I just flew more than 13 hours, from HK to London. My entertainment system did not function throughout the trip, so I was basically stuck with no movies to occupy my attention. It is very torturous when this happens while you’re flying long-haul. The best thing that happened, was just before boarding the plane I happened to see a book titled: Happiness Now, by Richard Holden in the airport bookshop. The title attracted my attention and as a bonus, it was on sale…. so I bought it. This book occupied most of my time on the long flight, together with my trusty Ipod.
I haven’t completed the whole book, I’m about half-way through. From what I’ve read, the principles of Happiness Now is:
- we all have 2 selfs: Unconditioned self and the Conditioned self (also known as our ego). The Unconditioned self is the original you, untainted by history, conditioning, fears, doubts, learned limitations, while the conditioned self, is shaped by all our years on earth.
- The Unconditioned self knows how to be happy because it is care-free. While the conditioned self constantly restrains us from being happy, because it is conditioned to fear.
- It is our egos that remind us that we’re never good enough, we’re never happy with ourselves, with what we have etc. and we’re always in a hurry to improve ourselves. The essence of it is we have a hard time, accepting ourselves as we are.
- And because of this lack of self-acceptance, we are constantly searching for what we think will make us happy, postponing our right to be happy now.
- The book says that happiness is within us, it’s a decision we make. Sometimes our ego “rules” our way of life that we forget to take the time to be happy / how to be happy / what makes us happy. Simple things recommended in the book, is to consciously remember something that made us happy today and as we make this conscious effort to remember, we will soon take actions to make ourselves happy. It can be something simple, like taking the time to smell the coffee that we’re drinking or listening to the wind blow.
I think this book is a gem and a timely reminder to all of us, who are sometimes battered by our expectations of life. I recently had a chat with a close friend and we were lamenting the fact that some days would pass without us being happy. Is the pressures of life so great that we cannot find anything in 24 hours to be happy about? It made sense when I read the book on making the conscious effort to make ourselves happy. As we go through the daily grind of life, I fear that we may forget what it means to be happy or that our perception of happiness is defined by material things or egostitical pursuits. These may only give us momentary happiness but probably our yearning for more (driven by ego) will make us dissatisfied and empty.