The Primary Cause of Unhappiness

By Anthony Gold

My first day of kindergarten, I cried and cried after my mom dropped me off. I was so distraught at being separated from her. It was the worst day of my life. I was so unhappy.

At my junior-year high school prom, I asked the girl of my dreams if she’d like to be my date. She said she’d prefer to go with someone else. I was devastated. It was the worst day of my life. I was so unhappy.

I applied to my dream-school, MIT, as an undergrad electrical engineer. The thin envelope in the mailbox confirmed my worst fears. I was not selected. It was the worst day of my life. I was so unhappy.

And so it goes. Life doesn’t conform to our wishes, and we are unhappy.

But is not getting what we want really the source of unhappiness?

Whenever I speak with someone who isn’t happy, they are very clear as to why they aren’t happy.

Usually it has to do with something going on in their life and/or their body. The sources of unhappiness seem endless.

But the truth is something quite different.

There is just one source of unhappiness.

Our thoughts.

That’s it. Nothing but our thoughts are the source of unhappiness.

The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral, which always is as it is. ~Eckhart Tolle

We are so firmly convinced that whenever we’re upset we know why. But never do we think the reason is the thoughts we have chosen.

It’s tempting to believe that our thoughts just happen. The natural response to whatever is going on in our world.

However, we choose our thoughts. They don’t just happen.

As Eckhart Tolle notes, the situation (whatever is going on in the world) is totally neutral – neither good nor bad. Our thoughts about the situation is what gives it all the goodness or awfulness it has.

But when we realize and fully appreciate that the source of all joy and suffering is our thoughts, then we become truly liberated. At that point, whenever we’re upset, we can take a step back and look honestly at the thoughts we’re choosing to have about the particular situation.

And then we can make a different choice.

Instead of choosing ego thoughts of suffering and victimization, we can instead choose to see the true essence of who we are and escape all pain that what we chose before has brought to us.

Join me in Monday’s class where we’ll explore the nature of choosing our thoughts and truly understand the primary cause of unhappiness. I look forward to seeing you then.

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