a treatise on happiness

I am not sure if things happen exactly as I want them to, or if things happen the way they happen and I convince myself that it is what I wanted.  Either way, it works out pretty well.

So, life is good.  People are great (or not, and you get a chance to learn something about who you don't want to be), the world is beautiful and I am happy happy happy.  I think that being busy really helps me to be happy.  I don't like being overwhelmed, but I definitely like having a lot to keep up with.  Maybe having a lot going on, a lot of people coming and going, a lot of activities and opportunities is fun because it gives me so much to be grateful for.  When things are busy and complicated and bursting at the seems, if something goes wrong or goes off track (as it inevitably will) it isn't that big of a deal because something else will immediately pop up to distract me.

But what it comes down to, I think, is attachment.  In order to be happy and truly grateful, you have to just take things as they come (okay TTs, that sounds more like santosha or ishvara pranidhana than vairagya, yes? well, I'm getting to it.).  I know that when I think about attachment, or more to the point, non-attachment, I used to think primarily of material things.  Things that I think I love, or think I need.  But, I am finding more and more that when these things are removed from my life, through destruction, loss, or theft (if you are me, then people like to steal from you) I am surprisingly unperturbed by it.  I would like to say that I really take sutra 1.15 to heart and this is a result of spiritual growth, but I think that is just a life lesson; the longer you live the more able you are to accept that things come and go, things will get lost and then they can be replaced and the grass keeps on growing.  Gratitude here is doable (man, I'm glad they took my ipod and not my car!) but somewhat strained, even at best.

The place where I am finding abundant gratitude through non-attachment is where it applies to the generalities of life.  I was talking to a friend recently about how the best way to make sure something isn't going to hurt (this was about a boy, but I am finding it applies to everything) is to determine the outcome that would be the most painful, then convince yourself that that is what you are going to get. Not only that your worst fears will be confirmed, but that you will be perfectly satisfied for it to work out that way.  "Own it," I told her.  Little did I realize, we were teaching ourselves not be attached to our expectations.  If you convince yourself that the worst would be okay, then ANYthing short of that ends up being grrrreat!  And the more you are able to visualize multiple outcomes and view them as acceptable, the less likely you are to get attached to one outcome as being necessary for happiness.  Eventually you stop bothering to visualize the outcome at all and just experience it as it comes.

As I go through these months of transition I am finding that I have little to no control over where things go.  The more I involve myself with other people and different activities the more I find that plans are futile.  It is only through restricting and controlling (severely) your environment that you are able to resist change with any modicum of success, and we have already determined that I do not do well in restricted and controlled environments.  So it looks like the only choice is to let go of any desire to be in charge of where my life leads. Through letting go of my attachment to being in control of the course of my life I have found not only contentment with what I get (even if it is the worst outcome I can imagine) but a truly satisfying sense of surrender.  I think that surrender and gratitude are synonymous in my life.  When I am able to trust that everything truly is for the best then gratitude for existence and the role I get to play in it comes bursting from the seams.