Happiness and peace for no reason
It is common for people to ask me how to feel happy and peaceful in daily life despite all the adversities and uncertainties. A client of mine told me that she became irritable easily nowadays while she was teaching her students in a primary school. There are some students with special needs, such as autism or attention deficit, in her class who frequently exhibited disturbing behaviour. She used to be quite tolerating to them. However, when she was informed that she would be observed by a group of senior government officials later in class, she started to have increased irritability. In fact, she started to hold high expectation on herself for being able to manage the students to cultivate an ideal classroom atmosphere. As a result, she lost her peace when teaching, especially when she could not control her students’ behaviour.
It is normal for us to wish things going our way. We will feel happy when the birthday parties we hosted for our spouses went well and all the guests were satisfied. Our happiness depended on whether something happened as we wished. If we only depended on this kind of happiness, it is difficult for us to stay happy and peaceful because unexpected things do happen all the time. The chance that things not going our way is higher than things going our way.
It is important for us to realise that when we are unconditionally present and mindful for what is happening to us in the present moment, we will be at peace and happy even when things are not going our way. We need to be open minded to be aware of what is going on. In the above example, if my client unconditionally be present in class while her students exhibited disturbances, she could basically feel that she is calm and peaceful. She might even reframe the students’ disturbances as a good chance for her to demonstrate her competence in handing students with special needs in the presence of senior government officials. In this way, she might not feel irritable towards her students. When these difficult situations are held in unconditional presence, sense of happiness and peace continue.
In the culture that values competition and perfection, it is easy for us to strive for the ideal situations or outcomes. It is because we worry about others’ evaluation on us. Our happiness depends on how “good looking” our personae is. Our sense of peace depends on whether things going our way, our ideal way. It is useful for us to check our inner happiness and peace from time to time to see whether our sense of well-being is depends on external circumstances or on our simple openness to whatever is happening to us.
In the face of all the uncertainties and challenges in this era, we need to cultivate our inner happiness and peace unconditional to the external circumstances. We need to have the perseverance to practice mindfulness in our daily life.