In The Relationship Saver I suggested that one of the actions you need to take is to be in high spirits, cheerful and happy. As you have probably noticed, it’s easier said than done. Just deciding to be happy does not necessarily make you happy. So the question is, how do you achieve this evasive happiness that everyone strives for?
First, we must distinguish what happiness is and the origin of “ the word happiness. The word happy originated in Middle English and meant the same as lucky. In my language, Serbo-Croatian, we have the same word for happy and lucky. What I find interesting is that most of us still treat our happiness as luck, something that we have no control of, something that just happens or not — as if we have nothing to do with it. In other words, we often think that happiness is something that’s produced by outside events, like money, stuff, shopping, possessions, other people’s love, respect, compliments, care, etc. We often say something like, if such and such happens (get promotion, different job, new car or clothes etc.) or if you were only to do so and so (buy me flowers, give me a compliment, have sex with me, etc.) it will make me happy. We also say to our children that if they clean their room or have good grades we will be happy. So inadvertently we teach our children generation after generation that they are not responsible for their own happiness and should expect others to do something for them, or that the outside world and circumstances should adapt to their wishes so that they can find happiness in life. Although some events may induce a feeling of happiness and even temporary euphoria, happiness is not merely a feeling. The dictionary says:
adjective ( –pier , –piest )
feeling or showing pleasure or contentment
Happiness is also contentment. Contentment is a state of happiness and satisfaction. So, happiness is not merely a feeling it is a state of being.
So, how do we achieve a lasting state of being happy? We must start with recognizing that any state we find ourselves in, whether it is happiness or depression, is generated within ourselves, by us making meanings and interpretations of the events that we find ourselves a part of. We often cannot influence outside events, but what we can always do is choose what interpretations and meanings we give to those events. As I mentioned earlier in my other writings, meanings and interpretations do not reside in events — they are solely a product of our own mind. Therefore, we have complete control of how we interpret any event, although it certainly does not seem like that sometimes. We are in charge of conversations with ourselves and unfortunately there is nothing new we can tell ourselves. What we do most of the time is automatically regurgitate the past in our mind, often blaming ourselves, feeling sorry for ourselves and in a word, being victims and enjoying it. Yes, there is a certain pleasure in being a victim (more about this a little later). Instead, we could use our intelligence that only humans are endowed with and observe our thoughts and actually choose what we want to think about. All right, so what could we think about in order to be happy?
You must be aware that your interpretations an meanings are intimately connected to your set of values. They are a driving force behind how you perceive reality.
Now, what we need to do is establish what our values are. What is it that we value in our lives? Honesty, love, integrity, dignity, courage, relationships, wellbeing, prosperity, co-operation and … add your own? I found that highest values that are not subordinate to any other ones are truth, happiness, freedom, peace and love.
Now, ask yourself a question: how do I compromise my values in everyday situations in order to achieve certain goals, such as being “successful”, making money, surviving, keeping a job, maintaining a relationship, being loved, appreciated and respected? How often do you lie, cheat and deceive yourself and others in order to produce a certain result, to be successful? If that sounds too harsh for you, think of all those white lies and withholdings of information or truth in order to produce or avoid a certain reaction in others. Are all these actions that you are “forced” to do contrary to your values, which you ultimately want to manifest in your daily life?
We are told that success brings happiness, that successful people are happy. Look around you. Are they? Are you compromising fulfillment of your highest values by achieving intermediate successes at any price, like making money, acquiring material things, winning a contract or someone else’s “respect”, etc? It is fascinating how we unconsciously gravitate towards the things that ultimately mean very little to us and in the process we sacrifice the very values that motivate our behavior and make us happy. How often we do something that we very well know we should not and that can be hurtful to someone else and our little secret never gets recovered, but we fully well know that it was completely contrary to our beliefs of what is right and what is wrong. What often happens is that they are exactly those behaviors that we always disapprove of in public and make others wrong about. Whenever your emotions go rampant about certain wrong doing of someone else you may be sure that that is your own projection of what you do or did and which is contrary to your values. Those actions of yours and when recognized in others are cause of unhappiness.
So, you might have noticed here that happiness lies in the process and not in the result. You can see that every action has two purposes. First you can act to move towards a desired result. Second, you act in order to express your values. Alignment between your behavior and your values is a measure of your highest integrity. Your behavior always expresses your values-in-action. Your integrity hinges on whether your values-in-action agree with your essential values. The environment we find ourselves in constantly demands of us to make decisions and you inevitably face the question of priorities: you put integrity before success, or you put integrity second and go for success at all costs. It is fashionable today, especially since The Secret and The Law of Attraction became popular, to think that we are in total charge of our destiny and what happens to us is of our doing. It often may be so, but it is a very simplistic way of thinking. To actually manifest your reality requires much more than most people think, but I will leave that subject for another article. Suffice it to say that other people may also be trying to manifest their own reality in conflict with our own, which may make things very complex and complicated. The fact for most of us is that most of the time we are thrown into situations requiring that we simply need to deal with them the best way we can. Think of playing cards. We are dealt a hand and we must play the best way we know how. In other words, we must acknowledge that God does not take sides (that is if you are religious) and that we cannot change reality. But, there is still a lot we can do in any given situation: we are in full control of our interpretations of any event and the choices we make. A situation may not be in your control, but you can always choose to act in integrity because you control your own your thoughts and behavior.
Acting contrary to your values and compromising your higher self for an intermediate gain may rob you of the ultimate goal you want to achieve, to be happy now and in the future. This is the place where you have a choice between being a victim of circumstances or being in charge of your life and your happiness. By simply looking into the future and solutions to your situation and different possibilities instead of lamenting how the life and the world is unfair, you will get empowered instead of victimized, you will be content knowing that you are doing your best instead of feeling sorry for yourself and blaming others. Results are never guaranteed and we will fail more often than we would like to admit, mostly because of cultural pressures. But, when you are being in integrity throughout the process you will be happy even if you do not succeed. You will know that you did the best you could because you did not compromise your values and came out of it being in integrity, whole and complete. You will not relinquish your power to the circumstances to determine how you feel. You are always in charge.
In conclusion, we may safely say that you will be happy when your behavior and your intentions are in sync with your values, when you put the process before the result, when you are in integrity at all times. Waiting for circumstances, environment and other people to change and make you happy is a prescription for depression, frustration and misery and a life of perpetual victimhood. All you can do is what you do to live your life without compromise guided by your values, and that is more than anyone else can do for you.
As you might have noticed, the principle of integrity applies to every area of your life without exception. I want to leave you with the question: where have you been out of integrity, forgetting and compromising your true values in your relationship? How often do you expect others to make you happy? Are you a victim, or are you in charge of your life, content and happy?
I wish you all the happiness in the world.