“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” -Siddhartha Guatama Buddha
It’s mind-boggling how many people that on the outside appear to “have it all” report being unhappy.
Some people fall into the clinically depressed and/or anxious category. I’m actually referring to people who are living with a day to day underlying sadness, loneliness or indifference. Indifference is probably the worst…it’s resigned sadness.
There are many external factors that may influence ones internal landscape but ultimately, if you listen to the happiness pros you must learn to change your self and not the circumstances. Easier said than done however, especially when we live in a society that is focused on what you produce versus who you are as a person.
Unlike many other cultures our society is focused on what we can churn out. Even the question “what do you do?” could not exist in many other cultures. Yet in our western society we can reflexively answer that question with our profession. Omitting the source of what really inspires us or helps us connect with others.
This creates is disconnection between who we are in our heart and what we do with our bodies.
When the heart and mind are disconnected it is difficult to feel grounded, satisfied, and content.
People often tell me “everything is great, I just don’t feel happy”.
It’s pretty obvious by now that stuff and achievements to do not create lasting happiness. Happiness must come from within…but how? Why is it so elusive?
Ways that Happiness Eludes us:
Happy all the time = Happy
Many people think that they need to feel great all of the time to be truly happy. That is the stuff for social media…an unrealistic slice of life that has been proven to increase disconnectedness and depression. No one is supposed to feel great all of the time. Seasons of life and seasons of moods are a closer reflection of the natural world.
External events create lasting Happiness:
This is generally a form of anxiety rearing it’s ugly head. Someone who constantly sets the bar higher and higher. Never comfortable with where they are at…never really happy with any accomplishment…”Perfectionism vs Optimalism”. If this resonates with you check out an outstanding book, The Pursuit of Perfect by Tal Ben Shahar.
Some people use external life events as a way to measure happiness. “When I finish law school then I’ll be happy”. “When I’m earning a six-figured salary, I’ll be happy”. “After I run this race then I’ll be happy”. But then they run the race, get through school, get the great job, make the great salary and then what….
I often ask people what makes you feel happy? A resounding amount of people say they just don’t know?
Improving Happiness through Connecting the Mind and the Heart:
The Journey is the Destination:
My Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Professor says all of the time, its not the ownership of a Black Belt that is worthy but who you become in the process of earning the Black Belt. The transformation is the goal.
Do what you love: Connect your Mind and Heart
It’s amazing how many people perform jobs and chose professions that they despise. Willing to spend countless hours if their life doing something that they hate. Their mind may be able to override the rebellion but they body cannot. This can lead to a myriad of physical complaints. Listen to your body’s inner wisdom.
Gratitude: Connect with a higher power.
Prayer, journaling or conscientiously paying homage to what you are truly grateful for is a powerful way to elevate your mood.
Meditation is a great way to escape perseverating thoughts. People always say “ I should meditate, but I can’t…my mind won’t stop.” Erase the vision of yourself in full lotus for an hour with a blank mind. Guided mediation is a great, user-friendly way to get started. 20 minutes before bed or upon waking a great bookend for the day. Don’t be hard on yourself, your mind is bound to chatter. Meditation will help you “watch the chatter”. Even if you can’t get there immediately you will feel something different. Connect with your consciousness.
I personally love Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Guided Mindful Meditations.
Fake it till you Make it:
Smile more, listen to happy music. It’s hard to feel depressed listening to music that makes you shake. Connect with the muse.
Find a group that supports an activity you love.
Martial arts, cooking, exercise, dancing, pottery, knitting…you name it and there are millions of people enthused by it! Connect with others in a meaningful way.
Read inspirational or educational books.
Millions of people have successfully navigated the world and have written books about how to do it. Connect with visionaries.
Spend time in Nature. Connect with the source.
In the eloquent words of John Muir “Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”