Be honest. When was the last time you laughed so hard that your ribs began to ache? Or better yet, when did you last find yourself sitting in quiet contentment, looking at something beautiful or nothing in particular? When you answer a question about your life to a friend do you find yourself altering the story to make it seem happier, while a peculiar sense of unease builds in the pit of your stomach? We all want to be happy. When we’re not we still want to convince our friends, family, and ourselves that we are because, in our society, happiness is equated with success. What happiness is truly, however, is completely transcendent of all worldly acquisitions, feats, and delusions.
Deluding Yourself Won’t Bring You Happiness
Have you ever felt down on yourself because when you look back and find you have everything that you said you wanted all of those years ago, you still don’t feel fulfilled? Do you shake it off and say to yourself, “I’m happy. Of course I’m happy”? Or maybe you say it in front of a mirror, put on a happy face, and try to further convince yourself. Here is a secret; gratitude may increase happiness but delusion won’t. “No truly happy person feels the need to stand in front of a mirror and recite that she’s happy. She just is.” If you’re truly content with who you are and what you have, then you shouldn’t need to convince yourself or anyone else that you are. You’ll feel it above all else. Beware of trying to convince yourself that you’re happy just because you believe you should. If you aren’t happy it’s because you’re neglecting a key aspect of yourself and it’s calling out to you.
Gratitude and Affirmations vs. Delusions
You may feel that using gratitude and positive affirmations are important ways to increase your happiness. You’re right. These tools are wonderful for helping you gain a more positive outlook on life and helping you achieve a greater level of contentment. The difference between using these and using delusions has to do with honesty. Always be honest when you go through your practice of gratitude and self-affirmation. If you lie then they cease to be an effective spiritual practice and will instead lead to greater suffering.
Love and Happiness
Think about what love means to you. Does it mean pain, attachment, or loss? Real love means none of these things. The negatives that we associate with love don’t actually come from love but from a sense of attachment to an object or a person. If you feel an unhealthy sense of attachment to something, whether it be a person, a house, a job, or even just an idea, you may often feel unhappy when those things fall short of your expectations or when they’re lost. It’s important to redefine love as something pure and unalterable. You may hear different spiritual practices, such as Buddhism, talk about love in the context of love for all living things and its ability to make us unbelievably happy. This should be a long-term goal for all of us, however, for those living in the west, it’s hard to contemplate loving every living being when we don’t even love ourselves! For this reason, it’s important that to become a happier person; you learn the art of self-love. A sense of peace, happiness, and universal love will invariably follow.
It’s important not to confuse the concept of self-love with egocentric behavior. It’s easy to tell the difference because self-love is unbiased, unconditional, and totally accepting. To love yourself is to accept your brightest day and your darkest night, to see your biggest success and your hardest fall with total impartiality. In western culture, many of us are programmed to believe we are only as good as our achievements. To be truly happy, you need to disregard this foolish propaganda. This all may seem very difficult to you, but if you’ve chosen to read this article, then one assumes that you are looking for a very true sense of happiness. And for the true seekers, happiness is always within reach. So how do you start? Here are some ideas:
- Write a list of things that you wish you could change about yourself.
- Next to it, write a list of things you appreciate about yourself. This will help you achieve an unbiased view of who you are and where you are in life. Using this unclouded view, you can learn to accept and love yourself and to change the things that you can’t accept.
- Put aside some quiet time. Why is this so important? It’s important because most of us spend too much of our day worrying about everything other than our own spiritual well-being.
- Take some time to meditate, draw, journal, or just sit quietly with a cup of tea. When you make this a daily habit you’ll begin to feel more comfortable being alone with yourself and more peaceful throughout your busy days.
- Spend time with the people who love you. One of the best ways to remember your own self-worth is to be around friends and family; people who make us feel loved and accepted.
Don’t Be Afraid of Major Life Changes
Sometimes people find stillness only after a storm that rocks the foundations of everything they thought they knew. If you’re stuck in a pattern of delusion and unhappiness in your current life situation, then your life situation may just need to change. Change is frightening to many people, but it’s necessary. Remember that the true enemy to happiness isn’t change, but stagnation. The only person who knows whether you are happy or not is you. Don’t deny yourself happiness by incorrectly assuming that you already are. You should never settle for inferior contentment; instead go out, embrace the adventure that is your life, and be happy.
Featured photo credit: Unslpash via pixabay.com
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