By Jawaaz Ahmad
It is tempting to think that happiness is achieved by solving the problems and challenges that life throws up. But, if you wait until all problems are resolved, you will never be happy, because when today’s problems disappear, others will take their place. If you live happily, you must live your problems.
Living happily depends mainly on the inner life, that is, thoughts, emotions, desires – the whole psychic and emotional scene. Happiness is what you think and believe how you feel, how problems affect you. This may seem obvious, but we often focus on our external life, on gaining and spending time, and “having fun” and then wondering why we are not happy. But when our inner life is calm, we are the happiest – and inner peace.
The difficulty is that our inner lives are based on patterns and habits. You choose the way you react in the middle. It happens and you feel bad; its happening and you feel sad. Because of these habits, events do not necessarily leave you alone. The key is in changing patterns and gaining new inner habits.
Interesting habits are of course a skill. Inner skills are very similar to virtues, but if you consider them to be skills and not virtues, you will benefit from liberation. Instead of “I have to be a better person,” you might think, “I can live happily if I’m working on my skills.” It is a learning process, just like learning a skill.
I’m suggesting five major skill groups, although the training system is less important than spending time to improve your skills. Practice is key and requires effort, but the reward is what we all want – deep happiness. Here are five:
Mindfulness: The problem that most of us have in mind is too much – worried and mental “bustle” minds are prone to. Mindfulness is awareness without talk. Focusing on breathing is one way of exercising, but many people gain the same weight through sport, dance or martial arts. Mindfulness is a key internal skill because it grows, allows you to focus on your own life and catch your habits in action. As soon as you see what changes you want to make, it happens in your own way.
Goodness: It is a surprise when you hear it, but love or love begins as a practical skill that counteracts negative emotions such as anger and hatred, fearful thieves of happiness. Try this the next time someone is upset: look at yourself and ask yourself what they can think or feel. This does not mean that they should run away, but if you have a habit of thinking more tolerant – understand that their actions are also governed by internal habits – you may find that you can react with less anger. And, less anger is more happiness for you.
Skills Story: Your beliefs, including those you hardly know because you’ve never interrogated them, have a tremendous power over your life. Start thinking of them as stories and more easily accept that other things can be true and even in return. Even true stories choose only some of the realities we focus on today: in every situation there is no story. It’s not about thinking, it’s about “reframing” situations to look at them from a different perspective and see the other truth.
Letting-go: This is especially useful when we are unhappy that we do not get what we want. In general, we encourage you to think that it makes you happy, whether it is clothes or money, or even love. But if you want to be a treadmill and be happy, you have to either satisfy all your desires (which are unlikely) or let go of some of them. Sometimes we want to be revenge or revenge, so forgiveness is an important rent: it’s not about leaving anyone else, it’s about leaving the hook of anger out of the past.
Absorbing Skills: The latter group includes patience, humor, and especially gratitude. You do not have to be grateful to someone; just be grateful for the things. Our minds naturally destroy the environment from dangers, probably someday a useful mechanism, but unnecessarily pessimistic – focusing on 5% failure instead of 95%. Cultivating gratitude will help to improve your balance.
It is important to practice your skills, preferably to the point where they work, without thinking about them. Practice itself can be a rewarding way of life- a path between religion and materialism. I look at it as a form of secular spirituality, spirituality without supernatural belief, because it has much in common with traditional religious spiritual practice. But this is my way of looking at it. It’s a way to live happily if you follow it.
—The author is currently pursuing his M.Tech in VLSI Design and Embedded Systems from Visveswaraya Technological University. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org