Truth be told, life isn’t always happy. It isn’t meant to be. Sometimes we need guideposts that point us in the right direction. Sometimes those signs are lit softly by beautiful street lamps that coax us in a particular direction. Others are lit by unpredictable torches that flare as we approach them, the resulting fear and blisters send us on another way. A hot stove will always point our hand in the proper direction.
Here are 7 keys (outside of the Four Agreements) that I’ve found that have led me to a pretty happy life.
- Accept the emotional state you are in. Embrace your emotional state, whatever it may be, and cherish it. Resistance to a negative emotion often gives it greater power, while embracing it weakens its grasp. You will then be better prepared to act should you choose to change it. I’ve actually started laughing, when in the throes of negative emotions, simply by saying “I love you” to that emotion while envisioning hugging it like a long-lost love.
- You can’t do everything. Accept it, or you will always live in a state of disappointment. There are wondrous limitations in being human. For example, you can’t fly and you can’t breathe under water unassisted. Those boundaries exist to keep us focused on those miracles we can create, and those acts that make us the wonderful beings that we are. Stop focusing on those things you cannot do, and stay attentive to the things you can. Within those things, you can be a wondrous creator.
- Discover what makes you happy. The path toward enjoying this life is walking a path filled with happiness and joy. This is accomplished not just by being happy, but by experiencing those things that are contrary to that objective. Remember, you may often find what makes you happy in the shadows of things that don’t. Don’t be afraid of being unhappy, there is great value there.
- Your first act of service must be to yourself. I know, this sounds selfish. That’s because it is. Everything we do is rooted in selfishness, even the most selfless-seeming acts ever done. We react, or act, based on who we are in the moment. This means our the desires of our own self motivate our actions or reactions. Even when we do stuff we think we have to do, and not necessarily want to, is rooted in a selfish desire to be something. So, we must first be kind to ourselves if we want to be kind to others. We must first care for ourselves if we wish to be of care to others. We must first take into account our own needs before addressing the needs of others. Failure to do so will result in resentment, frustration, and self-loathing.
- Be prepared to succeed. This is essential to fulfilling our purpose. We all know what we want to do, what we find great joy and passion in doing. We don’t often fear failure or cherish success when we are doing something we love, because there is an underlying realization that there is great success already in doing what we love. The results are secondary to the activity, and the activity usually results in great success, regardless of how we define such success. However, for those of us not doing what we love, we often ignore our calling because we are afraid to fail.
- Don’t be afraid of burning bridges. There are certain roads we should never go down again, and we all know which ones they are. Don’t be afraid to burn the bridges that lead us back to those roads. Burn those fuckers right down to fine ash, and let those remnants scatter in the wind. That way, if you get tempted to go that way again, you’ll find a raging river of common sense impeding you in your moment of temporary insanity. You’ll be thankful for the discussion, and for the fact that you have no choice but to turn around and walk in a different direction.
- Don’t pay attention to what others think. This is pretty vital to my own happiness. I once tried the other way, believing that my own sense of happiness was dependent on others being happy with me. That never worked out so well, so I used that flaming torch (and the many blisters it created) to change my direction. Now, I seek to make myself happy, and I don’t listen to others who may have a different version of what I should be doing. That creates a condition where those who don’t like my version leave, and those who do come flocking to fill that space. See, a win/win for everyone!