Tuesday, June 5, 2012

40 Pieces of the Happiness Puzzle - Part 7

Happiness Puzzle

Being happy is a state of being most of us want to experience, though not everyone is skilled at reaching and prolonging this state. There are a range of ways to experience feelings of happiness, with certain methods being better for some than others. 

This is the 7th post in a series of 40 on the techniques you can employ to experience and prolong the feeling of happiness. The first post was on Sensory Hedonism, followed by Achievable Challenges, Serving Others, Expertise, Fake it Till You Make It, and Stay Busy

#7: Aligned Integrity
(Be Yourself)

Be yourself
Everyone else is already taken

See the world from your own eyes, then act as if what you're seeing is true. Choose to see other people as good and kind and full of potential. Like the poster says, "We're all fighting a tough battle" so go easy on yourself and others. 

If you're the kind of person who complains when people make mistakes, instead try working toward helping them achieve their dreams, and if you're not going to play an active part in their life, at least act in a way that does not hinder their journey. 

I am a traveler in a dream
and a dreamer on a journey

When people do things to themselves or others or behave in a way that is hurtful to people around them or to our environment, it's difficult not to get ticked-off.  In fact, it's easy to jump on that bully bandwagon and criticize them up and down from your bully pulpit until you recognize one simple fact: negative behavior stems from pain - that person is crying out through the coping skills they learned in life. What you're really hearing is someone saying, "Please, won't somebody notice me. I'm in pain." 

Sometimes a person doesn't have to be acting out to get our attention. We, ourselves, could be having a not-so-pleasant day and say something that triggers their pain. That's when people react.

They get angry, they get quiet and pull back, or they lash out irrationally at you or someone with whom they come into contact. Whatever coping skills life has taught them emerge. When we are faced with someone else's coping skills, we often times react with our own set of learned coping skills, and the cycle continues until someone chooses to put a stop to it. 

Most people wear happiness as well as unhappiness right on their sleeve. You can see it. You always know when someone is happy. They're bubbly, positive, and optimistic. They light up the room when they enter. They're pleasant to be around and lighten-up your mood when you interact with them.

However, when people are hurting or even less dramatic, when they're not paying attention, opportunities to praise someone go unchosen and unexpressed, opportunities to soothe someone's feelings go unnoticed, and opportunities to spread joy go left undone.

Just as when we're unhappy, being lost in one's own thoughts can also backfire. Then we wonder, what happened here? What's wrong with that person? and the whole cycle begins anew. 

But how do we stay focused on our own life path, constantly pay attention, and spark the impetus within us to act positively or in a way that helps others while we help ourselves?

One trick I use is to imagine a future experience I want. I go to that future, take a look around, get a feel for the place, and then after I've connected to that energie, I look back at the steps I took to get there - and then I go easy on myself so that I can help pave the way for a softer journey. 

Once you see yourself this way, once you become your own big brother or big sister, then it's easier to do the same for others.

I tell my kids to imagine everyone they meet as if they were meeting them in kindergarten. "Remember their face," I tell them. "See them as a little kid. Once you do that, it's easier to see their heart." 

When you can see all the way through to someone's heart, you can more easily see the path they've taken to stand before you today. You see the milestones, the stumbles, and the happy moments. You see the challenges, the peaks, and the moments of despair. 

You don't have to know the details of those circumstances to know that someone has experienced various components of the living process. While everyone is faced with the same set of basic survival challenges, some have significant health impediments or deeply painful obstacles over which they have to jump just to get onto the playing field.

In this respect, you never know when you're meeting a survivor.  You know who I'm talking about, the main character of a movie we're watching who has unfair battles to fight or little puppy that got lost in the woods because they feel out of the little girl's basket.

These are the one's that we're always rooting for. We want them to get to their happy ever after. Once they're there, the movie ends, the credits roll, and we get up from our seats with some inner knowing that they're going to be just fine. 

You have to be the bigger person, as they say, to find these qualities inside yourself and see these qualities inside someone else. You have to be able to imagine what the world looks like through their eyes? 

If you can imagine yourself in another lifetime - many people believe in the possibility of reincarnation - then you can imagine yourself as another person.

If your intellect or religious beliefs tell you reincarnation is bunk, then man up, be mature about it, know with conviction that every being on this planet woke up one day and said, "Where am I?" 

Inhabit your vision. 
(I put this in bold for a reason) 

Know who you are and how you see the world.  Continue acting as if what you know is true. Convince yourself, if you must, and you will convince others. Once you do, there will be more people acting and believing as you do. This doesn't mean that they have to embrace the same philosophies or deities, but rather that collectively we recognize we are on this planet together all trying our best to achieve our own version of happy ever after.

In this sense, others can help us along the path, encourage us on your daily journey, and potentially play a role in our getting to where we want to be... while we, in return, know that our interactions are simultaneously helping them do the same. 

This knowing is one of the things I like most about myself: I go easy on myself and other people. It doesn't mean that I let others roll all over me, it just means that when they do, I assume it was an accident and that the movie screen they're seeing is in another theater. I can't blame them for not seeing the same movies I've viewed during my lifetime. 

When we run into someone on the way to the bathroom or popcorn stand, know that they're also in a hurry to get back to their own movie. In this way, everyone we meet in the halls of life's theater is a potential teammate. Work together and before you know it, we'll all be back in our seats headed toward our own happily ever after. 

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