Happiness and Joy are god given birthrights to every human being. Happiness is not a thing or a “conditional experience”, ie: if this happens then I’ll be happy. Happiness and Joy are a state of being that we create for ourselves. It amazes me to learn about the number of people who are “searching” for happiness like it is a “thing”? I hear them say, if I had more money, if I had a bigger house, If I had a better job, if my kid wasn’t a fuckup….if, if, if? If you had all of those things, you you’d still be searching for happiness because you are unconsciously creating a condition for your happiness. If you are reading this and you are one of these people, repeat after me…….
“I am not responsible for anyone’s feelings but my own”
“It is selfish to rely on other people for happiness”
“It is not right to expect someone else to change their behavior to suit my feelings”
“Change starts with me”
Happy now? Of course not, because “change” and a shift to “conscious happiness” are not that simple! True happiness requires a great deal of personal accountability in our lives. The cool part about human consciousness is understanding that we are in full control of our own lives and we can “hit the reset button” and make our life what we want it to be at any time! This isn’t easy though, it takes a great deal of conscious effort, courage, vulnerability and a healthy dose of humility. Change is hard because your ego will fight you every step of the way, hence the personal accountability. Ego has “noble intent”. It’s the part of us that keeps us safe when danger is present but beware, the ego doesn’t like change. The ego wants “status quo” in our lives and freaks out when we start making changes, which is why so many of us fail when we try to make resolutions or long-term changes in our lives. When it comes to preventing change, The ego “pulls out all the stops”. It will remind you of every bad experience you have ever had related to your new change consciousness. Ego will create fear and self-doubt to make you turn back and give up this silly idea about change. Ego will wake you up in the middle of the night and remind you about why you can’t do, “what it is you want to do”.
Know this, Happiness is a beachhead, it’s your personal Normandy. It’s the gateway to a better way of life that is worth fighting for. Many people mistakenly believe that the opposite of depression is Happiness. The true opposite of depression is “Vitality”, or the “expression of one’s life”. Vitality is what brings us Happiness. Happiness becomes a bi-product of life when we understand our values and make a plan to live those values. Happiness comes from living with purpose. Happiness comes from setting intentions and fulfilling those intentions.
How do I do this, you ask?
First, understand what happiness is not. It is not a thing. A new car, a new house, washboard abs, a diamond ring, good sex, your daughter graduating preschool…it’s none of these. These are all things that provide us with pleasure but, won’t provide any lasting happiness. Happiness is not about having more. The “quest for more” comes from a lack of self-worth and is typically based on a comparison of what you have versus what someone else has. Comparison is a form of self-judgement and it creates separation from true happiness. Happiness is not about your perceived worth, about how much of “anything” you have; how much you have accomplished or how you compare yourself to others. Happiness doesn’t come from others. It is easy to fall into the “co-dependency” trap and think that your “special someone” is responsible for your happiness, They’re not! “It is selfish to rely on other people for happiness”. We only have control over our own feelings and it is a magical experience when we find that “special someone” who we trust and can share our happiness with.
Second, set the intention to learn about yourself. This is the “personal accountability” part. You need to be the “observer” in your own life. Be conscious of how you show up in stressful situations? Then ask yourself, is this how I want to be? If the answer is “no”, then you need to spend some time thinking about your responsibility (your ability to respond) in that situation. For example, let’s say you “reacted” poorly to your wife spending a bunch of money on a new purse (sorry ladies, I’m here for you..read on). All you could think about while she was sharing her excitement about this great find is “are we going to be able to pay the mortgage”. So, you reacted, maybe yelled or said something sarcastic about living in a refrigerator box, she cried and now you feel like shit. In retrospect, you didn’t want to hurt her feelings but, she needed to know you are worried about making the mortgage payment. Are you happy about the way you reacted? If you answer “yes”, stop reading now and good luck to you in that marriage! If you said “no”, this is your opportunity to consciously decide who you’ll be in those moments. Set the intention at that moment to be more caring or compassionate or understanding or whatever aligns to your value system and feels right for that situation. Run through the scenario again in your head with this new response. Now, go apologize and explain why you reacted the way you did (This is the humility and vulnerability part). Lather, Rinse and Repeat in all important aspects of your life.
After a while, you will start getting a “good look” at your unconscious self and how you show up in different scenario’s. Along the way, you’ll have an opportunity to examine your reactions, the motives behind these reactions and set the “conscious intention” to learn and make changes to how you respond. Throughout this process, you may want to regularly “ground” yourself with the 4 statements above. This process can be very difficult and requires conviction and courage on your part. It is easy to get down on yourself, apply heaps of self-judgement or feel guilty. This can be an emotionally painful process. You must understand that joy and pain come from the same place, if you try to shut off the pain you will also lose joy.
You need to be responsible for your emotions and feelings.
It can be difficult to find self-realization in the moment due to self denial or somatic response, the physiological response controlled by our autonomic nervous system. A great example of somatic response is when you get cut-off in traffic, how do you feel in that moment? Most people are emotionally blinded by rage, we feel out of control. In retrospect, many people have described not remembering their reaction or feeling like they were out of their own body. This is what happens when we get a somatic response to an experience. Not every realization will happen in real time and journaling after the fact is an effective way of making this shift to conscious living. Journaling from the third person is an effective way to become the observer. Finding a therapist, life coach or a close confidant to off-load or get feedback is helpful too.
So, your reading this and you’re like, this doesn’t sound like happiness to me?
Trust me, as you work through this process things will begin to change in your life. You will immediately start feeling good about your interactions with other people. These experiences will enrich your life by providing new insights and will give you new things to talk about with your friends. Others will notice a change in you too, and who doesn’t like to be noticed? You’ll have more confidence in your decision process. You’ll experience less stress and likely feel more energetic. Your mind will be free of the turmoil and the emotional friction you used to create by reacting. You will be exercising your values, setting intentions and living with integrity. This, my friends is happiness.