A monk recently taught me something important about how to be happy. If you can master this concept, you can be happy no matter what is going on around you.
The story begins when I decided to visit a local Buddhist center where I live. Twice a week this center offers teachings and guided meditations which anyone can attend. I had never been before so I decided to check it out.
The evening started out with a guided meditation. After the meditation, the monk began a lecture on how to be happy. The lecture lasted about half an hour and I walked away some really interesting information.
What We Mistakenly Think Will Make Us Happy
If I asked you, “What would make you happy”, what would you say?
Would you tell me that you will be happy when:
- You get a pay raise.
- When you marry your soul mate.
- When you’re a millionaire.
- When you’re healthier.
- Once you’ve had a vacation.
- When you buy a new home.
- When your jerk of a neighbor moves away.
The common denominator to all of these answers are that they are all things outside of ourselves. This is what advertising and social proof teach us about how to be happy.
We’re bombarded with information everyday that tells us that in order to be happy you need the types of things we listed earlier. The problem with this type of thinking is that it gives your power away.
When you start looking to other people, places or things to make you happy, you’ve given your power to be happy away to everything around you. You end up spending all your time and energy trying to manipulate everything around yourself in order to make yourself happy.
This approach often doesn’t work because you have very little control over the world outside of yourself. And the odd time it does work, the happiness rarely lasts for any extended period of time.
Happiness Comes From Within
So if happiness doesn’t come from things outside of ourselves, where does it come from? It comes from within us. You have the power to decide whether or not you are happy.
We all seem to have an innate need to decide if something is good or bad. We pass judgment on things outside of ourselves. If the car breaks down, we judge that as a problem. If the noisy neighbor moves away, we judge that as a good thing.
The thing is, nothing is inherently good or bad on it’s own. We are the ones who make a decision on what is good and what isn’t.
How To Be Happy
The key to lasting happiness is to become a master of your mind. Learn to control your thoughts and stop placing judgment on things around as being good or bad. When you can do that, you attain an inner peace that nothing can disrupt.
So how do you do that? Two key things are needed:
1. Become conscious of your thoughts and learn to question them
You don’t need to monitor every thought that crosses your mind. That’s a nearly impossible task. However, you can use your emotions as a guide to show you which thoughts you need to examine.
If you are feeling any negative emotions, you can be sure that your thoughts are negative. Ask yourself; “why am I feeling this way?”. Then remind yourself that you don’t need to depend on anything outside of yourself for your own happiness. That person, place, or thing holds no power over you. You have the power to choose to be happy.
Meditation is a tool that will greatly assist you in mastering your thoughts. It actually develops new neural pathways in your brain that will help bring a more balanced and holistic perspective to your thinking.
As these new neural pathways develop, more of the brain becomes active in your thinking processes.
As you begin to see things from new and different perspectives, the old preconceived ideas of them being good or bad begin to drop away and you begin to see things as they really are. These things are no longer good or bad, they just are.
When this happens, you begin to feel an inner peace and happiness that comes from within. This inside happiness cannot be shaken by anything outside of you.
If you want to know how to be happy, you must understand that happiness is an inside job. Stop trying to control everything around you. Learn to control your thoughts instead.
Question your negative thoughts and remind yourself that you decide whether or not you are happy. No one, or no thing, has the power to decide that for you.
Begin a meditation program. Meditation will help you to stop judging things as good or bad. Instead, you will begin to feel an inner peace and happiness developing that nothing outside of you can change.
If you master these two things, you have become a master of your own happiness.