Happiness Is Less About What Life Is and More About What You Do with It.

Summary

Happiness is less about what life is and more about what you do with it.

Content

There will be a time in everyone’s life where we think we are at the lowest point of our lives. We think to ourselves how we will never be able to succeed and achieve what we set out to do. We pity ourselves about how miserable or unfortunate our lives have become. We see ourselves as failures, losers, and etc. The list goes on.

However, the secret to happiness is not what life is to us but what we do with it. Only those are able to accept the reality for what it is and continue to move forward or those who are able to keep their heads up even in the bleakest moment of life knows the secret to happiness.

Viktor Frankl, a famous psychologist and a Holocaust survivor who observed and analyzed how prisoners in concentration camps lived, posted the following questions in one of his most well-known books, Man’s Search for Meaning:

“Is there no spiritual freedom in regard to behavior and reaction to any given surroundings? Is that theory true which would have us believe that man is no more than a product of many conditional and environmental factors—be they of a biological, psychological or sociological nature? … Most important, do the prisoners’ reactions to the singular world of the concentration camp prove that man cannot escape the influences of his surroundings? Does man have no choice of action in the face of such circumstances?”

Here, he questioned if life or our circumstance is what entirely determines the quality of our life. His answer was plain and simple: no.

“In the final analysis it becomes clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone. Fundamentally, therefore, any man can, even under such circumstances, decide what shall become of him–mentally and spiritually.”

Man’s attitude to his existence is what determines life meaning and purpose. We can’t always choose our circumstance but we can choose is how we react to it. Frankl went on,

“And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, …”

If we are miserable, drowning ourselves in our sorrow or in our fate will not improve the situation instead we become what Viktor described as “the plaything of circumstance.”

Randy Pausch, author of the book, The Last Lecture, told the lessons he learned in his last few months of his life after he has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Here is what he has to said:

I can’t do anything about the fact that I am going to die. I’ve been fighting pancreatic cancer. It has now come back after surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation and the doctor told me there is nothing more to do. And I have months to live. I don’t like this. I have three little kids. Let’s be clear. This stinks. But I can’t control the cards I am dealt. Just how I played the hands. Now, if I am not morose enough for you, I’m sorry to disappoint, but I don’t choose to be an object of pity. … I am dying soon, and I am choosing to have fun today, tomorrow, and every day I have left. … You can choose to take your finite time, and energy, and effort, and you can spend it complaining, or you can spend it playing the game hard.

 

Our negative and depressive thoughts are not going to get us out of our misery what will is our choice to live above it and do what is necessary to make changes.

Taking Action to Change.

Happiness requires action. It doesn’t have to be THE right action. It does not have to be drastic. It might even be an extremely small action which aims at changing yourself or the circumstance or both. However, it has to be something which allows us to at the end of the day look back and feel proud that we did not succumb to our fate but actually did something to improve and take charge of our lives.

This, in short, is growth or progress. It is a key ingredient to turning our life around. And it is something we all need to do every day to cultivate hope and keep ourselves out of depression–the feeling/belief that we can’t or that we are not in control of our own lives which naturally leads us to take no action which in turn create a self-fulfilling prophecy of how we can’t.

For this very reason, even if you don’t feel like taking any action, you should challenge yourself to take it. Even if it entails you to step outside of your comfort zone, you should still do it. Even if the action does not give you any immediate joy or benefit, you should persevere it. The key is to adapt.

Remember, you can’t always control the circumstance in life. But what you can control is what you do with it. This is what determines your happiness. So get out there and take massive actions to change and grow!

Continue reading “Happiness Is Less About What Life Is and More About What You Do with It.”

My Experience As a Buddhist Monk

The best time I ever have in my life was when I was a Theravada Buddhist monk.

The day starts off at 4:00 AM. At this ungodly hour, I woke up every day to chant for hours the Pali Cannon, a holy Buddhist text, in an ancient language I do not understand. Afterward, it is time for alms. I walked into the village with two thoughts in mind: the uncertainty of having enough food to eat and the certainty of having to withstand the pain of walking barefooted into the streets full of sharp pebbles, and sometimes even glass shards. Once I am back at the monastery, whatever I get, I must eat. In the alms bowl, it is not uncommon to have your curry mixed with your dessert, and your soup with chocolate. What was once seem “delicious” quickly dissipated. Worse, this “food” is the only meal I eat per day.

I was living in a tiny wooden hut built ten years before I was born. The toilet was, to say the least, dirty. Occasionally, snakes, vipers, scorpions, spiders, and centipedes would show up uninvited in my room. As part of the training, I couldn’t even kill even a bug although there were bugs everywhere. Thus, I would have to live in the constant fear and annoyance of these guests. I could not listen to music. I could not dance. I couldn’t even run. I had no money of my own. The only thing I got going for me was an alms bowl and a pair of monk robes. That’s all. It would not be far fetch to describe such experience as “putting yourself in prison.”

What good then would this kind of experience ever bring to a man? Why not just go to a beach and enjoy the sun? Or stay at a five stars hotel? How is it possible that I would even consider it as the best time I ever have in my life? Let’s me explain how.

What do we normally do when a mosquito bites us? We swat it, right? What do we do when there are bugs and animals visiting your home? Well, you build a better home, one which could wall ourselves against unwanted bugs and animals. What do we do when we dislike a job? We quit and get a better one—one which suits us better. The point here is that we, humans, often solve our problems in life by changing the reality to fits our wants. But what I learn by being a monk where my environment was, more or less, static is that it forces me to learn more than just trying to change what is outside but, more importantly, what is inside.

Waking up at 4:00 AM everyday wasn’t easy; but at the same time, it taught me the virtue of being punctual, dutiful, and disciplined—traits which are imperative for one to be successful in life. Eating one meal a day taught me humility, patient, moderation, and perseverance. The mixed bowl of food was not there to torture me. It was there to teach me that if I could be happy with so little, how can I not be happy in the real world where I could eat anything I want as much as I want. True, chanting was meaningless. However, it taught me an essential lesson that there will be times in life where you have to do meaningless tasks and work with illogical people although you disagree, dislike, and get nothing out of it. The chance of encountering annoying bugs is actually less than the chance of meeting annoying people. So if I couldn’t even learn how to be with bugs then forget about learning to be with people.  My job as a Buddhist monk was to find happiness regardless of the condition. So was it the bugs’ fault that made me unhappy? Or was it my inability to accept the bugs that was there in the first place doing its job as it was designed to do while I was not doing mine? Was it the dirty toilet’s fault that I was unhappy with it or was it my resistance to the reality of the toilet that causes me to be unhappy?

Of course, happiness can be achieved by changing the world to be like how we want. But is that always viable when death, sickness, and old age is a certainty? or that we can’t always ask life to only gives us the “good” and never the “bad”? Clearly, such approach to happiness is not enough to make one happy. There will always be times when it is impossible to change the reality according to what we want. Happiness is as much about changing the world to fits our want as it is about changing ourselves to the world. For one to be happy, therefore, one must learn how to change/master oneself. This is where real strength originates. There isn’t much to overcome by changing what is outside of ourselves. This is where humans truly flourish. This is where one can learn how to better oneself as a human being and benefit not only for oneself but for the world. This is where true happiness is found—a happiness which stands like a rock above the river of positivity and negativity called “life.”

See original post at true-happiness.github.io

How Much Mindfulness is Enough?

Disciple: “How many hours should I spent doing mindfulness, master?”

Master: “The moment you wake up til the moment you go to bed.”

People often associate meditation with sitting meditation. But what many do not know is that, in fact, meditation in daily life is actually just as important. Walking to class, going to work, sitting at your desk, talking to your love ones, brushing your teeth, or washing dishing. Every moment is the opportunity to grow by practicing mindfulness.

Walking to Class Needs Meditation

Sometimes when I walked to class, my mind got ahead of myself. It demanded, “I want to be at the class right now!” Once I had unmindfully put my happiness a head of where I am. I became unhappy. Each step I took, all I could think about is “Why am I not there yet? Why am I not there yet? Why am I not there yet?”

What I do not realize is that I am being anxious and frustrated not because I haven’t reach my destination but because I’ve unskillfully placed my mind not in the reality but ahead of the reality. 

What is the tool to help me to bring myself back to the reality/present moment? Of course, it is mindfulness. Once I remember to walk mindfully instead of letting my mind ran away with my happiness. I bring my happiness back simply by coming back to the present moment and be mindful of each step. This is meditation in daily life.

Walking to class might seems like a trivial matter. But I would argue that walking to class is, in fact, no different from walking toward your goal in life. So if you can learn to be happy on your way to class, you can also learn to be happy on your way toward your goal.

Although I have talked about meditation as a way to bring us happiness by bring us back to reality. But another important theme that should be emphasized is that meditation makes people grow.

Meditation makes people grow.

If I walk to class everyday without being mindful of my obsessive passion to get to class, I am building my mental habits and my tendency to be unhappy the next time I walk to class. By being unmindful, therefore, I am learning to be unhappy. But each time that I can be mindful to class, I intentionally choose to unlearned my mental habits and transform myself from being unsatisfied to being happy.

Meditation is transformative when put to use in daily life. 

When you are waiting inline and someone in front of you is being slow, you might get impatient and irritated. But when you are mindful of your anger, you can learn to overcome it. In that way, not only will you learn how to save yourself your happiness but at the same time you are learning to build your character from someone who is impatient to someone who is patient.

When you are talking to others, sometimes you might become defensive. But once you become mindful that you are being defensive, you can change. You can slowly choose to transform yourself from someone who is defensive and sentivie to someone who is open and composed.

When sitting at your desk, you might often be distracted and sidetrack by going on social media or watching youtube videos. But by being mindful we can train ourselves to stay focus and productive.

Clearly, meditation is not just something you do for a period of time. It is what one can do all day in every activity. So how much mindfulness is enough? That depends on how much you want to better yourself and how much you care about your happiness. The more you do it the more change you can be for yourself and the happier you become!

Remember, mindfulness is your inner school. No one is in class when you are unmindful. So be present. (Literally and figuratively!)

Read the original article @ http://true-happiness.github.io/

HAPPINESS IS NOT SELF-INDULGENCE. IT IS SELF-MASTERY.

The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions. – Alfred Lord Tennyson

If there is a hundred dollar bill dropped in front of us while no one is watching, would snatching the opportunity considered “smart?” If there is an opportunity for us evade taxes and take advantages of the system’s loop hole, would profitting from such tactics be “smart?” If we can cut corners and manipulate others to do the work we don’t want to do, would that be a “smart” thing to do? Here, Aristotle would not only said that it is not “smart.” But worse, giving in to our own greed and desire is what Aristotle would described as a weakness of character.

For Aristotle, a moderate man becomes moderate because his ability to abstain from his greed. A couragous man becomes couragous because in spite of his fear he is able to act in ways which opposes it. The ability to rise above one’s impulses is the essense of human is.  It is what make human “excellence.”

When a group of monkeys are hungry, they do not rationalize whether the act of stealing food is moral or immoral, they do whatever their impulses demand of them. When a dog is in shock or in a state of panic, it will attack even its owner if its instinct calls for such action. A termite swarmer will fly into a bon fire if its impulse demands it to do so.

Humans have similar impulses that animals have. We sometimes desire things that are detrimental to ourselves like drugs, junk foods and alcohol. At times we can become defensive and irritated even just by talking to others. And when a hundred-dollar bill is dropped in front of us while no one is watching, we can be tempted to take it. But despite these impulses, we do not always lash out, became trapped as the slave to our own temptations, or give in to our desire of stealing.

Instead, we learn how to be a good citizen by returning the money although we could have taken the money, we learn to quit bad habits to live a better life, and we hold back on our criticism to give others respect although what he or she said might irrelevant. Humans are endowed with the capacity to be excellent. So be kind when there is no reason to be, abstain from anger even when other is at a fault, and love even though we get nothing for it because these are what humans are made of. Without them our society would be no different from that of a jungle.

Character building is the development of one’s human capacity to be excellence. There is nothing to overcome by giving in to our desire and selflshness. In fact, how would humans then be so different from animals if we becomes the slave of our own desire? Human only becomes stronger, or “excellence,” by overcoming ourselves. Being the master of our own desire is something only human can do. This development of one’s excellence is what Aristotle would have describe as the greatest and truest path toward True Happiness.

See the original article at: truehappiness.github.io

When You Love, You Become Love

“And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” ― The Beatles

Everything is and can be the object of our love. When we exercise our capacity to love on anything at all–ourselves, love ones, stranger, work, pets or even an insect–we become love itself.

This site is about finding True Happiness. And love is definitely one of the ways in which one could come to understand and experience True Happiness. But unlike the convention kind of romantic love, the kind of love we are talking about is an act of compassion and selflessness, to look beyond ourselves for the well-being of others without expecting anything in return. It is an act done entirely for the benefits of others. There is no exchange in this kind of love. It is not a give and take. We get nothing for it. It is a gift in its truest sense.

Many believe it is never worth it to do anything if it does not pay. Just like this website, many have told me it is a waste of time to write these articles on True Happiness. Their logic is that if it does not generate income then it is, in their exact words, “useless”, “a waste of time”, “never going to work.” But this website is not intented to be an exchange for me to gain something. It’s a gift. It is to love others even though there is nothing in return. It is an investment in a relationship that may or may not work at all. I am pouring my heart and soul into this blind shot in the dark all in the hope that it will help someone in their life to find love, peace, truth, purpose, and happiness. I am betting everything to get nothing and it is fine by me because I am happy to love first.

Love is Happiness

Love is probably one of the strongest emotion. It dominates and dissipates all doubts, hates, politics, and the dramas of human’s life. You will be surprised how quickly can love turn your day around.

We always think that we would be happy if others love us. But what we do not realise is that we would be just as happy if we were to love others. So stop wanting to be loved, and start looking for ways to love. Look no further to find True Happiness because True Happiness is in the very act of love.

Dalai Lama once said:

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

We all have the capacity for love. So exercise it. And exercise it often epecially on those who you dislike. Exercise it on yourself and everything that come into your life until it becomes your nature to love.

When you look at someone, always ask the question of “How can I love?” or “How can I love this person?” Just in that very thought, you are already setting up yourself to be happy. Regardless of who he is she is or what he or she has done to you, this is our only duty. It’s perhaps the only attitude we all should have toward life.

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” – Mother Teresa

This task is not limited to others but it can be applied to anything at anytime. So you can also ask question like “How can I love myself?” or “What is the best thing to do for myself right now?” Even ill thoughts and negative feelings that enter our mind, they are also the objects of our love. I have been waking up with the question of “How can I love today?” It’s a great question to start the day.

Conclusion

I would like to leave you with these beautiful and memorable quotes below which I believe better summarise my point about love and True Happiness. (I think it would also be a good ideas to put these quotes up on our desks and in our bedrooms.)

“Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here.” ― Leo Tolstoy


“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson


“The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.” ― Kent M. Keith, The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council


Related resources about “love and compassion”:

Ted Talk by Ex-Googler Chade-Meng Tan on “Everyday Compassion at Google”

CAUSE OF UNHAPPINESS PART FIVE: LOSING ONE’S WAY IN LIFE.

There will be times when life becomes too overwhelming. There will be times in our lives where we have no idea how to go on. There will be times where doubt, fear, confusion, and uncertainty will set in and cloud our minds.

In this age of information where we are constantly bombarded by the tales of what we should want in life. “You have to get a degree from this university or college in order to be happy.” “You need to have a job to look good in front of your friends.” “You need to have x amount of money to be secured.” “You have to have that big house to be accepted as ‘successful’.” “You need to get married by this and that age.” On and on and on we are fed by stories of what “happiness” is supposed to be. But more than ever, these so-called “happiness” oftentimes left us with a sense of inadequacy to life.

So what should one do when one is lost in life? Here are four simple steps to getting your life back on track.

5 Steps to Getting Your Life Back

1. Stop and Take A Step Back

One evening I return to my hermitage from a walk in the hills, and I found that all the doors and windows of the hermitage had been blown open. When I left the house, I hadn’t secured them, and a cold wind blew through the house, opened the windows, and scattered the papers from the desk all over the room. Immediately I closed the doors and the windows, lit a lamp, picked up the papers, and arranged them neatly on my desk. Then I started a fire in the fireplace, and soon the crackling logs brought warmth back to the room.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

Above is exactly what we do with our lives when we are lost. Thich Nhat Hanh equates our senses as the doors and windows of our life. It is difficult to pick ourselves up in the middle of the storm. Sometimes it is wise to just stop and take a step back from it all. This could be anything from spending more time with yourself, going on a digital detox, a solo vacation, meditate, to participating in a meditation retreat.

2. Understand That It’s Ok To Be Lost

It’s ok to not be ok.

Life never goes according to what one wants. This is the fact of life. So it’s inevitable for everyone to, at some point, not be ok.

What is the worst and best thing that one can do at this point?

The worst thing anyone could do when facing such a situation is to hate the situation one is in. Imagine you are lost in a desert with a person who kept brooding, crying out loud, throwing tantrum, sending depressive comments, and complaining about the whole situation. How would that person help to make the situation any better if not worse?

Well, our own negative thoughts are like that person. Sometimes we can be the worst person to tag along with. Sometimes the person who is making a bad situation worse than what it is is no one other than ourselves. To hate the situation we are in is, therefore, to be a bad companion to ourselves. It is literally digging our own grave. It only makes everything worse.

In its worse form, it creates an infinite down spiral. When one dislikes the situation one is in, one tends to become dishearten and give up the whole thing which makes the situation even worse. And when the situation is worse, it makes one wants to give up even more.

The best thing that one could do when lost is simply to focus on the problem in front of us in order to put our lives back again. Don’t victimize yourself. Instead, find ways to encourage yourself. Don’t complain. Don’t blame. Instead, learning to be open to the problems of life and see it as an opportunity for you to learn to overcome. Keep going forward. Keep exploring options. And most importantly, be kind and understanding to yourself.

3. Regaining Your Sense Of Direction

Once you have given yourself the time and opportunity to take a good look at life from an objective point of view and your inner self is calm and collected enough to face the challenges of life then it is time to find your sense of direction in life.

Finding one’s sense of direction required a lot of inner and outer exploration. The purpose of the inner exploration is to be clear to oneself what one actually wants or what truly matters most to one’s life. The questions which one could try answering are:

“If I die today, what is the one thing I want to do?”

“What matters to me most?”

“What am I good at?”

“What makes me feel alive?”

“If nothing else matters, what would I be doing right now?”

“What do you imagine your ‘perfect’ or ideal life to be like?”

There is a line in a famous Japanese anime where the main character said,

If you’ve got time to give yourself a beautiful end, then you might as well live beautifully to the end.

Well, if you are reading this then surely you still are capable of not only imagining but pursuing a beautiful life!

Of course, it’s ok to not be able to answer these questions right away. Many spent their lives never wanting to answer these questions at all. Some never found their true sense of direction until later in life. Everything has its own time, so no need to rush yourself for the answers. However, to help you find your sense of direction. Here are some suggestions:

  • Don’t Overthink. Just Explore. The benefit of being lost is that it forces you to explore. So take this opportunity to learn more about yourself and find what it is that you truly believe in. Learn something new. Meet new and inspiring people. Learn from them how they succeed and get to where they are. Make drastic changes in life. Live life differently from what you used to. Just like when you are lost in a middle of a jungle. You probably need to try different routes before gaining some idea of which direction might be lead you to your destination. So get exploring both inside and outside. Give yourself time and do it out of joy. 
  • Simplify. The reason why we are confused about life might because we have too many wants–some not what we actually want, some contradicts with another. Having too much wants make our lives become too difficult and complicated to manage. And when happen when we have too much to think about? we freeze. As a rule of thumb, a simple life is a happy life. So find whatever that matters to you most and let go of others which are not. In this way, you have a clearer sense of the direction which you want to head toward.
  • Revisit Your Inner Drive. If you are feeling lost then you must have known what it was like to not be lost. Revisit your past when you feel sure of life or when you felt you have a sense of purpose. This could be helpful in getting you back on track.

4. Walking the Talk

Humans are odd creatures. I, for one, definitely fall within that category. Despite having clearly listed all the things that I ought to be doing with myself–things that I know if I do would make me happy–I still don’t do them. It is as if I have drawn the perfect map and marked all the routines I need to take in order to get there. Yet when it is time, I never actually set out. I feel many of us do experience this. It is, therefore, one thing to know what would make us happy and another to live in a way that would make us happy. Knowledge is useless if it is not put it to work. And to bridge that gap and integrate our sense of direction into our lives, it is necessary that we have a game plan to execute and turn our aspiration into reality. Over the years of struggling to follow through with my own commitment, here are two key components that I would like to share that have turned my sense of direction into action.

1. Planning.

Having a sense of direction is good but to be able to effectively walk toward it what is essential is a plan of action. Without a plan, we would quickly find ourselves falling back into our old habits or the point of lowest resistance which of course equal to no change. Why do I know this? I know this because I have been there before. I have struggled for years to follow through with my commitment because I did not have a good plan.

A good plan is one that ensures we are happy doing it. Again, it might not be the plan that we like but it is a plan that we know if we persevere and follow through we will be happy by the end of it all. I mean if I only do the plan that I like then I would probably just be playing video games all day. 

If we do things according to our likes and dislike we will never finish anything. 

When we are first starting to make changes, there will definitely be resistance and setbacks. But that is part of making change. It can’t be that life-changing if it was easy right? What you would want to be the end result of this struggle is when your plan becomes your habits. By that point, you would have bygone all the need to argue with yourself if it is something you would like to do now or not. You would stop depending less and less on what you want or feel like and you start depending more and more on the structure that you have created for yourself.

“The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”

–Warren Buffett 

2. Focus

I’ve learned recently a very interesting story of how focus made a whole world of difference in how we can turn our aspiration into reality. It is a story of the England rowing team who for more than 40 years have never once won an Olympic gold medal. Yet something odd happened and they won. And what made the difference was the simple question of “Would this make the boat go faster?” This question is what everyone in the England rowing team carries with them wherever they go in whatever they do. Before deciding to order that hamburger, they ask themselves would that make the boat go faster? Before choosing to get lazy on a couch or not wake up for that 4am practice they would ask themselves, would that make the boat go faster? Over the years these micro-decisions of choosing to do whatever to make the boat go faster have eventually made them the fastest team that year in Olympic. Having a sense of direction is like knowing where to light the candle within our hearts but to keep that light and fire burning what you need is focus. I do wish my level of focus is up there with the England rowing team. But as for me, what I’ve helped to maintain that focus for me are:

  • Daily self-reflection

  • Constantly review my progress

  • Journaling

  • Reminding myself everyday of my purpose.

  • Imagine what it would feel like if you have already achived whatever you set out.

  • Having friends who listen, support, and hold you accountable.

  • Creating a working structure for yourself which is what we have just talked about to turn our plans into habits.

These are some ways that I have found to ensure that I’m focused and not lose sight of what is most important to me.

5. Taking Massive Action

When we are lost it is difficult to know what to do first, how to prioritize life or what we should or should not do. And sometimes even if we know what to do we don’t do them. However, there is one thing we know for sure: if we give up and stay exactly where we are or do the exact same thing as we have always been doing then there is no hope.

What we need when we are lost is to take action to change. Again, these changes do not need to be perfect but they just have to be something–something that proves to ourselves that we’ve done something to try to improve our life.

To help us scope down to what we could work on, the Buddha suggested 6 areas toward growth:

  1. Keeping good health
  2. Discipline yourself
  3. Having good role model(s)
  4. Learn to truly understand the nature of the thing in which you are engaging
  5. Do only that which is right and good
  6. Be diligent on all tasks

These 6 areas are only some aspiration and generalization which will not apply to everyone and only aim to point us toward areas in which we feel we could work on. Out of these, I feel feeling a good role model is most relevant in this case because finding a good role model could bring us hope as well as give us a route toward where we want to be in life. By learning how someone got to where you want to be, you automatically feel hopeful of knowing a path or direction in which you too can walk. And if you could learn from them then you just got yourself a shortcut toward your desired life. If you don’t have a role model yet then perhaps it is time to find one. Better yet, contact them! They might even help you out!

Once, you know which area(s) you need to change, come up with a plan as we have talked about, keep that focus, and just take massive actions. Remember, without action there is no hope of finding that light at the end of the tunnel. So get moving!

Keep Going, Keep Experimenting, Keeping Exploring. Do Not Give Up.

“Players with fight never lose a game, they just run out of time” – John Wooden

You are never lost until you give up. So never give up. Keep going. Eventually, you will find your way. Perhaps it is not the path you were expecting. But you will find it. It’s only a matter of time, patience, perseverance, and one’s willingness to change. You have my full support!

If you would like to share your story for others to help and support you or become an inspiration to others. You can do so at True Happiness’s Forum.

Continue reading “CAUSE OF UNHAPPINESS PART FIVE: LOSING ONE’S WAY IN LIFE.”

What is Happiness?

Happiness is typical understood as getting what we want. If life goes exactly like how we want it to be then we are happy. Once we get what we want, we become content and satisfied with life. This sense of contentment, fulfilment, and satisfaction is ultimately what happiness is.

There are three basic components of happiness:

  1. One’s desire
  2. The reality or the world
  3. And their interaction

Happiness is when what you want from reality is in harmony with what reality is; or to put it in an even simpler term, happiness is when life is exactly like how you want it to be. There is nothing that you want more or less. Life is just perfect as it is.

It is impossible to know what happiness is unless you also know what unhappiness is.

Unhappiness, on the other hand, is when the reality is not like what you want it to be. Anything which you want but couldn’t have, anything that you do not want yet it enters into your life, anything that you used to have but now it’s gone. These are the unhappinesses of life which we come to know as worry, frustration, disappointment, depression, confusion, and etc. As an example, disappointment is when the reality is not what you hope it would be. And worry is when you want the reality to be a certain way, yet you are afraid it might not be like what you hope. In essence, all of these array of negative emotions, or unhappinesses, stem from the disharmony between what we want from reality and what the reality is.

So far, understanding happiness is the easy part. The hard part is how to attain one. Why are we not always happy despite our knowledge of happiness? If happiness is simply to match reality and our want then where did we go wrong in this simple process to produce happiness? Why does our pursuit of happiness still lead us toward discontent and sometimes even a sense of meaninglessness in life?

To answer these questions, the next article, “The Cause and Condition of Happiness”, will introduce you into the nature of happiness, so that we will understand how to attain one.

[Read the original post @ true-happiness.github.io]

SCIENCE OF HAPPINESS

If I know water would boil at a 100 degrees Celsius under earth’s gravity. Do I need to hope it would boil at 100 degree Celsius? Or even if I do not want the water to be boiled, could I desire the water not to be boiled even if I heat it up to 100 degrees Celsius? I can hope, dance, or pray—or do all three at once—for it to rain tomorrow. However, if the causes are not right, it will not rain. Or maybe I do not want it to rain tomorrow. But again, if the conditions are right for it to rain, it will rain regardless of what I want or do not want.

The simple yet elegant wisdom that I am attempting to reiterate here is this:

Reality has nothing to do with what one wants. Instead, reality has everything to do with the law of cause and effect.

If the causes are right for an effect to occur, it will occur regardless of what one wants or do not want. Scientifically speaking, there is no room for desires in reality. There is only cause and effect.

The common way, we, humans, achieve happiness in life is to put what we desire in front of the causes we must perform to achieve the result. We start a project by wanting it to be finished. We run a business by hoping to gain and never to lose. We often live by being afraid of dying even though we are perfectly fine. We lived life without  Even when we are deeply in love with someone, we can’t help ourselves feeling a little insecure about how long the good time will last. Humans always put our desire in front of what the reality is. For this reason, our pursuit of happiness has led us to constantly become fearful, worried, impatient, and frustrated by what we demand from reality.

But is this really necessary? or is there a better way of pursuing happiness?

Two Approaches Toward True Happiness: One Is Scientific And Other Is Not.

There are two opposing ways of achieving anything in life.

1. Desire-Oriented Approach to Happiness

This is humans’ most typical approach toward happiness. By putting our desire in front of what the reality is, our happiness is externalized and is dependent what we hope from the reality than what the reality is. And thus, he or she can never be happy until his desire is fulfilled. In other words, we have given up our rights to our own happiness.

2. Reality-Oriented Approach to Happiness

The second way is to work toward your goal without the need to get ahead of ourselves.  To work with and according to what the reality is, not work from the stance of what we expect reality to be.

The man whose desire is with reality lived with what is. Since his desire is in tune with reality, he is not anxious or worried. This, in turn, allows him to become more composed, relaxed, and ultimately more productive while working toward his goal with a peace of mind.

Epictetus beautifully capture this idea as follows:

Do not seek to have events happen as you want them to, but instead want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well.

Our Duty To Reality

Right now, I am applying for graduate school. Right away, my desire is to be accepted. But who am I to want or not want things from reality without ever creating the right causes for it to happen? In reality, whether or not anyone would or would not be accepted has many different factors—many beyond one’s control. So just by applying or having a great supporting resume doesn’t mean I have the right to demand or hope from reality my admission. So why hope? Why put my desire ahead of the reality? Why worry? Why set myself up to be dissappointed for something which I have no control over? And why not channel this energy, instead,  in what I can control by creating the right causes such as writing the best application?

You can attain anything in life with or without the need to desire for it. But since reality runs by the absolute law of cause and effect, it does not obey one’s desire no matter how large or small the desire. The only thing that matters is whether or not there are enough causes for the effect to occur. Thus, there is no need to desire because…

  1. One simply can’t. There is no room for desire in reality.
  2. It is not based on reality but hope. Every effect must has it rightful causes.
  3. If putting our demands of the reality before the reality is the root the unhappiness of life, why unnecessarily suffer?

One does not need to desire to achieve whatever he or she set out to accomplish. Our duty to life is not to chase after our desire, but to create the right causes to produce the right effect. Depending on how well one could live in accordance with this natural law and not according to what he or she demands of reality, the happier he or she becomes.

Conclusion

All in all, the message here is simple: life is happier, better, and more satisfactory if one lives in accordance with reality and its law rather than living in accordance with what one wants from reality.

Reality does not revolve around what one wants from it; it revolves around the absolute law of cause and effect. Life is never like what one wants it to be. The only way for anyone to feel the unsatisfactoriness of life is to be unmindful of the law of conditionality and desire life or reality to be the way one wants.

‘What’s worse, the falling rain, or your resistance to getting wet?’ – Jeff Foster

So let’s keep our feet on the ground; and stay with reality and its law. Forget about all your fantasies about how reality should be. Instead, focus on, be satisfied, and work starting from what is. Begin living in the now! Keep on working with reality by making the right causes to achieve the right effect. And always remember that the way to live happily, correctly, and more efficiently, is not to put our desires in front of our reality, but the other way around.

CAUSE OF UNHAPPINESS PART FOUR: MISTAKE IN LIFE

You can’t change or erase what happened in the past, all you can change is your attitude toward it.

Mistake in life is not to be taken lightly. For some, one small mistake could define who they are and enslave our lives in an unending quest to redeem or fix the mistake that he or she has done in the past. So let’s first begin by understanding what mistake is and how it affects our happiness.

Understanding the Nature of Life Mistake

1. Mistake is like a ghost.

When we do not reconcile or do not know how to reconcile with our mistake, the mistake becomes an open loop which endlessly haunts our lives. The more we wish to not think about our mistake, the more our minds irresistibly wander back to the mistake to relive it. Even though that particular mistake might have happened many years ago, or you might be at work or in the middle of a party, our mistake will not rest or give us a break. It will continue to enter into our conscious mind to remind us of its presence.

2. The mistake itself is not what makes us unhappy. It’s our attitude towards it that makes us unhappy.

Mistake is fueled by our biases toward it. The more we resist, avoid, hide, deny, blame, bend, or twist the reality of our mistake the more powerful it becomes in our lives. It draws power from our desire to not accept or come to term with it. The feeling of guilt, depression, anger, frustration, self-hating, and embarrassment. All of which originate from our desire that the past should or should not have been otherwise. It’s the void in our want from reality which we desperately want to change but can’t. The only way for a mistake to lose its power is for us to allow our mistake to be, without disliking it or denying its reality. Accept the mistake as it is without any filters. This is how a mistake loses its power and slowly fade away from our lives.

3. Mistake is by default inevitable.

Nobody wants to make mistake. Yet, why do we make mistake? Nobody would make a mistake if they know ahead of time what would be the consequence of that action. But the point here is we don’t. That is why we must make mistake. There is no avoiding it. So when we look back at our mistake in life especially ones that our minds often replay in our heads, it is important to understand that there was nothing we can do to change the past. It is something that must happen the way it did and not any other way.

Changing Our Attitude with Our Mistakes in Life

So how does one deal with one’s mistake? Here are 4 definitive steps to overcoming your mistake in life:

1. Take Full Responsibility For Your Mistake And All Its Ramification

  • If we are unwilling to accept its consequences, then we are not ready to fully come to terms with our mistake. Have the courage to face your mistake. Be responsible for it. Don’t run away from it. Mistake is by definition undesirable. But when we made a mistake, we must be strong and mature enough to take full responsibility for it whether or not it was intentionally or unintentionally, whether it effects just you or many other people.

2. Think About What Is Best At This Very Moment

  • Is there a benefit in going over our mistake? If there is then please do. But if brooding over our mistake only rubs the salt in the wound, then perhaps there is no point in letting our mistake take over our lives. The best question to ask in this situation is, “What can we control at this moment?” Can we change the past? No. Can we change what is in the now? Yes. So let’s focus on what we can change instead of what we can’t. Let’s ask relevant questions like, “How can I do my best now so that I can avoid more mistake in the future?” or “What is the best thing to do right now?” So without the burden of the past, move on by letting go of the past which you no longer have control and focus on what you can control in the present moment.

3. Learn to Forgive Ourselves

  • It’s impossible to move on if we do not forgive ourselves from our mistake. The characteristic of mistake in life is that they inevitable. Thus, it must happen the way it did. Looking back, you would never have done it. But because you did not know. That’s why you made that mistake. So don’t take it personally. Anyone who was in your shoes would have made the same mistake.

4. Accepting Our Mistake as It Is. Do not Avoid, Hide, Deny, Blame Others, Bend, or Twist the Reality of Our Mistake.

  • If you can’t openly tell others your mistake, then this is perhaps a good indicator that there is something you still cannot accept about it. Of course, I am not suggesting for us to go out and tell everybody of our mistake either. My point is simply to come to understand ourselves to see if we still have our biases toward our mistake. If we still do then it is time to reconcile ourselves with these mistakes.

Learning to Be with Your Mistake

The best way to reconcile with any mistakes in life is to accept it. Accepting is different from justifying our wrong doing. Accepting our mistake is to understand that there is no way of going back to fix the past of what we have done. Accepting our mistake is to be courageous and mature enough to accept whatever outcome and ramification that resulted as the direct or indirect outcome of our mistake. Accepting is to see no value in brooding or regretting our mistake, but instead see the value in what is in front of us. It is to be in the now by taking in the mistake as is, not as what you hope or do not hope it would be.

As a basic practice, when the mind wanders back to your mistake in life, do not fight it. Do not find excuses for yourself about why you were not wrong. Do not look for a scapegoat. Observe the feelings associated with our mistakes, but let it be as it is without hoping the mistake would happen otherwise. Simply, know it and be mindful of it. Take it as it is. And understand that it must happen the way it did. Remind yourself of what is the best thing to do right now by knowing what you can and what you can’t control. And let go of our feelings by seeing how the bad feelings that comes with your mistake does not help you or anyone to be better. Eventually, your mistake will begin to lose its power as you slowly come to understand its nature. Don’t let your mistake of the past clouds what is in front you today.

[Read the original post @ true-happiness.github.io]

 

CAUSE OF UNHAPPINESS PART THREE: FEAR OF BEING MEANINGLESS

One of the worst fear of our lives is that we become meaningless. Whether this would be meaningless to oneself, meaningless to others, or meaningless to the world. Meaninglessness comes in various forms. The feeling of being useless, most evident in today society where everything is about productivity, to a feeling of inadequacy. At True Happiness, this is an important concept to understand as often times, we, humans, equate our self-worth with our meaning. So let’s dig a little deeper on this subject of meaninglessness to see where we could find True Happiness.

One of the most renowned Theravada Buddhist Monk in Thailand, “Ajahn Chah,” once asked his disciples if a wooden stick–just like the one in the picture above–is long or short. Some answered, “It is long.” Some answered, “It is short.” But Ajahn Chah’s answer was not what one would unexpected. His answer is that the stick is neither long nor short. It is only long if we want it to be short. And it is short only if you want it to be long. Thus, the wooden stick is neither short or long. It is what it is. Only our want make it short or long.

Similarly, our life is the same as that wooden stick. We are as meaningless as how much meaningful we want to be. A rich person who want to be richer always feels he or she is not meaningful enough. So in a sense, he is “poor.” A poor person who feels that he or she has all that he or she could ever want is in way “rich.” It all depends on your want. If you want to be richer then immediately you are “poor.” If you feel you already have more than you want then at that very moment you are “rich.”

We are as meaningless as how much meaningful we want to be.

The moment you want to be more meaningful is the moment that you have become meaningless. Those who feels they are already meaningful has no need to search for more meaning in their life. They are already happy and satisfied with life. They have finished looking for more meaning to fill the void of their meaninglessness.

Thus, to find true happiness is not to look for more meaning, but to stop looking for one.

What To Take Away

We are as meaningless as how much meaningful we want to be. Thus, to find true happiness is not to look for meaning, but to stop looking for one.