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This Is Why You Should Not Aim At A Happy Life Anymore

This Is Why You Should Not Aim At A Happy Life Anymore

Happiness is different things to different people. Philosophers believe happiness is about living a good life and flourishing, not simply defining the term as an emotion. Western culture leads us to believe that a happy life is full of money, cars, fame, and fancy clothes. Actually, happiness really comes about by living a meaningful life.

Eckhart Tolle, international best selling author of The Power of Now and A New Earth, explains in his blog:

“The more unconscious you are, the more you are identified with form. The essence of unconsciousness is this: identification with form, whether it is an external form (a situation, place, event or experience), a thought form or an emotion. The more attached to form, the more unsurrendered you are, and the more extreme, violent or harsh your experience.”

The more we attach ourselves to being happy and living a happy life, the more unhappy we become. A happy life is a by product of living a meaningful life. In order to live a meaningful life we must explore different ways to do so.

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1. Accept what is.

We perceive our own reality. We can fight our way through life or we can accept what’s happened. Upon acceptance, we can work out how to manage and learn from those challenging experiences.

2. Identify your values and beliefs.

Many of us don’t know our values or beliefs because we’ve never actually identified them. Take time, think it through, and write them down to create your own mission statement.

3. Don’t compromise those values and beliefs.

It’s important for us to stand up for what we believe in. Our values guide, motivate, and inspire us to change.

4. Maintain emotional flexibility.

People who live their lives with rigid rules and standards are setting themselves up for a lot of disappointment. The same can be said for people trying to live a happy life. By maintaining behavioural flexibility, we allow ourselves to be more open to change, which will effectively allow us to deal with it a whole lot better.

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5. Connect with nature.

Most of us live in concrete jungles. The closest we get to nature is a house plant. However, we should be connected to the world around us and try to become one with all living things. The deeper we dig ourselves into artificial lifestyles, the farther we are from connecting to a deeper meaning of life.

6. Find something that makes you tick.

Whether it’s your job or a hobby, find something that sings to you. Create purpose in what you do. Whatever you do should make you feel good!

7. Give back.

What are you doing to contribute to the greater good of humanity? There are thousands of volunteer opportunities out there. Just one-hour of your time per week or every fortnight can change someone else’s life forever.

8. Be grateful.

Gratitude is a way of being thankful for what you have. It also allows you to return the favour of kindness. A life without gratitude is not worth living. Take these following words of wisdom and run with them.

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Eckhart Tolle said, “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”

Oprah said, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Buddha said, “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”

9. Use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to deal with difficult thoughts and painful feelings.

Dr Russ Harris, M.B.B.S., author of The Happiness Trap, takes a different approach when dealing with challenges. ACT gets it name from one of its core messages: accept what is out of your personal control, and commit to action that improves and enriches your life. The aim of ACT is to maximise human potential for a more meaningful life. I highly recommend reading his book!

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10. Know your strengths.

Instead of dwelling on what you don’t have or can’t do, think about what an amazing person you are, the things you are good at, and all the people that love you for it.

11. Don’t force a happy life.

We shouldn’t try to live a happy life because we think we’re supposed to. Happiness has been shoved down our throats for quite some time now, but it’s up to us to realize that’s really not what life is truly about.

Featured photo credit: Kenny Louie via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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