I have always thought the purpose of life was to be happy. That is until I came across this quote yesterday. Sure, I had my doubts about happiness as a goal. Mindfulness ,as I practice and teach it, is all about invites staying open to the full range of emotions and experience. Going to parenting seminars, I heard rumblings from cutting edge educators about the pitfalls of "just wanting our kids to be happy." I doubted it was really helpful.
To me, this quote encapsulates what I learned in becoming true to myself and ditching an abusive relationship. Looking back, the shift in perspective from happiness to growth has saved me in my most challenging times. My book, Urge Overkill, is all about sharing an abusive experience to help those, like me, who have been there.
For sure, happiness as a goal perspective has caused me much suffering in love and life. It might have enabled me to stay in that bad relationship longer as I pined to return to what had formerly been super sexy, idealized love. Detaching myself from that and being willing to experience the pain of leaving and realizing it was better than that of staying, prompted me to grow and change.
I notice the same pattern over time that have helped me. Sure enough, the times of my life when I shifted from misery to hope/ happiness were when I focused on immersing myself in experience and growth.
Things like going to college and developing a love of learning and the realization I was creating my own reality-- these made me happy. When I trained to teach yoga at a time when my job dissolved in the dot com crash. There was the year I spent in yoga therapy training after I received a cancer diagnosis. Each new experience pulled me out of a tailspin by helping me grow.
Getting married and having children has helped me experience a huge leap in being in integrity, seeing myself in the mirror of relationship, expanding my capacity to love and striving to do my best.
Then there is my ongoing goal of spiritual development which always brings me solace, shakes me up and keep me growing/ mindful of what's going on below the surface of my experience. Happiness in growth and experience each time!
What has helped you shift perspective? It's said we don't remember much about details, people and all the information coming at us these days. But we do remember stories and how they make us feel. Care to yours? I invite you to comment below!