We’re all in the pursuit of happiness. Some of us find it early, but others unfortunately search for their entire lives. We can reverse-engineer happiness by studying the thoughts of the people who have found the well of happiness and tap into it everyday. Here are 10 unconventional thoughts they have that allow them to experience happiness and contentment effortlessly.
1. “I am adequate as I am.”
People sometimes feel that their vulnerabilities hold them back, that they weaken themselves. In reality, vulnerabilities can be the your greatest strengths. Society is good at cutting us down to the lowest common denominator, so that we’re all square pegs that fit through the same, uniform hole.
In reality, we couldn’t any more different from one another. Some of us give in and let society do what it wants with us. Others fight to the very end. While the latter does involve struggle, it allows you to feel blissfully happy to be yourself and not have to conform to terms and conditions you had no choice but to agree to.
2. “The thing that hurts me the most is actually my greatest strength.”
Everyone has a weakness — something that throws them right into the gutter when people attack it, or point it out. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” or so they say. This saying was based on the premise that you ignore people who try to rile you up. Secretly, it still hurts you.
What truly happy people feel is that their weakness can potentially be their greatest source of strength. They acknowledge that it makes them feel weak, but it could also help them become immensely happy — if they are to see it in a new light. Someone who’s overweight can choose to hate their weight and try yo-yo dieting. It’s destructive behavior that actually makes the situation worse.
If they realize that they’re not failures just because they are a bit heavier than other people, they stop caring as much, love themselves more, and might even lose weight due to not having to rely on food as emotional crutches.
3. “Being angry at someone hurts me more than it hurts the other person.”
There is a beautiful, Buddhist story that explains anger as akin to holding a stone that gradually gets hotter and hotter. You somehow want the person you’re angry at to feel the burn and the pain you’re feeling, but as long as they’re not holding onto the stone, they won’t get hurt.
The only person who’s getting hurt is yourself, which is why you should let go of the hot stone before it causes you too much pain. Happy people don’t hold grudges. They know that it not only uses up a lot of their energy, it also hurts them in the long run.
4. “I have less control in life than I think I do.”
We all live our lives and try to make sense of everything. We see the events that occur in day-to-day not as discrete events, but as a flowing, logical narrative. People write biographies connecting these events together, even if they don’t seem to have any logical connection.
That’s the flaw of us humans. We need meaning in everything. In reality, our very existence is by chance. Every single one of us was brought into this world with no say in where or to who our parents would be. Acknowledging this is immensely emancipating. You feel free from the expectations of your birthright and are free to do whatever you want with your life that makes you happy.
5. “Worrying is literally putting a bet against myself.”
Some people are chronic worriers. They find a way to worry about everything that comes across their mind. They lose sleep over things that, nine times out of 10, either go away themselves or have such a tiny impact in the scheme of things that you wonder what the point of thinking about it is.
Worrying means that you’re believing that something bad could happen. In other words, you’re putting a bet against yourself being happier, healthier, and well off. You think there’s a chance that it’s something that could affect your overall well-being. Think about the last thing you worried about. It’s actually not easy to remember because we all do it so much!
Worry less, think more good thoughts and watch as your happiness suddenly becomes that much better.
6. “The greater the magnitude of the tragedy, the more I can potentially gain from it.”
This is a particularly powerful thought that only the most zen and emotionally intelligent people can understand and accept. If you take the time to truly process this thought, nothing will make you unhappy ever again.
Bad things happen — let’s not hide from the truth. We get fired; a loved one passes away unexpectedly; we have an unfaithful spouse. Society tells us that it’s normal to overreact and let negativity flood our beings.
How would very happy people react to this? They would be still. They would be calm. They would feel sadness, anger, disgust, yes. But they would take the time to see what good can come out of it. Imagine, taking good from something that’s aimed at hurting you. How empowering would that be? People do it, day in, day out. You can do it too.
7. “To make ourselves unhappy is where all the crime starts.”
This is a powerful quote from the legendary Roger Ebert, one of the best film critiques in America. For decades, he analyzed films and shared his opinion on what made them works of art. He had cancer toward the end of his career that left him without the ability to speak. Still, he didn’t let this stop him from critiquing.
This quote, I think, is the ultimate truth on happiness. The moment we’re born, society shoves its expectations on us. We’re told that we’re not good enough, that we have to work harder and try harder to succeed. Sometimes, the best thing is to accept that you’re good enough.
The truth is, we all have a well of happiness inside us. We just have to realize that it’s there. It will never go away and will always let us draw inspiration and happiness from it. Simply stop making yourself unhappy, and you’ll see where it is.