7 Steps to Happiness
If you were wealthy, successful and celebrated as important, would that not be all rather hollow if it didn’t bestow happiness? Happiness is widely considered to be life’s main purpose, self-evident as the goal of all of our pursuits. So how is that precious outcome achieved? Here are some simple steps, based upon the underlying principles of the 7Words system:
1. Avoid what makes you unhappy. This may be obvious, it may be easier to say than to do, yet it is worth thinking about. Certain things are difficult or impossible to reconcile with being happy. These include – for most people – pain, poverty and constant noise. So we need to do what we can to escape these downers – things like flight paths, loud neighbours and such like.
2. Be with people. People push and pull, they demand and intrude, yet there is a far more important exchange taking place that is worth all the hassle. It’s an exchange of attention that we all need and can never be happy without. Obviously there is a rainbow palette of types of people and countless ways to engage, so open up to a few new ideas about how to spend your time, and check out how they affect your mood.
3. Don’t confuse happiness and pleasure. We have to be really clear on this point: pleasure is not happiness. Pleasure does not even lead towards happiness; it’s more an expression of freedom than a component of joy. Sufi mystic Hazrat Inayat Khan has said that usually pleasure is not worth its price. It is mostly shallow and short-lived, contrasting with the deeper, slow sense of true happiness. If we are to feel good to the depth of our being, then it must be our life values that guide us towards those things on which we focus our time and attention.
4. Get real. Interestingly, given the choice between an illusion of happiness and the hard truth of life’s struggle, most of us tend to prefer the real deal. In other words, authenticity is a prerequisite of happiness. The glamour that goes with fame and fortune is seen for what it is – as glitter. Also lotto millionaires almost universally end up spiritually poorer and fed up, having lost their friends, their purpose and their work. It seems that the struggle is important to our wellbeing.
5. Journey or destination – be clear. Another factor that may escape our thinking is whether we personally value more the journey or the destination. An amateur sportsman/woman may enjoy the overall experience of competition, whilst another player, a professional, needs to win to avoid depression. Some of us may endure considerable hardship e.g. as parents, but know on a profound level that we are fulfilling our destiny and find that deeply rewarding. Each of us is made up differently, and we have our own different requirements for joy…some for process, some for product.
6. Do as you would be done by. A major element that has to be included is how to be clear of conscience. It is so difficult to be truly happy when you know that what you’re doing causes distress in another; guilt is the force that threatens true happiness more than anything else. This links in with the concept of reflexive self-consciousness. In simpler words, before you do or say something, imagine how it feels being on the other end of it. This is called the Golden Rule, and in one form or another occurs in most spiritual teachings.
7. Stop trying. Happiness is a side-effect, not a result, of intention. If we intend to be true, to do the right thing, to help others sometimes and to avoid things that wind us up, then life becomes delightful..........Try it for a while and see if you agree!
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