Noticing Happiness

If you notice, you will see that happiness is already here. Still, no matter how good life may be, the ego says no to it: “It would be better if….” “I will be happy when….” As long as we don’t follow those thoughts, we will be happy. But usually we give our attention to the ego’s rejection of what is instead of to what is. We give that no the power to steer our actions: We jump from one idea to the next, trying to make life and ourselves better.

We will never arrive at happiness by listening to the no. Happiness just is. It is inherent in the moment, in the Now, in the form of joy, acceptance, and love. It can’t not be. We only have to notice what already is. That’s the only reality there is, so why waste your attention on what is not?

We think that someday there will be no more no, no more ego arguing against reality, and then we will finally be happy. But that day will never come. If you wait for the no to disappear, you will be waiting a very long time.

We don’t have to get rid of the no to be happy; we just have to see it for what it is, the programmed discontent of the ego, and ignore it. The ego will never be happy, but we can be happy if we don’t give our attention to what the egoic mind says we need to be happy. The ego doesn’t know about happiness. What can it know about happiness? Its job is to manufacture unhappiness, and it’s very skillful at convincing us otherwise.

Once we see this, the egoic mind has no power to draw us away from the Now. The only power it has is the power we give it by believing what it tells us. Now that you see this, there’s no excuse for giving your attention to your thoughts. Pay attention to the present moment. Notice. That’s all it takes. The price of admission into the present moment is attention.

This price is easy to pay because we are always paying attention to something. Attention is one thing that is constant; it’s always happening. Attention is like the eyes of the Self. Where you are placing your attention is where the Self is focusing part of the Awareness that it is. The Self could be described as an aware-ing presence. It is sometimes simply called Awareness or Presence.

Your attention, which is part of Awareness, is directed either by the Self or by the ego. In any moment, the Self may be directing our attention or the ego may be. The Self allows attention to be hijacked by the ego because that experience is part of the Self experiencing the world. Even when attention is being focused by the ego, the Self remains aware of that. Awareness is never lost, but the ego is not aware of Awareness. After awakening, our attention may be briefly captured by the ego, but awareness of the Truth remains.

What we put our attention on is what we identify with. Attention directs identification. When we put our attention on thoughts, we become identified with them. And when we notice what else is here, now, in addition to thoughts, identification shifts from the ego to the Self. Here is an exercise that will help you be in the Now, where it is possible to experience the Self:

Exercise: Noticing

Turn your attention to the present moment and notice what’s happening right now. Is the ego saying no to that? That could be one of the things that is happening in the present moment. What else is happening right now? what sensory experiences? what thoughts? what judgments? what feelings? what insights? what desires? what urges? What is coming out of the moment right now? Something is always arising from the moment, and something is always being taken in by you. What is happening right now? Notice how the egoic mind tries to co-opt the moment, and then bring your awareness back to your sensory experience and everything else that is coming out of the Now.

From Radical Happiness: A Guide to Awakening by Gina Lake

Copyright © 2008 Gina Lake