The Illusion of Happiness

Seeking happiness? All the best with that. The truth is you’re gonna have trouble finding it.

An array of prisms reflecting the light on article titled “the illusion of happiness” on The Reflectionist

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

Seeking happiness? All the best with that. The truth is you’re gonna have trouble finding it.

Welcome to The Reflectionist, a daily dose of reflection on the nature of the self, personal reality, creativity, life and work, submitted to the public record for posterity. Read personal essays and articles on the psychology of creativity to help you nurture and broaden your creative prowess.

Although it may not be true for you now as you read this, it is true for me as I write it.

In recent times, I have come to recognise a particular momentum amongst purveyors of life success advice.

They suggest, with the best of intentions no doubt, that should you find yourself in a difficult position, an uncomfortable life circumstance, then the solution to your problem is to simply think positively.

Think and act accordingly and your life will get better.

Broke as a pie crust?

Think positive.

Want career success?

Think positive.

Looking for the perfect partner?

Think positive.

Feeling anxious and depressed?

Think positive.

Think better thoughts and lo and behold, life will give you what you want. No matter what your ailment, all you need to do to live a better life is change your mind.

As if you could.

Those who sell this idea that life can be all one-sided, all sunshine and no rain, are probably suffering most and in their desperation have merely traded one illusion for another.

Deeply immersed in their own personal dysfunction they sell a one-sided version of reality.

The truth is there’s nothing you can do about the conditions of your life and the more you try the worse it gets.

The idea that you, Ruairí, Cian, Cara, the surface level personality of you, can change external conditions is naive and works counter to the message the purveyors of hyper positivity sell.

Sure, you can pretend for a while, you can spend your entire life pretending - most people do. But you will simply send yourself deeper into the illusion and compound your eventual suffering.

At some point, you will need to accept that this persona that has been created, the one you call you, is a fallacy and life is not something you can control.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t influence it.

You can, but that you is not the you you think I’m referring to.

“A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.
He whose face gives no light, shall never become a star.
Eternity is in love with the productions of time.
The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
The hours of folly are measur’d by the clock, but of wisdom: no clock can measure.”

- William Blake | Poet, The Marriage of Heaven & Hell

The Deeper You

There is a deeper, more profound version of you, one that you may never fully realise.

In fact, to fully realise it would be to annihilate yourself.

It would be to cross the event horizon and enter the black hole, the point where creation and destruction merge, where all life both begins and ends.

In this experience we call life, the place where we seem to be, there are far too many moving parts for us to control.

It is a happening, and we either roll with it or rail against it.

It is a dualistic experience where apparent opposites are in conflict or put another way, its where apparent opposites are in co-operation.

Darkness cannot exist without light so they conspire to create night and day.

Up and down, left and right, in and out, cold and hot, hard and soft, they are all extremes of the same thing and one cannot exist without the other.

To be in a psychological space where you believe they can exist in isolation is to deny the fundamentals of your existence.

Regardless, you’ll keep looking.

But you’ll never find it.

So what to do?

The way out of this predicament will occur on its own.

The day will arrive just when you think it's all going to end when life couldn’t get any worse and you realise its all ok.

You’ll know all that seeking, building businesses, chasing partners, buying houses and cars, etc. was a waste of time.

And when that happens you’ll laugh your head off and not know why you’re laughing.

And then you’ll forget again.

But something will stay. A realisation that you can’t make any of it happen, that it happens all of itself.

Happiness and sadness will come and go like the wind.

In the meantime, your want for happiness is your downfall. Your want can never be filled.

The day you give up searching will be a happy day.

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