Tag Archives: Pleasure

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.

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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.

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Symptoms Of Severe Depression

First, let’s get some terminology straight. ‘Severe depression’, ‘major depression’ and ‘clinical depression’, are terms that tend to be used interchangeably to mean the same thing.

What these terms refer to is the condition described technically by psychiatrists as ‘major depressive disorder’. Therefore as we discuss the symptoms of major depressive disorder in this article, bear in mind that we are looking at what may also be called:

• Major Depression Symptoms
• Clinical Depression Symptoms, and
• Symptoms of Severe Depression.

The Symptoms of Severe Depression – The Technical Version

A person is suffering from major depressive disorder or (severe or clinical depression) if for most of the day, nearly every day for at least 2 weeks, they have had at least 5 of the following symptoms, including (1) and/or (2):

1. A low/depressed mood.
2. Significantly less interest in and pleasure from usual activities (this is called “Anhedonia”).
3. Significant change in appetite or weight.
4. Inability to sleep or sleeping more than usual.
5. Fatigue, loss of energy.
6. Feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
7. Lethargy or hyperactivity.
8. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions.
9. Recurring thoughts of suicide or death.

Now, let’s break that down a bit.

Step 1

First, it is important to note that low mood and/or loss of pleasure or interest in usual activities (Anhedonia) must be present.

In effect these are the threshold conditions. Doctors are sometimes recommended to screen for depression by asking questions to establish whether either of these two conditions are present.

Step 2

If you are suffering from low mood and Anhedonia, then the next consideration is whether 3 of the other listed symptoms are present.

If you are suffering from either low mood or Anhedonia, then 4 of the other symptoms need to be present.

Step 3

The next step relates to the duration of symptoms. The relevant symptoms must have been present every day for at least two weeks and must have been felt for most of every day.

Of course you may in fact have been suffering for much longer than two weeks or have had more than one episode where the symptoms have been present for at least two weeks. This is really the norm, of course – we don’t usually go to our doctor two weeks and one day after starting to feel depressed.

Step 4

The final step that I didn’t refer to above, but which it is crucial to consider, is that your symptoms must be a change from your normal state and have a significant impact on your day to day functioning. The symptoms must: “cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.”

If you think about it, this is what is at the heart of an individual’s experience of depression. It is the inability to function normally that takes us out of the ‘feeling down’ camp into a whole new arena.

Symptoms of Severe Depression – The Real Life Version

Whilst it is useful for you to know the technical framework that doctors use to assess depression, the criteria may not necessarily reflect your own descriptions about the way you feel. We can all experience different symptoms or express them in different ways, both to ourselves and others.

Depression – what is it?:

“Diagnosis by counting is a totally absurd, and often very dangerous, proposition. When it works, we arrive at a very rough indicator of what may be wrong with us. Too often, the exercise is wholly misleading.”

For this reason, doctors assessing a patient for depression (assuming that are doing a thorough job) should ask lots of questions about the way the patient feels and look for examples of behavior that may or may not fit into the accepted criteria.

Some of the other ways that you might use to describe the way you feel, but which in substance may still fit within the technical criteria are as follows:

• Feeling flat
• Feeling very down
• Feel like I don’t care about anything
• Having to make a real effort to do anything
• Can’t really feel anything any more
• Don’t care about the things I used to
• Feel very on edge
• Feel very stressed
• Very irritable
• Can’t think straight
• Can’t make up my mind about anything
• Don’t feel like I can go on
• Feel useless
• Feel hopeless
• Don’t see any future
• Don’t see the point of anything
• Can’t get out of bed
• Don’t want to see anybody
• Don’t want to talk to anybody
• Can’t sleep
• Can’t eat
• Can’t stop eating
• Don’t have any energy
• Feel exhausted

Other Diagnoses:

If you feel that something is not quite right with your moods or the way that you feel, you need to be aware that there are various different types of depression and other behavioral or mood disorders. So, if your situation doesn’t reflect the symptoms of severe depression, then you or your doctor should consider whether any of the other possibilities might apply.

These include –

• Dysthymia (milder, prolonged depression)
• Bi-polar disorder (formerly manic depression)
• Adjustment disorder with depressed mood (a depressive reaction to a particular event or stress)
• Schizophrenia

Conclusions:

The symptoms of severe depression will usually be very clear to you if you stop to think about how you feel.

But, one of the major difficulties with depression, of course, is that it takes away our inclination to take action to put things right – we can just feel ‘too depressed’ to do anything about it.

That’s why it is essential that you discuss how you feel with somebody close to you, as they may be able to help you get the attention you need.

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How To Improve Your Bad Habits & Develop Healthier Habits?

To develop healthier habits you must improve on your bad habits. Bad eating habits, or lack of exercise can revolt into bad health. Also just cutting out bad habits in your daily life, to improve your mental health is important as well. Bad habits can have it’s way of effecting your entire life. Sometimes we just get lazy, and that can contribute to bad habits. Having a set plan and following through it as a routine can help break bad habits. That way you can habituate healthy habits.

I think one way to help eliminate bad habits, is giving yourself rewards. However, finding the motivation and keeping it can help you develop better habits into your daily life.

1. Develop better eating habits.

Eat healthier foods and get a balanced nutrition into your diet. This is so difficult, because sometimes finding healthy foods to satisfy our taste buds can be difficult. Don’t eat foods high in saturated fats. I’ve heard that eating foods high in saturated fats convince your body to eat more. Developing healthy eating habits takes time. Try to substitute bad eating habits, with better ones. However, still allow yourself the occasional snacks, just keep them limited. Or when you do eat something that isn’t exactly healthy, you compliment it with foods that have good sources of proteins, vitamins and antioxidants in them.

2. Welcome daily exercise into your life.

Making a habit of exercising is one of the better ways to develop healthier habits. It’s not just about losing weight, or getting into better shape. It can just help you develop a better mindset. Working out is extremely healthy for your entire body. Make exercise a routine, not just a phase. You don’t have to do it everyday, but it should be weekly.

3. Change your routines.

The same routines can often cause bad habits. Doing the exact same thing can trigger your subconscious into the exact same scenarios. Whether it’s eating, lack of exercise, or just the way you manage your time. Too much of one thing can be bad. Being able to adapt to new routines will help you embrace new habits, and break your old habits. It will take an adjustment and willingness to do these things.

4. Eliminate alcohol use.

Drinking a lot of alcohol is one of the better ways to cause bad habits in your daily life. Alcohol in general is bad for your mental stability. Alcohol is often linked to depression, which can explain a lot of bad habits a person obtains in their life. Cut back on usage of alcohol, and give yourself specific rules when drinking it frequently. If you can’t manage your drinking, then you have a problem. Go to AA and don’t be afraid to get the help needed.

5. Bring more joy and pleasure into your life.

Just simply enjoying life more can allow you to feel more motivated to improve your bad habits. A good mindset is obviously needed if you’re going to break bad habits and develop healthier ones. So to do that, take time to experience new things or try to do things you enjoy. If your bad habits are the things you enjoy, then try new things. Find other ways you can enjoy yourself, that aren’t becoming bad habits. For example, bad habits might be something as simple as watching too much TV. It’s easy for something to become a bad habit, even if it’s not extremely harmful to begin with. Try picking up a book instead. It’s not healthy to be so involved into one, or two things all the time.

6. Make a list of the daily things to improve on and give yourself set rules to follow.

Make a list of your bad habits, and then develop goals to improve on. It’s good to make yourself a schedule to follow. It’s easier when you have a set plan, and rules you give yourself. Keeping your bad habits organized, and making a blueprint on improving will help you out. Sometimes one has so many bad habits, it’s hard to keep track of them. Develop a methodical approach. Let there be self rewards you give yourself, that gives yourself satisfaction when breaking through on your bad habits and developing better ones.

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Stay Motivated In The Face Of Failures

Motivation is a drive that attracts energy, happiness and prosperity by translating the desired goal into the reality. Being one with the purpose and total dedication is the basic requirement to fulfill any extra ordinary dream of life. And then there is the trust to stay motivated in the face of failures. That is where motivation matter the most, even the slightest lack of motivation brings in depression, and a stalemate.

Generally, most of the people lose their motivation in the face of failure due to the lack of self-respect and fear of what others may say. They do not visualize failure as a step forward to the realization of goal. They see failure as a sin and try to hide it from other people else their respect will decrease in their eye. They internally start to doubt their own capability and deprive themselves from realizing their most desired goal in life.

To stay motivated in the face of failure requires the ability to understand the causes and overcome it along with high level of self-respect. Failure is also a sign of moving ahead. Every failure has some hidden meaning. They make you mentally tough to face the future challenges of life. When you start to pinpoint the causes of failure and try to overcome it, you get immense pleasure. You start to see things with different perspective, where you use every failure for your growth. You no longer get worried about other’s opinion about yourself. You understand that in the end, your own opinion about yourself and your achievement matter the most.

To sum up, being motivated in the face of failure is one of the best attributes you can have in your life. It keeps the thought of giving up miles away from you. Make an amendment in your approach and step ahead to make your most cherished dream come true.

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Tips To Keep Your Mind Active

The brain is an organ and, as such, it requires oxygen and exercise, just like the heart and lungs. Feed your mind and you’ll feel emotionally and physically invigorated. It may be too soon to succumb to middle-aged worries about “using it or losing it,” or to start fretting about Alzheimer’s and other degenerative disease. Nonetheless, it’s still important to focus on keeping your brain in shape.

By regularly engaging in the right activities, you can increase your memory, improve your problem-solving skills and boost your creativity. Here are some tips on how to keep your mind active.

1. Do yoga.

You might be surprised at how strenuous yoga can be. Beyond the physical demands that give your entire body a workout, yoga has great calming and relaxation qualities.

Brain benefits: Yoga forces you to focus on controlling all your muscles and your breathing. You’ll let your worries slide away, giving your mind a rest from stress.

2. Play a game.

Challenge a colleague to a game of chess at lunch. Invite friends over for an evening of cards. Besides the social aspects, such activities will keep your mind active.

Brain benefits: You’ll use your memory and expand your powers of recall. You’ll also test your mathematical skills and logic.

3. Subscribe to a daily newsletter.

Whether it’s a “word of the day,” “quote of the day” or “this day in history” newsletter, receiving new information each day will add data to the hard drive in your head.

Brain benefits: The mental stimulation will increase your comprehension skills. The additional knowledge will also make you sound more worldly and intelligent. 

4. Grab the controller.

Believe it or not, playing certain video games really can be good for your health. The operative word here, however, is “certain” — choose games that involve strategy or problem solving.

Brain benefits: Problem solving and role-playing games will help you practice strategic planning. You’ll also improve your hand-eye coordination.

5. Build a model.

Remember the fun you had as a kid making model airplanes and cars? Recreate that by building a miniature model.

Brain benefits: Following all those written instructions sharpens your powers of concentration. Focusing on the task at hand will also be very relaxing.

6. Learn an instrument.

Pull out your old guitar, sign up for piano lessons or rent a trumpet or a clarinet. Learning how to make music will stimulate your creativity.

Brain benefits: Reading music provides mental stimulation. Playing an instrument requires powers of recall as well as concentration to maintain tune and tempo.

7. Do a crossword.

Stick The New York Times crossword puzzle in your briefcase, then get to work on it during your commute or while you’re waiting for an appointment or a meeting to begin.

Brain benefits: You’ll improve your cognitive skills and creative thinking as well as your word power and vocabulary.

8. Engage in a debate.

A lively discussion can be invigorating. As long as you avoid letting it digress into an argument, you can have a lot of fun debating the pros and cons of an issue with a friend or colleague.

Brain benefits: You’ll practice your quick-thinking skills, logic and creativity. Developing convincing theories on the spot will help you in your career and in your personal relationships. 

9. Read a book.

Choose from classic literature, science fiction or career-enhancing business books and give your brain a boost. Pick up a novel before your next business flight or vacation. On top of the cerebral benefits, the escapism that comes from reading can be very relaxing.

Brain benefits: Reading helps you exercise your cognitive skills and increase your vocabulary. Do it regularly and you’ll be amazed at the information you absorb, which will make you a more interesting conversationalist.

10. Take a course.

Learn something new. Sign up for a cooking class, register for martial arts training or enroll in a wine tasting seminar.

Brain benefits: You’ll be challenging yourself to absorb new concepts, information and ideas, and you’ll hone your retention skills through memorization.

11. Run.

Lace up your running shoes and get moving. Even if you never plan to run a marathon, it will get both your body and mind in shape.

Brain benefits: Running will increase the levels of oxygen in your brain and flowing through your body. In turn, your body will release more endorphin’s, which will make you feel energized while producing a sense of pleasure and well-being.

Keep your mental faculties in tip-top shape by giving yourself plenty of opportunities for mental stimulation. Use your cognitive skills, test your powers of recall, improve your memory, and challenge yourself to be more creative in your thinking. You’ll reap great brain-boosting benefits by keeping your mind active.

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Detach From The Past

Dwelling in the past stops us from living life to the fullest. We lose much of the joy and pleasure of life. It ruins our present. We cannot completely live in the present and enjoy the beauty it offers unless we detach from the past.

We remain immersed in the memories for whatever good, bad, pleasant, unpleasant happened to us. We wish whatever the good and pleasant happened to us, to be repeated again, and we curse on our luck for whatever the bad and unpleasant happened to us.

As for as good and pleasant memories are concerned, they are not going to be repeated in the same form because life does not repeat itself. So we should move on and let it go. We do not know what life holds for us. May be we could have more better and pleasant experiences in more exciting forms. And whatever bad and unpleasant has happened to us, we cannot eliminate that from our life. We could only minimize the effect of it by taking lessons from it doing good works right now.

Hence do not dwell in the past, it will only generate stress, fear and anxiety for you, and in turn it will make your present and future worse. Further do not stop enjoying your life in present movement. The good and pleasant experiences are spread throughout the life.

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