If you want to be happy, learn to allow reality to be what it is. There is one primary source of our unhappiness, conflict, and stress in life. How we tap into that source varies, but they all share a similar tap root in that they all reflect our ego’s unwillingness to let go of it’s need to be at war with the universe; its unwillingness to allow the universe or reality to be “what it is“.
When you take into consideration that the only thing we have the power to change is ourselves, declaring war on the universe is a battle our ego is probably going to lose. Especially when we take into consideration the reality that even the changes we think we are making in ourselves are in reality temporary and impermanent. Given that our human consciousness is always growing and “becoming”, we are always changing and transforming who we are. At the level of ego, the person we are today is never the person we were yesterday. No change is permanent.
Briefly, the three ways of describing our war with the universe and our ego’s inability to “be” with “what is” are a) pushing the river, b) expectations; the hope that something will make us happy in the future, and c) our primitive ego’s need to use a black-and-white thinking process to protect its sense of “self”.
Pushing the river is just what it implies. When the river of reality is flowing, picture yourself trying to stop the river by pushing it back up stream. The image that comes into my mind when I think of pushing the river is very much like trying to empty the ocean, one spoonful at a time. Denying reality is not a good way to achieve happiness!
Expectations are simply our ego’s illusion or “hope” that something in the future will have the power to make us happy. Since our ego insists on using impermanent forms of creation to attach our sense of “self” to, the outcome of virtually all “expectations” is going to be fleeting at best; even if the outcome does make us happy momentarily.
Unconsciously, the ego’s wish is almost always the desire to be unhappy. This is because unhappiness reinforces our ego’s attachment to our sad life-story; the story that explains in agonizing detail why we can never be happy or successful given our “childhood” experiences.
Expectations deny the reality that psychological time is an illusion. The only “reality” that actually exists is “now”. The past is over and done with, and the future has not yet happened. For the butterfly, the tree, the vast variety of life, there is no such thing as time. Only humans experience psychological time called yesterday and tomorrow.
Using a black-and-white thinking process is our primitive ego’s way of protecting the beliefs and worldview that it has attached to as a way to create its sense of “self”. By assuming that its beliefs, thoughts, emotions, feelings, and worldview represent absolute truth, our ego never has to deal with the anxiety that it might be wrong. In other words, it can never be criticized. Of course, on the down side, this kind of thinking creates virtually all of the conflict and violence we see in the world today.
Our ego is very creative in its ability to deny reality, but every time it does, it creates pain, anxiety, and unhappiness for our conscious “self”. So to experience true happiness, learn to live fully in the present moment, and learn to use every experience of unhappiness or anxiety to discover the ego illusions you are using to deny reality or “what is”.
Intentional self-awareness, which is only possible in the present moment, is the most powerful spiritual practice you can use to achieve true happiness.