„The man sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.“
- Dalai Lama -
There is only the "here and now". Your perception determines everything. Only the way YOU see things, is the way they actually are. In this 2nd part of "Being happy - how does that work?" I would like to focus on your perception and how you can improve it.
Your own perception
The perspective you have on life determines everything. Whether you react positively or negatively to a situation depends on you. A short example for clarification:
You drop a glass and it breaks, but instead of getting angry, you start laughing loudly and are happy.
Of course this behavior doesn't make any sense in this situation and sounds rather absurd, but it is possible in fact, that you program your mind to react positively to negative influences. Of course it doesn't have to be so extreme, but you understand what I'm trying to say. The way you feel about something decides everything. No matter what others say or how things "actually" should work. There is no such thing as "the right way", but only your own reality. So it would be appropriate to look at things more positively. When we have to deal with a problem, people react completely different. It can simply be a parking ticket with a small fee to pay. Different possible reactions:
You can get very upset, curse, tear apart the piece of paper and transfer the amount the next day when you've calmed down.
Or you shrug your shoulders and leave the ticket in the corner until a dunning letter arrives and then you transfer the money.
- Or you think about what you did wrong and how you could avoid that in the future (e.g. next time pay more attention if you are in a no parking zone) and sit down directly at your computer, transfer the money, put the bill in a folder and don't think about it anymore.
Every person reacts differently, but the last example would be the right choice. Of course there are situations where you just get angry, especially if you are a very emotional person. But still, you should get used not to get upset because of every little mishap.
Also constant complaining is toxic for people in your environment as well as yourself. Whenever you want to complain about something or express negative feelings, just don't. Try to get used to it. Negative thought patterns should not be promoted.
Don't say that your day was really bad today and you hate the world out there. Once it's said, it's like a spell. It has an effect and not only on you, but also on people who are with you at that moment. To the question: "How was your day?", you can answer "Total crap, everything is just a mess, miserable, terrible, I can't stand it any more" or "it was quite exhausting today and I'm tired, but I'm happy to be home now". This will give you a completely different feeling.
Control your emotions
We must try to control our emotions as much as possible. In the beginning this will be difficult or even impossible. But always try to remember to control your emotions and not just let them run wild. Someday this will become part of your subconscious mind and then you have made a huge step forward. If you start not to approach a problem with anger, rage, sorrow or hate, you will be able to solve it faster and in a more efficient way. Just as you perceive things, you react to them. Even bad situations require a positive and determined approach to it.
Your new mindset: How can I change it for the better or at least make the best out of this misery?
With this attitude you should solve a problem instead of being overwhelmed by it. Look through the negative and find the positive, even if it's very difficult sometimes.
A terrible boss, is perhaps just a motivation to finally find a new job or income opportunity.
The separation from your partner may be a way to finally concentrate on yourself and find a more suitable partner.
- A lost collection of ideas or notes could give you the motivation to think about new ideas and to highlight the important ones (which you can still remember).
Keep in mind that you decide whether you're sad or happy. You can find pleasure in the little things in life or great anger because of small things. Make the right decisions and don't let your emotions run wild. Control them and you control your perception.
Living in the present
There is no actual past and no actual future for the human mind. You always live in the present. What is gone is gone. No matter if good or bad, it has happened and is only saved as a memory. If you'd lose your memory today because of a sudden accident, then all your past would be erased at once. You would only be in the "here and now". Because you wouldn't know anything else.
The same applies to the future. I myself was a person who has always thought a lot about the future. These are some common questions I asked myself almost everyday:
What will happen? Will that even work in the future? Can I do that? Am I still so motivated in 2 months? What if I have an accident or get sick? etc...
Very nice, but very pointless. At least I'm aware that these thought patterns don't help at all. Because they are, like my past, only in my head. Remember the following words:
You can only change your future in the present, but you can't change the past at all.
So it's an advantage neither to give the most importance to the past nor the future, but to the present. Because you can influence it. You're doing it right now while you're reading this article and by thinking about it now. Especially your dreams about the future, are a problem. They can become fears about the future, because you are afraid not to succeed or achieve them.
You wait for that one moment somewhere in the future that is supposed to happen someday, where you might be happier. That could be possible, couldn't it? But does this moment ever really occur? Is it realistic? Why postpone everything to the future and why always wait until you can be happy. If you pause for a moment and think about what you already have (e.g. good income, marriage partner who supports you, close friends, nice apartment, great hobbies, good health), why should the Porsche, you always dream about, make you happier? Of course it's a nice car, but you are not unhappy because you do not own it.
"I'll buy such a beautiful car someday!" - is then a possible thought. Without this dream car, you feel uncomfortable in your own car or it is embarrassing to drive around with it. Here again the whole attention lies on the salvation in the future, instead of being glad that you already have things of which others only dream of. Imagine how unhappy you would be if you didn't even have a car and had to walk to work. The principle of the present is quite simple:
Grant yourself rewards and enjoy your life right now.
Of course you should still have life goals. But not with the purpose to free yourself from the present burden and be someday happier because of it. Create life goals for yourself so that you can increase your happiness right now. For example, if you'll have paid off your loan in 2 years, you'll have more money per month then, but I'll give you my word that you won't be any happier, even if you think so now. There will be something else that will increase your costs or you will find something else to spend the extra money for. There's no finishing line where all of a sudden you're just happy. Happiness is a way of life.
And happiness does not persist all the time and always. But you can and should make the best out of your time. The best of your "here and now". If you want more free time, work one day less a week and don't just wait for retirement. Maybe look for another occupation or a freelance activity to compensate the loss. And is it really a loss if you'd had more time for yourself or could spend it with your friends and family?
At the office nobody thanks you for doing a massive amount of overtime and sacrificing your last bit of energy. For your family it is certainly worth it and also for your own personal development. How often are those who are married with their job unhappy in their private lives? Divorced, no children, no friends, no goals, only the job comes first. Of course, there are also a few who really love their job and experience pure joy. If it truly fulfills someone, then it is absolutely right to pursue it. But remember not to forget about your loved ones or yourself.
Get out of the vicious cycle that someday everything will get better. Grant yourself more right now. You deserve it. Make your present as pleasant as possible, then you will also be more motivated. Do not wait until someday, because life is unpredictable. You just don't know what the future holds for you.
People very often deceive themselves. Last but not least, I want to explain how many people blind themselves so much that they are distracted from their own lives. I am referring here to the exaggerated obsession with things. An obsession that steals too much life time and influences the feelings so much that one can no longer think in a neutral way. Many people are so consumed by things, that they perceive their reality differently. The goal is to detach yourself from the thinking of other people and to decide for yourself what is good and right for you. In order to have a better understanding, I would like to give you an example here.
Just to make this clear: I don't wanna blame anyone for beeing interested in sports or it would be despicable to go to a match and cheer for your favorite team. No, of course not. It only becomes a problem when your whole life starts to orbit around your sport, like a moon around a planet. This dependency is dangerous.
The football fan:
Most of the money is spent on fan articles and visits to matches. The whole circle of friends is not focused on you, but you are all just in the same community and actually only befriended because of the sport and to talk about it. If football would no longer exist, there wouldn't be many reasons to be friends anymore. The own thinking and the emotional status are strongly influenced by the winning or losing of the team. Cheering joyfully after a victory or a bad mood and anger after a victory of the opposing team are the two sides of the medal. Especially during such events, it comes to extreme alcohol excesses, damage to property or bursts of violence. Thereby only two teams played a game in which only one team can win.
The same applies to many other things, such as religion, beauty craze, extremely meticulous diet, gossip, news, financial markets, etc. etc..... There is no end to it. You want to distinguish yourself, know everything about the celebrities or be able to talk about any topic? That is all right! But as soon as you sacrifice too much or give too much importance to the matter, but get nothing back from it, it can become a serious problem.
The eyes are veiled, because such behavior is considered as completely normal by the majority. But it won't have any positive effect on you. If you are depressed because Brangelina split up or the stock market has dropped by 0.2%, then you are too much into it.
If you want to be permanently happy, you should not let yourself be influenced by things that have nothing to do with your own actual life. Go to church as often as you want and not because others expect it from you. Go to the arena or stadium because it's fun to watch the exciting game together with your friends. It's ok to get angry if it didn't turn out well, but keep your emotions in control so that it doesn't really knock you down in any way. Follow the news or the financial market because you're interested or you're working in this field, but not to feel bad, shake your head and think what a cruel world it is.
Don't waste your time with things or people you don't really want to spent your time with. Just keep them in your life, because you are simply interested and would like to have more to do with them. Never do things you don't want, just to please others. Don't get caught in a vicious cycle, like the football fan. What other people think should not be the main influence on your life. Anything that doesn't conform to the norm seems strange to outsiders. But that's why they are outsiders and not insiders. You are the insider and you shape your perception the way you want it to be.
I hope the article was helpful for you. If yes, then share it, so others like you can also benefit from it. I wish YOU the best.
- L.d.R. -