Happiness is Attention
Friday, June 15, 2012 at 3:39PM
Elena Taurke in Basics, Happiness, Method

We may not want to believe it but happiness is entirely available, no matter what.  Attention itself makes us happy, not its object.   Says Spinoza, "When the mind regards itself and its own power of activity, it feels pleasure."   Allow me to emphasize: Pleasure!  Not just boring old serenity.   And it's not just regarding the mind that is so much fun.  Attending even to something awful is surprisingly interesting.

Ogre is paying attentionAgain and again, my clients describe the agony of anticipating and imagining a disastrous event.  A huge amount of preparation and tension goes into preventing the dreaded thing, and yet the ACTUAL event is, without fail, a better experience than its imagining.  That's because when there is a crisis, attention is sharp, one-pointed without even the effort of meditation.  That's why I sometimes say:  Emergency is a pricey shortcut to engagement.   The experience of focus and its action is unifying, unless of course you've fallen out of the working zone.

Without a crisis, it takes more effort to bring your attention right here.  One of the most common mistakes is trying to get somewherechange something, like I gotta breathe to make my nasty thoughts disappear.  Just stop trying.   Start where you are.  Pay attention to what is there:  Is it anger, craving, boredom?  What IS it?  a smell? a touch, a cherry blossom, a dirty dish?  The attention itself will change you, and happiness will unfold from it.  If, on the other hand, you chase happiness, you guarantee your misery.  

 In Zen, they say: when walking, walk.   Are you walking? 

Article originally appeared on PsychoZen (http://www.psychozen.org/).
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