Today I am reminded of a few things that one should let go in order to be happy. Some here: http://yoganonymous.com/10-things-you-should-give-up-to-be-happy
1. The Need for Control – This one has been difficult for me, especially as it pertains to other people’s behavior. I cannot control anyone else or anything else, all I can do is control my own behavior and responses. I cannot make anyone else happy, they have to do that for themselves.
2. The Need to be Right – I think as a youth I came off as a “knowitall”. Actually I don’t think, I KNOW I did. Irony thy name is William. I’m not sure when it finally kicked in, maybe it was during my early 20’s when I had career changes. Maybe it wasn’t until my 30’s. Either way, I understand now that I do not know everything in the universe, that no one does, and that in life you will be wrong more often than you will be right. In any case, that self-realization was critical to my personal growth. I no longer need to be right. Sometimes I just need to be heard.
3. Give up Criticism of Self and Others/Complaining – The other day I shared an article (https://www.scienceandnonduality.com/the-science-of-happiness-why-complaining-is-literally-killing-you/) about how Complaining is scientifically bad for your health. It resonated with a number of people and really explained why complaints will damage your body which then damages the psyche. The first part, criticism of self and others, that can be a tricky subject to tackle. First it’s incumbent on a person to realize that it’s not their responsibility to judge anyone else’s choices or lifestyle. If you take the adage “live and let live” to heart, then why would you criticize a friend or loved one over their personal choices? It makes no sense at all. What do you achieve by being critical of someone else? You make enemies out of friends. You impose your will on other people. Who does that? Tyrants. Dictators. Rulers. Assholes.
4. Need for people to understand you/acknowledge you – This is another very dodgy subject for most, because human nature dictates that we want to be understood by our peers, and at a bare minimum we want to be acknowledged. It’s difficult to let go of this and achieve what a Buddhist would call Nirvana (“a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism.”) At a base level though, this combined with #5 will allow a much broader perspective on life. Basically it boils down to the attitude of “who cares if what I’m doing is right or wrong. As long as I’m happy, what does it matter.”
5. Desire to be liked/need to impress others/ Trying to please others – This is a never-ending cycle of self-destruction. By placing your personal validation in the hands of other people you short-change your own value. Your beliefs and actions do not become your own, and you live for others only. Live for yourself and yourself alone. Once you can achieve happiness without the need for others approval you will be able to navigate the difficulties of life with a much broader scope and ease.
6. Resistance to Change - Heraclitus of Ephesus (535 bc to 475 bc) said πάντα χωρεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει or Everything changes and nothing stands still. This is as true now as it was then. We fear change, men fear change more than women it appears. I know I fear change and embrace the status quo more than most. I was afraid of the changes in my personal life over the last six months and as a result my family and personal growth suffered immensely, as did the people surrounding me. The one constant in the universe is change, entropy or whatever you want to call it. Why fear that which is inevitable? That is a sure sign of a weak mind and destructive behavior. It leads to inertia, which is the death of everything. Had I not feared change so much I might have been able to better cope with the personal difficulties I faced over the last several months, and in fact once I did embrace the change I was able to better understand its necessity.
7. Attachment to the past/Dwelling on the Past – You cannot change what has been done. It’s done. Wasting energy on the past is a futile endeavor. Regret is a killer. The only facet of the past that is at all relevant is to discover how you might have acted different to avoid the same pratfalls in the future. But even then, too much dwelling on the past creates obstacles that cannot be overcome easily. The capability of being able to move on from ones mistakes is not inherent in human nature. It is a part of our body chemistry, a part of our brain patterns that have been forged over time. George Santanyana said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” and while this is wholly accurate, too much rememberance of things past cannot possible be healthy.
8. Worrying about the future – The only time that really matters is the present. We cannot know what the future will bring, we think we can project what might happen, but in the end we just do not know, nor can we know. The constant change in our world means that our lives can end in a blink of an eye, or change dramatically. On June 6, 2000 I went to Disneyland with my family (my Mom, Step-Father and Step-Sister). I couldn’t possibly see that the next day I would meet the woman I would marry. Extrapolating on that, I cannot possibly imagine what might happen tomorrow, though there are some possible certainties. I will most likely awake between 7:30 AM and 7:40 AM, I will most likely drive to work to arrive by 8:00 AM. I will work all day, I will order lunch for the office. I will work out at the gym after work. I will drive home and eat dinner. These are the most probable things that will happen tomorrow. But any one of those actions may not come to pass. I might get ill tonight and not go to work tomorrow. I might get hit by a bus walking across the street. I might get into a car accident and wake up in the hospital. The point is, the future is unknown. The past cannot be changed. The only time that truly, truly matters is right now.
9. Distractions – I will admit that I am easily distracted by shiny objects – SQUIRREL! New things give me a momentary burst of happiness. I used to enjoy acquiring new objects. All of these are distractions from my real purpose. All of them are limiting in that my true goals cannot be accomplished easily. I set out this weekend to start a new book, but I got distracted by my fatigue. I wanted to ensure my laundry got done this weekend, and I did so, but delayed because again, fatigue. I would have liked to have risen earlier on Sunday morning to have the remainder of the day to play with Kaylee at the park. I allowed myself to sleep more than I should have. Instead of beginning that book after I dropped Kaylee off at my Mom’s I decided to watch the remainder of the Powers TV show.
10. Limiting Beliefs - What are these? Simply put “Limiting beliefs are those which constrain us in some way. Just by believing them, we do not think, do or say the things that they inhibit. And in doing so we impoverish our lives. We may have beliefs about rights, duties, abilities, permissions and so on. Limiting beliefs are often about our selves and our self-identity. The beliefs may also be about other people and the world in general.” http://changingminds.org/explanations/belief/limiting_beliefs.htm I have tried to instill in Kaylee that the word “can’t” doesn’t exist. There shouldn’t be anything she cannot accomplish given enough effort. Certainly there are biological and physical limitations on human beings, for example a man cannot bear children (though a trans-man can). Superman does not exist, humans cannot fly on their own. That said, within those limits, one should be able to accomplish what they set out to do, and the self-limitation that you can’t do it is one that will most certainly destroy a person from the inside. My own personal example is that my fiction writing will never be good enough to be published. I have felt this from a very young age, probably when I first started to write stories and was getting encouragement. This one simple self-limitation has brought me nothing but heartache and pain. It has crippled my sense of self-worth and perhaps affected my marriage to an extent. This is the one thing I need to be working on the most.
11. Blaming Others – Finally, the ultimate cop-out, blaming other people for your own unhappiness. This behavior is simply unsustainable for mental and physical health. You must be able to reconcile your own actions and their outcomes without the outside interference of anyone or anything else. Combined with the realization that you cannot control other people’s actions you must be able to understand that your actions cannot be controlled by others as well. Your own happiness must come from within. Taking responsibility for your own happiness and your own actions is the key. Once you do that you will be farther along the road of life.