The most important thing you can do to be happier right now is to learn that happiness is natural to you and is already inside of you waiting to be released. You just have to allow yourself to experience it. Once you know this truth of happiness, and incorporate it into the way you look at life, your level of happiness will increase.
We have known for thousands of years that happiness is natural to us. Sure, it is difficult to believe this when you look at the people around you. In addition, Western philosophy and religion have not offered people much hope here. One philosopher claimed that life was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” (Hobbes). Western religion has often not been much better. However, it is my experience that incredible happiness is there for you if you change the way you approach life.
Knowing that happiness is natural to you is important because ultimately you become what you think. If you believe that the world is a certain way, then that is often how it will be for you. You see the world that you expect to see. Depending on how you look at it, the world can be heaven or hell for you.
We are used to thinking and believing that happiness comes from what we do and what we have. However, these circumstances (or conditions) of life only appear to create happiness. Authentic happiness does not depend on the conditions of your life. Real happiness is unconditional. You can experience it regardless of your life situation. You can be rich, beautiful and loved by all, and still be miserable. Alternatively, you can be sick and dying, and joyous.
Let’s try a little thought experiment, which may illustrate what I have been saying.
Pretend that you look at the lottery ticket that you bought last night and discover that you have just won $25 million. What is your reaction? Shock, amazement, disbelief and – happiness. Now ask yourself, where did this happiness come from? You might answer, “winning the lottery, of course.” However, you would be wrong. Winning the lottery may have triggered a feeling of happiness, but winning did not reach inside your mind-body and generate all of the chemical reactions that we know as the feelings of happiness. These feelings arose spontaneously, prompted by the idea of winning the lottery. The potential for happiness was already inside of you, waiting for your mind-body to give you permission to feel it.
Obviously, it does appear that winning the lottery caused the feelings of happiness to arise, but the idea of winning only gave you permission to feel sensations that your mind-body was already capable of producing. Winning appears to be the key criteria for being happy in this case. However, in reality it is important only if your mind-body’s particular rules for happiness say that you can be happy only if you win the lottery and have lots of money.
What is really important is to know that the feeling of happiness was and is already available in your mind-body. It is waiting to be released. All it takes is an idea – a trigger – to experience it.
Now, authentic happiness (winning-the-lottery level happiness) is what we all want. It is already in the mind-body, and once you have taken care of your basic needs for food, clothing and shelter, you should be happy. In fact, you should be joyous. So, the first thing you can do to be happier is learn that happiness is already there, waiting to be released. This is the truth of happiness.
How does knowing this truth of happiness help you be happier? Once you know this – really know this – it changes your approach life.
For example, let’s say you have a job that provides enough for you and your family to be comfortable. However, you believe another job will make you happier because it pays more. It is a high-stress job, but you believe that the additional money makes it worth the stress. The assumption, that making more money will make you happier (an assumption disproven by psychologists), sets you on a road to higher stress and less happiness. The job may prevent you from sleeping well or prevent you from being with your family. It may make you feel bad about yourself because you have to do things you do not feel right about. All of the things that come with the new job may obscure your ability to see the happiness that is inside of you. If, however, you know that the happiness you want is already inside, you might decide not to take the job.
Choosing a job is just one example of how knowing that happiness is natural helps you avoid doing things that will get in the way of being happy. Job choice is a big decision. However, every day you make hundreds of small decisions about what to do, or what not to do, based on what you believe about happiness. If you know that happiness is natural to you, then all of these little decisions will change. Knowing that happiness is natural to you, and acting on this knowledge changes the focus of your attention and intention. It puts everything in perspective and puts you on the path towards greater and greater happiness.
What to do
If you give yourself a chance, you may experience moments of real happiness that seem to come from out of nowhere. When this happens your mind-body may not believe this is happiness. It may tell you it’s a fake, that it is irrational. Have faith in the irrational. If you change the way you approach being happy, you can begin to experience the depths of true happiness that are available to you as your birthright.
The first thing you need to do to begin experiencing this happiness is know that it exists. By the time you finish reading this book, you will hopefully be convinced. The first exercise we are going to do may show you that happiness actually does exist inside of you.
Here is the exercise:
Let’s go back to the lottery winner. $25 million! Unbelievable but true. You wake up poor, you go to sleep rich. Now, pretend that you are going to be in a play and that your role is that of the happy lottery winner. As a good method actor, you know that you have to pull from within yourself all of the feelings of happiness that you can. Your emotions have to be real because you need to convince the audience that you really are an ecstatically happy lottery winner. Spend a minute or so doing this. Feel those emotions. Make them real for yourself. Be ready to convince the audience that you won the lottery.
Now that you have prepared yourself, examine your feelings of happiness. Are they real? Can you make them more real? Can you make them authentic? Try. See if you can make your feelings of happiness complete.
Once the feelings of happiness are as real as you can make them, ask yourself, where did they come from? What is their source? You should be able to see that the feelings are real and that they come from inside of you.
What you want from this exercise is the knowledge that true happiness — real and authentic happiness — is inside of you. It has no other source. If you can begin to see this truth of happiness, you have made an important start on your journey to being happier.
Posted by D.E. Hardesty
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For more, see Finding Your Power to Be Happy.