Have you ever thought of improving your quality of life? Or ever wondered if you’re really living up to your true potential? Philosopher Alan Watts says “Life is best understood by analogy with music. You work and live to get somewhere, but one doesn’t make the end of the composition the point of the composition.” Many of us live life waiting for our “end goal;” but neglect enjoying and nurturing the complete experience.
Achieving true happiness
I. There is no limited supply of what we want
We tend to believe there is a limited supply of what we desire: love, money, companionship. We compete with others for more and rush ourselves in fear of the supply running out. Whether its money or love, there is no limit. If we strive for more, we’re told were being ungrateful or greedy. However, we’re not greedy if we want more for ourselves. Being greedy is only applicable when there is a limited amount of a specific thing where you want the majority, overruling another person’s benefit.
II. The importance of happiness from within
Society uses success to label the construct of happiness. For example, if someone has plenty of money, they are inherently free of financial restrictions. Having financial freedom leaves room for more opportunities to experience happiness – classifying those individuals as more successful. People are attracted to things that yield happiness, which society has conveniently placed a price tag on.
To put things in perspective, if you were stranded on an island, money and fame would not be of use. Yet in everyday life, money is a mediator for food, necessities, and happiness, ultimately correlating money with happiness, and happiness with success. Using this logic, one will always be successful merely from finding happiness from within.
Significant others, materialistic items, and job positions provide us with relative happiness – but if your significant other says something sour, or if the boss is having an off day, their effect is now defeated. Being dependent on relative happiness decreases the amount of control you have over your life as your happiness is now dependent on the behavior and circumstances of others. Similarly, toxic relationships develop from depending on unpredictable and irregular relative feelings of pleasure. Our brain’s “feel-good hormone”, dopamine, disrupts our rational thinking to stick around for a moment of happiness, regardless of when it may be. To avoid such life stressors, let these external factors enhance your experience of life, not complete you.
I. Self-comparison: The only people you should be comparing yourself to
Humans are social animals, indicating that we seek comfort in acceptance and having a “pack.” If we feel different, we tend to compare ourselves to others who seem to have more success. However, there are only two people we should be worried about making proud: the 8-year-old version of ourselves, and the 80-year-old version of ourselves. Studies suggest that true inner peace can arise when our inner child feels satisfied, (comparison to the child version of ourselves), and knowing that we are developing behaviors and habits that we will not regret in the future (from comparison to the senior version of ourselves). Although wanting to make parents proud leaves room for smooth-sailing family dynamic – which can significantly reduce stress – living life for others can get draining and cause feelings of emptiness/ identity loss on the long run.
Instead of trying to prove your worth by being better than others, try focusing on being better than who you were yesterday. Overtime, incorporating habits and physicality that you enjoy will increase the love you feel for yourself and reshape you into a person that you’re most proud of.
II. The significance of affirmations
Dr. Emoto was a Japanese doctor that believed our feelings and thoughts shape our reality. He conducted an experiment where different words with good/bad intonations were spoken around and written on water samples – as water is an absorbent. Once the samples were frozen, the ones that were exposed to positive energy formed intricate crystals and snowflakes, while those that were subject to negativity formed dull and incomplete shapes. His work suggests that through our affirmations, we have the power to shape our reality – especially considering our body is 60% water. Similarly, speaking positive affirmations out loud allows us to register what is being said through 2 receptive fields: hearing and speaking. Using multiple somatosensory systems increases our likelihood of registering and believing what is being positively or negatively said, so let’s keep it positive!
Letting go of the past
I. The evolution of you
Anxiety is the product of worrying about the future, while sadness is the outcome of reminiscing about the past. However, the only moment that exists is the present. The past no longer exists. Humans are beings of habit, where people feel as though their past dictates their capabilities. If one previously lived a life that did not satisfy them and their needs, reuniting with people from their past can strain their sense of identity. However, we shouldn’t be afraid to outgrow and cut ties from people that do not accept our positive change. Evolutionarily, humans have refrained from change as increases the likelihood of death, yet nowadays, people avoid change to avoid feeling uncomfortable. Effort and thoughts are only wishes if action isn’t taken.
Although the past cannot be changed, our perception of it can. If you have undergone a traumatic event and repeatedly thought of yourself as a victim to your circumstances, try adopting a new outlook of “I will not allow myself to be put in that position again” instead of “I’m a victim.” After spending time with your feelings, mourning, and grieving your experience, finding a positive aspect will make your past seem less daunting. Mind coach Vex King suggests retaining lessons learned from unfortunate experiences as, “rejections are redirections to better things.”
Law of Attraction: Mind work
I. Forming reality
Like Dr. Emoto’s work mentioned earlier, our state of mind has a profound effect on how we perceive reality. Our efferent actions can shape our reality as much as our perceptive mindset affects what we believe to be reality. For example, an identical situation involving identical women with only changes in mindset has significant differences. Let’s imagine a woman walking down the street and receiving looks from others. A woman with an insecure mindset might experience further insecurity as she perceives these stares as scrutiny. However, a woman with a confident mindset receiving the same stares might feel beautiful as she associates the stares as an action of appraisal. Merely changing our state of mind can alter how we perceive reality and ultimately, how we feel about ourselves. Incorporating self-love by positive affirmation, healthy self-comparison, understanding the mechanisms and importance of achieving true happiness, and adopting techniques to let go of the past will gradually change your mindset. Many of us don’t realize that we have the power to change our life and way of living, and it all starts from within.
Written by Maya Moustafa, Content Contributor
King, Vex. Good Vibes, Good Life How Self-Love Is the Key to Unlocking Your Greatness. Hay House, 2018.
Radin, Dean, et al. “Double-Blind Test of the Effects of Distant Intention on Water Crystal Formation.” EXPLORE, vol. 2, no. 5, 2006, pp. 408–411., doi:10.1016/j.explore.2006.06.004