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What you Lose when you Focus on Happiness

What could be more important than happiness?

The Dalai Lama says happiness is our birthright, that it’s what we all want.

But he doesn’t necessarily say it’s the most important thing.

Still, when you’re in a rage because your loved one has betrayed you, when you’re confused because you have unexpectedly lost your job, when you’re frustrated because your partner doesn’t respect your boundaries, what you seem to yearn for is happiness.

The distance between you and happiness is shortened by making meaning.

One of my coaching clients has come to the realisation that she is quite alone in the world. Her family consists of a narcissistic mother, an alcoholic father and a manipulative brother.

After years of taking the fault on herself, believing that she is the problem — as her family will keep reminding her — she’s woken up to this revolutionary realisation:

"If I try to be happy, I must make my mother happy. When I’m not giving her problems as she used to tell me, she’s happy, and I thought I was happy too.

I can’t believe it, but I realised that the only person I need to make happy is myself and when I try to understand how, I have to look at what feels meaningful to me.”

“Meaning is an instinct”, says Jordan Peterson.

More than a passion or an interest, meaning is what keeps us awake at night working on our projects, what gets us up early when there are no promised rewards available for our endeavour, what gets us opened again to love after our heart was shattered.

In the absence of meaning we find it difficult to get out of bed, no matter how many good reasons there are for being happy; we find it difficult to birth the motivation to keep up with worthy endeavours; we find it despairing when something falls apart.

Meaning is the glue that holds the mystery of our happiness in full.

For years, I thought I was teaching meditation because it helped me and my students become happy.

Only recently I realised that more than happiness meditation helps us get crystal clear on what gives us meaning, which in turn equips us with the audacity and perseverance to get rid of anything that compromises the life of meaning.

Here’s a recent email I received from a woman who joined my Deepening meditation group after not knowing what direction she wants her life to take;

Can you imagine what your life would look like if you had that level of clarity about what’s totally right for you?

Are you craving to be more focused, purpose-driven, so you can find solutions to your challenges and thereby land naturally and effortlessly on a world of happiness?

If any of these questions stir a wave of life within you, I warmly welcome you to join the Deepening meditation group.

Here’s how it works:

  • We meet fortnightly on Tuesdays 7-8.30PM CET

  • Participation is for the full three-month period from March to May (8 meetings).

  • Throughout the three-month period we’ll focus on one particular theme from the Buddhist teachings.

  • Payment is for the whole three-month period on a pay-from-the-heart basis.

  • Each meeting includes meditation practice, teaching on the theme and group/pair engagement.


A lot can be achieved by making the space to gather with a group of like-hearted people and develop the skills that make meaning shine in your lives.


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Shelly helps women who feel stuck in playing it small and want to create inner sovereignty and financial freedom.

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