Read the lengthy excerpt from The Bliss Experiment: Planting the Seeds of Bliss
What if you don’t really want to be happy?
Most of us spend a good deal of our time pursuing happiness — or at least pleasure. This strikes many of us as a perfectly obvious and natural thing to do. From the Declaration of Independence, which announces that it’s our “inalienable right” to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” to almost every nook and cranny of pop culture to virtually all contemporary self-help authors, few people appear to challenge the import of finding happiness.
What if we’re wrong? What if happiness shouldn’t really be our goal? What if happiness by itself isn’t even worthwhile?
Though we seldom think about it clearly, the reality is that happiness by itself isn’t at all what we really want, we only think that we do.
Ask yourself this: If I could grant you “happiness” right now but it would come to you with the condition that life itself is meaningless, that there is no purpose in life other than being happy, would you feel satisfied? Or, what if I could grant you “happiness” but told you that you would never have access to any kind of enduring truth? Would, then, happiness still feel like a victory?
The reality is that we don’t just want to be happy. We also want to know if life is meaningful and what our individual and specific purpose is within this framework of meaning. And on top of it all, we want to know that what we think, feel, believe and know corresponds to some kind of enduring truth about ourselves, humanity in general, and even the very Universe itself.
Without all three things — happiness, meaning and truth — life feels incomplete at best.
The good news is that there does exist something that encompasses all three of our life goals: bliss.
Bliss is where happiness, meaning and truth converge. Everything — and I do mean everything — boils down to our (sometimes subconscious) pursuit of bliss. We pursue money or relationships because we think they’ll make us happy. We pursue our vocation, our hobbies, and our life’s passions because we feel they are deeply meaningful to us. We explore science, religion, and philosophical inquiry because we want to know the truth of our existence. Bliss is the universal place that these intersect, where all questions are answered, where every fulfillment is attained.
Finding bliss isn’t like most other goals we pursue. First and foremost, it’s a wholly internal state. This means that nothing outside of ourselves — and I do mean nothing — affects it or helps us experience it.
No amount of money, luxuries, sex, fame, beauty or power brings us any closer to finding it. Like so many aspects of life, bliss is not readily apparent to our senses. Because bliss is not an object or a thing, our faculties of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell are not designed to detect it. In fact, the more time we spend pursuing these things, the further away from the true happiness of bliss we get.
We have to start by looking within. But even just doing this is no guarantee of finding it. Let’s face it: many of us are messes inside. Our minds are spinning out of control; they’re filled with a cascade of negative thoughts, images, and feelings, none of which would ever be mistaken as blissful. As well, we often spend a good deal of our time reliving the past — usually something negative or traumatic that happened to us — or daydreaming about the future. We are seldom grounded in the Eternal Now.
So even after we make the decision to turn within, we still have some digging to do before we find bliss. We must learn how to live more fully in the present moment and then how to better take control of our own minds. Then, using this new-found power, we must learn to slow down that countless stream of thoughts, images, and feelings bombarding us.
Hiding just behind that torrential, out-of-control mind of ours lies the pure experience of bliss. It’s always here with us, even right now. We just don’t know it because we’re either distracted by looking outside ourselves or because there is too much noise and debris within, masking it, keeping us from seeing the potential hidden within us.
The shift away from focusing on the external state of happiness and toward the internal state of bliss opens new horizons of possibility and potential. It reinforces our essentially spiritual nature while promising lasting solutions to our most fundamental problems.
Above all, it’s the only genuine way to experience lasting happiness, find real meaning in our lives, and discover enduring truth.
Meet Sean Meshorer, author of The Bliss Experiment:Â 28 Days To Personal Transformation,Â on June 11 & 12 in the Twin Cities — at 6pm June 11 at Valley Booksellers, 217 N. Main St., Stillwater, and at 7pm June 12 at Bookcase on Lake Street, 607 E. Lake St., Wayzata, MN. For more information, please visit www.theblissexperiment.com