Zen and the Pursuit of Happiness

Why are we always trying to make happiness out to be more complicated than it has to be? This isn’t a diatribe into classic dead ends that extol that “the less you have, the more you have”, and that “materialism is an endless journey with a fruitless, unreachable goal”: these are tired arguments and easily met with a familiar eye roll.

Let’s move past all this and focus on something more positive. Happiness isn’t found in the future. It’s found in the now. And it’s always now.

I was watching the winner for best short in the Banff Film Festival this week.. A Norwegian vehicle about two young lads that build a cabin out of flotsam so they can live the winter on a remote northern beach, hoping to surf as much as possible, just to see if they can do it.  Near the end of the short film, it features them standing on the beach, seeing the sun for the first time in almost 3 months (the beach is so far north that during the winter, the sun doesn’t ever reach the sandy shores) As they stand motionless in the sun, arms outstretched, and eyes closed, one says to the other “What shall we do today?” to which the other replies, simply, “Just stand here.”


As you’d expect (or, for me, perhaps hope), a number of these films contained heavy inspirational themes anchored in timelessness, a meditative inner reflection that is based in a feeling of immense calm and an immediate, automatic humbleness.

I had a flash of inspiration, a breakthrough, as I watched these two Norwegians standing on that beach. This is the same sun that warms us all, fills our faces with light and our hearts with joy. And with my eyes closed, that beach can exist anywhere: their joy and happiness of living in that moment can be replicated by anyone, anywhere, anytime. You just have to fully surrender yourself to that moment.

And that’s the amazing thing. It’s *always* that moment.

You can always experience that giddiness, that inner calm, that happiness. Even right now. No matter what is troubling you, occupying your mind, distracting you from feeling at peace, none of it matters. For right now, just take a deep breath, close your eyes, and stand in the sun.


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