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The Change Designs Blog is a collection of insights, personal stories and real life experiences from people working in organizations. In this blog you will find real life stories depicting magical experiences and struggles, where the truth is richer, stranger and more practical than any theory or model. If you've ever wanted to read the diary of a leader, strategist, change agent, consultant, facilitator or a coach, or you are grappling with problems at work, then you will enjoy reading this practical blog.

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How to be happy.

Ruth Tearle - Tuesday, April 18, 2017

When happiness is a discipline rather than a result.

By Ruth Tearle.

Learning how to be happy means understanding happiness differently.

strategy At first I viewed happiness as a relaxation. A letting go of responsibilities. A time to do what the beautiful people do. Eating, drinking, dressing well, having fun in scenic locations, and then sharing this happiness with others on social media.

Later on, I viewed happiness as an achievement. One that involved setting and attaining a challenging goal. So I produced. I achieved. I was successful.

Being happy is not something you can outsource to others.

Blaming others for your unhappiness, takes away your power to become happy.

Somewhere, along the way, I lost my mojo. I felt weary. I lost my energy. My enthusiasm. My spark. Looking back on numerous life challenges and responsibilities I’d had to face up to, it did seem easy to identify the cause as something external to myself. It was useful to blame my unhappiness on something other than me. It was life. It was health issues. It was other people. It was the political situation in my country, and in the world.

Being happy is about understanding the nature of truth.

The opposite of every truth is just as true.

Herman Hesse. Siddarhartha.

As I sought to blame something other than myself for my unhappiness, all around me, I saw what I was seeking. Reasons to be unhappy. People full of greed. A loss of ethics. Leaders who act as despotic kings. People who act with cruelty, harming others in their wake.

I spent more and more time on the news. I watched it on TV. I gobbled up both news and fake news on social media. I believed that what I read was the truth and found myself having less and less energy. And this was at a time where I needed more energy and strength to deal with an increase in responsibilities.

Then, just when everything seemed too much to cope with, I found myself blown away by the kindness of strangers. Administrators, doctors, nurses, clients, random strangers in shopping centers. People of all cultures and races showed their beautiful side to me. And my truth changed. It reminded me of the book Siddhartha by Herman Hesse where the main character discovers. “ The opposite of every truth is just as true.”

Learning how to be happy begins with understanding your own source of happiness.

In his book "Siddarhartha", Herman Hesse has his character answer some very powerful questions. Questions that got his character thinking about the true source of his happiness.

Remember a time when you were last felt happy, alive, or full of energy.

The questions he asked his character were:

  1. When were you last happy? When did you last feel a true bliss?
  2. What do you thirst for? What do you miss?
  3. What do you do that brings a dreariness onto your soul?
  4. When last did you feel awake and curious?

I found a quiet spot and wrote the answers to these questions down for myself. From my answers I made 2 lists:

  1. What makes me happy, and what snuffs out joy in my life.
  2. Therefore, what I should focus most of my energy on, and what I should stop wasting my energy on.

How to be happy is a question we can only answer for ourselves.

Happiness is not a event or result. Rather happiness is a daily discipline.

What I discovered was something that surprised me. The activities that made me happy, were not associated with relaxing or letting go. Nor were they associated with achieving a goal. Rather, they were activities that required enormous effort and discipline for their own sake.

For me they were: Running in nature. Creative writing. Playing a musical instrument. The activities that caused me to feel dreary and negative, were ingrained habits that were easier to do than not to do each day. For me it was reading the news, reading social media posts, posting on social media, answering emails promptly and monitoring statistics.

Stop doing the dreary stuff and start doing what makes you happy.

It didn’t seem like rocket science for me to try to stop doing the things that caused me to feel dreary and negative, and to give more time to the things that made me feel alive and happy.

Becoming happy means changing habits.

Not doing things that make one unhappy is harder than continuing to do these things. Being unhappy is a habit.

But changing a habit is hard. Not doing things that make one unhappy is harder than doing them. On my first day of living happily I managed to sabotage myself. While I was writing, in the flow, I suddenly had an urge to check my emails. This in turn led me to check the news. And so I managed to distract and frustrate myself - all by myself. Similarly, I found myself creating all sorts of excuses not to run, even though I know its the very thing that makes me happy.

The irony is we have to have incredible discipline and will power to do what makes us happy.

Becoming happy is a daily discipline.

But, I have found, that when I keep the discipline, I am not only happy. When I do something that brings me happiness, early in the morning, before I start working, joy permeates my entire working day. I do better work. I am less stressed. I produce more.

The irony is I have to have incredible discipline and will to do what makes me happy.

How to be happy. Do it your own way. Every day

How to be happy is not something we need to learn from others. We have all experienced some type of joy at some stage in our lives. We just need to remember our own source of happiness, and have the discipline to incorporate it into our daily routine.

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