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8 Ways To Happiness

• Date: Sep 5, 2008 • Source: http://www.selfcreation.com/


1) Take Ownership Of Your Emotions

If you're going to work towards happiness, you will need to know who controls your happiness. It’s a fairly common belief that a person can make another person feel bad. “She made me angry.” “He upset her.” “He really pissed the boss off this time.”

I am going to challenge this idea and propose that...

You can not, in any way, ever, MAKE someone feel anything.

When I have talked to people about this idea, they inevitably bring up the time when someone had upset them or made them angry. They say to me, “they caused my anger for if they had not been there, and said what they did, I would not have been angry.”

I can understand cause and effect in the physical world. I push the pencil and it rolls. I drop a glass and it shatters. But cause and effect don’t translate very well into the emotional world.

When someone says something to you, are the words going directly into your brain and switching on your "I'm upset" lever? When someone gives you the evil eye, are they shooting laser beams into your brain pushing your afraid button? When someone makes an unfavorable comment about your hair and you become offended, are they sending invisible "offend waves" causing your response? No, of course not. How can words, sent out as sound waves and picked up by your ears then translate into an emotional response? Is there nothing between those sound waves and your response?

I think people have difficulty understand this concept of responsibility for their emotions because they make no distinction between influence and control.

Influence & Control

There is a difference between the terms influence and control. Influence has the potential to impact. It's indirect. Control has a direct effect on a result. Lets look at one example and see how influence and control play out.

Terry is Mark’s wife. They’re having some financial difficulties and make an agreement to hold off on major purchases until they’re out of debt. One day while shopping, Terry sees a watch she loves and purchases it for $350.00. When Mark sees the credit card bill, he explodes in anger. “How could you?!?, he screams at Terry, “you know we're in debt!”

What caused Mark’s anger? Was it their financial situation? The credit card company? Terry’s purchase? The watch? All of the above?

In this particular case, none of them. Mark believes a “good husband” provides well for his family. When the bill for the watch came due, he almost instantly felt bad about himself for not being able to afford such things for her. His belief about what it means to be a good husband gave Terry's action a particular meaning, i.e.: he's not a good husband because he can't afford the watch. He looks for the cause of his feeling bad and sees Terry. He becomes angry at her for making him feel this way.

Terry, their financial situation, the credit card bill, were all influences on Mark’s belief about what it means to be a good husband. This is worth repeating. People and circumstances can have INFLUENCES on our beliefs. (The perverbial "He pushed my button.") But YOU have direct CONTROL over what you believe. Who controls what Mark believes? Who else could it be, but Mark. If Mark is the steward of his beliefs, then he has the power to examine and change those beliefs if he so chooses.

Outside stimuli like people and events can have influence (triggers) on our beliefs but it’s you and you alone that give meaning to those influences. No one can make you feel anything. Sure, they have influence. But it’s you alone that controls your beliefs.

Still not convinced? Let’s change Mark’s beliefs about what it means to be a good husband and see what happens.

Mark no longer believes he has to provide well for his wife to think of himself as a good husband. (He has a list of other things, but providing well isn't one of them.) It's no longer a prerequisite. They’re in the same situation, struggling financially, and Terry has purchased the expensive watch. Mark sees the bill.

He doesn’t become angry because he doesn’t question his value as a husband, but he is curious what happened since he and Terry had agreed to hold off on major purchases. He asks Terry about the bill. As it turns out, Terry had been feeling the desire for some type of luxury in her life. She’s been scrimping and saving for three months now and wanted to treat herself. She agrees she’s broken their agreement, apologizes and they discuss her feeling deprived. They decide that they will treat themselves to one nice dinner out a month to celebrate their financial restraint.

Mark changed his belief and by changing the belief, he changed his emotional response. Terry and her purchase were only influences on Mark. Those influences were powerless when the belief was changed. If Terry and her purchase were the cause of Mark’s anger, then he would have become angry regardless of his changed belief.

• The good news is no one can make you feel unhappy.
• The really good news is you can not make anyone else unhappy.
• And the really, REALLY good news is you can make yourself happy by adjusting the beliefs that cause your misery.

Claim your beliefs, feelings and actions as your own. Take back the reins of ownership, responsibility, and consequential control that comes with ownership. Let's take that outstretched finger we’ve been pointing at every one else, and turn it back towards ourselves. Not in blame, guilt or judgment, but for answers and growth.

2) Make Happiness A Deliberate Intention

How often do you base whether you’ll be happy or not, on the circumstances and conditions in your life? “When this happens, I’ll be happy. When I get this house, car, relationship, job, this problem is solved, have self esteem, get out of this marriage (the list is endless) ... then I’ll be happy.”

What if your happiness was...

• More important than changing?
• More important than getting what you want?
• More important than making more money?
• More important than being healthy?
• More important than having friends?
• More important than being respected?
• More important than having the right career?
• More important than being in a great relationship?

What if you could be happy while pursuing the things you want? Whose to say you can't? Is there any reason you can't experience joy while creating the life you want?

What we focus on becomes larger in our lives. If you focus on feeling happy, you will feel happier. Consider this. If you don’t have to use unhappiness to motivate yourself to accomplish something, you could pursue your desires while being happy. You could feel good, right here, right now. It’s all about setting the intention to feel good at the top of your list. To understand this more fully, I recommend you read Emotional Options by Mandy Evans.

One of the surprising and amazing results of deliberately making happiness important in your life, is how much more effective you will be at creating what you want!

3) Accept Yourself As You Are Right Now

Self acceptance is being loving and happy with who you are NOW. Some call it self-esteem, others self-love, but whatever you call it, you'll know when your accepting yourself cause it feels real good! Its an agreement with yourself to appreciate, validate, accept and support who you are at this very moment, even those parts you’d like to eventually change. This is key...even those parts you'd eventually like to change. Yes, you can accept (be okay with) those parts of yourself you want to change.

Motivation Behind Lack of Acceptance

If acceptance feels so good, then why don’t we accept ourselves? Motivation. Motivation to get us to do, not do, be, and not be. Many people believe that if they accepted themselves as they are, they wouldn’t change or that they wouldn’t work on becoming more of who they want to be.

We hate ourselves for being fat to get ourselves to diet. We berate ourselves for mistakes to make ourselves more attentive. We feel guilty to make ourselves do what we think we should. We judge ourselves unfavorably with the hope it will motivate us to change. We hope if we feel bad enough about ourselves, that maybe that will motivate us to change.

Does this work? Hardly. All it does is...well, cause us to feel bad and feeling bad just saps your energy you might have used to make changes. It works exactly counter to what you wanted to do.

“Acceptance allows change. The "acceptance mode" includes everything, even my judgments. It allows me to be okay now, even before I reach my goals.”

“When you begin to accept yourself the way you are right now, you begin a new life with new possibilities that did not exist before because you were so caught up in the struggle against reality that that was all you could do.”

- Traveling Free, Mandy Evans

So if it doesn’t work, why do we keep doing it? Because we HOPE it will work. And if you don’t know any other way to change, what options do you have? We’ve been trained to believe that in order to change, we need to first feel bad about it. That if we’re accepting and loving of that particular quality, that we won’t do anything to change the situation. Which is not true! You don’t have to be unhappy with yourself to know and actively change those things you’d like to change about yourself. Acceptance is actually the very first step in the process of change.

What if you were to drop your value judgments and simply saw “what is” then identified what you wanted and why. It could totally transform your experience. What are the ramifications of doing so? Perhaps you would find a well of love for yourself and others that you never knew existed. Perhaps you'd notice the less you judge yourself, the less you judge others. And maybe, just maybe, the experience of acceptance would give you the solid foundation to move forward in creating yourself and your life the you've always dreamed.

4) Understanding & Changing Your Beliefs

This is perhaps one of the most important pages on the Self Creation site. If you act on the information on this page, I guarantee your life will never be the same. A bold statement, but true.

Beliefs are any ideas you think are true about yourself, others, and life. Clarity about what you believe, who you are, what you want, and why you want it can be like a beacon on a clear night, guiding you to the fulfillment of your desires. Unfortunately, most of us aren't aware of our beliefs, many of which we acquired as children. You can live your whole life unaware of how you're beliefs are effecting your feelings, thoughts and actions.

Some beliefs are counter-productive to what you say you want. Wouldn't it be nice to identify those beliefs? Examine them for validity? There are so many self-defeating beliefs but here are just a few I've identified in myself and others. Do you believe any of the following?

Self Defeating Beliefs

• If I'm happy now, I won't be motivated to change anything.
• I can't change. This is just the way I am.
• My feelings are natural reactions, not something I can control.
• If I control my feelings, I'll be a robot.
• I have to have [love, sex, or money] in order to be happy.
• If I don't feel guilty, I’ll continue to do "bad" things.
• You have to do some things you don't want to do in this life.
• No pain, no gain.
• If I was happy all the time, I’d be a blithering idiot.
• People who are optimistic aren't realistic.
• You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
• If happiness was my priority, I'd be inconsiderate of others.
• It's a dog-eat-dog world out there.

Changing Your Beliefs

So far this site has mainly engaged you at the reading level. Changing the beliefs that are causing you pain is where the rubber really hits the road. If you are serious about wanting to turn your life around, you're going to have to go beyond simply reading. You will not experience change reading about ideas. Oh, I'm all for ideas. I love to read too. But real change doesn't happen until it's personal.

I don't know if you're like me, but I have read a lot of books, attended a lot of programs, listened to umpteen tapes and talked about personal growth a tremendous amount. But none of this really made any huge difference in how I felt, what I did, or helped me get what I wanted, at least not in the long term.

I'm telling you this because I've been where you are. If you're reading this, you're searching for answers. I didn't experience any concrete changes in my life until I was exposed to the Option Method.

Although the Option Method has been compared to many different types of psychotherapies, it is radically different than anything I've ever experienced. It's the only process I've found that not only helped me changed my mind, but where you could visibly see the differences in my life. And isn't that what we all want? I mean it's nice to feel inspired and get high off a new realization, but what I really wanted was to feel better about myself and life on a more consistent basis. I wanted to be able to pursue my desires without all the fears (and they were numerous.) I wanted to make more permanent changes where I didn't keep falling back into old habits that weren't working. The Option Method helped me do all that for myself.

The Option Method

The Option Method is a series of carefully designed questions, that when asked, help you identify, and change (if you wish) those beliefs that are causing you pain.

Although the process was designed as a Self-Help tool, it's my personal opinion that you can't really reap the full benefits of a dialogue by yourself until you've had a few dialogues with an Option Method Practitioner. When I first did the process on my own, I kept getting stuck. After I had had four or five dialogues with a Practitioner I was much better able to do the dialogues by myself.

It certainly doesn't hurt to read about the Option Method, but you won't experience the changes I talked about until you actually have an Option Method dialogue on your own. I make no money if you schedule a dialogue with a Practitioner, but I will have the satisfaction of knowing I helped you. Below are links where you can learn more about the method. The links will open a separate browser window so you'll easily be able to return to this site.

5) Experience & Express Gratitude

Stop for a moment and think of someone in your life that you’re grateful for. Have someone in mind? Now really focus on that person. What do you appreciate about them? What specifically do you really like about them? Think of nothing else but your gratitude for having them in your life and what you appreciate about them. Close your eyes and focus on what you love about them.

Now, how did you feel when you did that? Felt pretty good, didn’t it? When we focus on our appreciation and gratitude for the things and people in our lives, we encourage our own awareness and happiness.

“Earth is crammed with heaven.”
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Gratitude is one of those characteristics that is almost always present when feeling happy. What you focus on becomes more impactful in your life. Make gratitude a larger aspect of your thoughts. You can end the pain by simply changing your focus.

Try an experiment. Take 10 minutes of your time and make a list of all the things you're truly thankful for in your life. The things you appreciate and are really grateful for. Stay away from the “I should be grateful for this” type of items and stick with only those things that in your heart you feel thankful for. Then notice how you feel afterwards. You'll be surprised.

If you're not in the habit of experiencing or expressing appreciation, you may have to set notes around your home to help remind you. If you keep a journal you may want to list one thing you feel grateful for every day. When I was first doing this I found myself actively looking for things to appreciate. After a while, it became second nature to me.

6) Live In This Moment Now

Unhappiness lives in the past and the future, there is no unhappiness in the present. What are you unhappy about? Is it about something that might happen in the future or something that happened in the past? When we spend time regretting the past, or worrying about the future, there isn’t room for happiness in the present.

What amazed me was the amount of time I was not fully in the present. It seemed like I was always thinking about what was next, or thinking about some event in my past.

Even while engaging in a conversation with someone, I would either be thinking about what they had said, or anticipating how I was going to respond to what they were saying. How many times do we miss vital information from those we love because our minds are elsewhere? Test this for yourself. Become a monitor of your own thoughts. I think you’ll be amazed at how often you “aren’t really there” with what is happening around you.

“The secret of health for both the mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, not to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
- Buddha

Many times when we have insecurities and doubts, we have difficulty focusing on what is happening right in front of us. We’re thinking about what we said to so-and-so, how we could have handled this situation differently, thinking about what we’re going to do if this or that happens, all the while, missing what is happening now.

When you bring your awareness into the moment of now, all worries of the past and all imagined fears of the future gently fade away until all that's left is the vivid experience of the present. It is in this state that you actually start to see life. You'll see colors you never saw before. It is in this awareness where appreciation grows.

Happiness is not experienced in the past or in the future. Happiness is always experienced in the moment. If you are waiting to be happy sometime in the future, you might be waiting a very, very, very long time.

7) Honesty With Yourself & Others

Dishonesty is a major contributor to allot of unhappiness and problems. Do this experiment and you'll see what I mean. Next time you sit down to watch your favorite sitcom, movie or drama series on television, notice how many of the problems are caused by someone being dishonest. Whether it's a lie of omission, a little lie, a big lie, doesn't matter. Just look for the lie and watch what results from it. I was amazed when I did this myself. I'm starting to think dramas wouldn't be possible if there were no lies.

I had always thought myself to be a fairly honest person, and by society's standards I was. But what society considers honest and what true honesty really is, are two separate things. We've been systematically taught in our culture to make lying a part of our lives. We lie so often that we don't even notice it anymore.

Honesty is telling "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Society's definition of the truth telling is to tell the truth ONLY...

1.if it doesn't make anyone uncomfortable,
2.doesn't cause a conflict
3.and/or doesn't make you look bad.

I'm not talking about the big lies, but more about the consistent, persistent "lies of omission" and "white lies" we tell people almost everyday. For me, I didn't even consider these small untruths to be lies until I experienced the exact opposite.

Up until about five years ago, I had always considered myself a fairly honesty person. Then I attended a month-long program where total honesty was a major intention for the class. It was kinda like we were experimenting on what it would be like to live in a world where you said everything you thought and felt. This included what you thought about the program, the teacher, and the other students. It was a mind blowing experience. I hadn't realized how much I had been holding back. It was a wonderful and absolutely terrifying experience.

Terrifying? Yes. When you are honest with someone they get to see all of you, including the parts of yourself you wish were not there. The judgmental parts, the catty parts, the criticizing and untrusting parts of yourself. But you know what, even those people I thought I was being mean to, came to be some of my closest friends. I don't think that's a coincidence.

As a person who has lived in both worlds (the land of lies and the land of speaking your truth), I'm here to tell you they are very different worlds. If you're like me, most of your lies aren't big and blatant but lies of omission. Not saying what you really think and feel. You wouldn't think getting rid of these lies would make much difference, but it really does.

Intention Behind Honesty

I'm not talking about using honesty as an excuse for being abusive to others. Your intention behind your honest will guide you in determining what you say and to whom you say it. If my intention is to have a close relationship, I will be considerably more honest with that person than I would, say, the checkout girl at the grocery store.

What would be the purpose of sharing what I'm really thinking and feeling with the checkout girl? What would be my intention? She wouldn't understand why I was sharing with her and we would have no time to talk about it. But, in the case of a close friend or spouse, there is no reason NOT to be totally revealing. And if I want to have intimacy (that's the intention) then honesty must rule in the relationship.

“It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself.”
- Thomas Paine

The best place to begin becoming more honest is with yourself. Start a journal and gradually being to write about your thoughts and feelings. Let the honesty begin with yourself. Write about how you feel. Write about what you think of the people in your life. Write about what you want. What you fear. Don't hold anything back. Then later, as you become more and more comfortable with your honesty, you can begin carrying that truthfulness over into your relationships.

8) Expand Your Perspective

Is the world cruel or kind? Filled with pain or joy? Is it hostile or friendly? Brutal or gentle? Is it filled with misery or hope? Which is it?

It is all those things. This world contains all perspectives and evaluations. Expanding your perspective isn't about becoming blind to the cruelty, it's choosing a perspective that is mostly likely to help you create the life you want, one that encourages happiness and joy.

Neither optimism nor pessimism are the more correct or accurate view of life. Neither is more realistic than the other. Both are true. If you're one of the many pessimists I've talked to about this, understand, your perspective is no more realistic than optimism. Cold is no more true than hot. Dry isn't more realistic than wet. They both exist.

“The eye sees what it brings to seeing.”
- Shelley

But you have a decision to make. Which are you going to focus on? Which are you going to pay the most attention? Which perspective are you going to see in it's totality? Which perspective are you going to make the most dominant?

I don't think it's such a wild claim to say an optimistic perspective is more encouraging of happiness than pessimism. What you look for, you will find. If you look for hatred in the world, you will find it. If you look for love in the world, you will find it.

You can see a perfect example of this is our news media. They've found that negative news gets better ratings than positive. The more dramatic and repugnant, the better. (If it bleeds, it leads.) So that's what they focus on and look for. If you watch the news on a regular basis you might start to think that this world is filled with nothing but hostile, angry, hateful, dishonest and cruel people. It's a warped perspective. Where are the stories about all the loving, happy, gentle, honest and sweet people out there? Obviously they're out there, but where are the stories?

If our goal is to be "realistic" then you would need to see all sides. I would highly recommend turning off the news for a week or two. Don't worry, if anything important happens, there's lots of people willing (and wanting) to keep you updated.

When you change your perspective, you change your experience of the world. It's all a matter of intention. Which perspective do you intend to focus on? We're not talking about some Pollyanna view where you deny all sadness and pain. Which are you going to LOOK FOR? Which are you going to emphasize?

The optimism perspective allows you to...

• Turn disadvantages into advantages.
• See the beauty in people.
• Experience more appreciation and love.
• Feel more hopeful.

Turning A Disadvantage Into An Advantage

Sometimes a little shift in perspective is all it takes to turn a disadvantage into an opportunity. When we feel closed in and helpless, it's not because of some permanent external state, but from a limited perspective. This world we live in can not exist without it's opposite. You can't have cold with out hot. You can't have restriction without opportunity.

Let me give you a concrete example of what I mean. A while back I started a new job across town. It was a long drive, about 45 minutes and I loathed it. It was boring, cost me time and gas money, and I had to do it every day, twice (to and from the job)! What possible advantage or opportunity was there in this situation? I really enjoyed the job but I couldn't think of how to enjoy the long drive or make it an opportunity.

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
- Albert Einstein

Then one day it hit me. Hey! My car has a tape player. I love listening to personal growth tapes, and normally, I can't find the time to listen to them at home. Eureka! The time spent in the car became MY time, where I could relax, think, and improve my life. When I ran out of tapes, I bought new ones which I then looked forward to enjoying. My car became a rolling university. I began to look forward to my drive to and from work. It was one of the pluses of the day.

Do you think I would have created this opportunity if I wasn't looking for it? If I hadn't looked for and found this solution, it's very likely that I would have quit a job I enjoyed.

From what I've experienced with disadvantage and opportunity, it seems that it's not a matter of IF the opportunity or advantage is out there, but simply a matter of SEEING it. You can only see it if you expand your perspective. When you make a decision that you will find the good in this world, it expands your vision to see opportunities that were out of sight when you were looking at the hopelessness.