5 Steps to Happiness
Wondering why we are not happy, or why our lives are not where we would like them to be is part of the human condition. It might be what motivates us, driving us to constantly reach for the next prize and it might be the mind worm that keeps our heads hanging low wondering why we never attained that elusive state.
Looking back through my old notes I came across a chapter from Burt Goldman on the Five Rules of Happiness so I thought I'd share them here. One caveat though – you have to read to the end. When I first read these I was so irritated…just get to the bloody point already…but I promise you there is a payoff to reading thru.
1. If you like a thing enjoy it
You are not enjoying something you like if 1) you feel guilty after having done it or if 2) you are fearful of the consequences of doing it. Take a moment to let that sink in. If eating the cookie causes you to feel guilty or you worry about the calories too much then don't eat it but really, if you want the cookie – take a moment, sit with it, smell it, eat it, and enjoy it. Lighten up, life is short, enjoy the cookie and get on with your life.
2. If you don’t like a thing, avoid it
I know you are thinking, “well, yeah, I’m not an idiot.” Just think for a moment on all the people you know who endure things they don't like and are drawn back into participating in relationships they could have easily avoided. Think of the annoying conversations and the sad justifications, you probably hate listening to them. Are you doing that to yourself? What irritations could you avoid today? A long commute in traffic might be avoided with getting in to work earlier and an irritating person could be de-activated with strong boundaries or just not taking the call (if you can.) What annoying things can you avoid today?
3. If you don’t like a thing and you cannot avoid it, change it
What is holding you to these weak rationalizations that keep you locked in? What are you telling yourself you need about this…is it the money, the security, the return on the time you’ve invested? If you hate your car, can you take steps to sell it and trade up? If your blouse does not fit right get rid of it and buy something that fits right and looks good – little things can eat away at us over time, do what you can today to change things for the better. Even taking small steps towards change activates us to make it real.
4. If you don’t like a thing, cannot avoid it, and cannot or will not change it, accept it
OK, now we are getting somewhere. Life is a series of messy events, many of which are beyond our control. Yes, really you are not Master of the Universe no matter what you’ve been told. We are not, I repeat not, delving into the Good Will Hunting scene where Robbin Williams tells Jason Bourne“it’s not your fault” I need to be somewhere shortly and I can’t show up with red eyes! How do we accept a situation that we are not happy with and know that we will NEVER be happy with? There are many things and people in our lives that we don’t like, cannot or will not change, so we accept the situation for what it is. Accept it and move on. Accept that your significant other has no interest in being your Etsy model and find someone else to model your woolen, hand-knitted, rainbow unicorn hats. Accept that you are not your mother’s favorite. Accept that Janice from accounting is getting that promotion you worked hard for. Accept it and move on with your life.
5. You accept a thing by changing your point of view
Some things just are, nothing you can do will change this situation or person but what can you do to change yourself to make you feel better. You are not doing this for anyone else’s benefit this is for you and your happiness.
For a squirrel a tree is home, for us it's a beautiful shady area in the park that your dog likes to pee on, or maybe it’s a danger to the roof of your car. Maybe your workplace or your family is deeply dysfunctional. You do what you can, but realistically avoiding them or changing the situation is not feasible. Accepting the way they are or how they treat you feels like a slap in the face. What can you do?
The only weapon left is the good old bazooka, your point of view. You are Neo in The Matrix, you can see things coming at you left and right so you adjust your point of view, you are part of this world and you have the choice to act or react. Slow down, breathe, and consider how you can change your point of view.
Maybe it requires you to delve deeper, with compassion you consider their intentions or maybe their limiting experiences in life. You know more, you are aware (or you wouldn’t be reading this.) What can you do to steer conversations in a more positive direction or at the very least reflect them back? There is no greater question in your arsenal than the casual tone and a deftly stated ‘What do you mean?’ Changing your own point of view may bring you the peace you need to be happy and accept the things you cannot change. Or maybe changing your point of view helps you to see new opportunities that were there all along waiting patiently for you to notice them.
I hope you read this to the end. Like a lot of things in life the story only gets better the more invested you are. If this blog post resonates with you, please share your comments with me. If you know someone who might benefit from this post, then please share it.
With love, light, and reiki, - YF