Our minds play tricks. Most of us experience a sense of wanting more happiness, peace, meaning, purpose…. and we believe that these are states of being. We look for happiness and peace and….. as if they are places to arrive ~ as if we will arrive at places of happiness and peace-of-mind once we combine the right ingredients.
That belief is a trick; don’t believe it.
Happiness and peace and all of our other emotional states are just ways of being in particular moments. They are brief. Very brief. We can cultivate ways of experiences these brief moments of peace and happiness, and we can also work towards stringing more of these brief moments together. But we will never arrive a place of peace.
Here is Buddhist monk and teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh:
Peace can exist only in the present moment. It is ridiculous to say “wait until I finish this, then I will be free to live in peace.” What is “this”? A diploma, a job, a house, the payment of debt? If you think that way, peace will never come. There is always another “this” that will follow the present one. If you are not living in peace at this moment, you will never be able to. If you truly want to be at peace, you must be at peace right now. Otherwise, there is only “the hope of peace some day”.
And here is Viktor Frankl, who experienced and reflected on his life in a concentration camp, and for the rest of his life wrote and taught about what he had observed and learned:
Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become the next moment. By the same token, every human being has the freedom to change at any instant.
Peace, happiness, and choice are all lived in each brief moment. That’s all the time they take and all the time they last. Within that realization, though, lies the greatest freedom and capacity. Because brief mind works.