Thinking happy thoughts: How to be, and stay happy

I have been carrying deep inside of me, a seething mass of conflicting emotions. I have been in conflict for quite some time now. I’ve had a lot of reason to feel a lot of things and I’ve experienced the whole lot of it. Ups, downs, in-between.. all of it. I haven’t been writing much lately. It would be convenient to attribute this to ‘writers block’, but that’s not the truth.

Truth is, I haven’t been writing much since I started with my bachelor degree about 2 years ago. Since that time, everything was about reliability, validity, whether it was peer-reviewed and empirical..all of that. I started to think twice before writing anything. I started to question myself over sentence, every paragraph, and I have to say, it kills the whole spirit of writing and the spontaneity of it. The magic of free expression is scarce in the academic world. In a way, I’d lost myself and perhaps, am still finding my way.

A lot of things have happened, and a lot of emotions have gone through me and worn me down. I’ve had time to do a lot of thinking and after much reflection, I’ve resolved to being a happier person. I figure it should start with my writing. So this is me, writing about happiness. I’ve picked out three simple points to touch on and it is my opinion that they contribute significantly to a person’s overall happiness: self-acceptance, faith, and forgiveness.

 1) Self-acceptanceself hugThe notion of accepting yourself is a simple one, yet extremely challenging and elusive if you think about it. We are, so very often, caught between who we want to be, and who we think we are and in the midst of which, forgetting about who we actually are, in reality.

We tend to overestimate our abilities in some instances, and we tend to sell ourselves short in other departments. Not knowing where you stand before going through a measure of skill or attempting a challenging task would result in an unreliable means of gauging your ability, because you really wouldn’t know how well you’re doing if you don’t know how good or bad you were to begin with.

Self-acceptance goes beyond abilities and skills. We should also endeavor to truly accept and appreciate every other aspect of ourselves. Everyone has unique qualities and these can be in the form of talents, quirks, habits, tendencies, urges and so on. People are inevitable invariable, as we are alike. Self-acceptance requires a delicate balance of introspective reflection, and a healthy dose of external observation.

To accept yourself, you must first know yourself. Once you know yourself, you can then start to appreciate and accept yourself. When was the last time you had a conversation with yourself?

2) Faith in humanity

faithOne of the biggest challenges I face in the process of trying to be happy is when I try to overcome my cynicism. While many are certain to enjoy satire (and the occasional witty –sarcastic remark), few people actually enjoy being around a cynic.

It may be within the realms of the culture we live in to portray modesty, and to not appear over-enthusiastic, but going too far the other way would almost guarantee an outcome of disappointment. Thinking the worst before any actual outcome is as good as giving up without trying. If it’s going to suck, why bother trying anyway? If the people I am going to meet are going to turn out to be jerks, why should I even try?

Here’s why : variables. They key to living with a sentiment of hope is to understand and appreciate the age old phrase, ‘The only constant in life is change’. To understand that situations, circumstances, people and other factors which constitute an outcome will change across time and context is the first step towards achieving your desired outcome.

The second step requires more thinking and reflection. If the situations you find yourself in time and time again are not desirable, perhaps you should reflect on the factors that lead to those outcomes and plan for a change. Life is many things, and one might say that it is one big experiment (or perhaps, a series of small ones). Trial and error helps. After all, learning is one of the joys of living.

The third step is simple, albeit daunting: make the change. You’ve done all the thinking and planning you need to do and now all that’s left is the action bit. Do it, fingers crossed, and you might be surprised. Otherwise, go back and figure out what went wrong.

To have faith is to believe in possibilities and possibilities are..well, everything.

3) Forgiveness

forgiveDouglas Horton once said, “While seeking revenge, dig two graves – one for yourself”. Words to live by, indeed. Revenge is a nasty process which goes around in circles, over and over. The general idea is to inflict the same (or greater) pain onto others, as it had been inflicted on you.

Revenge would require that you carry a grudge, or hatred towards someone. It gets tiring, but the idea of the other party suffering as you have is motivation enough. The pain, or injustice, that was inflicted upon you is so much that you feel you absolutely need to share it. But, do you really?

Very often, the people who transgress against you are not aware of, or do not know the extent or consequence of their actions. They may very well not have meant to hurt you, or perhaps not in the way that you’re hurt. Not taking into account psychopaths, sadists and schadenfreude, most people aren’t that evil. At least, I’d like to think they aren’t.

I’ve been bullied, stepped on, kicked around, insulted, mocked and the whole lot of it but at the end of the day, it’s about biting your lip and letting it go before it consumes you. Of course, it is very, very much easier said than done. Quotes like “An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. The negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you” are nice and encouraging. Great for a ‘hmm’ moment or two but when things happen, none of these things matter. Words don’t matter. People don’t matter. Principles and morals don’t matter.

What matters are anger, revenge and getting even.

He who seeks forgiveness should first forgive others. None of us are perfect, and just as we are likely to transgress against others, we should be open to the idea that others too are not perfect and have their own reasons behind their actions and flaws.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. ” – Mahatma Ghandi.

So there you have it. Three simple points towards happier days. It’s not an easy process. It never was. In fact, as irony would have it, I was struggling with my emotions a few minutes before I started on this post because I was having connectivity issues and the words were just flying right by in my head (this happens a lot, and is very vexing). We are creatures of emotion and are sometimes quick to anger, and slow to calm. If you think about it, most of the great people of the generations before us were slow to anger and quick to calm. People who first thought, before they felt. Great thinkers.

And you, have a great week.

 

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One thought on “Thinking happy thoughts: How to be, and stay happy

  1. Unfortunately, true happiness is an inside job. To find it, we must first unplug and seek it. Meditation and deep contemplation will shrink the ego’s influence so that we can find inner peace.

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