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Happiness is a skill. Here's how to master it.

Posted on January 19 2016

I want a lot of things. Not just physical things. I have goals, dreams, aspirations and ambitions. I want a lot of things. I rarely judge myself for wanting these things anymore. Once in a while, a thought or two will creep in –demanding that I be content; pleading that I let go of my wants so that I can be less disappointed when they don’t happen exactly as I had planned. As soon as those thoughts start to gain momentum, I remind myself that the problem is not with the “wanting”. The problem is thinking that whatever it is that I need to have will make me happier, more content, more free.

People believe themselves to be dependent on what happens for their happiness. They don’t realize that what happens is the most unstable thing in the universe. It changes constantly. They look upon the present moment as either marred by something that has happened and shouldn’t have or as deficient because of something that has not happened but should have. And so they miss the deeper perfection that is inherent in life itself, a perfection that lies beyond what is happening or not happening. Eckhart Tolle

When I meet the one, get married, have kids, leave this horrendous job, leave this town, get that promotion, buy my dream car, buy my dream house, start my business…then I’ll be happy. We tell ourselves these lies in some shape or form throughout our lifetime. Even if you got all of the things that you’ve ever wished for, there will still be one more thing floating around in your head, teasing you and promising your soul completion. The wanting never ends. It’s a part of us and there’s nothing wrong with it. Things, money, people can provide fleeting joy but longterm happiness is something that can only be discovered and accomplished within the self.

I believe that happiness, like most things worth having requires some effort on one’s part. I’m not talking about the kind of happiness where you’re jumping, skipping and screaming with complete and utter joy. Those special moments, when experienced are so unique and inimitable. They’re also impossible to sustain 24/7. The kind of happiness that I’m talking about is that which comes with a “peace that surpasses all understanding”. The kind that already exists within but which we fail to tap into. Here are a few ways to get back on track.

Remind yourself to be happy. This may sound silly because it seems so simple but the answers to our most baffling questions are usually quite simple. I talk to my mother a lot. We talk about my day, her day, challenges, silly things, mundane things. There are times when we’re talking about difficult situations that I have to remind myself not to get carried away by the emotions swirling around those situations. I feel myself getting sucked in. My voice drops, so does my energy. In that moment, I hear a gentle reminder, “you haven’t laughed within this hour.” I ease up, let go a little and allow myself to find some joy in the present moment.

Why do anxiety, stress, or negativity arise? Because you turned away from the present moment. And why did you do that? You thought something else was more important. One small error, one misperception, creates a world of suffering. Eckhart Tolle

Be present. How can you be present and have all these dreams, goals and aspirations? As I mentioned above, having the dreams, goals and aspirations isn’t the problem. The problem is that we think all of these things will bring us lasting happiness and completion. There is no happiness in the past, that time is already gone –faded to black; there is no happiness in the future, the future doesn’t exist. When the future does happen, it will be in the present moment and then the past and then it will also fade to black. Build your dreams, take inspired action, enjoy the process but don’t be tied to a specific outcome and do not depend on that outcome to make you happy.

I’ve set goals. None of them came true. But five or six other amazing things that I never could have predicted happened instead. Ramit Sethi

Be grateful. Gratitude leads to happiness. More gratitude leads to more happiness. I strongly believe this. Gratitude for the small steps accomplished, the big battles won, the ability to even be in the battle –this are all things that make my soul swell. Whatever the intensity of the challenge you’re facing, the moment you step into a place of gratitude, the load lightens up. I believe that gratitude is the language the universe speaks. Tune into it.

If peace is really what you want, then you will choose peace. Eckhart Tolle

If happiness is really what you want, then you will choose happiness.


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