The Key to Happiness
I was recently recorded an episode on a podcast (not yet available) with Mr. Arsh Kharbanda, a Houston resident who stumbled upon my blog while researching one of his segments. Imagine my surprise when I learned that he found my blog and post on irrationality interesting. It's always nice to hear from others with the same ideals about self-development and self-improvement, so when Mr. Arsh reached out to me to speak with him on his podcast, TheFlexCoach, I was honored.
He and I had a very genuine conversation. And so as not to give it the entire segment away (because I do want you all to listen to it), one thing in particular that we discussed focused on coming into oneself and experiencing the world in a heightened state of awareness, assurance, peace and happiness.
What stood out to me most however, was that Mr. Arsh requested that I list the steps one could take to achieve such a state. Now because I knew these steps would be much to explain, I didn't divulge all the goods in the segment, but I later realized that I didn't have a short list of these steps. I also took notice that I didn't have one particular post that encompassed such list, but that many of the steps are detailed in several posts throughout my blog.
So naturally, for the benefit of my readers, I decided it was time for me to create a post that lists all steps (lessons) necessary to achieve a conscious state that yields peace and happiness. So...
HERE ARE 10 STEPS TO HELP YOU ACHIEVE A HEIGHTENED STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS, ASSURANCE, PEACE AND HAPPINESS
Obviously in order to reach a heightened state of awareness, you must learn to be first self-aware. And while I could go on for days on this topic, In my efforts to keep this list as short as possible, I want to make sure that you all know that self-awareness encompasses a few key things, 1. being able to understand your personality, 2. knowing what motivates you, 3. knowing what you desire, 4. understanding how you relate to others, 5. identifying what keeps you from relating to others and 6. knowing what your general preferences are.
Being aware of these things and how you interact and relate to others is essential in becoming self-aware. I also like to think if you're actively self- awareness, you should also be able to identify 5 things.
Want to know what they are?
Well, those 5 things I have listed HERE.
Self-love is one of the most important lessons in life. It is the foundation for all healthy relationships. Self-love takes a lot of work and constant practice.
But for many of us, recognizing that our self-love is deficient is the problem. So, if you find that you often feel like nothing is working well for you or going right, that's usually a RED FLAG that internally something is disconnected or missing.
Spend time doing the work getting to the root of the issue. That may mean therapy, counseling, facing fears, insecurities, etc. head on. But the bottom line is that you must put in the work to get to the root of whatever is causing you to disconnect from the very essence of who you are.
You have to figure out what is causing you to see yourself only in the eyes of others. And it has to be important to you to reconnect with yourself, and learn to love yourself better than anyone else can.
You can't fix what you won't identify as broken. And you can't love something you don't understand...
Choosing to accept ourselves, our journeys, or pain, etc., will be challenging, especially because with acceptance comes acknowledging that we may be less than (in the eyes of others). And certainly no one is built to accept and acknowledge their deficits, specifically because we're socially conditioned to shun those who don't "fit in".
And it is in those moments where we identify ourselves as less than ideal (the norm) that we do one of two things, we either ONE, hide it, or TWO ignore it!
But in order to work toward self-acceptance, we must first acknowledge that we subconsciously seek permission to accept our-self from others. And that's typically seen in those who seek approval of others. We tend to expect someone else's approval before we allow ourselves to be OK with who we are. Which I find extremely odd since we live in a world filled with individuals with varying cultural backgrounds, experiences, morals, values and ethical standards. And essentially no two people will view someone or something in the same way.
What worked for me is that I personally had to realize that I had to re-focus and/or re-purpose the energy I put into comparing myself to others. I decided that I needed to find a way to self-reflect without self-bashing.
I grew to understand that comparisons are just like generalizations, they aren't all encompassing. They don't account for your resilience, challenges and obstacles. Because no two individuals challenges are the same.
So if this your struggle, please stop looking for approval of others. Stop comparing yourself to others. Additionally, stop measuring your level of success to others!
Comparison is the burden of lack of self-love and self-acceptance. Those of us who are confident (not cocky) in who we are don't compare themselves, we acknowledge who they are and give people the chance to accept that or not, but we don't accommodate.
When you have successfully tackled the first three steps, you will begin to notice how your perception starts to change. The evolution of your perception will be an ongoing process, but I believe it is the most essential aspect because with it comes purpose and self-fulfillment.
The main reason our perception is skewed is because we are self-centered people. Culturally we are taught to focus on self-improvement and self-preservation. Even in this post you could say that it's self-centered, in a positive way, but still. But it is important to become aware of the space you occupy and the people who occupy it. We are not in this world alone.
To get out of the negative "self" cycle you have to actively disengage from focusing on the wrong or bad things that occur in your life. I like to remind myself that someone in the world is always going through worse. I change my perceptive to think about the bad experiences in a positive way. So I learned not to focus on the opportunities I didn't get, the choices I didn't make or the chances I didn't take.
If you redirect your focus to positive things, like how I wanted to feel or how you want to be loved that shapes your perception to be more receiving of positive things.
If you practice this, you will see how gradually see how your perception of what is valued and valuable to you changes.
I think it's always funny how quickly and easily we hold others accountable for their missteps, but fail to do the same for ourselves. But you can't grow if you don't challenge yourself to be better. That's what holding yourself accountable is for.
Personal accountability is the basis of ethical and moral behavior. It helps you tactfully remind others to be accountable by exhibiting your personal accountability.
Being accountable is a constant reminder to do right, versus what feels good. Accountability also reminds us of the importance to maintain balance between selfless and being selfish.
6. The Golden Rule
If you pay attention you'll notice that our expectations tend to supersede our personal standard of behavior. In other words, we walk around expecting people to treat us in ways we fail to treat others. But we must all remember that respect given is respect earned (and ultimately received)!
And that's in accordance with the basic law of reciprocity. The Golden Rule if you will, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!"
So know that if you're disrespectful, you should not assume that people will respect you. Matter of fact, you should anticipate being disrespected. And I know that sounds awful, but the problem with the world is that we are living with humans who don't understand this. And as we see on the news everyday, the cost is substantial.
But the law of karma says you get back what you give, and if you believe that to be true, it is true in all facets of life.
However, I've noted that culturally our freedom lends to a sense of entitlement that negatively impacts our humility. And we fail to comprehend that you can't assume you are entitled to any behavior you aren't unwilling to bestow on others.
So before you go generating all this bad karma, take a look at your behavior and remember respect given is respect earned!
Patience is an ongoing lesson, trust me I understand that. But the benefits of patience are so huge that we must spend more time trying to be more patient, if for no other reason than the fact that patience is directly linked to peace.
You have to be acquainted with stillness in order to practice patience, because being patience doesn't require action. Thus, those individuals who actively practice being patient (with others and in life in general), are individuals capable of ensuring their mental, spiritual and physical peace.
And the greatest achievement in life (in my opinion) is peace of mind.
Forgiveness is a very important life lesson. Not just because it allows you to move forward in life, but because it also allows for you to be empathetic, accountable, self-aware and challenges your perception.
In order to be forgiving you must understand that we occupy a world with individuals with varying personalities and cultures, so we need to learn to anticipate that we may offend and/or be offended by others. We must also understand that there are cultural and personal barriers that cause people to interpret and process information differently, so naturally what happens in many of these interactions with others is the opposite of what was intended. But we have to remember we can't always make someone see our point. We have to accept that they may never get it.
Forgiveness is also about releasing control to gain control of your peace and sanity. Accept and let go of the things you can not change, and keep the energy you spend trying to control people and things.
It is important that we learn to properly forgive, so I have reduced the act of forgiveness down to five simple steps:
I. Release the Expectation
II. Identify the Problem
III. Take Ownership of Your Role
IV. Apologize for Your Role
For the detailed steps please read HERE.
One of the hardest things for us to do is to be able to relinquish the notion that we are not always right. Because when we believe so strongly that we are right and things don't happen as we plan/intended, we take on the "victim" role. But most often we are not a victim of anything but our expectation and choices!
Practicing empathy allows us to check this mindset. We learn not to forget to be considerate of other people. Practicing empathy also allows us to be thoughtful about our tone, temperament, reactions, choices, etc. Because as much as we want to believe that we are the only individual hurt, sad, angry, etc. that is hardly ever true.
Actively practicing empathy grants us the ability to bestow good will to others. And this is very important because I happen to believe that life has no substance without charity!
Therefore, we need to learn it is not our place to judge the less fortunate on their journey. Especially because if someone were to dissect every poor decision we've made, and put us in the consequence for those decisions, we have no idea how we'd be able to live with that or come back from that...
So I remind you, it is our duty NOT to judge, but to walk through life actively willing to contribute to increasing the value of life for someone else.
Realism according to Google, is defined as the attitude or practice of accepting a situation as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly.
Only after you have mastered steps one through nine, can you appreciate step ten. Because being objective and pragmatic are essential to elevated thinking. It is only at this step that you are no longer see things one sided, you're capable of being in healthy relationships because you can have healthy conversations.
And I know some probably assumed that realism referred to being "realistic", and while that can be true, it is easy to get away from what that means, and associate realism as a negative. Especially because we learn that everyone's idea of "realistic" doesn't look the same.
The challenge of realism is that you are constantly being forced to hear and attempt to understand someone else's prospective. You are essentially practicing all steps presented before in one. So you learn to agree to disagree. But in this step you are heavily challenged to be more conscious of how others see you and interact with others in a way that benefits them.
What does that look like? Well, your conversations shift from proving points, to understanding perspectives and relating to others. You'll ultimately disassociate from the negative "self"cycle altogether.
What I have learned in this process is that being the best version of yourself forces others (who refuse to accept that you've changed, or acknowledge that you're better than you once were) to recognize that they may need to work on themselves.
Growth comes at a cost, and the most important price you will pay is loss of comfort.
But remember, the process of growth does not guarantee that you will be accepted by others. That is why self-love and acceptance are so critical. And because everyone won't grow at the same rate, as you master these steps you learn to identify individuals in this process who are willing or unwilling to understand and accept you. So you ultimately learn when to walk away so as not to waste your time.