In part one, I discussed that happiness is a skill. Below are two of three of my best practices for being authentically happy. The third one will follow in Part III of this article.
1. Being happy does not occur when the circumstances are favorable. Each of us has examples of people who have very favorable circumstances and they are still not happy. Authentic, long term happiness is a practiced way of relating to the world.
Happiness doesn’t mean that you pretend that everything is perfect. On the contrary, a happy person has decided to not react negatively to the imperfections of life and intentionally access resourcefulness to seek solutions. It’s an attitude that this moment is perfect exactly as it is and the only thing that makes it imperfect is your arbitrary comparison. To catch yourself automatically comparing things to standards that don’t even exist is a master skill. Inaccurate comparisons are a great source of unhappiness.
2. If you are going to get happy, then you must admit that you are not the preeminent expert on everything in life. Happiness starts with being humble. You must be willing to recognize that the circumstances of life and people’s behaviors are more often than not, beyond your comprehension and understanding. Even the most celebrated scientists admit to being confounded by the nature of the world we live in. Yet, the realist walk around pretending like they have it all figured out. This is fundamentally arrogant and a sign of ignorance.
Happy people acknowledge that life is a mystery and don’t get attached to their opinions about how it “should be.” They recognize that you can’t know every person’s motivation, background, values and beliefs. Which means you can’t possibly understand why they do what they do. Happiness requires you to let go of your expectations about how people are “supposed to behave”. Everyone has been
disappointed by others. If you foolishly believe the world will adhere to your rules of conduct, then your expectations will be broken over and over again leading to endless frustration and unhappiness. Not real smart if you ask me.
Letting go of the pompous pretense that you know how people “should be,” or how they “should act,” will be experienced as a great relief. You will avoid a tremendous amount of misery when you realize that you have been holding people accountable to rules of conduct that they never agreed to. Letting go of being the judge, jury and executioner; the dispenser of punishment for your family, friends, community and the planet will be one of the happiest days of your life. Letting go of the ego’s need to be the preeminent authority on life will feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders. A boost in your happiness will surely follow.