How To Win At Life – Seeking Happiness by Kaz B
In life, we all have different desires, different goals, objectives and motivations. In the short term, you might find happiness in external factors such as relationships, status, money or achievements. The problem in measuring your happiness by life’s successes is that nothing in life is consistent, people change, things go wrong, and the world evolves in an ever-changing in a state of flux. If you pin all your happiness onto one relationship, one goal, or one vision, if that all collapses what are you left with but misery and a sense of failure?
When life is not going so well you may turn to distractions to provide you with comfort, whether that be television, food, alcohol, sex or any other kind of vice that serves to make you forget life’s quandaries. Once we cater to our Id and feed its impulses and drives, we careen off course and start to make poor judgements. If you are feeding your ID all the time your life begins to lack direction and you might even struggle with daily tasks. Don’t get me wrong, we all reach for a bar of chocolate sometimes, or reach for a glass of wine at the end of a tough week, but the problem lies in continually making the wrong choices and starving your body and mind of what it really needs. Exercising self-control can be rewarding, doing that extra set of repetitions with the weights, finishing a task ahead of your deadline, or choosing to walk instead of taking a cab. On the flipside, trying to control every moment of your life is just as damaging. We cannot be in control of everything all the time, and just trying to be must be exhausting. There are so many random factors in life at play, that if you try too hard to pin all your hopes on one specific outcome, it’s highly likely you will be disappointed.
So, what am I referring to when I talk about happiness? Am I talking about that feeling of excitement where you feel on top of the world and your heart glows with euphoria? No, that’s joy, which is not a sustainable emotion. It’s impossible to maintain that emotion. Some may try to chase it with distractions, but in doing so you fall further away from happiness.
I would define happiness as a contentment. A feeling that you accept what life has thrown at you and you consciously choose to look for the best in everything. If we choose to always see the negatives, our lives will be full of negativity. If we look for the good in every moment, we will feel more positivity and this will spill over into our daily lives.
Sometimes it might feel hard to find the positives. You might have a failed relationship behind you, you might have lost a lot of money, or you may have been betrayed by a friend. It can be tricky at first to see how you can take positives from these things, but by analysing the situations you got yourself into or identifying repetitive patterns or behavioural traits, you can learn a lot about yourself and why these things happened. Ask yourself, have I learned anything from this? What would I do differently if I could go back in time. What has this experience told me about myself?
As an example, I used to form friendships with people and be extremely loyal and dedicated, only to end up disappointed when they used me. It wasn’t until I sat down and asked myself why this kept happening that I had an epiphany and realised the truth. When I was at school I was picked on, so I mostly kept quiet and didn’t speak out. As an adult I was continually playing out a survival routine that no longer served me. I was still metaphorically giving the bully his/her lunch money. I wasn’t asserting my rights or enforcing my boundaries and this allowed those with more fluid morals to walk all over me. I realised then that I couldn’t change or fix other people. I could only change myself and so I started to assert my rights, speak up and sometimes be a little bit selfish, even though this felt alien to me. There’s a saying, takers have no boundaries so as a giver you must enforce them. This was one of life’s great lessons for me and it also took me down a philosophical path of existential truths.
To know thyself is step out onto the path of contentment. If you can underpin your truths, values and identify at the core what is important to you, you can ensure you have a solid foundation around you. Everything else is just noise and the rise and falls of a rollercoaster, one moment it’s there and the next it isn’t. What is left is you, your sense of self, your identity and your ability to have a positive impact on the world and those around you.
There are many in life that hide from their true nature, they choose not to be self-aware and instead carry out behaviours that are damaging to them, or those around them. Often this can be a side effect of unresolved traumas and it might be easier to bury one’s head in the sand instead of dealing with all those difficult truths, but once those first steps are taking to look inside the psyche and understand yourself, that’s when the magic happens and the self-healing begins
Are you the sort of person who sees the world in black and white or are you open minded and consider the views of others? We can all be a bit stubborn or set in our ways sometimes, but the more open we are to different ways of thinking, the happier we tend to be. I’m not suggesting for one moment that you start assimilating the viewpoints to someone who is ethically a polar opposite to you, but think about what it’s like to be in their position, imagine a day in their life and how that would make you feel. One topic I keep see coming up is the migrants that illegally travel into the UK across the channel. Some people in our society adopt a knee jerk reaction to blame the migrants for all the ills of society. How on earth were people brainwashed enough to start blaming the poorest and most vulnerable people for society’s ills, rather than the richest and most powerful who control all the puppet strings?
Imagine this, you are in a war-torn country and have three young children. If you stay where you are it’s likely that you and your family will succumb to the evils of that society and will be dead before the year is out. You may even be horribly tortured and forced to witness soul destroying cruelties. You look down into the faces of your children and can’t possibly imagine waking up without seeing their faces every day. You feel you must do everything in your power to save them, and yourself of course because we have evolved to survive and not stay in dangerous surroundings. With a heavy heart, and a tightly knotted coil of fear in your gut, your eyes sweep across the violent, perilous ocean and you make a choice. Perhaps your eyes flick to the Heavens in prayer or perhaps you shut away those intrusive, fear laden thoughts and you gently lift your children into the dinghy one by one. Can you even begin to understand the terror that poor person is going through? There is only one major difference between them and us, and the one difference is the location they were born in. The cards of life could have flipped in a different way and it could be you or I fleeing for our lives. Can you honestly say you wouldn’t try to survive? It’s very easy to judge others, and begrudge them what we might consider privileges, but once we consider other people’s viewpoints and lose the rigidness in our thinking, we become less self-entitled and more content.
I have taken you off on a bit of a tangent, but we live in a privileged society where we don’t have to think too much about our basic survival. Most of us have shelter, running water and central heating. We have food in our fridge and these are all considered basic human needs. We live in a democracy and are not in immediate danger of officials or extreme groups turning up and shooting us.
Humans evolved to respond to threats and potential danger so we are always hunting for them and seeking to match patterns. This is where anxiety comes from, but most of the time the things we worry about never come to fruition, and yet we dedicate so much time to worrying about things that are just thoughts and will not happen. This is why meditation can be so powerful. It teaches us to regularly cleanse the mind of toxic thoughts and once we make a commitment to practise this it becomes easier.
Another great lesson for me was realising that I am not my thoughts. You might have hundreds of negative thoughts pop into your mind daily, but it’s better to think about them rationally than it is to try and shut them out. You can distract yourself from your thoughts, but they will only come back eventually. Unless something really is an issue that needs to be faced head on. it is better to identify these thoughts as needless worries and accept that they are there.
The more flexible we are in our thinking, the more content we can be. The brain is like elastic, the more you stretch it, the more it grows. A stuck brain can be found in someone who has allowed themselves to become trapped in negative patterns. They will practise unhealthy habits, routines and behaviours. An evolving brain is highly active and is nourished with exercise, mindfulness, new knowledge and a conscious choice to seek the positives, regardless of however difficult life has been.
Happiness is not elusive, we are just viewing it the wrong way. As human’s we are composed entirely of chemicals and in a constant flux of serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline reuptake and release. We are a biological machines and taking care of that machine ensures optimum results. Take a moment for yourself, close your eyes and think of an imagine that makes you happy. Think of a time when you felt good in yourself, safe, content and at ease. Now visualise that, enhance the colours and remember the feeling you felt at the time. Imagine all that positive energy pouring into your chest and radiating out a beautiful, warm, fuzzy glow. Take that with you wherever you go. If you enjoyed that simple exercise, you might enjoy some of Paul McKenna’s hypnosis’s which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoUwkDlTR8s5vNtdmidM_JQ
Look after yourselves and each other and remember that you are all special and unique. Whatever has happened in your life, today is a new day and you can choose to move forward from anything that has held you back or any poor decisions you have made. Every day you wake up is a second chance to get things right in your life. Choose to be accountable for what happens in your life and become the master of your own destiny.
Keep smiling and have a great day all!