Tag Archives: Conscious

How To Find Happiness Within Yourself: A Rough Guide

The quest of finding happiness is possibly the only goal shared among all human beings – past, present or future. Who doesn’t want to find happiness in his or her life? It’s a silent goal nonetheless. We don’t mutter much about it and most of the time it lurks in the deep inner workings of our minds. Curious isn’t it?

The odd fact is we spend billions of research dollars & euros into treating mental illnesses with drugs, but not much effort goes into understanding the science of happiness or mental well-being. This fact alone compels me to write about the subject.

The title of this article is in itself revealing – “how to find happiness within yourself” suggests from the outset that you should look for happiness within yourself and that happiness is general to be found within. This is also a very curious thing to me. Why are we always trying to find happiness in all kinds of places but hardly ever attempt to find happiness within?

Harry is 67. He lost his wife to cancer almost three years ago now. He saw his daughter pass through a marriage breakdown and divorce. He hardly gets to see his grandchildren because his daughter moved to another city after her divorce. He misses the fishing trips with his brother Joe who also passed away recently. He is relating less and less to a changing hostile world where he is constantly reminded he is an unwanted burden.

Yet there is one major twist to the story. Harry is happy, radiantly happy. How can this happen? I mean if there are people who have passed through all sorts of heartbreaking episodes and hardships but are happy, what’s their story? Conversely, if there are people (and lots of them) who have acquired all sorts of merit, possessions, and good fortune yet is deeply unhappy, what does this say about finding happiness?

Finding happiness by losing old mental models:

One major flaw in the way we live our lives is that we have learned how to be unhappy rather than how to be happy. We have built certain mental models of our reality and these limit us or lead us astray from finding real happiness. Naturally this leads us to the understanding that finding happiness requires us to unlearn certain things and look for it in different pathways. It requires us to look into flaws in our belief system and change them.

One of these mental models we adopt is the belief that we need to reach a certain goal or outcome to be happy, the so-called ‘if-then model’ (if this happens then I will be happy). For example that we should get a better income, financial freedom, recognition of our work, sexier bodies, satisfying relationships and so on. It’s always something around the corner which needs to happen first before we reach happiness.

I know you have many times got to the realization yourself that it just doesn’t work that way. Once you reach that corner there is always another corner to reach. Happiness is not found in anything outside ourselves. We already have all the material at hand to be happy. It’s a matter of shifting our perspective and beliefs completely.

Some mental models to take note of and debunk:

• Happiness is the pleasure: No. Pleasure is instant gratification – physical or mental. Happiness is knowing that you are where you should be or accepting that you are not and doing your best while you’re there.

• Happiness is comfort or security: We live most of our lives in constant security threats – our jobs, our children out at night, our health, etc. The truth is that security or lack of it is based on perception. Happiness is living well in a very unstable world.

• I don’t deserve happiness: Yeah, says who? Another human quirk – self-inflicted limitation. Happiness is for everyone, wherever you come from, whatever you did and no matter what’s your idea. Happiness is open-source.

• It’s impossible to find happiness in this world: Another example of self-limiting beliefs. Wrong. Happiness is as possible to find as unhappiness.

• People who reached their goals are invariably happy: Again, says who? People who reached their goals are not happy because they reached their goals. On the contrary, some are eternally dissatisfied and keep on seeking, other goals in life – a real source of unhappiness. But yes some people found happiness while reaching those goals since they were living their true purpose and enjoying every moment of it. Their eyes were on the doing and not on the reaching.

Finding Inner Happiness Through Finding Inner Peace

So many stories around us, like that of Harry, seem to point at the overlooked obvious – that you will only find happiness within yourself. Well, that’s very good news since you don’t need to look far away to find happiness – like for example running after expensive, energy-consuming and ultimately unsatisfying goals. It’s there right within you. As scientist Zen Buddhist Jon Kabat-Zinn perfectly immortalized in one of his book titles: “Wherever you go, there you are.”

When life rocks your boat to the point of wrecking it or when the proverbial crap hits the ceiling fan you will reach a y-point which will either make you or break you. So many people like Harry managed to find happiness & inner peace through the most turbulent and upsetting moments of their lives by making use of their internal resources, by finding happiness within rather than in external points of reference.

The key to happiness, or, in other words, that of finding true inner happiness, is by finding your inner peace – that center of calm inner knowing which is the real source of your being rather than those mental projections or models imposed by your social background.

There are many pathways to find your inner peace but before I start sounding too metaphysical I’d reckon that the greatest and shortest path is that of acceptance. Let go of your expectations, inner struggle, and frustrations when things don’t turn out exactly, the way you want them. Acceptance is an extremely powerful tool to finding inner happiness. It shouldn’t be confused with resignation or passiveness.

We often fail to understand the power of acceptance because it comes from the heart, not the mind. Its power, in fact, comes from transcending the resistance and inner currents of the restless mind which are often the source of our anxieties, stress, and inner conflict.

Acceptance is when we drop all, our mental models (like the if-then model), often in a moment of clarity or awareness where we become conscious that there is another life outside this madness, outside this huffing and puffing trying to acquire one goal after the other in the wrong belief that there is an ultimate goal post called happiness somewhere on the finishing line.

Ask yourself – how much of what’s going on in your life do you accept? Are you constantly feeling you should be at some other point in your life? Or do you somehow feel at peace with all aspects of your life and make use of them with all their limitations?

Other pathways to inner peace:

• Compassion: Some people admirably manage to find the time and energy to help other even when they are facing rough seas themselves. Even though this comes out from an act of compassion and selflessness, it is also a doorway to their own inner peace. In fact although it seems quite hard to do in moments when we are down and out, giving attention to others’ needs is a way of getting ‘out of your head’ which, ironic as it sounds, is a fast remedy to unhappiness.

• Seek the support of others: Well, it works both ways too. Helping others is a way to shift your center of attention away from your ailments. However seeking any form of support from others is a way of finding reinforcement and encouragement and is highly recommendable.

• Be grateful to everything around you: Because we so often forget of the little miracles happening around us on a daily basis. We only think about what’s missing instead of counting our blessings. Being thankful to life is not some wishy-washy magical spell that washes away all your troubles. Rather it is an exercise in which you become aware of the positive and meaningful things happening in your life, a real booster.

Image

 

Advertisements

What It Really Means To Be In Love

How to get past your own defenses and learn to build a real relationship?

While many of us may have sensed it intuitively, there is now science behind the statement that “Love is all you need.” A 75-year longitudinal study by Harvard researchers suggests that love is indeed a key to a happy and fulfilling life.

While love seems to be a universally valued attribute, defining it in behavioral terms can be a challenge. As the Harvard study’s lead researcher, Dr. George Vaillant, wrote of his team’s findings, two essential ingredients are proven to correlate with a happy existence: “One is love. The other is finding a way of coping with life that does not push love away.”

While many of us believe we would like to be in love, we face many hurdles in taking the actions that allow love to flow freely throughout our lives and relationships. We have many ways of defending ourselves against love and can struggle to give and receive love with ease, openness, and vulnerability.

With love being so closely connected to meaning and fulfillment, it’s valuable for each of us to define love as an action or series of actions we can take to bring us closer to the people we value. In a romantic context, some essential characteristics that fit the description of a loving relationship include:

• Expressions of affection, both physical and emotional.
• A wish to offer pleasure and satisfaction to another.
• Tenderness, compassion, and sensitivity to the needs of the other.
• A desire for shared activities and pursuits.
• An appropriate level of sharing of possessions.
• An ongoing, honest exchange of personal feelings.
• The process of offering concern, comfort, and outward assistance for the loved one’s aspirations.

Love includes feeling for the other that goes beyond any selfishness or self-interest on the part of the loved one. As such, love nurtures and has a positive effect on each person’s self-esteem and sense of well-being. Love never involves deception, because misleading another person fractures his or her sense of reality.

So how well do we meet these standards for being loving? When we think about a relationship that is meaningful to us, we have to ask:

• Do we both behave in ways that nurture each other?
• Do we take actions to make the other person feel good?
• Do we consider what lights that person up, separate from our own interests?

Too often, we think of love as an almost passive state of being, as opposed to a conscious choice we make. When we regard love as something we simply fall into, we can easily slip into routines with the person we value or lose a sense of separateness and respect. Instead, we view that person as a part of us. We then run the risk of creating a fantasy bond, an illusion of fusion in which real feelings of fondness and attraction are replaced by the form of being in a relationship. In other words, we come to see ourselves and our partner as a single unit. We then fall into roles rather than appreciating each other as individuals and experiencing the exciting, loving feelings that result.

A fantasy bond offers a false sense of security—the illusion that we are no longer alone. However, when we connect to someone in this way, we lose our sense of vitality, and we give up significant aspects of our relationship. The behavioral operations of love are replaced with a fantasy of being in love, which does not nurture either partner.

Relationships tend to go south when we stop taking actions that our partner would perceive as loving and instead start looking to our partner solely to meet our own needs. It’s important to distinguish emotional hunger from real love. Have you ever witnessed a parent hugging a child and wondered whether the hug was intended to comfort the child, offering reassurance and care, or to soothe the parent, taking something from the child? When we reach out to our partner, it can be valuable to examine whether our behaviors are for them or for ourselves. Are we looking to them to fulfill us in some way that is unfair to them? Are we hoping they will make up for an emptiness or hurt from our past?

A couple I’ve worked with recently recognized an example of this dynamic. The wife would often compliment her husband, but he rarely felt acknowledged by her words. When she recounted some of the recent comments she made, she noticed that they were less of a reflection of him and more a reflection on her. Statements like: “Aren’t I married to such a handsome, well-put-together man?” Or: “Haven’t I picked a winner?” didn’t capture qualities that were important to him. They were traits she valued in a partner that reconfirmed her own self-esteem and sense of worth.

Love should never be an act of manipulation. It is not a mark of ownership over another person, but the exact opposite—a genuine appreciation of a person as a separate individual. When we see a person this way, we allow ourselves to fully value them for who they are and for the happiness they bring to our lives. We are driven to be generous toward the person, to show compassion and kindness in a way that both they and the outside world would view as loving.

Of course, there are many barriers we put in place that not only keep us from finding this type of relationship but from achieving it with the person we love. One reason we wind up in less-than-loving relationships is the ways we were treated in our past. We may have become familiar with family dynamics in which we were rejected or intruded on, in which case we tend to seek out or recreate these same dynamics in our adult relationships. To become more loving thus means recognizing ways we self-sabotage: How are we recreating past hurts in our current relationships?

As we reflect on these behaviors, we learn a lot, not only about how we interfere with our naturally loving feelings for others but about the negative ways we feel about ourselves. It’s difficult to express love outwardly when we don’t feel our own sense of self-worth. One of the biggest reasons we shut out love is because we feel unworthy or self-denying. Therefore, to have a loving relationship, we must challenge our negative self-concept or critical inner voice. When we do this and take the loving actions that contradict our critical self-image, we enhance our own sense of worth and are able to get closer to the people we love.

Image

 

Why Is ‘Break Up’ So Painful?

Falling passionately in love with someone is one of the most exhilarating feelings, as if you had wings and you are flying high in the sky, feeling the wind romantically blowing through your hair. And usually, when love ends, it feels as if you’ve been dropped like a rock in mid-air. You scramble to grab a hold of something … anything, as you witness your body falling at great speeds, and then shattering on the earth below.

Whether we’re talking about breakups, or facing the reality of a one-sided romance, it is painful. So much so that it disrupts our normal flow of experiences, causing us to not function normally.

With so much emotion invested and our identities tied in with these experiences, it’s no wonder that this is the number one topic requested by readers. Over the past year, I have regularly received email from readers sharing their own takes on painful breakups; tales of guilt, of fear, of regret, and of resentment. Although the stories were different, the underlying message was universal and one in the same, “I am in so much pain from not being with this person – what can I do?”

Sometimes, the pain of lost love is so intense that it can shake our beliefs about romance and relationships. When these emotional bruises are not understood and have not healed properly, they become invisible baggage that drag with us into the next relationship. This article focuses on the healing process from “love lost”.

The Origins of Love and Pain:

I believe that love is a universal energy infused in all forms of life. It is something that lies within the core of every one of us. When we are in a state of conscious awareness, the intense feeling of love and connection is clear and undeniable. When we are in this state of clarity and inner peace, our thoughts and actions are based in love and truth.

Within the depths of our souls, we are all connected by this unifying and essential energy of life – love. We occasionally experience glimpses of this deep connection through various and accidental happenstances, such as:

  • A gratifying and intimate conversation with another person. Sharing and expressing your thoughts honestly and openly.
  • Creative expressions such as playing music, writing, drawing, dancing, cooking, designing or even computer programming.
  • Meditation, prayers or communing with your chosen religious group.
  • Communing with nature during a hike, a walk or while sitting by the bed of a river flowing beautifully in front of you.
  • During sexual orgasm.

When we fall in love with another person, we are essentially experiencing the love that was within us all along. The person is merely acting like a mirror reflecting our soul back at us. Technically, we can’t “fall” in love, because we are already made of love. The other person, much like a musical instrument, is the catalyst allowing us to recognize the beauty that’s already within us.

Because of our lack of understanding that love resides within us, and that we actually have the power to invoke it on our own, we credit it to the other person for giving love to us. This feeling is so strong and extraordinary, that we become addictive and possessive. We want to capture it and keep it fixed, so that we can – at last – keep this heightened feeling forever.

The desire and dependency to keep this form fixed, becomes a source of self identification that artificially justifies who we are as physical beings. We become attached to the fixed idea of how our relationship should go and our ego quickly becomes the main investor in this fund of a relationship.

The truth is that, everyone and everything is in a constant flow of change. The changes in us and in our external circumstances are inevitable and undeniable. When we change, the dynamics of our relationships change – not just romantic ones, but also friendships, family ties, and our relationships with co-workers.

Over time, some relationships strengthen and some grow apart. When people grow apart, it doesn’t mean that either one of them was a bad person, but rather that they’ve learned all that they needed to from the other person, and that it’s time to move on.

When it’s time to move on, we hold onto this invisible box that contains an idealized and fixated form of how things should be. We unconsciously and instinctively fall into the false believe that we must stop the love when we are no longer romantically involved.

Because we attribute love as being ‘to’ this other person external to us, pain happens when we forcefully try to kill the love, which is actually within us.

Let’s repeat: Pain happens when we forcefully kill the love that’s within us.

When we forcefully try to kill the love within us, it physically feels as if someone has stabbed a knife into our heart, and a sharp pain surfaces in our chest area. In reality, we are that someone doing the stabbing, because we are trying to sever our innate connection to love and our soul is now bleeding. Our soul is crying for help, asking us to stop the stabbing, to stop the pain.

Image

How To Overcome A Painful Break-Up?

It goes without saying that breaking up with someone you love is not easy. And the more you like someone the more painful it will be when you have to stop seeing someone who you really like and care about, and if your to be ex-partner is the kind of person you think you are not going to meet any time soon because there aren’t just many individuals out there, who will be that special to you. Losing a loved one inevitably breaks one’s heart and learning how to heal that broken heart is very important to our emotional health and to our ability to return to enjoying dating life promptly.

Indeed, we often have no choice but never see each other again, and therefore it’s worth knowing how to get over those break ups and continue moving forward with our lives with the right mindset, and not continuing drowning ourselves in self-pity or indulging in any kind of self destructive post-break-up behavior for too long after.

Here are the steps you can and you should take in order to get over any break-up quicker and in a more healthy manner:

1. Avoid harboring hope that you and your ex-partner will get back together. This is the crucial time when you must demonstrate strength and reluctance in letting those thoughts get into your head. Being strong now will most certainly pay off in the future.

2. Stop reminiscing on the wonderful times that you and your ex had while you were together. Such wonderful memories are great to have, and you should be thankful that you had those great experiences and feelings. However, at that most painful time, right after breaking up, these thoughts do nothing good to you and only aggravate your pain and prolong your recovery by making you feel that you sustained a major loss.

3. Stop thinking that your ex was one of a kind person. No matter how special he/she was, you own future dating life will show that your next love will be also very special in his/her own, unique way – this is just the reality of how love works.

4. Realize and truly believe that whatever happens, happens for a reason and for your own best. This includes break-ups. Think about it – every time you have to throw away a great pair of old, worn-out shoes that felt more comfortable than any other shoes you have ever had, your next pair of shoes is often even more comfortable. Most people who lose a job eventually find a better one. This is a far reaching analogy, but the same applies to relationships. If you were taken out of your recent relationship by some great force, perhaps that force is trying to take you out of that relationship and put you back into the market, so that you start looking for and eventually find a partner who is even better for you and more compatible with you on all levels.

5. Perceive your recent break-up as a great opportunity to learn how to deal with such experiences and become a stronger and a more mature individual. Like any other challenging experience that pushes your emotional levels (such as employment termination, loss of a loved one to a terminal illness, etc…) breaking up and losing love today will “condition” you and will make your recovery from similar experiences in the future easier.

6. Do not perceive a relationship as an investment and your lost relationship as a waste of time. Be grateful! Be grateful for having been granted the joy of love and affection of your former partner as long as your relationship lasted and don’t forget that some things are probably just not meant to last. There is no insurance against breaking up whether you have been together for one month or for 20 years. Just look around you. I surely don’t need to tell you how high the divorce rate is. Some people perceive it as a very negative by-product of the modern, western culture, but I would like to suggest to you that it is quite normal and even natural. Most people simply do not belong with each other in a romantic relationship. Most relationships end, most people who are dating, are bound to break up. There is nothing wrong with it – it’s an inevitable selection process and we all participate in it. Accepting it as a natural part of dating life is very important and can be quite effective in helping you overcome a painful break-up.

7. If you believe that you made certain mistakes in your recent relationship, whether they were the ones that caused the break-up or not, make sure you learn from those mistakes and move forward as a person who possesses a better understanding of himself and his interactions with romantic partners, and make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes in the future.

8. Lastly, continue living! Pursue your professional and social goals and don’t leave much space for boredom in your life. This is not the right time to “relax.” You will have plenty of time to relax once you are over your ex and perhaps once you met someone new.

Breaking up is hard, but it can be a positive experience if you allow it to be. It can make you grow and become a stronger and a more attractive person. Make sure you take advantage of those valuable life lessons!

Further, it is important that you remember that the pain of breaking up is an emotion, and as such, it will not go away overnight. It will take time for your feelings to go away. But with conscious effort of keeping in mind the above points, you can make the process of overcoming and recovering from the break-up much faster and easier.

Image

Are You Letting Your Disappointments Destroy You?

How do you normally deal with your disappointments? Do you block them out of your life? Do you sleep them off and hope that you will feel better when you wake up? Do you tap into them as a source of energy for your future goals?

Avoid Dealing With Disappointments In Destructive Manners.

Many people are caught like fish out of water when they are faced with disappointment. Because they are not taught on how to deal with it, they end up adopting various destructive approaches instead.

1. Avoidance by numbing yourself with other activities.

Some people try to drown out or tune out of their disappointment by engaging in anything that takes their mind off the subject. They may take part in activities such as partying, hanging out, sleeping. They push themselves into going through the motions of daily life so they can just operate in auto-pilot mode without thinking. Some turn to addictions such as retail therapy, playing games, emotional eating, sex or even stimulants such as alcohol and drugs. These people seek solace in whatever that is within their radius, in their effort to avoid being alone with their disappointment. Rebound relationships are commonly formed for this reason, where the person tries to get over the previous relationship without having to deal with it directly.

While these give a temporal uplift in the short-run, they do not resolve the issue. Soon after, they face another situation which leads to disappointment again. Instead of properly resolving the problem, their immediate reaction is to turn to the same set of activities and actions to drown out the emotions. This eventually continues in a downward spiral.

2. Denying your goals and dreams.

In the longer term, some block out their dreams and goals in life, pretending they don’t exist. They develop dual personality halves – on the outside, they erect a wall which serves as a form of defense mechanism; on the inside, they hide their real self and desires underneath. They condition themselves into not setting any expectations, since disappointment will not occur where there are no expectations.

For example, people who have been scarred by negative relationships tend to develop barriers to love. On the outside, they appear aloof and cool; however on the inside they long to find their special someone. Because they fear getting hurt, they deny their desire for relationships and refuse to let people into their lives. At some point in the future, this denial catches up with them and it creates a backlash. Have you ever met such people before? They look like they don’t care, but you know on the inside, they really do care. As they block out their desires, they in turn make themselves more miserable in the long-run instead.

3. Giving up on your goals and dreams.

There is another group of people who give up on their goals and dreams. While they still long for their goals, these people resign to a fate where they will never reach them. They become depressed and self-depreciative, devaluing their own self worth and thinking they are not meant to achieve anything. They spend more effort everyday trying to convince themselves and people around them that they will never ever achieve their goals, as opposed to acting on them.

What Happens When You Deal With Disappointments Destructively?

If you have ever dealt with disappointments in the above manner, you are not properly dealing with them.

One of the reasons disappointment is good is because it represents passion for a cause. The higher your disappointment, it means the stronger your passion is.

Whenever you try to drown out your disappointment, deny your goals and dreams or even give up on them, you are really just rejecting who you are on the inside. You are denying your desires, your wants, your goals, your dreams, your visions, your real self – everything. These desires originated from somewhere inside of you, for a reason – and that reason is not for them to be denied. To quote Esther and Jerry Hicks from the book Ask And It Is Given, “If you have the ability to imagine it, or even to think about it, this Universe has the ability and the resources to deliver it fully unto you.”

When you try to deny your real desires, you are just hollowing yourself from inside out. You can try to pretend everything is fine and lead your everyday life, but you cannot fool your subconsciousness. Everyday, living feels like an empty act. Over time, you will find yourself sinking from a state of disappointment and dissatisfaction to a state of apathy. You start living everyday in a lifeless, zombie-like manner, with no passion or zest. You feel like you are just swiveled up on the inside; everything through your lens just seems barren and empty.

The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way at all. You are not alone in your disappointment. Everyone has faced disappointment at some point – your friends, family, teachers, managers, co-workers, etc. I have faced disappointments as well, from all different areas of my life. It is not a phenomenon exclusive to you. As much as disappointment is an emotion triggered without your conscious undertaking, you can proactively deal with it in a conscious manner. As long as you learn how you address your disappointments properly and pick up from here, you can lead life the way it is meant to be led – in alignment with your passions and inner desires.

Image

Lower Your Expectations From Others

According to the law of action, you get back what you give to the world. It leads you to have your mind conditioned to expect. It also drives you to give your best to the world while simultaneously keeping your eyes on the return.

However, expectation becomes your primary source of sorrow in life. You have your own perception of expectation, but often you are deceived. When these expectations do not get fulfilled, they give you disappointment proportionate to the magnitude of your expectations.

Generally, your expectations from others arise when you have done some favor to others or have relation with someone. For example, you think that he is your relative, so he should do that for you, or you have done so much for him, so he should do at least this for you.

Hence, you should always remember, the good work ever done by you never goes in vain. It comes back to you in some way or other. Nevertheless, you should not make a commercial trade of it and always think of the bargain before extending your help to others.

To sum up, be thankful to the person who reciprocates for your help and never have any ill-feeling for the person who do not reciprocate. Have a conscious watch on your expectations and lower them at the level that you do not get disappointed when they do not get fulfilled.

Image

Get Rid Of Nervousness

Moving away from the comfort zone generates nervousness in almost everyone. It is normal and even help you to remain active and alert. But the problem starts when you develop the tendency to be the victim of it. It starts to affect the best of you and also stops you to take up further initiative in life. Hence, you should make a conscious effort to counter your nervousness and get rid of it as soon as possible.

When you go beyond your comfort zone, you feel low self-confidence and that generate a fear of making mistakes. You think that your respect is at the stake in taking up the initiatives. You fear about other people opinion about yourself and that in turn makes a heavy burden on your mind and prevents you to move ahead in your life.

Most of the people, due to lack of self-confidence develop a different kind of apprehensions. They do not have trust and faith in their capabilities and stops to make progress in their lives. There are many situations, which generate nervousness in people, such as attending interview/meetings, participating in group discussion, appearing before higher authority, speaking in public, giving a performance, and of the same.

To get rid of nervousness requires making a preparation in advance and taking up initiative to do the things constantly which make you feel nervous. Always keep in mind, as a human being you are bound to make mistakes and the person who matter in your life will never have a problem with that. They will feel sorry only when you stop trying new things to make your life meaningful. You can also make a guess about what the worse will happen if you are not succeeded and in that situation what other will think about you? Ask yourself if you make an opinion about a person who gets failures in their initiative. You will realize that generally people do not have much time to think about others and those people who think will never have a problem with your mistakes.

Finally, make a conscious effort to do the things regularly which makes you nervous. By doing this, you will not only feel confident about those things, but also no longer have any kind of apprehension in your life while taking up new initiatives. So, get rid of nervousness as soon as possible and make your life interesting to live.

Image