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The 7 Most Powerful Thoughts on Happiness

The 7 Most Powerful Thoughts on Happiness

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 strengthsSociety 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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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