Friday, September 18, 2009

Recognizing Happiness

Have you taken a personal happiness reading lately? Maybe you reveling in the joy of a “high-on-life” experience, secure in realizing that everything is “ just hunkie-dori?” Or instead, are you experiencing a measure of dissatisfaction, thinking that if a change in some part of your life could occur then you would be happy? Does the reading on your happiness meter either fall or ascend when it is pointed at your romantic life? Financial life? Family life? Social life? Career? Is there some particular steady influence in your life that causes your happiness rating to waiver, to both rise and fall?

We live in a reality that is comprised of conventions, meaning we have learned that our worldly desires and expectations are directly associated with certain levels of happiness. Early on, we learn about the magnetic association between expectations and happiness.

As a youngster is coaxed into conforming with parental motives she simultaneously realizes that parental happiness is conditional in nature, and is directly associated with the her willingness to be compliant with parental expectations. The child learns that when she pleases her parents then their happiness rating increases. When that child makes a stand against parental expectations then the happiness meter reading falls. The disapproving parents communicate their unhappiness to the child, who in turn internalizes this sentiment. The child then, as a reaction, enacts the appropriate performance adjustment in her future behavior. Accordingly, her individual happiness is perceived to be directly related to both parental approval and disapproval.

In our formidable years we are nurtured with words about how meeting a goal or achieving a certain level of expectation will create happiness. We hear it so much as kids, and then throughout our lives, that these words become our mantra for attaining and measuring happiness.

These are the mantras that we learn to continually notice, internalize and speak: Achieve, score, accomplish, produce, excel, attain, gain, get, improve, win, enhance, accommodate, please, beat, advance, rise, strive and present. We rely on both our comparative observations to others and competitive strategies in the pursuit of a goal. And so in the trying to measure up to an expectation, our minds are saturated with ideas regarding improving our acceptability standing. Reaching a higher place on the approval scales coincides with the hope for a higher level of happiness.

The problem in experience happiness in the way many of us are taught to do so, is that an external condition must be attained or satisfied in order for happiness to occur. A goal must be met or surpassed. For the most part conventional reality instructs that we must comply with the demands that come from meeting conditional expectations. Conventional reality does not teach us that happiness is omnipresent and that we can experience it without the influence of pre-assigned expectations.

To better make this point, let me use an example. Lets say that happiness, in any segment of our lives, is akin to water and a vessel. Conventional reality would tell us that the vessel must be of a certain shape and size in order for happiness to be present. That shape and size could represent being a “good” partner, performing as an “A student,” being the “brightest and best “ in the office, accomplishing a goal, great performance on the field, or a host of expectation that any of us are implored by others and ourselves to meet.

In truth happiness, like water can adapt to any shape and size. We can be happy regardless of the expectations that are put upon us. We can be happy regardless of our financial, career, or romantic situation. We need not allow circumstances of our lives the where-with-all to dictate if, how or when we experience happiness. Where the vessel represents the numerous conditions of our lives, the water represents the willingness for happiness to prevail in any condition.

Tough times and tough situations are nothing other that what we make of them. They possess nothing more than the reality we assign to them. In the midst of our everyday activities we are invited to see only what our beliefs have told us to be true.

If you are interested in replenishing the happiness in the various facets of your life then please take a moment or so to read over the following. Observe your reactions to expectations. See if there isn’t a certain level of drama that keeps the reaction going.

Allow the drama to burn off. If you experience an initial intensity, then learn to focus on something that will take your mind away from the story you are replaying.

For an emotion to remain intense it must be nourished. For a fire to continually burn it must continually be replenished with oxygen. Allow the fire to die down. Stop fanning it with more and more thoughts that intensify your emotional investment in the story.

Learn to meditate. Meditation would be akin to watching the fire. Then turning from it. Again watching it, and again turning from it. In meditation we look at the experience then replace it in our minds by changing the focus of our attention.

Over time happiness will root deeper and wider within your mind. You will discover that it becomes a dominant shareholder in who you are. It will fill any shape or size of vessel. No matter weather it is a work related activity or a activity with a family member, happiness can prevail. If you are willing to learn, you can be a happy being. Don

Every three seconds

A child dies because of malnutrition or he or she didn’t get enough to eat. Take a moment and imagine that that child is someone you love - Someone in your family possibly. We are collecting donations to help kids in this horrible dilemma. No child should go without food. Think of a child as he or she moves closer and closer to death by starvation. Now imagine that little person to be your child, or your nephew, or your grandchild. It is an unimaginable thought isn’t it. But in fact it is real. There are heart-torn mothers that watch their children die this excruciating death of starvation. Today, look at a child, one that is fed and is healthy. Now envision the face of that same child as it gasps to be fed. Would you want to help an innocent little person stay alive and at least eat enough so she could stand up without wobbling or caving in because of lack of nutrition? If you would like to see a child spared this ugly and unnecessary fate - If you want to help a child eat and hold on to his life then email me. It will not hurt you – I promise.

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