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What Will Make Me Happier Right Now?
November 5, 2013

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It’s morning again, and I ask myself the same eternal questions: meditate or sleep in? Cookies or salad? Real book or Facebook? Every moment I ask myself, “What will make me happier right now?”

It seems simple enough to predict what will happen. Sometimes I’ll go to meditation and sometimes not. If each question were independent it would probably be 50/50, except that there’s a trick. You can probably guess if you think about it. The trick is that the way you answer the previous question affects how you will answer the next. If I sleep in, I’m more likely to eat chocolate and browse Facebook than if I had gone to meditation.

Why is that? Sleeping in gives me a certain pleasure and comfort, so now I want more. If I go to meditation on the other hand, that practice gives me a different sort of enjoyment, a sense of freedom, life, and health, so now I want more of that. Just the thought of meditating though, for someone who has not regularly experienced the joy it can bring, is sometimes not enough to overcome the allure of sleeping in.

Both ways give us something we want, so why is it always such a struggle to avoid the sleeping route? There may be more than one reason, but can you see one big difference between the two? Sleep > sugar > Faceboook, or meditation > veggies > book. The meditation route takes more energy. Mankind as a whole has been taught by the times when resources were scarce to put out the smallest amount of energy possible for the biggest return.

There’s another way of phrasing this eternal question, though. “What will make me happier right now… and afterword?” Examine how you feel after you take the meditation route instead of the sleep route. I’m sure we’ve all been bored during a meditation at least once (assuming you have meditated before), or gazed miserably at a plate of lettuce that we’re only eating because it’s “good for us”, but have you ever finished a meditation and said “I should have just slept in then eaten sugary, styrofoam cereal while watching T.V.”? Even if you have, just think of how many more times you’ve regretted eating junk food or skipping meditation. So which one really gives us the biggest return for the energy put out? The meditation route may be more work initially, but it will get easier the more you do it and it will be so worth it!

Try This

Try asking yourself, “what will make me happier in the long run?” See how long you can keep making the choices that will give you true happiness, rather than temporary satisfaction.

 

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6 Responses

  1. jeanne says:

    This internal debate can be life-long———just ask me……..

  2. Nirupma says:

    Love this post! Hope I remember it next time I,choose the lazy route!

    Regards

  3. Kathy says:

    I love this Radhika! It’s very much relevant to my current thinking and struggles. I learned a lot from a book I read recently, which convinced me how meditation can help us to remain focussed on our larger goals. If we can identify for ourselves, our own dearly held larger goals that we really believe will make us happier in a deeper and more profound way than the immediate gratification of pleasure or reflex to avoid discomfort / boredom, then it’s a matter of finding ways to remind ourselves of those larger goals, when these decisions come up. Meditation is a powerful tool to help us create distance between our immediate pleasure impulses and our desire to pursue those greater goals. So it’s not just feeling better now, it’s helping us to stay on the path we have charted for ourselves, the path we know will lead us where we want to go.

    So at best, the question for me is, what will help me reach my greater goals? Keeping my deepest values and most cherished goals in mind as I make these decisions, makes for more lasting and satisfying happiness.

    • Nabha Cosley says:

      That’s a good point! The ability to delay gratification is one of those essential life skills that everyone ought to know how to do.

  4. This is fun and insightful. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Hezequiel says:

    I wish this post wasn’t so anti-sugar, but other than that, it’s great! I enjoyed it very much, thank you 🙂

Radhika Cosley

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