We all want to find happiness and many times we can get frustrated when reminded that happiness is something which is in you. As Voltaire said, we as human beings tend to search for happiness in the same way a drunk person searches for his home, not knowing where it is but having the certainty he has a home. If you were raised with a lot of conflict, chances are you don’t have a good idea of how to attain happiness. In todays society we seek to achieve a happy state of being by over accumulating “stuff” or going in and out of relationships hoping someone can “make” us happy. This is not a condemnation on anyone; personally I have had my own dysfunctional ways to try to find happiness. However if we take the time to listen to ourselves, to our universe, it becomes obvious life is always pushing us towards that which we need. Sometimes the lesson is not a pleasant one, and it can take years before we “get it”, ultimately however life is always trying to take care of us, trying to show us the way to true happiness.
There are many ways to self discovery, what may work for one may not work for another. We all have a different background, our own unique story. Today I would like to share the 7 steps to be happy found in a Hindu legend. The following is similar to a step by step program which if practiced it is meant to help us rediscover our birth right which is to be happy. Happiness can be compare to a ladder, in which every step requires new learning.
- DEVELOP SELF LOVE. The first pre-requisite to be happy is to love oneself. Self love means feeling worthy of happiness, to do this we must give value to our life. We can always start by taking care of our health and physical well being.
- PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH/DESIRE. This means putting our thoughts into action. Many of us think about happiness, about having a better or different life yet we don’t do anything to make it happen. This process of overthinking can lead to frustration and guilt. If you can think you can or want to do something, then just do it!. It is important to remember to make sure your actions are consistent with your thoughts and your words. If you think one way but then act another, you will only create confusion inside, however if you align your thoughts, words and actions, life becomes fluent. This is something I am still working on. When you live with PTSD or Dissociation, your internal dialogue can become at times damaging to self. It takes daily effort, some days you win, some days you lose, but one thing is certain if you keep at it, it gets easier. Practice makes it better, is a rule which can be applied to anyone.
- VANISH ENVY.- If you keep concentrating on the success/happiness/achievements of others rather than investing that energy towards the achievement of your own goals, you are most likely to become resentful and bitter. Many people have worked very hard for what they have, we don’t know what they may have gone through to obtain it. Others may have attained it through the using/abusing of others, nevertheless their payment will come back eventually. So don’t go through life envying people, learn what to do from those who made themselves and learn what NOT to do from those who obtained their success at the expense of others. Don’t become their judge. I know it’s hard, especially if events/circumstances surrounding certain people have affected you. I am the first to admit I have, and at times still wrestle with my dislike for certain individuals and their style of living (how they achieved it). Don’t beat yourself over it. I no longer do. I accept the negative emotions when they surface and the more I practice to simply let go and trust that all will be dealt with at its appropriate time, the easier it gets to let go of those emotions and instead focus on my own things. It is so freeing not to give others too much importance in your own life by simply minding your own business. The Hindu’s teaching say if we let envy in our heart we will experience useless and destructive suffering. They say if instead you shift your focus to those people you admire, who made themselves, and become happy for them, you will develop more strength to achieve your goals, your heart will feel lighter and your happiness will double.
- DO NOT LET BITTERNESS AND RESENTMENT GET A FOOTHOLD IN YOUR LIFE.- Sometimes we are faced with such awful events/circumstances/challenges in life which can create or reopen wounds so deep that the pain is imbedded/clogged in our heart. Over time the pain becomes frustration which later transforms into anger, if not properly released one can end up paralyzed by such negative feelings. It is not about dismissing anger, with time and practice we can all learn to recognize the pain for what it is, experience it before it becomes anger and release it. However if you have not learn this yet, don’t beat yourself over it. We all go through it, the goal is to keep practicing it, be honest with yourself, give yourself permission to be angry and you will see how the more honest you become about your emotions, the easier it becomes to identify them, learn whatever lesson was needed and then let it go. Do not feel guilty for being upset, guilt really is a useless emotions which does nothing to help you overcome your challenges. I am not saying one should not ponder on our own actions, good and bad; what am saying is not to punish yourself for feeling angry and not being able to overcome right away. Remember to try your best, the universe will do the rest. Also remember that sooner or later real justice and real truth will prevail.
- DO NOT TAKE YOUR NEIGHBOR’S BREAD/LIVEHOOD.-According to Hindus, anything which taken illicitly from others will bring with it serious consequences. Over time whoever committed this act will be stripped of something that has much greater value. If your neighbors works for what he/she has, who are you to take it from him/her?; nothing justifies such action. Wanting fairness does not equal to the use/abuse of another; when seeking fairness make sure you are actually being fair. Not respecting the assets of others will only give cause for the universe at its appropriate time to take away from you all of your own possessions. According to these old Hindu teachings, these lack of respect for what isn’t yours is the beginning of the moral and material ruin of a person.
- ERADICATE MISTREATMENT FROM YOUR LIFE-. No living soul (this includes animals and plants) should ever be mistreated, however being human we have done it directly or indirectly at some point. This saying is very beautiful, because it balances teaching #4, and clarifies that to forgive does not mean to continue allowing the mistreatment of others. No amount of wounds/hurts/anger justifies going around hurting people in order to feel vindicated. This teaching implies a radical refusal to be mistreated. To stand up against those who bully you, hurt you is a good sign; it shows you value yourself. No form of maltreatment, hurt, humiliation, indifference, radical criticism is “for your own good” or for the good of someone else or teach someone a lesson because you may feel their way of living is not in alignment with your own thoughts/actions. To evolve as a human being, or to correct someone else, it is not necessary to subjugate yourself or someone else through maltreatment. Ultimately no matter how much others may piss us off, most living souls are a source of joy and well being, if not to you to someone else. However there are those few (I mean very few: Psychopaths, serial rapists, etc.) who are there to teach us a lesson, or to teach us to value our own lives. Bottom line treat others with kindness, if you are very different from the other person and can’t whole heartedly be kind to that specific person then be educated enough to be polite. If on the other hand you have tried to be polite to those who have judged you and hurt you, but they keep on mistreating you/disrespecting you/criticizing you/ignoring you whenever convenient, then walk away. Life is better without those type of people in our lives. They have their path, focus on yours.
- BE GRATEFUL EVERY DAY AND BE THANKFUL FOR ALL YOU HAVE AND ALL YOU HAVE LEARNED.- Embracing a grateful spirit is very simple and it has a powerful positive effect on your emotions/heart/brain/soul. Get into the habit to wake up every morning and before you even get out of bed say ‘Thank You”. Thank the universe/God/Spirit/Force for all the good you have and be thankful as well for all the challenges you have faced and are facing. The universe does not see in terms of good and bad but in terms of focus and gratitude. It helps not to only be thankful for the things you like, that turns into a very superficial relationship with yourself, with the universe and only delays your soul’s progression and the learning of whatever lessons are being presented to you. If you delay facing, owning up and learning your lessons, life/universe/God will send you the same lesson again, only this time the lesson will be intensified until you get it. Practice gratefulness and you will see just how much colour is added to your life; this simple ritual can change your life, as it settles your mind in a state of goodness and willingness towards everything. Being in a grateful state is different than praying. I am not saying praying is bad, simply different and perhaps less efficient. When praying we tend to see ourselves as little and insignificant in a devalued way. If facing challenges we hope to have the lesson taken away from us, or we put all credit on the external. Being in a state of gratefulness is to become one with God/Universe. Its a direct relationship. When faced with difficult lessons, one understands all power to overcome it lies within self, and God/Universe is only exposing us to such lessons for our own betterment. A state of gratefulness allows you to see more clearly the value of your life.
As already stated, the 7 steps are like a ladder; one is to be achieved after the other until all melt within our being and become part of our core/soul/consciousness. They constitute an evolutionary process leading to inner peace; keep this in mind for this peace is the only indispensable condition for you to be happy. To be happy; truly happy; is to reach a state in which no matter what challenges are presented, one responds with nobility and intelligence. Let me remind you again, not to beat yourself up when facing setbacks; it doesn’t help to do so. Don’t compare yourself with others if you see them responding to criticism, hurt, challenges/ different than you. If unsure on whether or not a person you face is genuine or not, ask yourself the following: Do they treat all equally?, are they open minded or do they only have an “open mind” for those of like minded thinking, do they see/deal with both sides of the coin/argument?, do their opinions come free from punishment if their advise isn’t followed?, do they speak their mind clearly and directly not through innuendos or behind other’s backs. Those questions will help you identify who is who. Keep in mind however we are on a journey, you can choose to have those people exit your life, but leave the judgment of who they are and what makes them tick, to the universe/God/Karma.