“I believe that happiness is, it’s really a default state. It’s what’s there when you remove the sense that something is missing in your life. We are highly judgmental, survival, and replication machines. We are constantly walking around thinking I need this, I need that, trapped in the web of desires. Happiness is that state when nothing is missing. When nothing is missing, your mind shuts down and your mind stops running into the future or running into the past to regret something or to plan something. In that absence for a moment, you have internal silence. When you have internal silence, then you are content and you are happy.” — Naval Ravikant, Naval Ravikant: The Angel Philosopher (2017) [The Knowledge Project Ep. #171]
I have people in my life who believe that I’m not happy deep down inside because I’m not out there chasing my professed dreams in the world. I contend that I’m just as happy taking a walk around the block as I am visiting some faraway place I’ve had on some bucket list. Happiness is a state we are either in or not in, based entirely on how we view the moment. My default, thankfully, is a state of happiness. That doesn’t mean I don’t stray into the desire for more—we all do that on occasion (and some of us dare to write about it). That desire for more disrupts our current state, upsetting the apple cart of happiness. Sometimes that’s necessary for growth, and sometimes it’s nothing but a distraction from the moment. Either way it’s a state change.
I’ve been chasing a state change all of my life. Maybe you have as well. But nowadays I’m less into chasing and more into embracing the current state. Writing and creative output bring me to the moment very quickly. I walk and row more, which each lend themselves to being present for the next step or stroke, respectively. I’m equally present in the garden: when I’m dead-heading the geraniums or pulling weeds I’m very much in the moment. This is a state of presence the arrival in the internal silence Naval speaks of. This is bliss.
The thing is, when we’re declaring our desire to travel or experience something outside of the moment we’re in, we’ve noticed something missing. In doing so, we’re missing the moment. If comparison is the thief of joy, then comparing our current state against some future or past state where we are somewhere else is a happiness remover. Sometimes we might need that kick in the ass: I’m moving more because I was unhappy being lazy and inactive. By being active again I’ve rediscovered a level of happiness that wasn’t there before. But if I start comparing my active body of today against that active body of peak fitness at 22, I may find my happiness knocked down a notch. All that really matters is the next step, the next stroke, and knowing this is the path for us now.
Direction matters a great deal in reaching bliss, but it doesn’t infer we’ve reached our destination, only that we’re progressing there. We must remember that “there” is just a compass heading. Here is where living happens.