What is Happiness?
Before we explore how letting go of our past can really assist us to be happier in the present, we probably need to pause and ask, ‘What is happiness?’ Most human beings place a very high value on ‘being happy’ but they have never stopped to ask themselves, ‘What is happiness?’
Happiness may well mean different things to different people, so I can only share with you what it means to me. I suggest you then pause reading this and ask how you would define happiness for yourself!
From my own observations I now know that I am happy when I am ‘in love’ (not romantic love, but joining with someone or something in love energy- another soul, a piece of music, a bird or flower.
I have also noticed that I am always unhappy when my mind is stuck in some fearful thought or other.
Finally, I have observed that experiencing happiness seems to be the natural by-product of my doing things that I find fulfilling. In other words, I feel a deep sense of joy when I am doing the things that I love to do and particularly those activities in which I feel as though I am being genuinely helpful to others. So, for example, I have noticed that I always feel happy at the end of my weekly Infinite Tai Chi classes because I love teaching and I love feeling as though I have helped others to feel more alive and less stressed – if only for a short time each week.
We might assume that our levels of happiness depend very much on our life circumstances. We are certainly led to believe that those who have a lot more money in our society are happier than the poor. But researchers have consistently found that our circumstances have a lot less impact on our longer term happiness than we think.
So, why are some people consistently happier than others? According to Robert Holden, the happiness guru, those who are good at being happy are also good at forgiveness – which really means letting go of all of our grievances/painful memories about the past (some of which may be temporarily well hidden in the darker, deeper layers of our subconsciousness).
As Robert Holden points out in Be Happy:
“Without a past, there is no story. Without a past, there is nothing to forgive. And without a past, there is virtually nothing that blocks your happiness”