THE BLOG
10/21/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Is There A Formula for Happiness?

I was talking with a friend about what we were going to have for dinner, and out of nowhere a "deep" conversation about happiness showed up at the table. Someone brought up pizza, which of course led straight to the subject of happiness. More philosophical hunger-induced contemplations piled on from there. Does pizza always equal happiness? Is too much pizza the cause for unhappiness? Do our choices involving whether we abstain or indulge affect our happiness, and if so to what degree? I present for you a few areas of borrowed pre-dinner conversation for your contemplation and continued discussion. Bon appetite!

Consciousness

Most of us acknowledge that there is consciousness. It is what is and always will be, forever, until the end of time, and then into infinity after that too. There is no time frame with consciousness. There are no limitations or boundaries. The energy that resides in us is also in the air, the trees, the worms, and everything else. So if we understand the presence of consciousness in and all around us, what else is there? What about feeling and experiencing consciousness? Maybe there is some action we can take here.

Awareness

That brought us to awareness. Consciousness exists whether or not we are aware of it. If we become aware does anything change? When we find our way to awareness we start to gather a set of tools to do something with consciousness.

"The first step of awareness is to be watchful of your body. And as you become aware, a miracle starts happening: many things that you used to do before simply disappear. Your body becomes more relaxed, your body becomes more attuned, a deep peace starts prevailing even in your body, a subtle music pulsates in your body." OSHO

Purpose

Many of us have goals. There are things we want to do, experience, or achieve in our lifetime. My friend suggested that happiness exists when you align your purpose with consciousness. This kind of alignment feels like walking through open doorways. Acting out of alignment is more like banging your head against the wall. The trap is when our happiness is dependant on things. We get tricked into adopting a purpose directed at how much stuff we have. What's the purpose behind heading off for the moon, when we can already hold awareness of everything right where we are, just looking up at the stars? It seem like cultivating awareness while reflecting and checking the intensions behind our purpose may lead us down the happiness path.

"First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do." - Epictetus

Practice

So what is there to do? Practice. Krishna Das tells us to practice. Sing, do some yoga, garden, find your own meditative practice. Practice uncovers and clarifies our purpose. It helps us simply know what we should be doing, and can keep us confident in where we are and our direction. There will always be things that pull us out of awareness, and there is always practice to help us back. Sharpening awareness lets us function more in the flow of consciousness, and live our lives vibrantly.

"It's very hard to grow, because it's difficult to let go of the models of ourselves in which we've invested so heavily." - Ram Dass

I'm not sure if we solved the formula for happiness in our conversation. I did have some fantastic pizza that night though!

As a start, here are a few simple tips for first time meditation enthusiasts. It's a great practice that you can do anytime, anywhere.