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”

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]