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Last Updated on October 12, 2017

Dismissing Sadness Will End up Making You Sadder

Dismissing Sadness Will End up Making You Sadder

No one wants to be unhappy. We can mostly accept this as an universal truth. We often actively seek to avoid unhappiness even though it does come for all of us: breakups, school failings, disappointments in personal relationships, frustrations at work.

In the last 5-10 years especially, there’s been an increasing amount of discussion about happiness, the importance of happiness, how to seek happiness, where to locate happiness, and anything else you can think of. The self-help industry is massive — about $11 billion in the U.S. alone.[1] When Disney modernized their theme parks a few years ago, they even called the project “reinventing happiness.”[2] It’s on many minds, and you can find the topic in dozens of TED Talks.

This approach is problematic.

As writer Emily Esfahani Smith has pointed out in a TED Talk, the focus should be less on happiness and more on finding some degree of meaning in your life. Meaning is a mix of purpose and behaviors with intent; it’s akin to finding your passion and yourself.

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One of the problems with this whole discussion is the interplay between sadness and happiness. In a world without sadness, there can’t be happiness either. It’s just a straight line of emotion. How would you even know you’re happy if you’ve never experienced being sad?

Happiness is relative. Think about it in terms of peaks:

    Why is this a peak? Only because of a difference in height between this and everything around. Flat ground isn’t a peak, correct?

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    Happiness and sadness work the same way. Without one, the other can’t be defined.

    When you avoid sadness, then, you reduce happiness in your life too. Life is ultimately about experiencing different aspects and locations. Avoiding sadness often means avoiding experiences. As you avoid sadness, you paradoxically also avoid happiness — and you drown your thinking in things that may not actually happen.

    A better approach is to think about life this way…

      Perfection is essentially unattainable, as is any form of “truly perfect happiness.”

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      This entire concept is called “The Progress Principle“. Celebrating small wins helps you create your own system of instant gratification. Your brain needs to feel happy. And it needs to feel happy often. By looking at life as a journey instead of a short-term goal, you start to see the bigger picture and see the ups and downs as part of the progress.

      Ups and downs are part of the journey

      No one has a perfect life. Everyone has their own challenges and problems.

      When you feel negative, you’re focusing on the current level while the peak level is yet to come. You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.

      Monitor your emotions and rack up small wins along the way

      When you reach a disappointment in life, it’s likely you only see it as a big fluctuation. But in the long-run, it’s a small dip on an upward-trending pathway.

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      Be aware of your everyday emotions, you will realize that you’re happier on some days and sadder on others. A bad day happens only occasionally. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment right now, flash back your memory to when you feel happier. This memory keeps you going during your down times.

      Getting started with the Progress Principle

      You can start by tracking your emotions. This will increase self-awareness. Find out more about how to do it here: The Magic of Marking down Your Mood Every Day

      You can also write down your achievements every day, or do a “3-1” model where you write down 3 positive things and 1 constructively negative thing. At the end of a week, you have 21 positives and 7 things to work on. It gives you a good baseline for next week’s progress.

      If you want to stay motivated despite occasional down times, read How to Stay Motivated Even Though You Can’t See Yourself Moving Forward

      Featured photo credit: Alphacolor 13 on Unsplash via decaf.kouhi.me

      Reference

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      Brian Lee

      Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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      Last Updated on September 17, 2018

      What Is Your Destiny in Life? How to Mindfully Achieve Your Purpose

      What Is Your Destiny in Life? How to Mindfully Achieve Your Purpose

      At several points in our lives, we tend to ask– if not question, what is our destiny in life and the truth about why we’re living.

      On days of frustration, it’s more of questioning why we haven’t figured it all out. On days of reflection, it’s more of what serves us. On the good days, you feel that purpose in your bones. And on the bad days, you might feel no purpose at all.

      Here’s the deal:

      How do you define purpose?

      Webster’s dictionary defines it as “something set up as an object or end to be.”

      “End to be” almost sounds too predestined – that our “purpose” is out of our control because at the end of the day we’ll truly end up at our truest destination, and life is just trying to figure out what that is along the way.

      What if our life’s purpose is to be present here on earth because your life’s mission is determining what serves us and what we’re willing to contribute?

      What is your destiny in life?

      I once asked a friend what his fear in life was. He feared hurting people, and he also fears never amounting to be of significance to anyone in his relationships – friendships, romantically, and as a colleague. It got to the point where he stayed in unfulfilled romantic relationships because breaking up would mean it would make him the antagonist in her story.

      They say we meet 80,000 people in our lifetime and that is if we live to be 78-years-old.[1] From the moment you were born to this very exact moment you are now reading this article, we are an accumulation of upbringings, experiences, moments, tragedies, and the influences of the people we have met.

      The death of someone impacts us deeply because of the connection we had shared with that person. We cheer for our home team during the World Cup because of the pride we have for our country. We attend weddings and anniversaries to celebrate love and it is the the love we have for our friends and the love for our partner.

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      Life’s purpose is more about the connection we make with others and having that chance to live 80,000 different lives. It’s a chance to deepen our self-awareness, and truly understand what resonates with our inner self.

      I then looked at my friend and asked him this:

      “Out of the 80,000 people you have met and will continue to meet, do you truly believe you won’t inspire anyone at all? Out of the 80,000 that will come in and out of your life, could you say you won’t hurt any of them or be hurt by any of them?”

      It’s literally impossible.

      Sometimes we meet people who inspire us greatly, who shift our lives and in return, we shift theirs; they are a makeup of their own 80,000 people. While other times, we meet people who have impacted us negatively; they too are a makeup of their own 80,000 people.

      The bottom line is:

      Our life’s purpose is to connect with others and by doing so, our life’s mission becomes clearer.

      The truth about our mission

      Is our mission always clear? Probably not.

      Your life’s mission is probably not the same as it was when you were 20, or even the same as it was a year ago. It could have changed from “wanting to become a nurse so I can help the elderly” to “wanting to open a 24-hour daycare center to help parents who work graveyard shifts.”

      The commonality here is the want to help people. The how and what may change, but the why is what remains.

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      As our lives continue to go through waves, it’s only natural for our values to change along with those waves.

      The question to ask here is:

      In midst of the chaos and whirlwind of events  we call life, what continues to stand still after all these years?

      Our life’s mission comes down to that constant voice that repeatedly sends signals and stirs that pot of emotions, excitement, and ambition within us. Although it may seem unclear, it’s the one thing that never changes:

      • Have you always loved the art of storytelling because it connects strangers?
      • Have you always loved making handcrafted jewelry because it drives your creativity?
      • Have you always been drawn to cooking because it keeps you in control of what you are putting in your body?

      How to achieve your destiny

      Think of your life mission as an anchor. Now it’s time to look into how to harness that anchor and conquer your destiny.

      1. Decide – Your mind is the captain

      Imagine your mind as the captain of the ship and the anchor is your life’s mission. Your ship is currently sitting at a standstill point in life with four possible directions: north, east, west, and south. As easy as it is to set sail, it’s harder when the destination may seem unclear.

      The first step is always deciding.

      Sometimes we stay at this standstill moment because we’re afraid of sailing towards the wrong direction.

      Maybe we’ve done it one too many times in the past, and that the fear has since stayed. So, we end up being content with sitting comfortably in our ship because there are no waves, no currents, just calmness that surrounds us. But there is no adventure, and after a while the calm waves seem almost lonesome.

      You will never fail because look at your ship at this exact moment — It’s out on the waters, it’s the result of all the small and large decisions you’ve been making throughout life. You have sailed your ship out to sea before, and you can do it again. Don’t over think it and be accountable for youself to decide.

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      Regardless of the direction you do decide to take, you will still continue to meet a handful of people to add into your 80,000; with that, a chance to gain additional experiences, knowledge, inspirations, and lessons to redefine our life’s mission. The thing is, you have to sail somewhere.

      The moment you sail and live your life’s purpose by meeting people on this journey, you will meet people who will challenge your life’s mission. Regardless of whatever tangible action you decide to take, you must learn to trust our anchor.

      As long as you have your anchor, it will hold you and remind you of what truly moves you. It’s that one constant thing to guide you when you are at your next standstill.

      2. Do – Your body is the ship

      As your mind continues to steer, your body is the ship that sails; it gets you to the destination your mind is trying to go. To actively achieve your life’s mission, you must do the following step.

      The second step is to do and keep doing.

      Whatever it may be, just do. If it’s a book you’ve been wanting to write for years, it’s time to write. If it’s a 5k run you’ve been putting aside because work is too hectic, it’s time to train. If it’s to finally start that business, but finances are always tight, it’s time to try.

      Complacency isn’t a fun place – neither is an uncrossed list of things you’ve been wanting to do that probably all ties in with your mission.

      Once you start, everything will fall into place. Trust the anchor to guide you and give you that nudge when something isn’t working anymore. As we continue to interact with others and grow physically and mindfully, our ideas and projects – sometimes careers and ideal relationships can change with them.

      Listen to that anchor, because that anchor is always connected to your life’s mission.

      3. Reflect – Looking beyond the horizon

      Now it’s time to take charge of your destiny. There’s power to making a decision but there’s greater power in putting those decisions into action. Afterwards, it’s time to reflect.

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      Your mind is the captain – calling all the shots, making the choices and deciding which waves to ride over and which waves to steer clear from. It’s also the one thing that propels you forward, and on some days, it can be your best companion, while on other days, your worst enemy.

      Your body is the ship – it puts all those decisions into action. It takes you to those job interviews, it types out the words onto a keyboard and into a working manuscript, it also gets your heart pumping during workouts. Your body is the action taker.

      Your anchor is your spirit – your anchor is your current reminder. It will often ask you if things continue to resonate with you. It’s your gut, it’s your instinct, and it’s the one thing that stays true to you. Listening to it will give you a clearer understanding of your mission, but only if you live your life’s purpose.

      Meet people, ask them questions, and see what stirs the anchor within you. The answer will always lie there, and the anchor is what leads you to your destiny.

      Final thoughts

      As humans, our one life has been a string of moments created, enjoyed, and experienced with others and that alone makes the world turn.

      Our purpose is to be present on this earth, but our mission is to tap into our calling and learn how to give back. It’s listening to that anchor that has stayed with us our whole lives.

      By mindfully becoming aware and actively doing the things that call to us, we begin to steer our ship towards passionate projects, people, and places that stay true to our inner compass.

      Featured photo credit: S A R A H ✗ S H A R P via unsplash.com

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