25 Jun How I Learned to Live a Remarkably Happy Life
My life has changed pretty remarkably in the past few months. What makes the change interesting is that the past few months of my life have been pretty uneventful. No life changing event, no experience that altered my life’s trajectory, no song, movie, or piece of art to inspire change. And unless you were inside my head you wouldn’t even notice the change. But something did change.
So what was it? What happened that changed everything? My perspective changed. I realized that reality is malleable.
Before you close that tab and write me off as a quack, hear me out. Obviously reality is reality. I can’t bend time or reverse gravity. But most of the reality that you and I experience is actually our unique perception of the reality around us. Most of what we think of as reality is actually a juxtaposition of our interactions with the world and what our conscious and subconscious mind make of those interactions.
When you really digest what that means, it becomes increasingly clear that you and I have the ability to shape and form what our reality is. Sort of like learning to live a proactive rather than reactive life, learning to shape your reality is something that can immediately and drastically change your life. And the best part is it’s really easy!
So how do I do it? Or more importantly, how can you? It’s actually rather simple.
Much like an artist or designer, I fabricate the tapestry of reality around me. Here are a couple of examples.
- If I get cut off while driving I create a reality where the person driving is in a rush because of an emergency situation in their life that requires more immediate attention than my normal commute. In my head I wish them well (or say a little wish or prayer) and let them be.
- If I see someone has more than me, or is better than me at something I imagine all of the hard work they did to get to where they are. I ponder the sacrifices they’ve made, their forgone experiences for their craft or success. I mentally commend them for their dedication and remind myself how hard I need to work to achieve the level of success I want to achieve. I am inspired by their skills and accomplishments.
- If someone hurts or slights me I imagine the experiences in their life that led them to the point where this would be their behavior. I feel sorry that they have had such experiences and make a quick wish (or prayer) that they be met with good fortune soon.
- If life gets stressful and/or things don’t go my way I ponder all of the choices that led me to this point. I think of the situation, and how I handled it. I remember that we learn more from our failures than from our successes. I remember that life is about the little triumphs that add up to something remarkable. I think about a future me, who has overcome so much more than what I’m dealing with today, and how he feels thinking back on what I’m experiencing right now. I realize that the immediacy of my stress and feelings don’t equate to the importance of them. I know that tomorrow’s reality is better than today’s. I smile, thankful for everything and everyone that led to this point and excited about the opportunity to overcome. I continue onward.
- If an outcome is not what I hoped for or expected I look for the lesson. There is almost always a silver lining, if you look hard enough. Failure is only failure if there is no lesson learned. Hardship without growth or progress is an opportunity missed. I may find myself sad or disappointed when things don’t go my way, but I do my best to direct my focus to something of value. I try to learn.
There are many other ways that you and I can put a fresh coat of paint on our own personal reality. These are a few that came to mind quickly. The truth is that at first it will feel foreign. You are used to feeling justified in your negative thoughts or feelings, as if you deserve the right to experience them. But what’s interesting is that your justification for negativity doesn’t mean you HAVE to be negative. You can simply choose not too. And I promise you that the outcome of choosing value and positivity over negativity is it’s own reward. Your stress levels plummet, you make excuses for those around you, your relationships with others flourish, people start to see you as a genuinely more enjoyable person to be around… the list goes on and on. But the best outcome is that you become responsible for creating your own happiness (rather than happiness being something that just happens to you) and within days or weeks you find that you are remarkably happy.
I am remarkably happy right now. Nothing is different than it was a few weeks ago. And yet… everything is.