We all want to live a content, happy life. You can learn to live your life grounded in joy because, believe it or not; you are the source of your happiness.
Our Original State of Being
If you ask most people what makes them happy, they will tell you various things from family and money to travel. If you ask them, what is the source of happiness? They will say, I just told you. However, they are not the same question.
Situations, things, and people can bring us temporary joy and happiness. But, the source is something internal. When we have a positive experience of pleasure, we release hormones called oxytocin and endorphins. These ” drugs ” create the good feelings we associate with happiness.
Some people “live” in a perpetual state of happiness; we call these people children. Children are the people who do this because it is our original state of being.
Achieving Hedonic Balance
Hedonic balance is the term in psychology for the individual’s value of experience from positive to negative. Studies show several factors can impact this value perception. (1) General health, personality type, psychological health, the amount of sleep, and exercise all contribute to the valuation of life. It indicates how we handle adversity as well as how we handle success.
The main determining factor is not our circumstances or our health; it is our ability to cope with life and find value in whatever situation presents itself. Life is unpredictable, so our state of mind is the key. We can enhance the state of our mind by enhancing our ability to think clearly. We’ll discuss the specific methods one can use to achieve hedonic balance later. First, we will look at the goal of these processes and the roadblocks.
You Are The Source of Your Happiness and Joy
It’s common for someone to ask, “how’s it going.” And the typical response is, “I’m doing fine.” So, we assume people are happy. But, if you get below the surface, you’ll find many people aren’t okay. They say they are fine because that’s what the culture expects.
Most people are struggling with something. And they experience a glimpse of happiness now and then, but they do not ground their lives in joy and happiness. So, how did we lose this state? When did we lose it, and how do we get it back?
Most people agree we originate from a state of pure happiness and joy. We are born happy to be conscious. Our consciousness comes from the transcendent, and the transcendent is a place of silence and tranquility. So, it’s not crazy to desire this as a foundation for our lives. You are the source of your happiness. We are already perfect in all of our imperfections.
We assume that seeking and placing a high value on happiness would automatically lead to positive outcomes. In other words, the pursuit of happiness would seem to increase our ability to be happy. However, the opposite is often the case in Western culture. (2) The pursuit of something that never materializes creates more stress and decreases our perception of joy and happiness. (3)
The problem lies with the commercial nature of our culture. The cultural narrative teaches us to strive. It’s the only way can find happiness and joy. And the culture is there to sell us all the things it says will give us satisfaction, but this joy is temporary.
So, we are always looking for the next thing. This desire can be exploited by those who have items to sell. We lose connection with our original state when we substitute things for the transcendent. It all starts with the idea that we must look outside ourselves to find happiness. As a result, many lose touch with their natural state of joy in adolescence, but it’s not lost forever. We can get it back.
Western religion is the primary source of the programming for the cultural narrative. We came into the world innocent; we had no beliefs. Organized religion programs our minds and pollutes our souls with negative bias and prejudice. It justifies everything from war and genocide to genital mutilation. Religion separates us from ourselves and others creating artificial boundaries.
These institutions use fear and insecurity to undermine our ability to achieve hedonic balance. They provide a substitute or counterfeit to control people and make them customers. By keeping people in a state of self-hypnosis, they can control what we think and what we value. We lose hedonic balance, living in a state of fear.
What are these fears that they use to control people? It starts with using faith and belief as substitutes for evidence and logic. The objects of this faith are the fear of God, the afterlife, demons, and anyone who does not hold to their sect’s beliefs.
Many Eastern philosophies tell us that attachment is the root of unhappiness. That is why we cannot find happiness in things. Yet, there is a way to be happy for no reason. There is a way to find contentment in our state of innocence.
Regaining Our Original State of Being
The way to regain this state is not through religion. You can’t retrieve it by believing in mythology. Mythology and superstition are intentional barriers. That’s right; organized religion doesn’t want you to know the answer to a joyful life is something they cannot provide. The answer is closer and more personal. We need to look inside, not outside. You are the source of your happiness, not religion.
Follow the Data
Being happy can increase your longevity. The General Social Survey-National Death Index dataset and Cox proportional hazards models quantify how happiness is related to a longer life. (4)
The survey showed how people who perceived themselves as “very happy” had a lower risk for death (6%) over the follow-up period of 10 years. People who perceived themselves as “pretty happy” were more likely to die (14%). The highest death rates revealed they were not happy (28%).
Factors that correspond to these three groups are significant healthy relationships, socioeconomic status, health, and spiritual activities. Individuals with one or more healthy personal relationships were more likely to consider themselves “very happy.”
This research supports happiness and joy as an indicator of well-being. High or medium socioeconomic status did not boost the person’s perception of happiness. An extremely high socioeconomic status added to the stress of life, and they were more likely to perceive life as “not happy.”
A low socioeconomic status did have an adverse effect on the individual’s physical and mental health, leading to the perception that they were “not happy” with life. These conclusions were based on a lack of proper nutrition and health care access.
The individual’s participation in healthy exercise and spiritual practice significantly affected the perception of happiness. There was a distinction between spiritual practice and the practice of religion.
Those who practiced meditation, yoga, and other holistic methods had a positive effect, whereas those involved with organized religion had a negative effect on their happiness. People involved with western organized religions saw themselves as unworthy of happiness in this life. Those who identified as sincere or strong followers were the most likely to be “not happy” with their life experiences.
The study also looked at the relationship between life benchmark experiences such as educational level, profession, experiences of violence, or significant losses. There wasn’t any correlation between these major life events and the individual’s perception of joy or happiness.
In other words, life circumstances do not have a significant impact on how we value life. Close personal relationships, healthy spiritual practices, and equal access to proper nutrition and health care can improve our perception that life is good.
Next, we can look at spiritual practices that can enhance our lives.
Some tools can help us get back to our original state of being. Using these processes can help you forge a path back to your natural state. It’s where we return to our natural state of happiness and joy.
We call these processes or tools “spiritual technologies.” These tools make up the domain of spiritual exploration.
We divide these tools into four major categories:
The accumulation of things does not result in long-lasting happiness. Returning to our natural state of being is where we find fulfillment. You can learn to live in your original state of being. Remember, you are the source of your happiness and joy. We need to activate our spiritual gifts. We can do this through the practice of ancient spiritual technologies.
(1) Hedonic Ballance https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2002-12744-008
(2) Mischel W, Cantor N, Feldman S. Principles of self-regulation: The nature of willpower and self-control. In: Higgins ET, Kruglanski AW, editors. Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles. New York: Guilford; https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Principles-of-self-regulation%3A-The-nature-of-and-Mischel-Cantor/9515f9a7d6ec7310cc23de84086e705136725d68
(3) Does Seeking Happiness Make People Happy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3160511/
(4) Happiness and longevity of life: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4724393/