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3 Ways to Live — Only 1 Leads to Happiness

I have noticed that there are 3 distinct ways in which people (including myself) generally live…

Sometimes it is a mixture of all 3 – but not in a conscious, balanced way – often it just works out that way and people don’t realise fully why they’re happy in some moments and feeling displaced, off-balance or basically unhappy in most other moments. Usually, certainly in western culture, we attribute it to a specific person or event being the “source” of that happiness.

(Incidentally, there’s a whole lot more about this in my book “The Journey Back to Bliss” if you’re interested in delving a little deeper into it, take a look here).

Oddly, as time goes on, we can experience the same person or event in an unhappy way. So what has changed?

Happiness is not intrinsically in an event or person, it’s in our perception of that event or person. It is in the way we see it. It’s about how we “do” life.

There are 3 Ways to Live

  1. The Way of Past/Future
    Always mentally re-living the Past and/or mentally rehearsing for the Future
  2. The Way of Now Negativity
    Being focussed on the present moment but feeling some form of negativity towards it
  3. The Way of Now Neutrality/Positivity
    Being in the present moment and feeling open to the possibility of good within it

Only 1 Leads to Happiness

#3 is clearly the answer here, but the exact reasons why may require a little more consideration. True happiness exists in the present moment, not in the far-off, distant dreamscape of non-reality. It also depends entirely on our perception of life, not on what is “going on” at the time.

Do you think that life is on your side, or do you think you have to “fight” or “work” for happiness and reward?

I have experienced happiness (or some sort of similar feeling) in the midst of complete mayhem, and I have experienced extreme unhappiness in the midst of wonderful occasions with great people. So I know for certain that happiness does not depend on the circumstances, but on how we see those specific circumstances AND (more importantly) how we view life generally.

And I hear many say that “life was better in the past when…”, or “life will be better in the future when…”. But tell me honestly, how long does that feeling of pseudo past/future happiness last? Does it uplift your energy and carry you through the week like genuine happiness does? No. I would say not. Also, if you’re able to really step back an analyze how you feel, ask yourself “what other emotions and thoughts am I experiencing right now?”. If you’re anything like me (e.g. human!), you’ll also feel an equal amount of sadness at the “loss” of the source of that happy memory, or an equal amount of disatisfaction (unhappiness) at not yet “having” that future thing/person/event.

So that leaves us with the present moment

But it’s not as simple as just being “present” focussed. You could be living in the present moment, not paying too much attention to the past or future, but still experiencing life in an unhappy way. I must say though, it’s MUCH more difficult to be unhappy when you’re ignoring the past and future, because there’s simply less to be unhappy about. I would say (from personal experience) that most of our unhappiness comes from the first way of living — in past/future mode.

When you wish for things to be different, you’re creating misery for yourself. So, whether you’re living in the present, or past, or future mainly, as long as you wish your present moment was different, e.g. —

  • somewhere else
  • with someone else
  • doing something else
  • with more or less of something

— then you’re never going to be truly happy (certainly not for any length of time). It’s a mental program that will only lead you to more misery because eventually you’ll find yourself in exactly the same disillusionment about your present, wishing that something would change — falsely imagining that your happiness is depending on getting to some “destination” or attaining some “achievement” etc.

This is the most important key to unlock your happiness:

Happiness comes from the “doing” (present), not the “arriving” (future) or the achievement (past).

Just think about it. A big part of the intial happiness of a new relationship or job is the meeting, learning etc — we lose our “mind” in the process. It’s the process. It’s about expansion and seeing more of life, it’s about the journey moving forward — not forward to a specific goal, but forward in the sense of expansion of your “experience” of life — helping you ascertain what you want more of, and what you want less of, and leading you towards understanding what you’re true purpose in life is.

So it’s not just the “doing” in itself, but it’s “doing” with the conscious knowledge that it’s part of your journey forward that really makes it a life worth living.

A big part of it is trust

Of course, you have to trust that life is on your side (and it is) and that things will work out for the best somehow (and the ‘how’ is not very important!). You can’t experience genuine present moment happiness without some form of belief that you’re tapping in to a greater force of endless happiness. If you think it’s dependent on any finite source (e.g. a person or event or momentary achievement etc), then you won’t be able to experience ongoing happiness.

And that thought alone will bring that equal amount of unhappiness into the picture without you even realising. So trust that there’s an infinite pool of goodness just under the surface of life, and it’s ALWAYS there, and always available to you.

Just let go of your expections, let go of the past and let go of your need for the present or future to be anything other than what it is right now, and just enjoy the process of moving forward.

Trust that it will ALL work out in the end and that THIS present moment (whatever you are facing right now) is just a part of it — it’s a necessary part of your journey, and, as long as you see it as a journey moving forward, you’ll feel the happiness that comes from the Source, not the mixed bag that comes from circumstance or achievement.

So what about you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this (even if you disagree in some way!) — otherwise I’m just talking to myself, and that’s pretty pointless isn’t it?? Please do share your thoughts below…

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