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Solving for happiness 1
The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!
A few days ago, a friend and reader of this column asked me if I had any suggestions of techniques, philosophies, or something that I could suggest to help her be happier.
I was at once flattered that she asked (I guess I must look happy, or maybe I look so unhappy, that she figured I must be searching, too!) In any event, in my never-ending quest to provide value to others, I promised her I would email something, and I set about figuring out what I could say to help. It occurred to me that there must be a formula, a mathematical approach to happiness, if you will, that anyone could benefit from. So, using my memories of math class, I decided to apply the concept of "proofs" to the concept of happiness!
Solving for "X"
If you remember from Geometry class, to complete a mathematical "proof," we start with a "problem" or a "given":
Given: Triangle ABC
and then we have a conclusion to prove:
Prove: The angles of triangle ABC, angles, 1, 2, and 3, sum to 180 degrees.
You proceed through the proof by starting with an assumption, making statements, invoking established geometric laws and postulates, giving reasons, all in a logical sequence, to develop the final conclusion.
Similarly, to solve for happiness, we can start with our own "given" and “problem:”
Given: I am unhappy
Prove: How can I be happy?
We can use the same mathematical strategy starting with some basic assumptions, and making our arguments in a logical sequence. Ready?
PROOF 1: What is the cause of unhappiness?
ASSUMPTION: Unhappiness has causes. It is possible to be happy.
ARGUMENT: If you are not happy, it is because there is a flaw in your belief system. Therefore, the way to be happy is to find a belief system that works.
ARGUMENT: Your belief system is comprised of your thoughts. Therefore, if unhappiness is caused by a belief system, and if a belief system is merely a set of thoughts, then:
CONCLUSION: Happiness is caused by your thoughts.
[You may rightly ask, “What about my words and actions?” Yes, Thoughts, Words & Deeds are the important trilogy we often talk about. However, since our words are a function of our thoughts. And since our actions are also a function of your thoughts, we can deal just with the thoughts, and words and actions will take care of themselves.]
PROOF 2: What thoughts must I change in order to be happy?
ASSUMPTION: It is possible to identify and change the thoughts that are making you unhappy.
ARGUMENT: There are only four types of thoughts that you have. You think about your self, about others, about the world/universe, and about life's situations.
CONCLUSION: Therefore, your thoughts about: 1. Your Self, 2. Others, 3. The World and 4. Life's Situations must be changed in order for you to be happy.
PROOF 3: What specific thoughts about my self are important?
ASSUMPTION: The thoughts about your self cover many facets of your being.
ARGUMENT: When it comes to your self, there are three components we speak most of: Body, Mind and Soul.
ARGUMENT: Also, when it comes to your happiness, there are three states of existence that we speak most of: Being (who you are)
Doing (what you do), and Having (what you have)
CONCLUSION: Therefore, your happiness in relation to your self will be a function of and determined by your thoughts (i.e. your belief system) about your body, mind and soul, and about who you are, what you do, and what you have.
Solving for the Self
"To thine own self be true..."
The most important step to take to solve for happiness is to first solve for the self. I suggest to you that the more you learn (i.e. solve) about yourself, the happier you will become. Let me share with you my own experience.
One of the first revelations I experienced about myself occurred as part of team during a sales training course. As part of our orientation to become top sellers in a network marketing business, we all took a personality test. The results of the test categorized us as different types of fish. Some people discovered themselves to be fun-loving "dolphins," others were money-loving "sharks," service-oriented "whales," while I fell among the fact and figure-loving "urchins."
The point of the test was to impress upon us that different people we would work with—as well as those we would sell to—were motivated by different things. No personality was "better" than another, and all were necessary for the functioning of our team.
Until that moment, I had known these quirks of my personality, but simply felt I was alone in my uniqueness. However, once I realized that my personality type was not unusual, that it was actually comprised of identifiable, recognizable, known traits, and that there were others like me, it became easier to accept who I was. I was simply a person more comfortable with facts and figures. I was an urchin!
This explained a lot. It explained why I ended up as a civil engineer. It explained why I was able to recall facts that my schoolmates couldn't. It explained why you could move me to action by providing information rather than by promising me "tons of fun" or "lots of money." As I become more secure in my personality, my team members knew they could come to me for facts about our products and industry, and that any answer I gave would be correct.
Years later, I took the Meyers Briggs test and found out I was an "INTP" (Introvert, iNntuitive, Thinker, Perceiver). Again, I encountered a set of traits and preferences and aptitudes that described me perfectly, and added a new dimension to my understanding of who I was.
Next came my introduction to the "life themes" concept, where I found the theme I was living was as "teacher." It explained a lot. It explained why I was drawn to write books that teach others. It explained why I was tutoring other students from as early as 2nd grade (I never went to first grade).
Then, as I mentioned in a previous article, the concept of "soul age" came into my life, and again, provided me with validation of things about myself that added more peace to my life.
Solving for Others
The more I discovered about myself, the more accepting I've become of who I am, and by extension, the more tolerant I've became of other people's differences. I no longer expect "dolphins" to be more like "urchins," or "ESFJs" (Extroverts, Sensors, Feelers, Judgers) to be more like "INTPs," or healers to be more like "teachers." We all have our uniqueness, our purposes, our missions, our themes, our traits, our talents, our predispositions, and our unique soul ages that make us different and necessary to the whole.
Knowing more about myself, and then about others had the added benefit of helping me actually predict how people will behave in certain situations. Things have become less of a mystery. Result: different expectations, more happiness.
Conclusion: The only thing you have complete control over in life is how you respond to the people over which you have no control.
Solving for Life’s Situations
The single most impactful lessons I learned about life's situations involved the law cause and effect, the law of attraction, and how to become accountable for the situations that happen in my life.
Many years ago, I took a course called "Life Spring," that introduced me to the concept of personal accountability. "Given that this is happening in your life, what did you do to create and/or attract it, and, more importantly, what are you going to do about it now? Many people waste time playing the blame game, and instead of responding in ways that create a desired reality, they waste time assigning blame to people or circumstances as the cause for creating the effects in their lives. Sadly, many people never move beyond that level of response to life.
Conclusion: The only thing you have complete control over in life is how you respond to the situations over which you have no control.
The final, and perhaps most truthful statement about happiness that I ever encountered was that "happiness is an unmet expectation." In other words, the only reason you are ever unhappy about anything, is because you have an expectation that is not in alignment with reality. Husband forgot your anniversary? You're unhappy because you expected him to remember. Change your expectation. Noisy neighbors? You're unhappy because you expect everyone to value peace and quiet the way you do. Change your expectation.
Now, I'm not saying you don't have a right to be disappointed when certain things happen. What I'm saying is that you also are able to make a choice as to how to respond. You could actually CHOOSE to be tolerant when others don't behave the way you'd like them to. You could actually CHOOSE to smile, when the racket starts next door. Anytime you cling to an expectation that is not in alignment with reality or truth, you are creating your own unhappiness, and you have the ability to create the opposite state by choosing a new reaction.
The Ultimate Key
So, therefore, the ultimate key to happiness is this:
"Something you believe to be true, and thus your expectation about (fill in the blank) is not in alignment with reality and/or truth. Change the belief and the expectation, and create your happiness. For Happiness is merely a thought.”to be continued.... PART 2:
APPLYING THE PROOF
In Part 2, we will explore several specific examples of how to apply this key to your self (i.e. body, mind and soul, who you are, what you do, and what you have), to Others, The World and Life's Situations, and solve for happiness!
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