Posted: 13 Feb 2012 05:11 PM PST
Just as the natural physical state is health and vitality, the natural emotional state is peace and happiness. Whenever you experience a deviation from peace of mind and happiness, it’s an indication that there is something amiss. Something is wrong with what you are thinking, doing or saying. You’re an incredibly complex organism and your feelings of ease and dis-ease, happiness and unhappiness, can be triggered by a myriad of factors. But the bottom line is that your feeling of inner happiness is the very best indicator you could ever have to tell you what you should be doing more of and what you should be doing less of.
Unhappiness is to your life as pain is to your body. It’s sent as a messenger to tell you that what you’re doing is wrong for you. And it’s also sent to tell you that you’re on the right track.
There are many reasons why people don’t listen more closely to their feelings and especially, why many people are reluctant to use their own happiness as the standard by which to judge the events in their lives. I’ve studied this subject for many years and I think that there are three major myths about happiness that each of us has to some degree.
The 3 Myths About Happiness
The first myth about happiness is that it’s not legitimate or correct for you to put your happiness ahead of everyone else. Throughout my life, I’ve met people who’ve been very adamant about stating that happiness is something that you may or may not get from life, but it’s not a goal or objective by itself. These people say that it’s more important to make other people happy than to make yourself happy.
Of course, this is nonsense. Human beings are happiness-tropic organisms. Everything we do in life is oriented toward maintaining and increasing our level of happiness. We are psychologically constructed so that it’s impossible for us to be any other way without making ourselves mentally and emotionally ill. The fact is that you cannot give away to anyone else what you don’t have for yourself. Just as you cannot give money to the poor if you don’t have any, you can’t make someone else happy if you are yourself miserable. The very best way to assure the happiness of others is to be happy yourself and then to share it with them.
The second myth, closely tied to the first myth that happiness is not a legitimate aim, is the admonition that we’re here to serve others rather than ourselves. There are many poems and essays that repeat this main theme. They say that we’ve justified our life on this earth and we’ve made some other person happy on the way through. This is partially true and partially false. It’s partially true in that one of the most important things in life we do is to serve other people in some way. It’s through service to others that we achieve a sense of meaning and purpose in life. It’s only when we loose ourselves in doing something that we feel benefits someone more than ourselves that we experience transcendence, that we feel ourselves rising above the tedium of day-to-day activity. To paraphrase Robert Louis Stevenson, “Everybody makes their living by serving someone.” However, the key is to serve with joy and happiness. The answer to this myth is that, yes, we’re here to serve others, but we’re also here to achieve our own joy, satisfaction and fulfillment as a result. One of the requirements of high self esteem and confidence is the feeling we are making a contribution to the world that we are living in, that we are putting in more than we are taking out. So we serve others in order to be happier than we would be if we were not.
The third myth about happiness is that someone else’s definition of happiness is valid for you. Often, we feel a little uneasy if we’re not happy doing something that someone else thinks we should be happy at. Many people allow their parents to influence their choices of career and find themselves miserable as a result. They want to please their parents, they want to make them happy, but they’re unable to experience any joy doing what they’re doing.
The fact is that life, happiness, is very much like a smorgasbord. If 100 people went to a smorgasbord and each put food on their plates in the quantity and mix that each felt would be most pleasing to himself or herself, every single plate would be different. Even a husband and wife would go up to a smorgasbord and come back with plates that look completely different. Happiness is the same thing. It is composed of a great variety of ingredients, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Each person requires a particular combination of these ingredients in order to feel the very best about himself, or herself and life.