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 a new phone in order to look good in front of your friends.” “You need that job/promotion.” “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 instead, these so-called “happiness” often times left us with a sense 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.

4 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 yourself up in the middle of the storm. Sometimes it is wise to just stop and take a step back from it all. Of course, the purpose of this is not to run away or give up. Its purpose is to give ourselves the chance to recover and prepare to face life again.

To stop and take a step back from life could be anything from spending time with yourself, turning off all your electronics, a solo vacation, meditate, to participating in a meditation retreat. I do not recommend losing yourself to distractions or putting the problem off by making ourselves busy on purpose or do something just to forget the problem. The point is not to run away. The point is to allow you to step out of your situation to look inward and review your life with more clarity so that you can begin anew.

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 the 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 for options. And most importantly, be nice to yourself.

3. Regaining Your Sense Of Direction

Once you have given yourself the opportunity to take a 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. The questions which one should try to answer 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.

It’s ok to not be able to answer these questions right away. Many spent their lives never actually tried 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 in 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. And do your best to not to do it out of fear, but 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 always lead to happiness. 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. 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. 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.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

-Unknown

What we need when we are lost is to take action to change. Again, it does not need to be perfect but it just has to be something which improves our life.

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

  1. Keep good health
  2. Discipline yourself
  3. Have good role model
  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. Diligent on all tasks

These 6 areas are only a generalization which might point us toward an area in which we feel we need to work on. For example, finding a good role model could bring us hope as well as help us get to where we want to be in life. By learning how someone got to where you want to be, you automatically found a path or direction in which you can walk toward. It also gives you hope just knowing that there is already someone who has done it. 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 and follow through. The more the specific the plan the better. It doesn’t have to be THE perfect plan.  Keep a record and be mindful of your progress each day from moment to moment. Remember, without the commitment and action to change and grow, there is no hope of regaining one’s life back.

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.”

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.

CAUSE OF UNHAPPINESS PART TWO: COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS

Human’s innate ability to compare ourselves to others is perhaps the root of all sins in this world. Knowing that I am better create a sense of pride or even arrogant, while knowing that I am less create a sense of envy and jealousy toward the other. There can be no ends to our comparison unless we stop to put any value into it.

The fuels behind our comparisons are our likes and dislikes.

Let’s say for example that we would like to be promoted. However, someone was promoted instead. We can’t help but feel disappointed or even a sense of hate or jealousy. Why? Because we believe a promotion has value and is desirable. But if we did not want to be promoted in the first place then we simply would not care who got promoted or didn’t.

I used to be someone who enjoyed being better than others. My identity was dependent upon others being less than who I am. Every conservation I start every word I speak leak a sense of pride and the desperate need to show off myself. When I met someone who is worse of than I am then I became overjoyed because I felt I was “better”. But when I met someone who was better suddenly I felt scared and inferior.

My happiness was contextual. I thought my happiness was to look better than others, but what I couldn’t see is how tiresome it was for me as well as those around me to put up with my own inferiority complex.

Happiness is not to be taken likely. If one does not take care of it and see it objectively. It is most likely that this kind of pursue of “happiness” will never stop. And for me or for anyone, they would forever carry around this “happiness” complex without noticing it.

Mindfulness saves my life.

I was lucky. I somehow found my way to the practice of mindfulness. Through the practice mindfulness, I began to reflect upon this inferiority complex I called “happiness”. And the more I reflect the more I see its negative effects.

First, it is rather obnoxious for others who have to put up with my own insecurity. No one likes someone who fill up the conversation only to boast about himself.

Second, it was tiresome to try to talk about how great you are in every context. I simply can’t be happy by myself. I needed someone to be better than at all time else I couldn’t be happy. When I felt like I am better than a person, I became happy. When that person or someone else become better than me then I became unsatisfied. My happiness was fleeting. It’s the kind of happiness which is dependent upon whether or not the context allow me to feel as if I am “better” than others.

What I eventually realise is that it was too hard for me to find happiness. My happiness to look better didn’t do anyone, including myself, any good except fulfilling the unfulfillable desire to look “better”.

Comparing myself to others did not bring me any joy, only pain and bitterness. Thus, I quit.

How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

  • Reflect. As long as you are biased toward yourself and your ways of attaining happiness, you will never find True Happiness. You will say, “This is my happiness. Why would I change?” Thus, it is necessary to have the desire to improve one’s happiness by reflecting often. Question yourself. Why I am still unhappy even though I am trying to be happy? And if possible, learn to be mindful of your actions to see whether they are driven by your unwholesome desire or the desire to prove yourself. Know thyself and change yourself before it’s too late!
  • Knowing that there is no ends to comparing yourself to others. You will never be satisfied because your satisfaction is relative to how others are.
  • Better could mean worse and less is sometimes more. It all depends on which standard or perspective are you putting yourself against. No one is better or worse. Everyone has different background and up-bring and naturally each is incomparably different from one another.
  • Seeing the negative effects it has on oneself and everyone around you.
  • Compare yourself today with yourself yesterday
  • Learn the art of mindfulness! Click here to learn!

CAUSE OF UNHAPPINESS PART ONE: EXTERNALIZING OUR HAPPINESS

Happiness is like a string which ties us to that which we believe is our happiness.

We, humans, have many things which our happiness is dependent upon whether it would be our wealth, health, or our love ones. Let’s say for example that if you tie your happiness with being rich and accepted, then as long as you are not rich and accepted you can not be happy. Similarly, if you rest your happiness on your promotion then the promotion becomes the happiness which you have put outside of yourself.

Nowadays, the society only encourages us to put our happiness outside of ourselves. The media is telling us that for one to be happy one needs to have a new iPhone, a big house, a good job, and a beautiful spouse, a degree from Harvard and on and on. Imagine ourselves being tied to millions of these strings which we come to know as “happiness”. What we soon realise is that “happiness” starts to become a spider webs in which we are the preys. Each “happiness” is pulling us left and right to the point that it becomes impossible to obtain any happiness or freedom in life.

So What Do We Do?

How do we keep our happiness with us? Here are some interesting concepts to contemplate and chew on which will help you find True Happiness in this chaotic world.

1. Don’t Let Anything Defines Your Self-Worth.

The worst thing you can do for yourself is to let money defines your self-worth. And the worst thing you can do to others is to define others’ self-worth through money.

Nothing can define your self-worth unless you let it. However, one way we, humans, externalize our happiness is to let something else defines our self-worth. This is very common in our materialistic society where often times we let material–like cars, money, cloth, or house–tells us our self-worth. If we let material defines our self-worth then material becomes our happiness. The more material or wealth we have the happier we becomes and inversely the less material or wealth we have the more unhappy we become. So by letting money defines ourselves our happiness becomes dependent to money.

The happiest man on earth does not rest his “happiness” on anything. And for that reason, he cannot not be happy. He does not need to be “rich” to be happy. He does not need to be “smart” to be happy. He does not need other’s compliment or affection to be happy. He is already happiness as is. There is no happiness which he has externalized.

Plus, material or outer wealth has nothing to do with ourselves self-worth from the very start. When we were young materialism does not affect our world much. We wear whatever we want. We be whoever we want to be without feeling superior or inferior to anyone.

Whatever we come to value we also judge.

When we let money defines our self-worth, we, in the same way, judge others through money. When how much money one has can define a person, there is naturally someone who is worse, or the same as the others. When such valuation of our humanity is as such. This valuation becomes the root of discrimination, prejudice, jealousy, pride and arrogant. Hence, one should be very careful about what one values and how far one takes it.

2. Good Or Bad Is A Matter Of Human’s Perspective

Good or bad, rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, these dualities are man-made. In God’s eyes there is no such thing as good or bad. For Him, everything is just is.

Whether or not we have externalized our happiness, the value we perceive about ourselves–whether we believe we are rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, successful or unsuccessful, young or old, worthy or worthless–is only a matter of how and what we compare ourselves to. If you compare yourself to someone who are less fortunate than you might be “rich.” But if you compare yourself to a billionaire then we are, in a way, “poor”. So we are both “rich” and “poor” and at the same time we are neither. Positivity or negativity is a matter of perspective. In the realm of the ultimate reality, there is no one who is better or worse. We are just who we are–incomparably different from one another.

3. Question Your Happiness

A happy life must always be simple no matter how complicate our lives have become.

Most people rarely question their own happiness. But in order to maintain a happy life, it is necessary to regularly check up on what we called “happiness.”

As a practice, I suggest you to regularly review your life. I personally have a habit of writing a journal every night before going to bed to see what is bothering my mind. List them all out, question this list of what you called “happiness” then sort only ones that matter most to you while eliminating others which are not. You will easily find many things which you desire yet they are unnecessary towards life and are, in some ways, even weighting you down from achieving what really matters. Is it all that important to be “successful” in eyes of the others? Is being rich the answer to life? Is it worth it to trade your inner happiness for an outer one? Is my family comes first before my work? Slowly find out what matters to you most. Cut out any unnecessary wants. Eventually your life will feel lighter as you let go of those extraneous ties of “happiness.”

Knowing where your happiness truly belongs is a skill one which can be improved by learning to quickly identify where you have misplaced your happiness. This is what mindfulness is for. (Click here to learn more about the practice of True Happiness.) And once you can see that these ties of “happiness” have been causing you more pain than happiness then perhaps it is time to let go. As a rule of thumb, the less ties of “happiness” we have the easier for us to find happiness in life.

What To Take Away

Happiness is a delicate science. It is intriguing how sometimes even the things in which we believe will bring us “happiness” can end up causing us more unhappiness than happiness. Who would have thought that the way to be happy is less about pursuing it than questioning it? Happiness should never be ahead of us. It should be with us even though we are pursuing something ahead of us. Happiness is like a fire. And it is advisable that one be very careful with what you believe to be “happiness”. Question it. Simplify it. Deconstruction it. And what you will find is that there is nothing you need more to make you happy since our heart is by nature already happy.

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