Being happy now
If there were a journey towards happiness where would it begin? In my opinion, it begins with a decision: to stop postponing being happy until your life circumstances are just how you want them.
If you believe that you'll be happy when you get a better job, a raise, buy your own home, get married, have kids, or whatever it is that you'd like in your life, (and apologies if this sounds harsh, but) you are labouring under a false illusion.
When you achieve something that you've wanted for a while you will feel "happy". However, it is a temporary happiness that will last just as long as it takes for you to adjust to your new circumstances. And it never takes long before a new desire comes along to replace the old one.
That is perfectly normal, and provides you with a drive to move forward in life. But as long as your happiness is associated with having what you want in your life, it will always be a little out of your reach or will be something you experience fleetingly here and there.
Wanting your life to be perfect before you allow yourself to be happy is setting yourself up for failure. This model requires your health, your love life, your relationships with family and friends, your work, your finances, your home environment and your social life to all be ticking along just the way you want them to be - and all at the same time! And if anything is off, then you won't be happy.
Being happy now comes from accepting all of what is right now (refer back to A is for...), even if it's not perfect, and not allowing the imperfections to get you down. It requires letting go of your idea of how things should be and making peace with how things are.
Being happy now also requires letting go of feelings of guilt, shame or regret related to the past. You can't go back and change that. You can only learn from the experiences and with that learning do better now.
The past is over and done with and there is no guarantee that the future will arrive. Both exist merely as thoughts - either as memories or anticipations. Neither is real. The only thing that is real is the present moment.
Which leads to the conclusion, that if you want to be happy, you need to be happy now - no matter what your life looks like right now. That is your challenge in life - if you wish to accept it....
"Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn't have it in the beginning." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Your beliefs rule your life!
If you want to be happier, first and foremost you need to believe that it's possible. If you don't believe you can be happy now, without things being different in your life first, then you won't be happy now.
Whatever you believe to be true will be true for you. The reason for this is that your mind will filter everything it encounters, allowing those ideas and experiences that support your beliefs to be noticed, and disregarding those that don't. Therefore, day in and day out, your mind finds evidence to support your beliefs about life, further compounding your beliefs as being true. That is both good and bad news!
This is bad news because most of our beliefs we carry unconsciously. But it is good news too because once you're aware of this you can pay attention and - get this - change them!!! Yay, how empowering is that!
Beliefs are merely thoughts that we think repeatedly. However, because we hold our beliefs to be truths, we elevate their status as more than mere thoughts, and that's what makes them very powerful. And of course they are truths (the evidence of our lives supports this), BUT they are only our personal truths. They couldn't possibly be universal, because all of mankind differs in their personal sets of beliefs.
And if beliefs aren't universal truths, but merely thoughts that we give power to, then it must be possible to change our beliefs that don't support us to more empowering ones that do. (Hooray!!!)
To change your beliefs, you must change your thoughts. Repeatedly and continuosly. Like most of the tools that will be discussed in this series, the concept is simple but its successful application will require lots of practice. But on the plus side, practice does make perfect and you will reap the rewards : )
The first step is to identify what your unconscious limiting beliefs are. (Leave the positive ones alone - if they serve you well, no need to change them) This is fairly easy to do: look at your life. Whatever you see is a reflection of your beliefs.
What do you see that you don't like? What might be the underlying beliefs? What circumstances would you prefer, and what empowering beliefs would support you in achieving that?
Now write down those new empowering beliefs, and repeat them (out loud if you can, but silently works too) several times whenever you catch yourself thinking thoughts that don't support what you want. Essentially, you'll be using affirmations (again, refer back to A is for ...) to try on your desired beliefs until they start to feel like your own, until they become as integrated into your way of being as the old ones used to be.
Practiced consciously and regularly, affirmations can help to shift limiting beliefs and install more empowering ones. Sadly, this might not be enough. You may need to enlist the help of a life coach or spiritual healer to help shift some of the more deeply ingrained beliefs that are holding you back. But make a start yourself, and see how far you get.
Whatever you do, do something about the beliefs that aren't aligned with how you really want to live your life. Believing you can have what you want is absolutely essential to having it.
Believe you can be happy now, even if right now your life isn't perfect, and you are setting yourself up for success : )
Doing your Best
In his guide to personal freedom, Don Miguel Ruez outlines Four Agreements which can have a profound effect on your life if practriced consistently. One of them is "Do your best".
"Just do your best — in any circumstance in your life. It doesn’t matter if you are sick or tired, if you always do your best there is no way you can judge yourself. And if you don’t judge yourself there is no way you are going to suffer from guilt, blame, and self-punishment. By always doing your best, you will break a big spell that you have been under.”
Doing your best will increase your happiness because you can't help but feel good about yourself when you know you've done a good job. When you do less than your best, even if others are satisfied or impressed by your work, you don't have the same level of inner satisfaction. When you secretly know that you could be doing so much more than you are doing, there's a big chance it's going to quietly eat away at you inside.
In doing your best you actively contribute to your own healthy sense of self-worth. In a nutshell, you will respect yourself more. You will value your own contribution and what's more, you will accept other's appreciation of your work - in knowing you deserve it, their respect and admiration will ring true to you and it will strengthen your own inner sense of respect.
Self respect and self esteem. Inner states of being. Just like happiness : ) They all go hand-in-hand.
Doing your best can't help but lead to a happier you!