One of my articles from my column in the Estonian Sensa Magazine. Published in October 2013.
"Seven Secret Steps to Happiness!" and "Five Fabulous Tools for Stress Release" are the type of slogans commonly used to sell magazines. The articles are full of tips how to better the quality of life and finally become happy. What they are selling is an illusion and the only thing these "steps" and " tools" are good for, is to keep you distracted from the fact that you are still unhappy.
There is nothing "out there" that will give you what you are really looking for. You can improve all aspects of your life, your work, your relationships, your finances, your self image, but it's still not going to really change anything. What you and everyone else is looking for is happiness, but what does that really mean? Happiness does not mean that the circumstances have to be "right". The circumstances are not the cause of your happiness or unhappiness, your attachments (and non-attachments) to them, is. Even your inner state is not always the key. As long as your inner state is affected by the outer world, the search for happiness will continue.
Instead of saying "happiness" we could use terms like freedom and a state of non-fear. This is what we are really after. Finances, relationships, inner peace, it's all the same. You want to experience freedom and absence of fear. As long as there is attachment, there is fear. So the conclusion is that we are really looking for the state of non-attachment. How about love? Most talk about love, in my opinion, could be categorized as "new-age nonsense". Trying to experience unconditional love, when you don't, is pointless and even foolish. Go beyond the ego and there is plenty of love to experience, it doesn't work the other way around. At this point I need to make one thing clear. Non-attachment is not the same as "detachment". Ego practices detachment, which really is just attachment to the concept of non-attachment.
Just a reminder, or explanation for you who did not read my previous article, I'm not here to teach anything. I'm just sharing because I was asked to do it. I'm not saying that my thoughts are unique or even that they are the truth. I'm not asking you to believe me, I'm asking you to believe no-one. Use your own common sense and listen to your heart, your own wisdom.
How to live with less fear?
Living your life in the level of the ego, with its many attachments, is a fearful and a unsatisfying way to live. Ego is in a constant need for more and there is no end in sight. But first, what is this ego? Ego is the false self. It is a concept of you, that you have created with the help of the people around you. The ego is made up of thought processes, both conscious and subconscious, the latter being the tricky ones because they are like secret programs that can periodically take over your life. When a seamlessly small thing or a situation triggers a strong reaction on you or someone else, it is usually because one of these programs was activated.
Ego is this identity you have created and that you are maintaining and even trying to improve. You are doing this by identifying with people, things and situations. This means that you are giving yourself this illusionary value depended on what you have and what you do in life. This is what all of us do and frankly, it's a card house just waiting to be blown down. Anyone, with even the slightest amount of common sense can see this. If your value is depended on anything outside of yourself, you are in real trouble. If this way of living is so obviously flawed, why is it so hard to break out from? Because the ego is who you are. If you are totally identified with your mind and ego, letting go of that means letting go of "you". And why are we so totally identified with our mind and ego? Because our culture is teaching it to us through our whole life. "Be a good child", "Study hard to get good grades", "Get into that school", "Get that profession", "Get that position", "Work your way up" ... for what? Why should you do all that? ... to become happy?!?
I hope you see the irony of this. All the work you do to become happy is exactly what is taking you further away from it. You are doing all those things because unconsciously you are building up a "better" you, the ego. All this work is about becoming more and more attached, which eventually will give you more fear. Reminder: my definition of happiness is freedom and the state of non-fear. Ego is taking us towards confinement and fear. The fear of loosing what we have attained, the fear of growing old, the fear of not having or not getting enough, the fear of not being loved, in general the fear of not being enough. These fears are real and they are very reasonable. If the idea of yourself is depended on the outside world, you really need to be careful. You might loose it all, and you know what? You WILL loose it all.
Beyond the ego
So what else is there than the ego? I don't know. I don't know the absolute truth and if I knew, I would probably not be talking about it. What I do know is what I have experienced and I will finish this article with that.
When I talk about the aspect that is beyond the ego, I often use terms like the higher self, or even the soul. I'm not defining it here and I don't really care how the different traditions define it. They are just words, concepts and ideas and thus not very important. When I recommend people to listen to their heart or to listen to their inner voice, the inner wisdom, I'm referring to this level of being. It's that part of you which is beyond the ego, beyond good and bad, beyond fear and attachment. And what do you find there? True happiness.
When you connect to that level of being, you will loose all fears. You will start to see the world how it really is, a playful amusement park. When you don't have to act based on your fears, you can start to play. It's what I mean when I say "let go". Let go of the control and start to get a better and a deeper understanding (or knowing) of what is important for you. When you don't have to work with getting your fears controlled, your whole world opens up. You can do anything. There are no boundaries, no rules, absolutely no restrictions. You are free to do anything. In this state you are experiencing absolute freedom, one of the two parts of my definition of happiness. You will become connected with your natural creativity, you will feel inspired and you will inspire others. Living without creativity and inspiration is like watching TV in black&white. It's not quite the same than as watching it in high definition and with full deep colors. Human beings are all creative. If you are not experiencing it in your life, it's because you are not connected with this deeper aspect of yourself. Your thought processes and fears are interfering with natural flow of creative energy. When I talk about creativity, I'm not talking about being artistic (painting, drawing, singing, etc). I'm talking about your whole life being a creative process. Always evolving, changing, becoming a masterpiece.
As you start to live your life guided by your heart, not your ego, you will notice how life starts to flow more naturally. This is what they mean when they say "do less and accomplish more". This is where life truly starts. Living a life based on fears, which is inevitable when you are identified with the ego, is a nightmare compared to a life lived from the heart. In addition to your life becoming more playful, creative and effortless, you will start to experience a new level of meaning. You notice how different situations, people and events seem to be connected. You start to understand that the "bad" things in your life weren't really so bad. They were needed so that you could to take the next step, or make that necessary turn.
I could go on and on about this, but unfortunately I've used all my space. In the next article I want to share my thoughts about how to really connect with the heart. I'm 100% convinced that the only way to truly be happy in life is by connecting with the heart. There is no way around it. Searching for happiness outside oneself is the most insane thing to do. It's practically impossible. Why? I'll tell you in my next article that comes out in (insert month).
Dear reader I would love to connect with you through twitter. If you have any comments or questions, please tweet me (@jockesalokorpi). That's all for now. Listen to your inner voice and let go of the control. Life will support you.