“The Goal of Mindfulness is Happiness”
This happiness isn’t the opposite of sadness, nor does it involve being free from pain. It includes feeling the full range of our human
emotions while empathizing with everyone else’s. It involves experiencing everything vividly, with an ease that comes from letting go of expectations, preconceptions, and worries about our particular welfare.
This happiness comes from knowing that everything will change and therefore not being so shocked when it does. And it comes from really embracing this moment, rather than from pursuing something different in the next.
Combined with our efforts to act wisely, mindfulness practice can transform our experience of ourselves and our view of the world. It can allow us to awaken to our full potential, be more useful to others, and more completely enjoy the moments that we have together here on this planet.
It takes effort. But after all, what else is more worthwhile?
Pursuing happiness can traps us in more unhappiness.
The same way that trying to get rid of anxiety traps us in more anxiety and trying to get rid of pain traps us in more pain, pursuing happiness traps us in more unhappiness.
This is where mindfulness practice can get particularly confusing, since it involves a paradox. Being more mindful indeed makes people happier—for reasons we’ve just been discussing. However, practicing mindfulness in order to feel happy isn’t actually practicing mindfulness—since it’s not necessarily accepting what’s happening at the moment.
And yet, if we don’t practice, we’re less likely to savor experience, accept what is, notice our interconnectedness, and experience flow—and therefore are less likely to be happy.
In almost all other activities that involve putting forth effort over time, we strive to reach a goal—to improve something. The idea is to wind up somewhere other than where we are right now. Mindfulness practice shows us that this striving is itself at the root of a lot of our suffering. So we experience a paradox: happiness is actually more likely to arise when we are not pursuing it.
This is not a call, however, to become passive, nihilistic, or dis-engaged—it is not about automatically resigning ourselves to circumstances. Rather it means throwing ourselves fully into life, putting all of our energies into doing whatever we’re doing at the moment, but all the while letting go of our attachment to things turning out a particular way. When we run the race, we give it our all not with an eye on the finish line so much as on the experience of putting one foot in front of the next with all the effort we can muster.
Or, closer to the moment, as I write this book I try to craft these word, well—with an eye not on how they will be judged but on how clearly the will communicate. It means putting full energy into doing what we’re doing, being focused on the process rather than on the fantasy of arriving somewhere.
A Path to Well-Being
Besides being extremely useful for dealing with everyday difficulties, mindfulness practice is part of a path toward a particular sort of happiness. This happiness isn’t dependent on pleasurable sensations (though we enjoy these more when they occur), and it certainly isn’t based on “success” in the conventional sense. It is the more fulfilling happiness that comes from waking up.
Modern scientific research is lining up nicely with ancient wisdom to point the way to a rich and meaningful life. It is reinforcing what mindfulness practice has long revealed: savoring our experience, appreciating and embracing our place in the amazing ever-changing world, sensing our interconnection with other people, animals, and the rest of nature, and engaging our talents fully for the good of all fosters a kind of happiness that isn’t dependent on fickle fortunes.
Source- The Mindful Solution, by Ronald D Siegel
Adapted by G Ross Clark