There’s more and more talk about awareness, happiness and being present. But what do those words actually mean and how to bring them into our everyday life? Who can tell what happiness is?
Women’s magazine Anne & Stiil, May 2015
By Getter Orusalu
Most likely every one of us would like to learn to be content with their lives and be able to give „Really well!“ as an honest answer when a friend asks: „How are you doing?“. Ingvar Villido (53), founder and teacher of the education hub on practical consciousness in Lilleoru, Estonia explains his understanding of those topical words.
Understand what is going on within you
Remember the feeling when your mother starts teaching you once again how you should raise your children? Or what raises within you when you come from a yoga class in the evening, only to find that the rooms are in a total mess, children are overtired and your husband is watching a movie with no sense of responsibility? No matter how balanced and able to overcome any problems you felt only an hour ago, anger raises within you faster than a rocket to the sky. It seems as if you could do nothing about it: you are already pissed off, offended, nervous, attacking and reasoning. What is going on with you?
According to ‘our own guru’ Ingvar Villido, this is exactly the moment when you should use your awareness practically – to be able to be aware of what you are doing, who you really are and what is going on in the surroundings. “Or, in other words, understand what is happening inside you, what makes you glad or sad, angry or bored. The opposite of awareness is unawareness or the subconscious mind. While being aware of emotions, thoughts, and opinions, it is possible to change, control or let go of them. This is the key to smartness,” Villido says.
When you see your ex-boyfriend cuddling with another woman, the blind rush of jealousy should first be ’stopped’, and you should ask yourself (even say it out, if needed) what is going on with you at this very moment. You see and experience something that brings forth emotions. Whether and how to react, should be your own decision. That is, if you feel anger starting to rise and are close to the point when you do not control your senses anymore, you should tell yourself “Stop!” at this exact moment. And then observe what is going on within you.
It’s just that all the time we are somewhere else – either in the past or in the future
An unaware person reacts, for example, gets angry and upset. An aware person first becomes aware of the emotion that is rising, as well as of its causes and consequences, and then decides whether or not to go along with it. Instead of getting angry with your mother when she is trying to teach you again, it would become clear that the source of the problem is not your mother, but the emotions that this situation is creating within you. Is this the reaction of your ego? Doesn’t your mother believe that you can manage on your own? Are you experiencing constant criticism? In many cases, there are much deeper feelings underneath the feeling of being upset. After observing them, you can decide yourself whether the issue at hand is indeed worth being upset. “Awareness gives us the possibility to make our own choices on how we want to live our life. It gives the skill to influence matters in your life yourself, instead of having your life dictated by circumstances,” he tells. Unaware persons are directed by emotions. Aware persons understand the processes that have been triggered within them and can decide whether to go along with their emotions or not.
How does the time slip by?
It is often said that time is slipping by ever so fast! Days, months, years and even decades are slipping by with unfathomable speed, and people seem to be unable to do or notice as many things as they would like. Parents use to coddle their children with “Look at you! Just recently you were just a baby, and now you are already graduating university!”. “The summer only just started, and now it’s already the fall,” others complain. And then there are those who just cannot believe that it is already two years since they last saw a friend. How does time slip by like that, without being noticed at all? “We live subconsciously, that is, without being aware. It can be said that life is just happening to us, without ourselves being actually present,” Ingvar Villido explains.
External factors are temporary, and therefore cannot grant lasting happiness
Awareness is accompanied by living in the here and now and landing in the present moment. The word ’presence’ is fitting well here. “For our lives actually take place in the present moment. Everything is happening only here. Most people, however, spend only a short time in the present, and instead spend most of the time thinking about the past, and pondering a lot about the future. They are remembering the past, making plans, dreaming. This way they lose contact with the present, where the course of things can be changed. Awareness brings a person back to real life.”
Think about how your day has been – what do you remember of it? Do you remember brushing your teeth, doing your hair, presenting your public transport card, or how many times you refilled your glass with water in the office? How many times have you not been able to remember whether you did indeed pull the plug of the iron out of the socket or lock the door before leaving home?
It is downright scary how little we often remember about our days. Because it means that in this way we live a large part of the time in our subconscious, without being aware of what we are doing. As Ingvar puts it: it is highly unlikely that we are thinking about the present moment while we are brushing our teeth, but are wondering around in our past or thinking about the day ahead and thus wondering around in the future. This is also the very reason why time is slipping by so fast, just flying by without being noticed. It is just that we are away somewhere – either in the past or in the future – without being aware of the present.
How to achieve happiness?
This is a question people have been puzzling over for thousands of years. “Usually happiness is perceived as an emotional, and therefore reflexive, feeling. Something or someone is creating a good feeling in us, and this makes us happy. You need reasons in order to be happy,” Ingvar says. According to him, happiness is always an emotional process triggered by some specific factor. Something activates an emotion in us which makes us happy. This is also the main reason why people are struggling and doing whatever to experience this. They long for a formula for happiness. Usually, it is something materialistic and exterior, like a new dress or necklace. Or when somebody makes you a compliment and then you feel pretty and this feeling makes you happy. “It is rather primitive, I would say,” Villido admits.
The tragedy here is that today it is a new car that makes you happy. But in six months’ time, you are already accustomed to it. Then you would need a new stimulus for happiness. An even newer car? A second car? And so it spins on and on. “The entire consumer economy is built upon the generally accepted manipulation with emotions. Yes, it indeed makes people happy, but such happiness is short-lived and passing in nature. It is not the real happiness,” Villido warns.
However, he claims that there is also another kind of happiness which is lasting. The kind of happiness that does not depend on any emotion nor exterior stimulus, that doesn’t disappear nor change. “It is the person him or herself. One’s True Self. This is who the person really is,” Ingvar says.
People are looking for happiness mainly from outside themselves. Good looks, nice home, kids, husband or wife, new car, friends, good job… All those seem to be complementary things that go along with a person and define who he or she is. But actually they do not show WHO the person actually is. These are only objects, not the subject, or who someone really is. “Object and subject are always two different things. Me and my looks- these are not the same. I am much more than my appearance. In a similar vein, neither am I my emotions nor thoughts,” Villido explains.
The problem lies in that people deal with things surrounding them which are perishable and lack stability but pay no attention to the real essence of their being. Those exterior factors cannot give lasting happiness, because they are temporary. But when the person focusses only on them, it is indeed impossible to find real and lasting happiness. And this way, we continue living this life with its ups and downs alternating like a sine curve. A friend once told me when commenting on her relationship: “At the moment, everything is fine,” with an ironical emphasis on ’at the moment’.
Who are you really?
People often complain about hectic and too fast-paced life where achieving peace of mind represents a real challenge. Ingvar Villido says that our real self is never nervous. All this frantic rushing, endless searching, and self-fulfillment are outside of us and it is the person him or herself who decides how to react to this. Or whether to react at all. By overworking, people seem to be trying to find happiness, but ironically it is not possible to find it that way.
This is where awareness comes into play once again. When you become aware that an aching head is not the real you, and neither is feeling upset nor your vain car the real you, and that your outwardly successful life is not really a source of lasting happiness and therefore not the real you, then it is possible to become aware of your inner or actual real you. Look around you and be honest with yourself – what or whom have you adorned yourself with, and what would happen if all those things would be taken away from you? Who would you be then? How would you define, describe and introduce yourself then? “If we want to know who we are, it is useless to turn to any object outside of us. You can never identify yourself with them. Only by experiencing your True Self, you can discover lasting happiness. This is the answer to everyone seeking happiness. You don’t need to travel to far away countries to find happiness. True happiness is with us all the time – the only thing you need to do is to become aware of it.”