Live your life on a path of the heart
Are you happy or not? Why are some people happier than others?
One of the most difficult things in life is to find and understand what makes you happy. Many people believe that the key is money.
Then, after making millions and buying everything they dreamt of, they realise they have not become happier. So, why do people who have absolutely everything in life often become unhappy?
Billionaires are sometimes the most unhappy of all. They live in a world where almost everyone they meet wants something from them, and it is difficult to form trustworthy emotional relationships.
The pursuit of things is an illusion. What you don't have, you want even though it will not necessarily make you happier. It may in fact take up so much of your energy that in the end, all the things you own become a burden. You spend your life taking care of your things instead of yourself. What is missing?
Yesterday, I watched an oligarch, one of the richest men in the world, speaking on the Russian news. He looked so miserable and bored. He didn't smile once. The expression on his face seemed to say, “I have seen everything and nothing can surprise me any more.”
I gazed at his sad face and dull eyes, his wrinkles deep from frowning, and I suddenly realised that the happiest looking people I have encountered were far, far away from the addictive materialism that had shaped his face.
High in the mountains of Peru is the tiny village of Urubamba. It sits in a rugged river valley beside the small railway line to Machu Picchu, mysterious citadel of the ancient Incas. I lived in Urabamba for a month. The people there exuded a calm friendliness, and were quick to break into, often toothless, smiles. I often wondered how they could smile so easily when they didn't have practically anything. I saw, for the first time, that happiness is not connected to possessions.
What is it that you wish to do that will bring fulfilment? When you are alone and you picture yourself happy, what does it look like? For a moment, forget what you feel you are supposed to do and ask yourself deep down inside what is it you really want to do?
You may or may not be successful at this exercise the first time, or the second or the third.
Recently, I understood that I am the happiest when I am creating: writing, taking pictures or making videos.
Creativity is satisfying and reinforces my self-worth. My worries disappear as I exercise my talents. It allows happiness to surface like a bubble through the resistance of what we tell ourselves we cannot do.
When I was younger, I was goal-oriented rather than process-oriented but now the journey, for me, is more important than the destination.
I do not know if that is right for everyone. I only know that when I work and create something beautiful, I enjoy a deep sense of wellbeing. If you are not enjoying the process something is missing.
When anthropologist Carlos Castaneda asked Don Juan how he could be happy, the Yaqui Indian sorcerer laughed and said it was simple. He said the reason Castaneda was confused was because he acted under the illusion that he would live for ever.
“Look at what you are doing and ask yourself, ‘Is this a path with heart?' Then look to your left, where your death is always waiting in the shadows to tap you. Now ask again: ‘Is this a path with heart?'”
At the fearful look on Castaneda's face, Don Juan roared with laughter. He assured Castaneda that our inevitable death was the best adviser we would ever have. It is always there to remind us to choose carefully.
I often think of Don Juan's delighted laughter, and quickly glance to my left, making certain I am travelling on my path with heart.
•Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at www.ninalondon.com