Imagine yourself awakening, all alone in a pitch black room without any idea of when you will be able to get out. After exploring your environment for a bit, you discover that there’s no food, no water, no toilet, no sink, no bed… in fact, not a single thing. There isn’t even a way to escape. What is your initial reaction? Do you cry, get upset, lose hope, try to think of a way out or do you just let things be? What are your thoughts? And what is your long-term reaction? Once again, imagine your emotions and thoughts. If need be, would you keep your excrement inside or would you leave it in a corner? And what if you had to pee? What do you do when you start starving and realize there’s no way out?
Why this is important:
Although it’s extremely unlikely that this will ever happen to you, it is still very much relevant. The dark room represents the lack of possessions, tools, information, people and, depending on your nature, hope. It is not at all uncommon to lack at least one of these in your day to day life. For many, their mood depends on the availability of these things. When you experience a great lack of things in your life, you don’t want that to ruin your mood. You never know when abundance comes your way and it may even be the very next moment. In the meantime, you may or may not be able to improve your situation, but you do not have a complete control over what happens in your life and you simply can’t prepare for every single possibility.
If your happiness is dependent on something, you will only be happy as long as you have the things you feel you need (in reality, you only need the things you make yourself believe you need). This also means that you’ll be unhappy the very second you don’t have something. And don’t we all deep inside wish to be happy, no matter what situation we’re in?
What can be done:
Naturally, you will have to accept lack of things and people in life in a healthy way. Don’t say you can do without something and then sulk or get mad when you don’t have it. You need what you need, because you feel you need it. You haven’t even got any obligation to eat, drink or go to the restroom. But when you don’t go to the restroom, you will go #1 and #2 automatically. As far as breathing goes, you may not have the power to stop it, but you do not actually have to breath; breathing simply is an automatic process (so you will automatically breathe after some time in case you decide not to breathe) which can be partially controlled.
Detachment from material things, people (to some degree) and your identity (ex: stop labeling yourself as ‘human’) is necessary. It may sound like a harsh thing to do at first, but detachment doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy having/eating/using things, can’t love people and can’t call yourself a human. Detachment isn’t about running away from everything and isolating yourself from the outside world; it’s about getting rid of the feeling of need. Imagine you like pizza, but will not miss it when you don’t have it; you will be happy without the pizza, but if you can and will get the pizza, it will bring you additional joy. Likewise, company may enrich your life, but you do not need it. But detachment would be useless if you didn’t understand, that YOU are the one who creates the feeling of happiness. Factors such as sleep, food, financial stability etc. may make being happy a bigger challenge, but if you decide to feel happy, you can. It is something that may take time to teach yourself how to generate a feeling of happiness or to let happiness arise naturally, but it can be learned.
The next step is to explore yourself: diving deep into the core of your very being. Don’t ask any questions about who you are, but instead, feel who you are. When thoughts enter your head, let them pass. When you do this, do you feel yourself or do you feel a desire or emotion? If you feel a desire or emotion, try to look what’s beyond that. With the desires, emotions and thoughts at a minimum and out of focus, what do you feel? Do you feel bliss? If not, does the feeling you have feel like it’s you or belongs to you? If not, then explore if it might be from someone/something else or from the environment. If the feeling is you or does belong to you, but you do not feel a sense of peace/bliss, then this is not the very core of you. Understanding your feelings and your being/core on a deep level will help you see how you can be happy. If you let go of everything, you should automatically feel good, but if you don’t, then you can teach yourself to generate a feeling of happiness as you get to understand your inner world better.
Finally, don’t forget to appreciate the little things that you do have in life. Celebrate the air that you breathe, that you’re healthy and that you have a never-ending supply of happiness residing within you.
In case you are or get unhappy:
Accept that things are as they are in the present, but know that you are in control of your own feelings. If something happens you feel is too much on you, then it is alright. You do not have to be happy every single moment. Realizing that being unhappy is something you alone allow to happen to yourself is a big accomplishment. Once you have made it that far, you are conscious enough to make a choice to become happy amid the unpleasant situation you’re in. Ultimately, it would be the best if we never got unhappy, but realistically, you may come in situations that ruin your mood before you even realize it. So, do not feel bad that you become unhappy now and then; be glad you realize that you can feel happy in any possible situation you may find yourself in, as long as you choose to be happy. It is about optimizing the amount of time in life that you are happy and minimizing how much you go through life being unhappy. You may not eliminate all discomfort in life, but that’s okay. There’s a time for tears and conflict too; just don’t let your negative experiences and the lack of things and people dictate how you feel for too long.