Think about it. How much time and energy do you spend developing your external world? The house, your career, money, the garden, your body, relationships?
Now imagine what could happen if you focussed just 10% of that external energy into you...
Your internal world is made up of all the things that make you uniquely you. Your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, memories, experiences and values; it's the part of you that houses all your deepest feelings, desires, needs, hopes, and your deepest fears, despair, pain and losses. Are you familiar with this place? Or do you treat your internal world like an unwanted foe; something you ignore, neglect or avoid?
We are socialised to focus out not in; on developing hard skills over soft skills. We learn to avoid, distract, numb, pretend and shut down our feelings of pain, anger, fear and shame. We reward only the feelings we judge as "positive" and try to discard the rest. Whist this way of living may appear to bring you more happiness, over time - it only deadens us. You see, we can't selectively numb feelings. Numb one - you numb them all. We pass this on to our children and they to theirs and so on.
How do we numb ourselves? We use emotional pacifiers and just like a babies pacifier, it changes our mood, soothes and settles us. Except that an emotional pacifier takes the form of too much food, sex, work, power, prestige, status, alcohol, drugs, exercise, relationships etc. and is a quick fix.
It's fine to use a pacifier... if you're a baby. A functional adult doesn't reach for a pacifier. They reach inside. They listen. They pray. They connect. They meditate. They become still. They feel. They breathe. They aren't afraid of their own feelings; or expressing them appropriately; they honour and own them all, the good, the bad and the ugly. They are right at home in their internal world.
The internal world is home to your soul and the birthplace of happiness. True happiness is an inside job, and it's the byproduct of right living. What's right living? It's being a functional adult; facing ourselves; being accountable; responsible; authentic; present; honest; kind; vulnerable; humble; and above all else, it's a commitment to refuse the quick fix.
Mostly, people don't behave the way I'd like and I have found I certainly can't stop life from happening with all its' change, death, illness and loss. I can however choose my perspective and attitude.
Living in the external world is like living in the delusion that my happiness depends on getting what I think I want and need, in other words, adjusting life to suit me. Sure, it's nice when things go my way, but life doesn't always go like that. External things impact us, even influence us but when we have a deep inner life, the conditions and circumstances of life does not define me.
On the other hand, living in the internal world is the experience of equanimity; I adjust myself to life. If I practice acceptance, service, tolerance, patience, love, gratitude and kindness daily, eventually, in the consistent pursuit of developing these qualities I become truly, deeply happy.
Simple? Yes. Easy? No.
Many people have talked about the pursuit of happiness. So why don't we get it? What gets in the way?
The short answer is: I don't know why. What I can tell you is that the people I see who are living wholehearted lives are the brave people. The one's who take risks and choose authenticity over approval, boundaries over self abandonment, honesty over people pleasing and vulnerability over walls. And they always have a mentor. Perhaps start by finding a good therapist or spiritual advisor/community, a place where you can be truly yourself, where you can explore all your edges, where you can be guided and supported to live a wholehearted life. Surround yourself with others who are doing the same and it grows from there.