Happiness – If everyone in the world is able to attain this elusive state, wouldn’t the world be a better, peaceful and fun-filled place?
The whole idea of positive psychology, which has taken the world by storm (and some may even cult), is revolving around the idea of happiness. This word, although a letter short of 10, has multiple versions from different people’s perspectives. Some would associate with “success”, “freedom”, “money”, “time”, or “relationships”.
Many psychologists and writers have attempted to derive its meaning and provide the “how-to” on achieving this state of mind (one of my writer friend dedicated her blog entirely on this idea). One that I particularly enjoy and couldn’t agree more on the notion of happiness is by Tony Robbins (Here is an interview with him by Maria):
“Happy, fulfilled people don’t try to hurt other people“.
During a period of darkness, depression and getting lost in my life’s directions, I kept thinking of what could be my north star for attaining happiness. Talking with some of my friends who are usually the positive bunch with the occasional mood swings, I realised through them the one way in which I can scale up on my happiness index – removing the “I” in the equation.
Many of us wants to benefit or gain something out of a relationship, a network or even our working environment. Who wouldn’t?
But the constant thinking of how “I” can benefit or what can “I” gain from anyone, is only being detrimental in the quality of the experience. Here are 3 instances which we have unknowingly emphasised the “I” which may have caused roadblocks to our happiness:
Have you ever got invited to a certain event or party, and you turned it down thinking it’s not your thing and would rather be doing something else, which ends up as nothing?
Have you avoided talking to or meeting someone just because you see this person as someone completely different from yourself?
Have you skipped playtime with your children because you were thinking of how to complete the work that’s due tomorrow?
Resistance also means we have placed a certain priority over something that seems to be beneficial to us, for a period of time. As kids, nothing was impossible. We were audacious, we were playful, we were having all the fun despite the occasional accidents. Yet we were not afraid of asking, demanding or trying out things for the sheer sake of it.
As we grow older, we are training and analysing too much into things that ultimately shrunk our chances of enjoying ourselves. It’s time that we neglect some of these analysis and begin to bring out our inner child, to stop resisting experiences just for the sake of trying them out.
For a period of time, I have been resisting working on projects for people who my friends recommended me for, even on personal projects involving voluntary work. I was dwelling in fear, thinking “what if I couldn’t make it? Wouldn’t that make my friends look bad?“. I resisted these projects and recommendations.
But what happens if I were to hang on to the thought of not making my friends look bad, and instead, work doubly hard on these projects or even meet these people to discuss the possibilities?
The idea behind how we often associate things into our personal space is because of this word “ego”. Ryan Holiday wrote great book in describing this idea.
Some may have attributed ego to our detrimental system in cultivating leaders or making wise decisions for the good of others. We even derive a term called “empathic leadership” to describe what is needed to succeed in this generation of talented personnels and enthusiasts.
However, ego is something we cannot totally avoid. We needed ego to feel competitive and we needed ego to feel powerful. But what can we do to not let ego take over decisions that affect our level of happiness?
I believe the answer lies in 2 key aspects from Dr. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People –
1. Think win-win;
No one person is best in everything. Often we need teams, friends and others to remind us what we have overlooked and where our strength lies. Allowing others to take control sometimes may be the better outcome in certain situations.
I may argue that self-pity is by far the single most effective way of removing happiness from your life.
Bad experiences do happen to us at times but it is our behaviour and actions that determine how that will affect us. But sometimes, we held too deeply into this belief that it is preventing us from getting to where we want to be. We are always empowered to make choices for ourselves, and in this case, to make sure we move towards happiness.
“Why does this happen to me?” is a question that one often ask whenever bad things happens. Ironically, we never question ourselves when good things happen to us. This is one question to remove for the rest of your life!
Happiness is a Habit
We cultivate habits because of the things we do often. Thoughts operate the same way. If we were to indulge in self-pity or always act as the victim, chances are we will cultivate the same mentality that is going to eat us alive. However, if we were to cultivate a strong mindset and action-oriented behaviour of giving, be kind, helping others, putting others first or simply provide to the best of our capability, in other words, removing the “I” from the equation, we can definitely attain what we call, happiness.
What are you doing or thinking today to move a step closer to happiness?
Do share, do tell!