I often hear well-established spiritual teachers or life coaches talking about their experiences working with prison inmates. Having helped dozens, sometimes hundreds of inmates, there's one interesting fact they all seem to bring back from their sessions, regardless of what they teach.
There always seems to be a handful of inmates who are freer and happier than most of us are outside in the real world.
But how could this be? How could someone serving a life sentence be at peace? How could someone who will never taste outside freedom again, be so free inside?
By the same token, how could anyone with endless opportunity to learn a new skill, choose an occupation, befriend a stranger in a cafe, travel the world, start a family, buy things they didn't make, create things from scratch, drive a nice car, live inside a nice home, leave that home for a new home whenever they want... how could such a person be anything other than free? How is that so many people who can do all these things still need to escape? What are they escaping from?
Is this not the ultimate paradox? Or is there a greater lesson surfacing itself here?
The lesson is the entire premise of this blog. We can't depend on our external world to make us happy. We can only do that within ourselves.
There's no need to read into this, or state that you'd rather be miserable out of jail than happy in jail. That's just not true. You never want to be miserable. You always want to be happy. All you really want is a deep sense of inner well-being no matter what happens around you. You want unconditional happiness. But you go about it in the wrong way. We all do.
The problem is, our entire external world is conditional. We chase one thing thinking it will make us happy, only to have it and realize we want something else next. Or, we worry about keeping that thing. Our entire lives become about the things, the people, the outside conditions, when in reality it's all about how those make us feel on the inside.
Instead, why not just work on the inside?
The only way to true, lasting fulfillment is from within. And that is why being in prison, or in Hawaii, has nothing to do with your inner state of well-being.
Live with substance!