One of my biggest realizations this year was that the reality I live in, the way I feel about things, the way I see them, was largely affected by the way I think. I always knew this really, except I’ve never felt it. I am a smart person, however I am confined by my humanity. Knowing something and practicing it are two different things. Knowing is only the beginning of a transformative change, practicing it day after day is where the change itself is. I can TELL you how to be happy, but you have to take the steps yourself to experience the change. All I can do is give you insight and experiences I’ve gained myself.
Take 10 minutes and watch this powerful TED-talk which shows what I’m talking about in more detail:
(“Sweet Mary, Mother of fuck, she’s cute” – Digression)
This is a perfect example of a perspective flip: something shitty happens, your first instinct is to break the fuck down and die, but then you get your shit together and start seeing possibilities instead of limits. The cue “If your life were a book, how would you want the story to go?” is a perfect one: it snaps you out of your wallowing, gives you responsibility for your own life, actions and emotions, it puts you in the driver’s seat of YOU. Blindfold comes of, and you’re sitting in a Cessna with your hands on the sticks and you see the pilot jump out of the plane yelling “SURPRISE, MOTHERFUCKER. ITS YOUR PLANE NOW”. That’s pretty much how it feels to suddenly realize you and you alone have control over your life and everything it involves.
After the initial shock wore off, it was as if someone dropped an A-bomb of Life on me. I believe that if I was spiritual I’d say it was the “Great Awakening” or something along the lines of it. But I’m not, so I’m sticking with the A-bomb. I saw possibilities instead of limitations, the perspective got flipped.
Awareness is a wonderful thing. I cruised through most of my life by just riding the wave. Big portion of it was me gaming CS, Diablo 3 and WoW, so that was like 8 years of my life down the drain. I had few basic needs: food, sleep, sex and gaming. That was it. I didn’t assume direct control of my life until January, 2016. That’s when unhappiness stopped. Why? Because I could finally be me 100% and I assumed full control of my everyday life. What I wanted to do, how I wanted to feel, etc.
Obviously, there are some things I can’t control. I can’t control the way other people behave and are acting towards me. I can, however, control the way I see it. I became Unwithfuckable.
It is so easy to wind up in other people’s “wants”. “Be this, do that, wear this, behave like that, like this, have an opinion on that” etc. You don’t have to react, you don’t have to like what others like, you don’t have to do what others do, you don’t have to dress yourself as others do. Being a people-pleaser is an insult to, and perfect waste of, who you are. It is not a selfish thing to attend to your own needs FIRST, to have them as a first priority, and your first priority should be your own well-being and happiness.
So ask yourself this, Buzzfeed-style:
- What makes me happy? What brings me joy? What makes me relaxed, calm, at peace with myself? (hint: you have ALWAYS self-compassion with you, no matter how shitty situation is). What makes me REALLY fired up and enthusiastic? Do more of this.
- What makes me unhappy? Drained? Down? Annoyed? Stressed out? Do less of this.
- What will 60 year old me want a 30 year old me to do? Do that.
- What will 60 year old me NOT want a 30 year old me do? Don’t do that.
- What do I want to do today? REALLY want? What do *I* want to do today, for me? (Tip: “for me” can be doing something for others. Volunteer-work, any selfless action can have a great effect on your happiness).
- If something shitty has happened or is about to happen: Will this matter in 10 years? 5 years? A year? Does it really matter NOW? If the answer is “no”, let it go, change focus on all the previous points in this list. If the answer is “yes”, give yourself self-compassion, attend to your needs, then rationally think of a way to remedy the situation. Think possibilities, not obstacles.
- What am I grateful for today? What can I be grateful for every day?
- If I knew my life would end in 10 years: what would I want to accomplish and experience before that time? (This one is not really healthy. However, the purpose of this is to bring awareness to short-term future and focus on things that really matter to you and are rewarding. I’ve read somewhere that old, retired people have quite some regrets in terms of what they should’ve and should’ve not done. This way of thinking helps to prevent that from happening as much as it normally would.)
- Reality check! Everything around you is always the same (even though it’s changing. Yeah, deep, I know). The life around you will always be the same: same people, same buildings, same businesses, coffee shops, cars, etc. It is a dynamic environment, but it’s always there. The way you feel about it, and everything it contains, is depending on the filter you see it through. If you see it through a negative, non-constructive filter, everything will be shit, and you will focus on all the things that are wrong with it. If you look through your freshly created “do whatever makes you happy”-pink-tinted-filter, you will start seeing possibilities, and all the good the world and people have to offer. Things do not have a meaning, WE assign meaning to THINGS, and they mean exactly what we want them to mean. So….what do you want things to mean? Something good or something bad? Easy choice, challenging execution. Again: knowing is one thing, practicing takes practice (“well, duh”).
- Are you your best friend? Do you take care of yourself? Do you have your best interests?
I’m not saying that if you’re in a deep depression that if you do all these things your life will be peachy and shits’n’giggly. I went through a process and it’s natural to me now, but if someone presented me this article, I’m not so sure I would be able to follow. However, I’m offering these simple insights as kind of a reminder, baby steps in the right direction if you may. Patience and self-compassion is key. It takes time to change deep-rooted personality traits, and we’re human, we try and we fail. Time, patience, persistence and self-compassion are the tools that might help you along the way.