Happiness is a journey, not a destination.
We’ve all heard this or other similar mantras before, but what do they really mean?
Dr Gabor Mate, who is a world renowned addiction, stress and childhood development specialist, says that in order to find true happiness, you must turn your attention from the external to the internal.
That you should look inside yourself for the answer rather than looking to something external.
Dr Mate’s work weaves together scientific research, case histories, and his own insights and experience to present a broad perspective that enlightens and empowers people to promote their own healing and that of those around them.
Among the topics he discusses in his various books is addiction. Dr Mate believes that the source of addictions is not to be found in genes but in instead the early childhood environment.
He has also written a book on mind-body health, ‘When the Body Says No’, where he claims that emotional stress is a major cause of physical illness.
Dr Mate recently appeared on the Aubrey Marcus podcast and he was asked what advice he would give to himself if he could go back to when he was younger, knowing what he knows now.
His reply gave a important insight into why real happiness starts from within and your own internal relationship with the world, not what’s outside of you.
“You know when you asked that question, I’m just so grateful that I’m not any of those ages!” said Dr Mate.
“I mean, I’d love to have my body back at age 18, with what I know now, but I don’t want to go through that stuff again!
“When I look at my diaries in my 40s, [it was] just frustration and depression. This is despite a very successful professional life, three kids and a wife that loves me. None of that made any difference internally.
“So what advice would I give? It’s not to look for the solutions outside yourself. Don’t keep thinking that if you do this or get that, you’ll be happy.
“Both the problem and its resolution exist within you right now, at this very moment. So put the attention there and get the help, so you can put the attention on it.
“You can’t do it on your own, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be vulnerable, be open, and be very curious about what’s happening inside you.
“It’s not going to be through your political activism or your workaholism, or going to bed with this person or that person, that’s going to improve the quality of your life ultimately.”
Dr Mate then went on to dismantle the concept of the ‘American dream’ as a “dead-end”.
“[Look at] the very ‘American dream’, the pursuit of happiness.
“When you’re pursuing happiness, it’s something outside of you that you’re running after. It’s a dead-end. It’s actually not a pursuit – it’s an investigation and inquiry into the self and it’s totally true that the external will reflect the internal.
“Now, having said that, I want to be careful, because there are people in your country, and in my country Canada, who through no fault of their own, are in terrible circumstances. They just happen to be the wrong color or the wrong class, and they didn’t create that.
“So, we don’t want to defame people by blaming them for their life circumstances. I didn’t choose to be a Jewish infant under the Nazis. I didn’t create that. So we’re not talking about that part of it. That part of it has to be kept in mind.
“But what is true is that for any one person, the more they understand themselves – and it doesn’t matter what class or situation they’re in – the more they understand themselves, and the more they will get related to themselves, the more freedom they’ll have to respond to their life circumstances.”