in eclectic curiosity

Reframing Happiness

“What do I want?”

“What makes me happy?”

Are you asking yourself these questions as you make your way
through life?

I find these questions to be counterintuitive because we seem to
only be able to answer them in terms of what we want to acquire –
more money, a thin body, a house, a new job, increased social
status, a romantic interest, etc – all things that exist outside of
us.

I’m not saying we can’t or shouldn’t have those things and I’m not
placing judgment on people who desire them. What I’d like to point out is that wanting those things can push us to make choices that are not in our best interest, keep us endlessly striving for a goal that is not realistic or attainable for who we are, or result in unwanted consequences.

When we place our happiness on physical, external experiences, especially those experiences that haven’t happened for us yet, it demonstrates that we’re not satisfied with what we have in the present moment,and that can leave us fearful, resentful, and closed off to the beauty and wonder of our existence and the gifts Life has
waiting for us.

ACTION STEPS

Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

On a sheet of paper, make a list of everything that you are grateful for. Whenever you start to feel a certain way about your life or your circumstances, refer back to this list to shift your mindset and get you back on track.

In Beyond Happiness: The Zen Way to True Contentment, Ezra Bayda
suggests we ask ourselves three critical questions to assess our
happiness and move forward into a space of surrender and acceptance
of who we are and what is.

True happiness comes from living in the present moment, without expectation or perceived entitlement (what you think Life owes you).

Take a few deep breaths, then ask yourself:

Am I truly happy right now?

In this very moment, do you know what you’re feeling? Are you genuinely happy or are you comfortable and complacent in your life
right now?

Take a deep breath.

What blocks your happiness?

At first, the answer may simply be, I don’t know.

And that’s fine. The goal of this question is to think about what thoughts, emotions, and behaviors you hold on to that are interfering with your happiness.

Can I surrender to what is?

This one can be tricky. You are not being asked to give up or give into what is happening to you. Instead, you are being asked to confront your day-to-day experiences, instead of running away from them or wanting/forcing things to be different. This question is really about what you are willing to let go of – fear, control, worry, etc – to be in the present moment.

If you’re having trouble with this question, focus on your breathing for a few minutes, and then come back to it.

Thoughts