An Email on Happiness from Don Joseph Goewey

Don Joseph Goewey emailed me this yesterday, and I thought it was too important not to share with the world. I edited his thoughts a little, but hopefully not too much. If you appreciate his thoughts, you will also enjoy the book Awareness by Anthony Demello or his Happiness Podcast.

“Happiness is your natural state; no one gives it to you and no one takes it from you.  It’s a set of false belief that ruins happiness. When you drop those false beliefs, happiness arises all by itself. 

Your society and your culture taught you to believe that you would not be happy without certain persons and certain things. Just take a look around you. Everywhere you look, people have built their lives on the unquestioned belief that without money, power, success, approval, a good reputation, romance, friendship, spirituality, or God, they cannot be happy.

Once you swallowed this belief, you naturally developed an attachment to some person or thing you were convinced that, without, you could not be happy. Then followed your efforts to acquire your precious thing or person, to cling to it once it was acquired, and to fight off every possibility of losing it. This finally led you to abject emotional dependence so that the object of your attachment had the power to thrill you when you attained it, to make you anxious lest you be deprived of it, and make you miserable when you lost it. Once your attachment had you in its grip, you began to strive with every waking minute of your life to rearrange the world around you so that you could attain and maintain the objects of your attachment.

This is an exhausting task. It leaves you little energy for the business of living and enjoying life fully. It is also an impossible task in an ever-changing world that you simply are not able to control. So, instead of living a life of serenity and fulfillment, you are doomed to a life of frustration, anxiety, worry, insecurity, suspense, and tension. For a few fleeting moments, the world does indeed yield to your efforts and rearranges itself to suit your desires. Then you experience a flash of pleasure and become happy, briefly. But it isn’t happiness at all because it is accompanied by the underlying fear that at any moment this world of things and people that you have painstakingly put in place will slip out of your control and let you down. And sooner or later, it will.

Stop for a moment and contemplate in horror the endless list of attachments that you have become a prisoner to. Think of concrete things and persons, not abstractions. It is helpful for each of us to identify our particular combination.

An attachment is not a fact. It is a belief, a fantasy, in your head, acquired through programming. If that fantasy did not exist inside your head, you would not be attached. You would love things and people, and you would enjoy them thoroughly, but on a nonattachment basis. As a matter of fact, is there any other way to really enjoy something?

When you have made a list of all of your attachments, to each person or thing that comes to mind, say: ‘I am not really attached to you at all. I am merely deluding myself into the belief that without you I will not be happy.’ Do this honestly and see the change that comes about within you. Say: ‘I am not really attached to you at all. I have merely cheated myself into the belief that without you I will not be happy.’

When you’re ready to exchange your illusions for reality, when you’re ready to exchange your dreams for facts, that’s when life finally becomes meaningful. That’s where life becomes beautiful. Can you imagine how liberating it is to never be disillusioned again, to never be disappointed again? You’ll never feel let down again. Never feel rejected. Want to wake up? You want happiness? You want freedom? Here it is: Drop your false ideas.”