When you ask people what they want out of life, the most common first answer is happiness. It’s the best feeling and we want more of it.
We know that happiness is a feeling and a state of mind. So we should be able to conjure up that feeling of happiness any time, all of the time but somehow it doesn’t work that way. This post is going to help you to see what stands in your way.
Thinking that the source of happiness is out there, attached to a person or a lifestyle
It is almost impossible to resist the idea that there is a better life than your own. That you could achieve this lifestyle if you work hard enough, and when you do, then you will be happy. Everything in our society tells you that happy people are wealthy, successful, popular and attractive. We believe this myth and play our part in keeping it alive. What this belief is actually doing is keeping you away from happiness, apart from brief spells when things go right and you make progress. The progress will never be enough. No matter how much success you have you will always need more and happiness will be fleeting, until you realise that happiness is inside and turn towards finding it there.
Your own mind is working against you
Your mind and brain have been created without your control or design. Much of the design of your brain is fixed from evolution, and most of the rest develops in your first years of life, before you have any means to decide what is helpful and what is not. It happens that evolution has preset the human brain to respond to threat and so we tend towards being afraid. Since we are tuned to respond to the world as threatening it is more difficult to be relaxed and happy. If your early years were stressful in any way your mind the threat pathways are sensitised so you are even more afraid and anxious. This is why it is difficult to throw off anxiety and bad moods and simply change our minds to be happy, nevertheless it is possible
Not understanding that happiness is a discipline
We have these two mental habits – looking outside for our sources of happiness, and letting our negative bias run our thoughts. They will continue to deprive us from happiness as long as they are unchecked. Keeping them in check is a matter of ongoing discipline. The way to happiness is to change these habits is through awareness of what is going on in our own mind and deliberately changing our thinking. Pay attention to what your mind is up to and notice when negative thoughts arise and make you feel bad. Challenge the truth and the helpfulness of the thoughts. Where they are sticky and dragging you down, deliberately turn your attention to something more supportive. Deprive your negative thinking of attention. Use your mind constructively to create happy thoughts, do it over and over again until it is no long a discipline, happy is just the way you are.