jump to navigation

Will This Thought Bring Me Happiness? July 13, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Mindfulness, Spirit & Ego.
trackback

Hardship in life is inevitable, but much of our suffering is self-created.

We perpetuate pain, and keep it alive, by replaying our hurts over and over again.

We are overly sensitive and overreact to minor annoyances in order to feed our anger, jealousy, or fear.

Feeding negative mental states (anger, jealousy, rage, envy, greed, hatred) is destructive and robs us of inner peace and tranquility.

When we choose to react negatively to situations which could be viewed more positively, we are increasing our suffering by destroying our peace of mind.

We can minimize our suffering, and increase our happiness, by replacing our negative thought patterns with a more positive perspective on things ~ for example, by viewing the world with a greater degree of kindness, tolerance, contentment, forgiveness, and compassion.

The process is simple:

(1) We must “tune in” and become aware of our thoughts.

(2) If we are dwelling on negative thoughts, we must ask a simple question, Will this thought bring me happiness?

(3) If the answer is “no,” we must “change the channel” and focus on more positive thoughts.

Lasting happiness, or peace of mind, is not tied to external events. It is not what is happening around you, but what is happening within you, that matters.

Asking the question, will this thought bring me happiness, whenever we are facing a choice about how to view a situation, provides necessary clarity.

It shifts the focus from what we are denying ourselves (i.e., the “luxury” of being upset over some minor incident or infraction) to what we are giving ourselves (peace of mind and serenity).

Quote: Hardship is inevitable; misery is optional.

No rules. Just write!

Related posts: The Art of Happiness *  Cultivating Happiness . . . not Hedonism * Dalai Lama: Inner Peace & Happiness

Comments»

1. misswhiplash - July 13, 2011

How right you are! The Dalai Lama again with the smile and the twinkle in his eye

nrhatch - July 13, 2011

He’s my “poster boy” for happiness. 😀

2. Richard W Scott - July 13, 2011

I like this, Nancy.

It reminds me…

Some years ago I discovered I was pinning what I called happiness onto things that I did not yet have. In most cases I was able to acquire whatever the physical thing was, but never really got happier in doing so.

One day I got it, and now if I hear myself say, “…if only I had X”, whatever X is, “…then I’d be happy…”, I know I’ve laid out a trap for myself.

Still, today, I fall for the trap, because that acquisitive part of me is still active and devious, but more and more I catch the idea before it can become a problem.

nrhatch - July 13, 2011

Yes, indeed! People are prone to postponing happiness until X happens . . . or Y falls in love with them . . . or they acquire that perfect Z that they’ve had their eye on.

When we do that we move our line of vision from HERE and NOW (with all that is currently available to us) . . . to somewhere over a rainbow that we may (or may not) ever reach.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a few new shiny toys now and then, but equating the acquisition of toys with “happiness” is apt to create suffering instead.

Great comment. Thanks, Rik!

clarbojahn - July 13, 2011

That’s mistaking transitory happiness with the present benefit with authentic happiness which gives us future satisfaction in terms of meaning in life.

nrhatch - July 13, 2011

Exactly, Clar. Lasting happiness is NEVER in things . . . it is in US. 😀

3. Maggie - July 13, 2011

What I can’t understand is that there are some people I know who seem to enjoy being in a bad mood all the time. It’s quite sad, but if they choose not to be happy, that’s their problem.

nrhatch - July 13, 2011

I know several “Eeyores” who seem to wander around with a black cloud over their head, always focused on the 1 or 2 things that are “wrong” with their lives . . . instead of focusing on the 98 or 99 things that are “right” with their lives.

I’m not sure that they really “enjoy” being in a bad mood but they are in the “habit” of focusing on the “negatives” and haven’t learned to re-program their brain.

So, the question becomes . . . how did they get into that habit in the first place?

My guess . . . they got “positive reinforcement” from others when recounting the content of their wheelbarrow of woes than they did when sharing the “good” in their lives.

And part of that is the way we’re socialized.

When someone collapses into a heap at our feet and bursts into tears, we are encouraged to STOP what we are doing to tend to THEIR needs. BUT, if someone is bouncing around with a smile on his/her face, we can safely “ignore” them and do our own thing.

When I encounter Eeyore’s . . . I share a few tips and techniques with them about how to be Happier. They seem quite appreciative, but OLD HABITS die hard. They keep wanting to share the negatives in their life with me.

I’ve gotten to the point that I interupt them and say, “Tell me something GOOD.” 😀

4. clarbojahn - July 13, 2011

This is so interesting because I was just writing a blog post in Word about happiness or self satisfaction. I like your post much better. Mine has research behind it and is dry and institutional. Your’s is bright and cheerful and short. Mine is a two part series. And you flaunt the Dalai Lama. What more research does one need?
Thanks for this post.

nrhatch - July 13, 2011

You made me laugh out loud, Clar . . . you noticed how shameless I’ve become about “flaunting” the Dalai Lama. 😀

I, for one, am interested in reading your two part post about happiness and self-satisfaction. I’ll keep my eyes open for it.

5. kateshrewsday - July 13, 2011

A simple idea, but one which can change a lifetime of habit.
Hope today has been full of good things for you 🙂

nrhatch - July 13, 2011

Thanks, Kate. I’m having a day filled with yummy surprises and delicious birthday greetings. In fact, I’m having so much FUN that I’ve decided to throw an Unbirthday Party for myself in a few weeks so I can enjoy myself all over again. 😉

On a more serious note, I find, even after years of practicing this simple technique, that Ego remains ready, willing, and able to sabotage MY happiness out of a desire to be right or to feel sorry for himself.

Sometimes Ego wants to enjoy the “luxury” of stewing in his own juices rather than letting go of anger and hurt ~ and I have to wrest the remote away from his grubby paws if I want to return to a state of inner peace and equilibrium.

But (and this is the BIG but) . . . I now know that allowing Ego to remain in control of the remote is a choice that I am making AND that I can choose to change the channel whenever I tire of Ego and his “pity party.”

I can dispel the storm clouds and reclaim the sunshine whenever I’ve had ENOUGH of Ego’s anger, fear, pain, and resentment.

Aah . . . that’s better. 😎

6. Tammy - July 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Nancy. Your post shows the wisdom that you’ve achieved. It is difficult for me to do sometimes though. As for his Greatness, I am in DC and will have evening Dharma at Kalachakra!

nrhatch - July 13, 2011

Thanks, Tammy. I am rarely “jealous” or “envious” of others (because I would not willing step out of my life in all respects to step into anyone else’s life) but your plans for this evening sound awesome.

Except for being in DC.
Too many politicians to suit me. 😉

I find that the KNOWING and the APPLYING of mindfulness techniques are miles apart at times ~ often, when we would benefit the most from a bit of present moment awareness and acceptance, we are lost in a sea of negativity and can’t seem to surface long enough to breathe in what is being offered right here and right now.

Eventually, exhausted from worry or anger or fear or doubt . . . we look around and remember to breathe in THIS moment.

Aah . . . that’s better.

Have a wonderful time tonight!

7. Piglet in Portugal - July 13, 2011

If we are dwelling on negative thoughts, we must ask a simple question, Will this thought bring me happiness?

Should we also ask ourselves – if we are really unhappy with something what could we do to change the situation? Sometimes just turning a blind eye is not always the best option imho.

PiP 🙂

nrhatch - July 13, 2011

I agree with you. We don’t have to leave things as they are, we just need to to stop wasting energy “dwelling” on non-productive thoughts that are making us unhappy.

For example, someone might be in the “habit” of thinking, “I’m so fat. I’ll never lose weight. I have no self-control.” Dwelling on those thoughts is NOT doing anything to change the situation and thinking those thoughts over and over is making the person miserable.

Instead, they could switch from those “unhappy” thoughts to thoughts designed to spur them to action:

* Starting today, I’m going for a 20 minutes walk during lunch.
* I’m going to eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies today.
* I’m going to stop drinking sodas filled with empty calories.

Beating ourselves up for who we are NOW . . . is not a good way to motivate change.

Another example, someone might be upset that someone cut them off in traffic, thinking: “I can’t believe he cut me off like that. What a jerk. Some people should never get licenses to drive. Etc.”

Those thoughts are making them unhappy and they’re probably never going to see that driver again. So dwelling on those thoughts is not going to change anything.

Instead, they could switch those “unhappy” thoughts to a more positive message: “That sure was a close call. I’m glad I’m okay.”

Piglet in Portugal - July 14, 2011

“For example, someone might be in the “habit” of thinking, “I’m so fat. I’ll never lose weight. I have no self-control.” Dwelling on those thoughts is NOT doing anything to change the situation and thinking those thoughts over and over is making the person miserable.”

Life is about choices “Do I love cake more than I respect my body?” One gives me instant gratification while the other would result in months of pain!

A positive thought – “my goodness look at her and I thought I was fat!” is also a negative against someone else.

Better…”I wonder if she would join me on a diet and we could support each other?” No, I would probably receive a slap in the face for insinuating she was fat! Ponderous…

nrhatch - July 14, 2011

Your comment reminded me of a mantra I heard once, “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.” 😉

My guilty secret ~ I watch The Biggest Loser sometimes to remind myself that in comparison with many, many others . . . I’m OK as is!

8. ceceliafutch - July 13, 2011

“Lasting happiness, or peace of mind, is not tied to external events. It is not what is happening around you, but what is happening within you, that matters.”

So true! The writings of Viktor Fankl helped me to understand this, I think, more than any other writer. He proved this sentiment to be true in the most horrendous circumstances imaginable (holocaust survivor, existential philosopher and psychotherapist.)

nrhatch - July 13, 2011

Thanks, Cecelia. I’ve never read his work, but I checked out some of his background and philosophy on line. Very wise man.

The “what is” IS . . . we can’t always change what’s happening, but we can change how we choose to interpret what’s happening. How we relate to the issue IS the issue.

When we view ourselves and others with more kindness and compassion, we benefit (even if NOTHING else changes) by the increased happiness and peace of mind we feel within.

9. Cindy - July 13, 2011

I am glad you had a good birthday. This post has brought me an important message, thank you.

nrhatch - July 13, 2011

Thanks, Cin. I’ve had a terrific day.

Glad the post resonated with you. We recycle many of our thoughts from day to day. We pre-judge situations (and people) based on past experiences.

Rather than seeing things as they are, we see things as we are. If we’re in a good mood, we shrug things off easily. If we’re tense and upset, it’s harder to shrug off new challenges.

When we become more mindful, we are more connected with the HERE and NOW and its easier for us to deal with any curve balls that come our way. Peace.

10. walterwsmith3rd - July 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Nancy,

I am very much an admirer of the teachings of the Dalai Lama. The whole concept of “seeing things as they really are”, that he proposes, and the meditative process in which to achieve Nirvana and in the end Enlightenment, I believe is a fundamental need for all Sentient Beings.
I enjoy reading your posts, because they are very much in tune with the development of a positive relationship–which we must learn to have with ourselves (our thoughts, and actions) and the world around us.

Namaste
Walter

nrhatch - July 14, 2011

Thanks, Walter. I’ve been a fan of Buddhist teachings for more than a decade. Wisdom in awareness. Mindfulness in all things. Be here now.

Namaste.

11. klrs09 - July 14, 2011

A new friend says she reads bits of “The Art of Happiness” every night before going to sleep. She says it really helps her focus on what is important and allows her to see all that she has to be thankful for in her life. It’s on my list of books to read.

nrhatch - July 14, 2011

Wise friend.

When I’m feeling happy . . . I embrace that happiness for all it’s worth. When I’m feeling un-happy (or less happy), I look at my thougths to see HOW I’m contibuting to my dis-ease.

And make adjustments as necessary.

Aah . . . that’s better. 😎

12. Pocket Perspectives - July 14, 2011

The ideas from the Dalai Lama are so special…I’ve learned so much from his writing and talks. I get the Dalai DalaiLama quote and made a page out of one special quote…about his religion being kindness… http://reflectionsfromafriend.wordpress.com/extra-special-pages/lantern-my-religion-is-kindness/ such a special idea… I look at that lantern and am filled with thankfulness for the kindness of others…. I’ve gotten lots of kindness and nurturing from one of his “students” too.thanks, Kathy

nrhatch - July 14, 2011

Thanks, Kathy. I agree. His spirit shines forth loud and clear. 😀

13. eof737 - July 17, 2011

I love the DL’s message and cheerfulness… happiness is in us. 🙂 TY Nancy!

nrhatch - July 17, 2011

Just looking at his picture feels me with peace.

Aah . . . that’s better. 😉

14. Author of Christian Comfort & Conversation - April 18, 2012

I say be better not bitter. Trade an i for an e. Take one day at a time and show one kind act.

nrhatch - April 18, 2012

Smart thinking! 😀


What Say YOU?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: