Looking For Happiness In All The Wrong Places – Insights from the Wilderness #31

ILooking for Happinesst’s so easy, to think about love, to talk about love, to wish for love, but it’s not always easy, to recognize love, even when we hold it in our hands. (Jaka)


© Dick Rauscher, 2011

One of my favorite teaching stories comes from the middle eastern village culture of the 11th century and concerns a very funny wise man by the name of Nasrudin.Looking For Happiness

In the words of Peter Hawkins, author of The Wise Fool’s Guide to Leadership, Nasrudin stories are about…….“simple truths that shock us into seeing situations and ideas with which we have become familiar from a different perspective. Each story slips into our house by its engaging good humor, but once inside it can start to rearrange the furniture and knock new windows through the walls of our mind – a process that can be releasing and refreshing, but at times disconcerting!”

The story goes like this.

One day the villagers woke to a noisy racket coming from the street. They walked out of their homes to see Nasrudin, the town mullah, frantically riding his donkey up and down the streets and alley ways of the village. This crazy behavior went on for some time. Eventually one of the villagers shouted after him “Nasrudin, Nasrudin, what are you doing”?

Nasrudin looked back over his shoulder and shouted “What am I doing? What am I DOING? I’m looking for my donkey you fool!”.

Our first reaction is to laugh at his obvious crazy antics. He is looking for the very thing he is riding.

But if we look a bit closer we begin to see the deeper wisdom. Nasrudin is doing exactly what most of us do. We look for happiness in the acquisition of money, prestige, our possessions, and in our relationships with others. We fail to see that we already possess all the happiness there is in the universe.

What we have to do is discover what is keeping us from experiencing the happiness we already possess. Instead of looking out in the world for happiness, we need to look inside. To discover the unconscious beliefs that are keeping us from seeing the happiness that is already in our hands. For example, beliefs such as…

  • “If you loved me, you would “know” what I want”.
  • “If you loved me, you would try harder to make me happy”.
  • “I’ll be happy when the kids head off to college”.
  • “If I had more money I would be happy”.
  • “I will be happy when this week is over”.
  • “I will be happy when spring comes and the snow is gone”.
  • “I can’t stand my boss. I will be happy when he or she retires.”
  • “I’ll be happy when I don’t have to change diapers any more”.
  • The list is endless. “I’ll be happy when __________________.

I would encourage taking the time to look for some of your own beliefs that are postponing your happiness, assuming others can make you happy, beliefs that require mind reading on the part of those around you, or beliefs that just plain won’t let you  be happy until_____________.

Nasrudin stories are wonderful teaching stories. They shake us awake when we have fallen asleep and are searching for happiness in all the wrong places.

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