Got these 8 keys to happier living? Guess what? Mindfulness is not one of these key ingredients for happier living. When I calmed myself down, I realized that’s because mindfulness is a given. Without it, expanding your ability for happier living is too difficult and too slow.
My second reaction was, “Oh no! Not 8!!! Why can’t there be just one key to happier living?”
Well, really there IS only one. People’s thoughts on this may differ. But here is the one key I’ve found to be the bread and butter of happiness in daily life.
Is There Really Only One Key To Happier Living?
The one key that unlocks daily happiness is this:
It’s the way you’re looking at things. Your perspective or viewpoint is how you make what’s happening to you mean something.
It doesn’t matter whether you make what’s happening good or bad, useful or irrelevant. The process is the same.
The key is that it’s all in your viewpoint. And the viewpoint you use is up to you.
So, what exactly does that mean? These 8 keys free you to take on the challenge of changing your perspective so you can live with greater access to daily happiness.
Given how much change we’re currently experiencing, it’s clear that running from it, or getting annoyed and confused by it, isn’t changing the situation. Feelings of uncertainty and fear of impending chaos are increasing to almost intolerable levels. And this is generating higher levels of worry, stress, anxiety, doubt, overwhelm, and exhaustion.
But hope remains. Certain qualities and notions can free you to live a happier life, despite the whirlwind of change.
Change and the uncertainty it creates are not going anywhere. It’s part of the way life works.
So that leaves us with the challenge of changing our viewpoint.
Here are the 8 keys to making the best possible sense of what’s unfolding in your life right now. This pathway to happier living sits right in the middle of this constant change – and the unrelenting uncertainty and confusion it creates. We don’t have to run from change or try so hard to stop it.
It works best to let these 8 keys rework your perspective for you. Here they are.
What You Need For Happier Living & Greater Peace Of Mind
Curiosity About Those Personal Inner Tugs-Of-War
They say curiosity killed the cat, but not in this case. Instead, curiosity gives more life and energy to your day. Since you already know how to be curious (even if it’s only about the latest gossip at work or your friend’s date last night), you just want to expand what you get curious about.
The object of your curiosity is now going to be your own polarization. That’s right. We are all living in an increasingly polarized world. The key is to explore your own contribution to the conundrum.
Doesn’t polarization begin with you deciding you’re either for something or against something? In politics — republican or democrat, power or freedom? With health — regular or organic produce, western or eastern medicine? Exploring a relationship — fun or serious, a prison or freedom?
The first step is becoming mindful of your thoughts, emotions, and body sensations. The second step is becoming mindful of your mind’s automatic and unconscious habit of being for some things and against their opposite. That’s what creates those experiences that feel like an inner tug of war. And the belief that one side has to win, and the other has to lose – and the fear that there is a right choice, and a wrong one.
On the one hand, I want to donate some money to that cause (being of service to others).
On the other hand, I’m low on dollars and need to be conservative (taking care of myself).
I’ve of two minds about how to handle this situation with my partner. Should I speak up for myself, so I express my independence and strength?
Or do I hold my tongue and do what’s best to keep the peace?
Conscious Awareness Of Impermanence
This 2nd key ingredient is the real bottom line. This is the notion that acts like a ‘get out of jail free’ card. Embracing this personally verifiable and undeniable truth about life can change everything. Most important, it changes the way you relate to change itself—and the uncertainty it creates. Nobody totally loves uncertainty. It’s stressful and runs straight into the mind’s need to control the future and take charge of what is going to unfold.
However, impermanence is the only thing that is truly permanent in our lives.
Knowing how to face uncertainty makes change manageable. Everything eventually changes into something different. Love morphs into hate, happiness shifts into sadness, comfort becomes discomfort. Life is always moving. Regardless of whether we like it, our commitment to happier living is always at the mercy of our reaction or response to this constant flow of change. So approaching this flow of change with acceptance, understanding, clarity, and confidence can change your perspective on a dime. And remember, the one way to happier living rests in the way you view whatever is coming your way. Whether it’s good, bad, or simply what is happening in the present moment.
Disciplined Attention To Polarities / Opposites
Irrevocably tied to this flow of unstoppable change are opposites, or polar pairs. This means the flow of life and opposites connect in a perceivable pattern that penetrates our daily lives. Happy, then sad, then happy again. Rich, then poor, then rich again. Together, then alone, then together again. Accepted, then rejected, then accepted again. Approved, then criticized, then approved again. Go exploring and direct your awareness and attention to this patterned flow between opposites.
You’ll realize you’ve known about this pattern for a long time. But your brain and unconscious mind have deemed it unimportant, with no relevance to your being happy. It doesn’t recognize the harmonized flow between day and night as being significant information for happiness. There is no importance given to the flow of the tides moving in and out on a regular and predictable schedule. Once you notice how you’re almost always for one pole of a polar pair and against the other, your perspective or point of view can shift. This movement between opposites is the fundamental pattern to life’s flow. Once you recognize and embrace this paradox, happier living moves closer to your grasp.
Every day you use your intention. You intend to get up or stay in bed. Either you will make breakfast or not. You intend to have a cup of tea or coffee, get dressed, and brush your teeth. This just means you are directing the focus of your attention. Now I didn’t say you were consciously aware of every bite of food, every sip of your steaming morning eye-opener, or every swipe of your toothbrush. While that would be nice (and possibly highly developed), you already have the tool of intention and are using it every day. You just want to combine your intention with your curiosity about those inner tugs-of-war and your conscious awareness of impermanence. You want to focus consciously on learning how to embrace polar pairs as one indivisible whole rather than seeing one pole as good and the other as bad. Then you will travel through what feels like an inner war zone with less stress and anxiety, open to noticing what you didn’t see before.
To get the most out of using these tools (curiosity, conscious awareness of impermanence, disciplined attention to polarities, and focused intention) you want to intend to have a pleasant and fruitful journey. How do you have willingness when a part of you resists? Of course, the answer is a paradox. You can be both resistant and willing at the same time. For instance, you’re willing to get up and go to work even though you’re resisting going out of the house. Or you’re willing to drive your friend to the airport even though you’re resisting the idea of getting in the car yet again. There are ways to bolster this willingness (available in my online course and book Unflappable: 6 Steps To Staying Happy, Centered, Peaceful No Matter What). This is when the adventure can truly begin. When you can navigate life’s contradictions and feel inner peace simultaneously.
To find your way to that place where inner peace and calm are king and queen, you must imagine as if it’s actually possible. Even if you don’t believe you can visualize, haven’t you at least once fantasized about a different life, a better body, a more caring partner, or a more successful career? You know how to imagine things. All you have to do is suspend your learned disbelief in the possibility of peace of mind and happiness, no matter what. How? Take any skepticism, cynicism, or fear and imagine as if you could put it in the coat closet just at the entryway to your mind. If you need your disbelief back, don’t worry. It will be right where you left it.
Everyone carries convictions (or sacred beliefs). Some convictions allow expansion, while others set limitations. Either way, you have this necessary tool for creating a peaceful journey through your inner conflicts. Setting out to explore the reality of paradox (and what to do with it) is like swimming upstream. The practical wisdom available through conscious living and leading is not yet conventional wisdom, so you’re probably going to run into a lot of flak (self and other generated) about what you’re trying to do. It was your decision to look for a way to more happiness and peace of mind. So you can trust your own experience, inner knowing, and guidance from your heart and soul. Being convinced this exploration into happier living is right for you will make your journey easier.
Here is another paradox. Are you certain enough of your newfound way of thinking to question it along the way? Are you free to doubt that you’re moving in the right direction despite the strength of your conviction? Doubt is the essential tool to balance your convictions and keep them fresh. Conviction by itself is both necessary and dangerous. Still another paradox! Doubt allows you to remain open to the possibility your conviction may not be 100 percent accurate. Maybe you don’t know all you think you know. Consider the possibility that your convictions may be based on unproven or faulty information, like being only part of the whole truth about something. Doubt helps you remain open to expanding your perceptions and perspectives, and welcome exploring new knowledge and new pathways to peace — outer and inner.
The Key To Finding These 8 Key Ingredients
Having a sense of connection to something larger than yourself is not only tremendously helpful. It is also essential. It doesn’t matter what you call that something — God, Goddess, Mystery, Nature, Universe, Buddha Nature, Essence, Essential Self, Christ Consciousness, Suchness, the Tao, the Dharma, or any other name. Where there is a foreground, there is always a background holding it and making it visible. Something to contemplate.
And believe it or not, it doesn’t matter whether that sense of connection feels real or is just imagined. It’s great if you can feel a connection to something larger than yourself that you may actually belong to. But if you can’t, don’t worry. Just imagine as if you had a connection. That will be a great beginning to finding out for yourself whether embracing the notion of ‘something larger than yourself’ is useful in expanding your desire to live a more conscious and happier life.
Business often refers to this whirlwind of change as VUCA – volatility, uncertainty, chaos, and ambiguity. Therapists often refer to it as trauma. No matter what you call it, it feels potentially volatile. Why? Because there is so much not knowing and confusion. And this results in a lack of clarity. Trying to live out of confusion seems to have become more common than having clarity and a wise perspective. Life becomes more enjoyable and handleable when you believe that trust and faith are holding you in their arms and ready to give you a more expansive perspective or point of view.
What To Do Next
Living a happier life in today’s world means first learning how to enjoy the emotional roller coaster of daily living. And that means discovering the art of equanimity. It’s now essential for us to have this emotional balance when in the presence of uncertainty, change, complexity, ambiguity, and that chilling sense of potential chaos and volatility.
If you want to know more about this, please check out my website at www.RaginiMichaels.com. There’s a free 4-video mini-course called Centered No Matter What that explains in greater depth why developing these key ingredients just might change your life.
Or, if you have an Android phone (sorry iPhone users), you can CLICK HERE and download my new app. It has the mini course on it as well as lots of other free information for what Centered No Matter What is all about.
Meanwhile, may you be happy, centered, and peaceful no matter what.
*images courtesy of www.Pixabay.com & www.iStock.com