It is safe to say that on a fundamental level, all human beings are striving for happiness and wellbeing. A 2012 UN resolution recognised the pursuit of happiness as "a universal human goal and aspiration" and promotes a more holistic approach that acknowledges happiness and wellbeing as essential pieces of sustainable and equitable development. Forward-thinking countries such as Bhutan have made Gross National Happiness (GNH) one of their primary indicators for measuring progress and its government’s service to society.
Google searches for “happiness” related terms have more than quadrupled in the past ten years. This type of data indicates that the pursuit and cultivation of happiness are becoming vital for more and more people around the world.
Contrary to our collective desire for happiness many people are struggling, unhappy or depressed. Despite rising material comfort, we often feel just as lonely, purposeless or fearful. There is still so much suffering in this world, not just from external circumstances such as conflict and disease, but from issues internal to the human mind. According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 300 million people worldwide suffering from depression. Mental health disorders account for 30 percent of the global nonfatal disease burden and one in four people will be affected by them at some point in their lives. The global cost of mental health conditions is projected to surge to US$ 6.0 trillion by 2030. Despite significant medical and psychological advancements, billions around the world suffer from preventable lifestyle diseases, anxiety, depression or suicidal tendencies, most of which do not receive treatment.
Neuroscientific research has shown that we are all capable of shaping our thinking and attitude. Practices such as mindfulness, yoga and meditation have scientifically proven effects on our brain activity, anxiety and happiness. Who we choose to surround ourselves with, what information we consume, how grateful we are and the degree of our loving relationships have been found to have significant impacts on our happiness levels.
Various means of altering consciousness have been used in the context of shamanic procedures, healing ceremonies and rites of passage throughout history. Non-Ordinary States of Consciousness (NOSC) induced by holotropic breathwork, drumming, chanting, dancing, fasting or entheogenic substances such as DMT, LSD, Psilocybin, MDMA, Ketamine etc. are found to unlock new levels of insight and awareness into one’s own consciousness and offer immense healing potential.
In recent years, spiritual awakening, scientifically also known as persistent non-symbolic experience (PNSE), has been intensively studied by various academics. Individual reports and scientific research indicate that continuously attaining higher levels of well being is not only possible but reproducible through practice. Furthermore, this fundamental wellbeing does not depend on outer circumstances but on mindset and neurophysiology, both of which can be altered through education and basic practices.
We are facing a multitude of challenges as a human collective. Mass extinction, climate change and growing depression numbers indicate that we are on the wrong track. With technological progress increasing exponentially, experts predict that artificial intelligence (AI) might supersede our intelligence in a few years and a technological singularity can be expected within the next decade. What kind of example will we set for an artificial general intelligence to learn from? How will we interact with each other and our environment? How long can we afford to continue like this? Change is rapid and the stakes are extremely high. On some level, the evolution of consciousness can no longer be seen as an individual luxury, but might be a question of evolutionary necessity.
For millennia, humanity has been studying and researching our human condition. From Greek and Eastern philosophies to new age spirituality, cognitive neuroscience or positive psychology - now more than ever, there exist solutions and proven ways of alleviating suffering and increasing happiness. Millions of people around the world have dedicated their lives to improving those of others. Spiritual teachers, therapists, coaches, healers, doctors, motivational speakers and various scientists are sharing their findings and insights in books, online courses or private 1:1 sessions. There is an army of luminaries ready and willing to help, but in every one of us is a teacher and healer. As we work through and master our difficulties, we gain valuable wisdom and insights which can be shared with others.
If individual liberation and self-realisation are possible, why would it not be possible for bigger communities or all of humanity? If one person can base their life on wisdom, peace, love and compassion, why couldn't we as one humanity co-create our future based on the intention of fulfilled lives and happiness for all beings?
We believe it is possible. We have seen a change in ourselves, and we have witnessed it for people around us. Let us connect as one community, combine our wisdom, accelerate our growth and make it happen! That is the vision of the happiness foundation:
The happiness.com team