Our objective should not be to eliminate all unhappiness but rather to balance it with increased opportunity for joy. Buddha may have reminded us, A hundred loves, a hundred losses. No loves, no losses, but are we prepared to abandon the potential for love because we fear the potential for loss?
Would there be any value in giving up our rights to search for a single sliver of happiness because we must first dig through a mountain of sadness to locate it? For that matter, would we not search for truth because it is hidden among deceit? Or would we not seek honor because we feel that it is surrounded by contempt? Or not seek courage because it is covered with cowardice? Or not seek morality because it is shrouded within an immoral society?
Happiness is ours to discover despite the deterrents that stand in our way; it is our human right to be elated despite a world that flagrantly flaunts its despairing side. Our purpose, therefore, is to strive toward a sense of internal peace within ourselves.
This does not mean that we will live in perfect contentment but rather we will be contented with ourselves. The difference is that the former implies an unrealistic, stress free state of consciousness while the latter implies that we are in conscious control of our state of gratification.
We will feel it is possible to rise above the vagaries of unhappiness that may surround us. We will resist the feeling of being dragged into a maelstrom of discontentment because we will see ourselves as the calm center of the storm. And our joy will abound through our sense of calm purpose being recognized and lived through our daily actions. Inner peace then becomes our right and our choice.
Most of us can recall those times when we succeeded due to the impact of a mentor, a guidance counselor or perhaps an understanding spouse who was by our side as we undertook some personal endeavor. But we can also recall those instances where we endeavored to go forth alone and then gave up because we lacked the direction and support we needed. We found ourselves stuck in a place we didn’t belong but also didn’t have the encouragement or advice to get ourselves unstuck.
Imagine having a supportive partner in those situations where we lacked the resources, both mental and emotional, to stay on the right path. Recent research has shown that simply stating goals are largely ineffective, writing them down had only slightly better results, but having a partner proved by far the highest success rate in goal achievement.
Examples of this working partnership could include: job hunting or changing careers, learning a new skill, writing a novel, becoming a better speaker or listener, starting a business or planning retirement, getting out of debt, dealing with a difficult workplace issue, breaking a bad habit or making a significant lifestyle change.
The list is endless of possible scenarios where having a trusted partner on your side would have made all the difference. Going it alone is certainly an option, but consider how well that has worked for you in the past. If you truly want to stay the course this time and ensure your success it is okay to admit that you could use some serious help. Find your trusted partner who will support you and you will have much greater success in making it happen.
To achieve what we most desire requires us to make giant leaps of faith in ourselves. This requires confidence in our beliefs and the courage to take the first step. Having resolute courage combined with deep enthusiasm and supreme self-confidence will make us virtually unstoppable.
Our obstacles will become illusions if we then choose to never give up. And if we happen to fail along the way, we should treat it as our sustenance for continual and recommitted effort. If we then remain determined to go boldly and steadfastly no challenge will be able to withstand this onslaught.
Having a clear Purpose is the catalyst for the courage, perseverance and self-confidence we need and it will give us the inner conviction to stay the course. Maintaining a clear Vision of where we want to go in life will give us the strength to never give up when the going gets difficult.
This is the only blueprint for making everything we want in life a reality. It is our choice as to whether or not we will have the courage and the perseverance to realize it.
We need to trust and believe in ourselves. As our actions are dictated by our thoughts, we must diligently and relentlessly pursue a positive, can-do attitude. If we find ourselves accepting anything less, we are holding nobody back but ourselves. To sustain positive self-beliefs, we should only use affirmative, action statements in describing ourselves: I AM ENERGETIC! I AM POWERFUL! I AM A GENIUS! I AM SUCCESSFUL! I AM UNSTOPPABLE! We should never let negative verbiage enter our self-vocabulary when we can just as easily use more assertive words to define who we are. It is a waste of time for us to not believe in ourselves. If we are not going for more in life, then we will always be going for less. For us to get what we want from life, we must first want it; then we must go for it. In fact, we should never say that we want something and not go for it.
When we choose not to take action against events that create stress in our life, we will have adopted a self-belief of powerlessness. This inaction on our part leads to anxiety, a mental state of worrying about an event, even to the point that we no longer know what we are worrying about. This worrying or feeling anxious literally shuts down our sense of control and responsibility over the perceived event. When this occurs, we really have only one solution: We must turn the worry into a problem! Once we have reframed the worry into a problem, then we have something tangible to deal with.
By re-identifying our worry as a rational and specific problem, we can literally launch an attack against it. This modifies our original self-belief of powerlessness to one of control and responsibility. Thus, we will fix the source of our worry through developing a proactive plan of action. We will feel in control again, most likely eliminating or diminishing the worry to manageable proportions. At the very least, we will have turned our negative psychic energy into a purposeful attitude of control, which, in turn, bolsters our commitment and inner strength to overcome the problem.
If we take life’s events at face value, assume that they are our destiny and agonize over their presence, then we will have succumbed to a future that we no longer control. If, however, we adopt the attitude that life’s events are merely occurrences, that they deserve no more importance than what we ascribe to them, then we can become the master and life becomes our servant. Thus, self-realization is not just the identification of our most inner needs and expectations but rather their reflection in the way we feel about ourselves and in how we choose to approach life. Essentially, our Self becomes actualized through our thoughts, our self-beliefs and our actions, all of which are based upon a passionate Purpose-driven attitude.
We must recognize that we are not simply a Self, some amorphous thing that sits on a shelf in a dark corner of the room, complete in its own essence. Our Self is a living, breathing, learning, acting, doing, thinking human being. Our Self moves through life, facing continuous stimulation that requires continuous responses. It survives and prospers by coming out of the dark, out of its basic shell, and then charging into the brightness of each day, participating with great Purpose and Vision. The choice we must make is whether to let our Self turn into a Shawish-type tired, selfish clod with grievances that the world is not making us happy, or a Self that passionately realizes what it is, what it wants and what it is going to do. Taking the higher road ultimately leads us to our Higher Self, where we never have to regret the choices that we made – because they were the choices we meant to make.
Discovering our true Self comes not only from answering the hard questions about who we think we are, but rather by molding the self-image of who we want to be. Self-imagining is a powerful tool for determining our feelings about success and what we want our lives to actually look and feel like. It is well documented that if we hold ourselves in low esteem, this self-concept will generally lead to a series of life-long failures, whereas an attitude of supreme self-confidence and self-worth will generally lead to greater life success and happiness. Whether we choose to feel inferior or superior is a matter of personal choice.
This is not to imply that we can just flip a few switches and then radiate supreme confidence, but we can with practiced effort over time develop a mental picture of ourselves as achieving, purposeful individuals. As we carry a higher sense of self-confidence around with us and act as if we are unstoppable, we will find that our string of small victories will build upon themselves, creating even more momentum for success. When Dwight Eisenhower was asked how he would feel if his invasion forces had been turned back in Normandy, he said, I don’t know. I never let that thought enter my mind. We, as well, can develop mental pictures of ourselves as always winning, gaining, enjoying, succeeding, and those powerful suggestions will more often than not produce those exact results.
Conversely, we can take a self-defeated attitude. That self-suggestion will lead to failure, in itself, as that is exactly what we will have imagined for ourselves. Again, the choice is ours: We can either feel that we have a strong Purpose and a passionate life force within us, or we can feel that we are merely victims and our lives serve little meaning or Purpose. Either set of feelings will determine the results we are seeking.
Who said life has to be fair, kind and nice to us? Life can be difficult, and the sooner we recognize and accept this fact, the easier our life will become. In fact, just acknowledging this statement somehow makes life’s burdens easier for us to bear. As humans we crave perfection of ourselves, of others and of the world in which we live. We wish not to see death, famine or disease. We even wish that we would never run out of gas, get fat or have our children talk back to us. But this is not the way life works. The entire universe is very much out of our control. Living with these constant imperfections frustrates us. However, once we accept the premise that life is difficult, that life’s events are not always going to be in our control, then we can relax, learn to accept instead of resist and get on with the creative, intelligent management of our lives. To overcome the burden of having to constantly deal with the unfairness of life, we must first, accept this unfairness and second, rationalize how we are going to deal with it. We cannot let life’s unfairness defeat us. Rather, we need to conquer these unfair situations by designing our own set of responses to them. Life’s events may largely be out of our control, but we do have control over ourselves.
The following quote from Max Ehrmann is probably the best self-help piece ever written. If we all lived our lives with the following words in mind, we would have no need for any other advice:
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Nor be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.