We define our reality by what we believe and so we define our happiness.
Our beliefs make us who we are and determine the choices we make. Very often, those beliefs, far from leading us into happiness, bring us truckloads of pain and trouble.
Most of us lead a life bounded – restricted by our beliefs and rules that govern our lives. The question here is how and when we define such rules to be happy. And when we start building our beliefs and the system surrounding them. Every kid is born in an environment which consist of living and non-living things. Living things involve close family members and friends and nonliving things include all the things which we see, feel and touch. Also, every kid is psychologically affected-influenced by rules / beliefs of people surrounding it. During the journey of life, we build beliefs and rules to govern our life. And most of the times these beliefs and rules takes us to path of illusion / sorrow rather than taking us to path of happy /contended life.
My journey of life taught few rules / beliefs which made me happier than before. Here are five rules of happiness that actually can make us unhappy:
Rule 1: I need other people’s approval to be happy. (The solo runner)
We often do things only to please other people? Human beings are driven by “social proof.” Approval is extremely important to us. We wait to buy the latest gadgets to look cool. We attend boring office parties to fit in. We don’t pursue our dreams because our families don’t approve.
But when we deep dive into our self and ask the question: Are these actions (or inactions) bringing any real happiness? The pursuit of approval is very different from the pursuit of happiness. We have to distinguish between the two to lead a happy contended life. live a life true to yourself, not the life others expected of me. Although there are certain constraints on all of us, the closer we can come to living that true life, the happier we will be.
Rule 2: I will be happy when I have… (Pursuit of Less)
…a bigger house, a promotion, a baby, awards, respect, those designer shoes!
Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar calls this the “arrival fallacy” in his book Happier. It’s the belief that when we arrive at a certain destination (or attain a specific goal), we will be or we feel happy.
The reason why this belief is so strong is because it’s partly true. Yes, you will feel happy when you get promoted or buy a house.
The question is: Is this happiness lasting? While you will escape your landlord’s ranting, you will have to pay new taxes and spend good money maintaining your new house. Each level of accomplishment will bring its own set of problems.
Does this mean you stop working toward your goals? No! Goals are important, and one needs to be ambitious. However, think about this: You can be happy now and also when you get the promotion.
Don’t postpone your happiness!!
“There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way” – Lord Buddha
Rule 3: Everything needs to be perfect for me to be happy. (Living with imperfection)
I love movies. However, in the past, for me to enjoy a theatre experience, my seat had to be perfect, the popcorn had to be the right temperature, and the cold drink had to be chilled. And if the 3D glasses were not scratch free, it used to drive me crazy!I finally realized that my beliefs about perfection were only inviting disappointment, and I began to relax and focus only on the movie.
If you think about it: Are vacations, parties, dates, or any other special occasions ever perfect? Your luggage might get lost or you might burn the turkey, but does that mean the entire trip or evening is a failure? If you recollect the past, such events were so much happening and you felt so much happier despite unexpected incidents and perfectly imperfect conditions-situations.
So the success/ failure of events depends only on your belief and the way you handle – manage the situation – conditions. Start living with imperfections and one day you will realize you are the happiest person on this earth.
Rule 4: I can’t be happy because of what happened in the past. (The haunted present)
The past controls us in mysterious ways. You might have lost a loved one to misunderstanding or death. You might have failed to achieve your dreams. As a result, you may have developed one of these beliefs: “I am not meant to find happiness” or “It’s not my destiny to be happy.”
Personally, I have lost much in life, but I don’t know anyone who hasn’t. Everyone has lost something or someone at some time in his/her life. I believe that I have the right to be happy, despite the past misfortunes. Your past doesn’t control your future unless you let it.Millions have turned their lives around. If they can be happy, why can’t you?
Rule 5: Happiness is not a habit that can be learned. (Habit of happiness)
Can you actually learn to be happy? Like learning baseball or the guitar?
Yes. Happiness is a skill—one that you build through a number of daily choices.
Numerous studies have indicated that people who are happier have certain habits: they exercise, meditate, pay attention to their relationships, pursue their goals diligently, lead balanced lives, and are grateful.
Research shows that by thwarting negative emotions, such as pessimism, resentment, and anger, and fostering positive emotions, such as empathy, serenity, and gratitude, the brain can be trained to become happier. Happiness does not depend on fate; it depends on our habits—habits that anyone can learn.
Rule 6: Success and happiness go together (Happiness is success )
For most of us, happiness always seems to be just around the corner, waiting for us after we achieve the next goal. Happiness, doesn’t have that much to do with the car you drive or the job you have or even the person you spend your life with. Happiness is actually a choice. Our happiness is not set in stone.
Remember one thing in life, if you put your full hearted efforts in anything you do, success will come your way in one way or another. Your success is a direct measure of your efforts. Whenever you feel stressed – tensed about you are unsuccessful in your life compared to many others, just try to compare yourself to a road side orphan beggar; and you will understand that you are successful and better off than many other people. You are better off than many others – you have enough food, clothes, education, money, home and family. All your body parts are working perfectly well. That is success to be with people who love you and whom you love.
“Happiness will never come to those who fail to appreciate what they already have.” – Chinese Proverb
“Love. Live. Let Go” – Lord Buddha
In the end three things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply you let go?
Our beliefs / rules can bring us happiness or sorrow.
Question your beliefs about yourself, your life, and happiness from time to time. See if they still serve a positive purpose and are relevant at that point of time / phase of life. If not, change them.The truth is we can be far happier and contented simply by altering our beliefs / rules and looking at the world differently.
Is there a need to change your beliefs now? You yourself can answer that.