Here’s a wish that I’d really like to see come true for me and for all of you:
Acquire the kind of Happiness that can’t be shaken!
The operative phrase here is “that can’t be shaken” . . . the kind of happiness that lasts longer than a minute or an hour or even a full day. I’m talkin’ an unbroken stream of bone-deep contentment that is an ongoing, permanent condition rather than a fleeting moment. Is that too much to ask?
In my own experience, enjoying happy moments is certainly possible, but the concept of sustained happiness feels as elusive as holding on to sand. It’s as if I have an inner thermostat setting that determines how much love, success, and creativity I allow myself to enjoy. According to acclaimed lifecoach Gay Hendricks, this is called “The Upper-Limit Problem,” and Upper-Limiting is a form of self-sabotage.
Example: When I am feeling a stream of positive energy for an extended period of time, I may then manufacture (unconsciously) an unpleasant thought because some part of me is afraid or unfamiliar with enjoying positive energy for any extended period of time. And when I reach the Upper Limit of how much positive energy I can handle, I create a series of unpleasant thoughts to deflate myself – thoughts guaranteed to bring me back into a state I am more familiar with.
It’s an interesting contemplation: that each one of us carries engrained, unconscious ideas of just how happy we can be.
In sanskrit, there are several words for happiness, but, for the sake of simplicity, let’s consider just two.
The word for ordinary happiness – the kind of happiness that comes from pleasant experiences – is sukha. Sukha means ease, enjoyment, comfort – literally, “good experience.” Sukha is often translated into English as “pleasure.” This joy-as-pleasure feels great but is basically unreliable. Any emotional state that depends on things going our way can disappear in an eye-blink the moment conditions change.
So let’s turn to another sanskrit word: santosha. Santosha carries a connotation of fullness and satisfaction. Implicit in santosha is the idea of being OK with what you have and accepting who you are without feeling that you need anything extra to make you happy. This magic ingredient of acceptance is what differentiates santoshafrom sukha. Sukha feels great but has an expiration date. Add a dash of santosha to the mix, and you have sustained-release contentment.
In many of my Nidra sessions, I frequently employ this intention because it crystalizes one of the main purposes of a Nidra practice:
I’m at peace with myself as I am and the world as it is.
Ok I’ve reached the Upper Limit to how many words I want this newsletter to be! So I’ll just leave you with this:
Notice if you have a limited tolerance for feeling good. Consciousness is limitless. And, by extension, so are you.