The Laws of Happiness
Awareness is the intelligent medicine of the new decade. So before you reach for that bottle of Prozac, we suggest you take a tour of your inner landscape. Find those annoying little truths, implement some positive changes, and be proactive in your pursuit of happiness. We identified the following guidelines as important factors in becoming more consciously aware of your happiness.
1. Free yourself from limiting patterns
Many people tend to hold onto their suffering, even feeling that suffering offers a sense of purpose – after all, people find it interesting. It is known and familiar and conveniently distracts us from facing who we really are. James Thornton, (author of ‘A field guide to the soul’) suggests using the drama of your suffering as a map to identify the terrain of your inner being. Consciously or unconsciously, we remain trapped in our ‘comfort zone’, not feeling safe in any other form. It takes courage to face the truth and live a different way. Are you prepared to know yourself well enough to give up your drama? Awareness of self defeating patterns makes it easier to implement change.
Avoid relationships and situations that don’t feed your soul. Find the triggers that come from authoritative condemnation. We often have internalized instructions from parents or other authority figures that we feel we have to obey. Use your feelings as your emotional weather report, they offer important information about what is and isn’t working in our lives. Learn to work with your emotions not against them. Constantly check your internal dialogue and perform surgery on your negative thoughts.
Live out who you really are. Focusing on changing other people leaves you powerless to improve you own life. Smile inside and make this feeling part of you.
2. Develop loving relationships
‘A wise man never loses anything if he has himself’ (Michel Eyquem de Montaigne)
First and foremost is your relationship with yourself. Find your sense of self worth, boost your self image. Develop loving relationships with people around you and with God. Find intimacy with your partner. Be healthily selfish. Don’t try to adapt yourself to uncomfortable situations. If we don’t help ourselves, nobody will. Being at your best enables you to give. Nurture yourself and list the unique qualities that make you who you are.
Examine situations where people irritate or annoy you – it may be that they are displaying a part of you that you don’t like or are repressing. Realise that you are larger than your pain. Despite changeable circumstances and situations, allow yourself to remain rooted in yourself. Finding inner balance, awareness, and an acceptance of who you are will help you stand in your truth. Knowing your needs will give you the tools to accept and love yourself.
3. Spend quiet time with yourself regularly
Peace comes from knowing ourselves and being able to spend time alone with ourselves. Use the following exercise to quieten your inner dialogue and experience deep seated peace.
Lie in a comfortable position and concentrate on your breathing. With every breath you take, feel yourself becoming more and more relaxed. Watch your thoughts and emotions coming and going as you feel your mind and body coming to rest. Be still and quiet. Rest in this stillness.
4. Live with gratitude and compassion
Compassion is the ultimate and most meaningful embodiment of emotional maturity. It is through compassion that a person achieves the highest peak and the deepest reach in his or her search for self-fulfillment (Arthur Jersild)
Gratitude draws more abundance to you. Focus on abundance already present in your life - be grateful for it. Take every aspect of your life, whether it be the house you live in or the relationships you enjoy then try to imagine your life without them. Keep a gratitude journal and write down everything you are grateful for. Regularly add to this list e.g. I am grateful for the gift of life. I am grateful that I have love in my life. Be creative in how you show gratitude – write someone a note, thank people for how they contribute to your life. Introduce people to each other.
5. Choose wisely
The satisfaction of our needs, and the choices by which we attain that satisfaction, constitute our prime motivation. Choices have consequences. Make your choices in the light of the consequences that they will bring. Listen to your inner guidance and go with your gut feel. Choices grow our faculty of reason and understanding of cause and effect. Choose an expansive life.
6. Find worthiness and security from within
Look within and you will realize that you are already worthy and have internal power and security.
This awareness frees you from needing the approval of others to validate who you are. Look into your life and find a time that you were really living from your core, where time seemed not to exist, use that as a reference point for how good you can feel. Have an image of yourself as an accepting, happy, fulfilled being – visualize and bring this into being. Laugh at yourself. Osho reminds us that it’s ok to say‘no’, no is a way of defining ourselves. Geniune happiness does not come and go; it abides in the deepest parts of our minds and hearts.
7. Find purpose in your life
Live with passion, direction and action.
Identify what you really love to do, stop making excuses for why you can’t pursue your passion. Ask yourself how you can add value to the lives of others. Service to others brings meaning and purpose. Take yourself out of your usual framework and list everything you would like to do, achieve and see happen in your life. Be specific and start to take action on your goals now. Use the following questions to clarify your purpose:
Who am I? What do I want? What do I think is stopping me? Where am I right now in relationship to what I want? What is it that I really love to do? What does my intuition tell me? Henry Miller instructs us to “develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people”.
With maturity we realize that our appetite for wordly satisfactions is insatiable and that the physical world offers little stability, whereas knowledge and wisdom are unending and provide a realiable, stable base. Balance your life with a meaningful career; exercise; hobbies; education and knowledge; positive relationships; art or music and culture; spiritual pursuit and laughter.
8. Trust and live in the moment
Stay open to what each new moment brings. Allow this moment to breathe, give it space. You don’t need to have all the answers right now. Free yourself from the need to try and control outcomes. Trust that the seeds of your actions will bear fruit when the timing is right. Express yourself. An emotion loses its hold over you once it has been expressed. Be aware of not postponing your joy. The statement “I will be happy when…” robs us of true happiness, making happiness conditional on a future event. Realise that the past is a memory, and the future isn’t here yet, all that is real is this present moment. Ensure that your search for happiness is not dependant on external circumstances.
9. Keep the energy of giving and receiving flowing
Time and money are both forms of energy; keep energy flowing by giving regularly. Stay open and be willing to receive in whatever ways the universe wants to give to you. Eileen Caddy says that we should. expect our every need to be met, expect the answer to every problem, expect abundance on every level, expect to grow spiritually.
10. Live with forgiveness
Remember we are all doing the best we can based on our conditioning and the resources we have in the moment. See things from a deeper perspective, people come into our lives to help us learn lessons that we have chosen to learn. Whatever discomfort is caused, we can always learn something of value. You don’t have to forgive the behaviour but need to forgive the person. Forgiveness brings inner contentment and freedom from negative emotion. Examine any feelings of depression and look for suppressed anger. Clinical evidence shows that depression (the feeling) is caused by suppressed anger. Undiscussed anger is stored inside us leading to depression and feelings of guilt.
Most of all, get help. If you find that you are in a cycle of depression and can’t seem to make things work for you, consult a therapist or psychologist. There are many mood foods and serotonin boosters on the market that you can use to help you get out of a deep depression. A clinical depression is one that has lasted for one month or more, where one is unable to perform on a normal level – getting out of bed or answering a phone call are tasks that seem insurmountable.
The following information was compiled with the assistance of Selwyn Levy, an accredited Journey therapist with 15 years experience in the personal development field.