Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
Are you searching for a sense of peace, happiness, and well-being? You won’t find it in the outside world, explains spiritual teacher Sadhguru, in Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy.
“[If] someone or something can make you happy or unhappy, [that] means what happens within you is determined by an aspect outside of you,” says Sadhguru, the yogi, visionary, and founder of the Isha Foundation. As such, your state of being is dependent on something outside of you, it can be taken away from you in any moment.
When it comes to outside situations, “some happen our way, some don’t…it’s only a question of how we can handle it,” he continues. “The outside need not decide the nature of our experience. All human experience happens from within.” The goal? Create an “inner chemistry of blissfulness where being joyful is not being subject to something outside of you.”
Uncovering the Source of Happiness
Let us start with a single question: what do we consider to be a state of well-being?
Very simply, well-being is just a deep sense of pleasantness within. It goes as follows:
- If your body feels pleasant, we call this health.
- If it becomes very pleasant, we call this pleasure.
- If your mind becomes pleasant, we call this peace.
- If it becomes very pleasant, we call this joy.
- If your emotions become pleasant, we call this love.
- If they become very pleasant, we call this compassion.
- If your life energies become pleasant, we call this bliss.
- If they become very pleasant, we call this ecstasy.
This is all that you are seeking: pleasantness within and on the outside. When pleasantness is within, it is termed peace, joy, happiness. When your surroundings become pleasant, it gets branded as success. If you’re not interested in any of this and want to go to heaven, what are you seeking? Just otherworldly success! So, essentially all human experience is only a question of pleasantness and unpleasantness in varying degrees.
But how many times in your life have you lived an entire day blissfully—without a single moment of anxiety, agitation, irritation, or stress? How many times have you lived in utter and absolute pleasantness for twenty-four hours? When was the last time it happened to you?
The amazing thing is that for most people on this planet, not a single day has happened exactly the way they want it! Of course, there is no one who has not experienced joy, peace, even bliss, but it is always fleeting. They are unable to sustain it. They manage to get there, but it keeps collapsing. And nothing earth-shattering needs to happen for it to collapse. The simplest things throw people off balance, out of kilter.
Happiness as an Essential Need
Why do you need to be pleasant within? The answer is self-evident. When you are in a pleasant inner state, you are naturally pleasant to everyone and everything around you. No scripture or philosophy is needed to instruct you to be good to others. It is a natural outcome when you are feeling good within yourself. Inner pleasantness is a surefire insurance for the making of a peaceful society and a joyful world.
Besides, your success in the world depends essentially on how well you harness the prowess of the body and mind. So, in order to achieve success, pleasantness has to be the fundamental quality within you.
Above all, there is substantial medical and scientific evidence today that your body and mind function at their best when you are in a pleasant state. It is said that if you can remain blissful for twenty-four hours, your intellectual capabilities can be almost doubled. Just settling the internal muddle and allowing clarity to surface can achieve this.
Now, the same life energy that you refer to as “myself” has sometimes been very happy, sometimes miserable, sometimes peaceful, sometimes in turmoil. The same life energy is capable of all those states. So, if you were given a choice about the kind of expression your life energies should find, what would you choose? Joy or misery? Pleasantness or unpleasantness?
The answer is self-evident. The ways may vary from person to person. But whether you’re trying to make money, hitting the bottle, or attempting to get to heaven, pleasantness is the only goal. Even if you say you are not interested in this world and your mission in life is only to get to heaven, you’re still only searching for pleasantness. If people had told you since your childhood that God lives in heaven, but heaven is a horrendous place, would you want to go there? Definitely not! Essentially, the highest level of pleasantness is heaven; unpleasantness is hell. So, some think it’s in the wine, and others think it’s in the divine, but pleasantness is what everyone’s seeking.
The only thing that stands between you and your well-being is a simple fact: you have allowed your thoughts and emotions to take instruction from the outside rather than the inside.
Excerpted from Inner Engineering, reprinted with permission from (Spiegel & Grau Hardcover/Random House).
About the Author
Sadhguru is known around the world for the large-scale humanitarian, educational, and environmental projects carried out by the Isha Foundation, which he founded in 1992. He has been an honored guest and speaker at the United Nations, The World Economic Forum, Harvard, Wharton, Microsoft, TED, Google, and more, where he has shared his mission to improve the quality and experience of life on an individual and global scale.