to be strong and healthy?" And the person will answer, "Because then I will be able to do what I want." And then we'll ask, "Why do you want to be able to do what you want?" And the person will answer, "Because it will make me happy."
Will It Bring You Happiness?
And so it goes... We've discovered that regardless of what people say they really want, if you ask them why they want what they want — be it health, money, a good relationship, good sex, losing weight, having healthy children, being creative, world peace — it's always because they believe that these things will bring them happiness. And yes, everyone wants to be happy.
And all the things we seek — whatever they are — we seek them because we believe that if we attain what we seek, then we'll be happy.
If you don't believe this is true — ask the people you know. Ask them what they really want (in their heart of hearts) and then ask them why they want whatever it is they really and truly want. And you will find, if you keep asking, that everyone, without exception, wants what they want because they believe it will make them happy.
Even if we're seeking enlightenment — or the way out of suffering — we are doing so because we believe this will make us happy.
How Can We Experience The Happiness We Seek?
So the big question, of course, is how do we experience the happiness we seek? Why aren't we happy right now? Why do we think the right partner, a good job, losing weight, having nice kids, being healthy, having money in the bank, or world peace will make us happy?
This is the big question. How do we achieve the happiness we seek?
Another way of saying this is — how do we put an end to suffering in our lives and in the lives of others?
Looking For Happiness In All The Wrong Places?
I have been searching for the answer to this question all my life.
One of the things I've discovered is that most people are looking for happiness in the wrong place. They are looking for happiness in the outer world (in the world around them) and they believe that by attaining some of the things we just mentioned — the right partner, a good job, nice children, money, a nice house, success, a fit body, etc. — they will be happy.
But when you think about it, isn't it being very cruel to yourself to believe that your happiness depends on outside circumstances, people and events? Especially when all the things we're talking about are things we have absolutely no control over.
So why are we doing this to ourselves?
We Learned Our Lessons Too Well
As far as I can see it's because this is what we were taught. Our parents and teachers taught us this and we believed them. And why did they teach us this? Because this is what they were taught and so they taught it to us — all in good faith of course. And we, in our childish innocence, believed them.
We believed that our happiness depends on outside circumstances, events and people because this is what they told us. And most of us still believe that the right partner, more money, power, so-called security, and/or a healthy body will ensure our happiness and keep us safe from this thing called life.
What's Wrong With This Teaching?
And as a result of this belief, we try so hard to obtain all of these outer things to make ourselves happy until sooner or later most of us find out that there's something wrong with this teaching — because it doesn't work. Either because we don't get the things we think we need to make us happy — or because we do get most of the things we think we need — and we're still not happy!
So sooner or later we get pretty disillusioned...
We discover that what we were taught — that our happiness depends on other people, on getting what we want, on the right circumstances, on good health just to name a few — is the direct route to unhappiness, fear and anxiety, misery and depression.
©2009, 2011 Barbara Berger.
Reprinted with permission of the author. Published by O Books,
an imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd. www.o-books.com
This article was adapted with permission from the book:
The Awakening Human Being: A Guide to the Power of Mind
by Barbara Berger with Tim Ray.
A practical spiritual handbook that offers readers a complete guide to the awakening consciousness that is emerging on planet Earth. In this book, Barbara not only maps out the incredible power of mind, but she explains how to use this power wisely. Find a way out of suffering by waking up to the nature of reality and the nature of mind and find the peace and happiness you seek in the present moment.
About the Author
American-born Barbara Berger is the bestselling author of "The Road to Power / Fast Food for the Soul" (30 languages) and "Are You Happy Now?" (13 languages) and many other self-empowerment books. After leaving the US in the mid-60s in protest against the Vietnam War and settling in Scandinavia, Barbara continued her quest in the 1970s with a passionate interest in the role of food in our mental and physical well-being. When she discovered in the early 1980s that health foods and diet were not enough to ensure true wellbeing, she began to study the science of the mind, the nature of consciousness, metaphysics, and finally traditional spirituality and psychology. For more about Barbara Berger, see her Web site: www.beamteam.com