Editor’s Note: this is a guest post by Aline Sobole (and English is her 3rd language if you can believe that!)
(Photo Credit: Aline Sobole)
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ― C.G. Jung
If Albert Einstein advised us to tie our life to a goal in order to be happy, not to people or material things, what about Carl Gustav Jung telling us that we should use our lifetime to become who we are truly meant to be? Is that our ultimate goal? And how does this serve our happiness? Or, is it the other way around?
We could start by asking why is to be happy so important? Happiness is a fuzzy concept that we commonly associate with a state of contentment and well-being when we experience life fully. Thomas Jefferson, when he drafted the United States Declaration of Independence considered it so important that he stated that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” should be an unalienable right. Happiness makes us feel light, powerful, capable of handling any difficulty that life throws at us.
However, the problem is that instead of looking for happiness from within, many of us continue to depend on external situations to feel content. Jeff explained this very well on his previous blog entry. More often than not, our mood swings at the rhythm of others feelings, actions and behaviors. And that has the potential to put us on emotional roller coasters, instead of a constant state of bliss.
Don´t take me wrong. As human beings, we are living, feeling, experiencing. Any moment in life, even the smallest breath, encloses the capacity to make us feel happy, or sad. But here is the point: we are the ones who decide how to feel, for how long and how deeply. We decide and we act upon. It is happiness as an action, not as a reaction. No one, no event, can make us feel anything, unless we let them.
Happiness coming from within, supported by a rich inner world, is like a vibrant, colorful and secure bubble where we can freely trust ourselves. It creates a silent, peaceful space where to turn our thoughts and focus inwards to understand who we are meant to be, undisturbed by emotions and events coming from the outer world. In return, when we work on becoming who we are meant to be. Happiness is a constant, permanent state. So, you see, Einstein and Jung were right.
Now, we know that we regularly impact each other and ourselves with our words, thoughts, actions and fears but there is a particular way to do it constructively. There is this book I like very much called “The Four Agreements” that you might have read. Based on an ancient Toltec wisdom, don Miguel Ruiz affirms: “If you are impeccable with your word, if you don´t take anything personally, if you don´t make assumptions, if you always do your best, then you are going to have a beautiful life. You are going to control your life one hundred percent.” I would add, and your emotions too.
As he explains, being impeccable with your word is to speak with integrity toward ourselves and others. We create and destroy with our words. So, our energy has to go in the direction of truth and love, and not in expressing anger, jealousy, envy and hate, as any action produces a like reaction. “If I love you, then you will love me. If I insult you, you will insult me.”
When you don´t take things personally, you can´t be hurt. If you feel offended, you will react defending your beliefs and creating conflicts. Nothing others do or say is because of you. “It’s not what I am saying that is hurting you, it is that you have wounds that I touch by what I have said.”
When wounds are triggered, unaware of it we make assumptions, he writes, because we are afraid to ask for clarification and we end up creating a big drama for nothing. Don´t make assumptions and don´t believe they are right. “We only see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear (…) If you don´t understand ask until you are clear, and even then do not assume you know all there is to know about a given situation.”
For these three agreements to work, he notes, we have to do our best, no more and no less, under any circumstances and to understand that it´s ok if sometimes that best is of a high quality, and sometimes not as good. “You do your best because doing your best all the time makes you so happy. Without action upon an idea, there will be no manifestation, no results, and no reward.”
If you pay close attention to these four agreements, you will notice that they all bring you back to your center, grounding you into the present and making you fully responsible for your actions.
So, if an external event still unbalances our inner happiness, what can we do? I will advise: Stop, breath and ask yourself questions, such as, “what do I feel, what mood am I in?” “To what am I reacting to?” “Is it coming from me or from the outer world?” “What can I do?” Just the act of mentally asking those questions will help us to take one step back and stop spinning into emotional turmoil.
If you are feeling blue and impacting someone with your mood swing, express it, do not wait or expect that the other person will guess how you are feeling and where it comes from. Get out of your head and stop imagining things, and ask clearly for help and support and use the person you are destabilizing as a mood lifter if you can. Quoting Jeff, “when we shift our focus to those around us, we actually learn more about ourselves.”
To strengthen our inner world, we can use the Wellness Wheel, which is about maintaining a balance between seven basic dimensions of our lives: spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical, social, environmental and financial. If you take care of each one of them at more or less the same level, any unbalance in any area will hardly shake your entire world and you will be able to get back on track softly.
I truly believe that the capacity to feel happy at all times, to stay connected with ourselves and to be able to not take things personally, even when life seems an emotional roller coaster, is closely linked to how rich is our inner world. If we have a diversity of interests that we constantly cultivate and we are at peace with ourselves, we can only act the same way when we step into the world.
“There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally” writes don Miguel Ruíz. Trust yourself, listen to your inner voice and stay focus into the present, existing one day at the time. Detach from people and things, do not let them define your emotions and thoughts and you will have the capacity to peacefully work to become who you are meant to be, and to live genuinely happy.