This week, we caught up with Jeff Houk, who has been actively promoting happiness and a happier quality of life through spiritual practice for over 20 years. Jeff came to the retreat center for to lead a Silent Retreat and otherwise stays very active as president of the International Association for Human Values.
The Pursuit of Happiness Is a Universal Search
Everybody wants to be happy. And we really want everyone else around us to be happy too. If you’re happy and everyone else is not so happy, it impacts your happiness. The pursuit of happiness is not alien to anyone.
Search for Happiness
Often our search for happiness involves:
- new experiences,
- different people & cultures
- situations and/or events
All these thing are great for a short period of time, be it an hour, a few days, maybe six months. Then they fade.
Like you, I remember that while at work, I was always looking forward to the weekend. When the weekend came, then I could relax; then I could let go because I wasn’t tied to the clock; my schedule was free. I felt the same way when on holiday or vacation. I enjoyed traveling because everything was new; it was fresh and exciting. I was discovering new things.
Always, towards the end of my vacation, this feeling rose up of “Oh gosh, it’s almost over,” and I’d just sort of shrink, knowing that it’s back to that day to day routine. When I was at work, at home, everything became routine and I lost that zest, that enthusiasm.
Discovering Happiness Within
I learned Surdarshan Kriya – a breathing technique that in ten minutes a day, doing that practice, keeps that happiness, that freedom, that energy alive. And what I’ve started to discover is that happiness is just there as my very nature. When I’ve reconnected with that, then no matter what I do, I’m experiencing happiness with those people, with those situations, with those experiences that I’m having and it again just enhances freedom and feeling connected.
I remember that when I was young, there was so much interest in everything and so much energy to do everything. But I felt that fading over the years. Day after day, week after week, I felt I was losing that enthusiasm. Yet here I am in my sixties feeling even more energetic and more excited about life than ever. I just hope that everybody has the same opportunity, just by learning these simple breathing practices. It’s a gift to yourself, like it was a gift to me.
Inner Happiness and the Pursuit of Happiness
To have both is living 200% a life. And that really is the American dream.
It’s okay to have a nice home, nice places to travel, good friends, nice entertainment. But that’s never enough.
So to have outer comfort and also have this inner peace, joy, freedom, happiness is living 200% of life. And that really is the American dream.