Chasing The Illusion
''It is only when you seek it that you lose it... Like your shadow, the more you chase it, the more it runs away.'' -Allan Watts
Why are we chasing the illusion?
We always think that tomorrow will bring something better than today.
We look forward to the next moment.
We keep on scrolling through our facebook page, we refresh it every five minutes, because we hope it will bring us the excitment we seek.
We look forward to the weekend.
To our next vacation.
To buy our first house.
To get married.
It's as if we were wired to never learn that the ''next'' happy thing will not change our feeling of well-being.
And if it does, it will only be temporary.
I mean, they wouldn't call it the ''honeymoon phase'' if it lasted the whole course of the relationship!
Yet, again and again, we think that the next time will be the one.
We are like a hamster who runs around in the wheel endlessly.
On my free time, I love to research on the subject of psychology, and also on all the different range of therapies it offers.
One of my favorite one is called ACT which stands for:
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
An extraordinary book written in relation to ACT is: ''The Happiness Trap: How to stop struggling and start living''. -Russ Harris
I want to share with you the statistics written in the first few pages of the book.
(I'm a statistic maniac, but I can assure you that these ones will not leave you indifferent.)
- In any given year, almost 30% of the adult population will suffer from a recognized psychological disorder.
- The World Health Organization estimates that depression is currently the fourth biggest costliest, and most debiliating disease in the world and by the year 2020, it will be the second biggest.
- In any given week, one-tenth of the adult population is suffering from clinical depression, and one in five people will suffer from it at some point in their lifetime.
- One in four adults, at some stage in their life, will suffer from drug or alcohol addiction, which is why there are now over twenty million alcoholics in the United States alone.
- But more startling and more sobering than all those statistics is that almost one in two people will go through a stage in life when they seriously consider suicide and will struggle with it for a period of two weeks or more.
- Scarier still, one in ten people will at some point actually attempt to kill themselves.
One in two people will consider suicide.
One in ten will attempt it.
This broke my heart to pieces.
And yet, we run around thinking that we are the ''only one'' who isn't happy.
Clearly, we are not!
We believe that because we are not happy, that must mean we have a problem.
Well I'm here to tell you today that this belief that has been hammered into our heads is clearly untrue and faulty.
Not long ago, a friend of mine was complaining that his life sucked because he did not have a partner.
He told me he envied the families that were happy, and that would go to restaurants and do all sorts of fun stuff, that he felt he did not do because he did not have a girlfriend.
I was stunned.
But it made me realize how much more in the Western world, we really think that others are happy, and we are not.
Someone once said to me ''My happiness level is clearly lower compared to other's people happiness level''.
It always strikes me when I hear someone say this.
Who are you comparing yourself to?
How can you know if the people you compare yourself to are genuinely happy?
If you base your theory on your personal facebook or instagram observations, I can guarantee you that you will keep on falling into the trap each time.
Life is the ying and the yang.
The good and the bad.
If we get to experience one side of the spectrum of emotions, it means that sooner or later, we will get to experience the other side.
Cuz when you get to the best, you can only go on to the worst, right?
Maybe the solution is to be found in the problem itself ❔
We should know that happiness is fleeting.
It's great to enjoy it while it's there, but the mistake is to attach ourselves so strongly to it, than when it leaves, we become sad, angry, and lost.
Hence why finding peace and contentment should be the goal to aim for.
Because unlike happiness, which is short-lived, contentment and peace will stay with us, even if the initial happy emotion is momentary.
Our suffering is far from being abnormal.
In fact, it is just that which makes us being human.
It is not a pathology, it is an inevitable part of being a human being.
It comes with the package deal, unfortunately.
If life was all rainbows and unicorns, I can promise you we would grow tired of it very quickly.
Or if we knew precisely how the future would unfold for us, we would not even want to live through it.
As Allan Watts once said himself, when we play chess and we know our opponent will win, and the game will finish checkmate, do we keep on going?
No! Because we know already how the game will unfold.
The same principle applies with human existence.
Our best bet is to become more accepting of ourselves and of the external world.
To accept ourselves, just as we are.
And to accept reality as it is.
Only then, when we least expect it, a butterfly will come lay on our shoulder. 💞