“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
We live in a world where mediocrity is commonplace.
You expect others to bring competence to their jobs, only to be disappointed. You expect social and emotional maturity, but instead you get thin-skinned pugilists who deal out bitterness as a default. You expect intelligence, but to your dismay, you encounter the masses making superficial commentary about the impending Presidential election.
There is only one way to win.
Want to hit back at poor customer service? Bring excellence to every task you undertake. Take on the unintelligent by refusing to entertain it (“it seems we have nothing to learn here, so I should better not engage in a ‘debate’ at this time”). Trade kindess and confidence for the bitter and vitriolic.
You are the thermostat. Allowing the unsophisticated, the emotional predators, and the undesirable to change your temperature is a victory for them. Do not get in the mud.
Unless you’re a candidate in the midst of campaign season. Jump in the mud and fight. You’re already dirty.
In the previous post, I covered the folly of pursuing external rewards for your fulfillment and demonstrated its inverse relationship to your happiness.
Now, I’d like to expand on a concept I alluded to: defining and achieving happiness.
What is Happiness?
If I could simplify the process of happiness down to its very core, it would look like this:
Happiness is Gratitude.
The focus is not on what you can have, or can be; the focus strictly revolves around all that you have and all that you are in this moment. Your job from there is to be thankful for the experiences you have had as well as the good characteristics you possess.
What you focus on becomes your reality. This is why two men can be in the same spot in life, yet one is happy and one is not. Concentrating on the “haves” will yield more; concerning yourself with lack will allow the lack to manifest.
Your assignment: Each day (I prefer the morning personally) find 5 things to be grateful for and briefly focus on them. They can be experiences, things you’ve learned the previous day, your good qualities, etc. Keep this up for 3 weeks and let me know how (or if) things have changed.
“The One” is a mythical concept that is destroying your happiness. Yet you place so much pressure on yourself to achieve it.
The one could refer to the one girl, the one job or school, the one house/city/location, etc.
What happens when you don’t get “the one?” Well let’s take a look at your thought process:
“If I only had X, I would be happy/fulfilled/complete.”
Failure to achieve this
need want pushes your fulfillment further and further away, as it desperately depends on getting the one.
So, what happens if you do get it? Let’s take a look:
- Your fulfillment never happens, thus you find a new “one” to look forward to. The job you wanted? It’s yours. Now you’d be happy if only you got the ostentatious office, the raise, the big project…
- Reality hits you hard, and you realized what you “needed” all along is actually not the right thing for you. But will you change? Nope, you will rationalize yourself into oblivion.
- You realize the folly in your approach and begin to exercise gratitude for all that you have, seeing the one in a different light. True fulfillment is now yours. You submit the script of your life to Disney.
You can save yourself a TON of trouble by taking the following phrase to heart:
Happiness Comes From Within.
Say it five times meaningfully. Write it on your mirror. Meditate on it. Do what you must to ingrain this truth into every fiber of your being.
Then do yourself a favor and move towards gratitude for what you have and seek to fulfill yourself. For if any one external thing is the source of your future happiness, then it controls you, emotionally, mentally, and maybe sometimes physically.
If that’s your thing, keep chasing it. But I implore you to turn and find true fulfillment.
Let’s talk about the person in front of the mirror for a while. A few pointers:
–How do you Define yourself? It’s imperative you define yourself before others get the chance to. Advertisers spend billions each year to shape your opinion of yourself. Those closest to you make snap judgments on your character. Society defines you by the amount of social value you bring to the table.
Wake up early and affirm who you are.
–Do you like who you are? News: if you don’t like who you are, you can’t expect others to do so.
The good news is that you can change who you are by changing the way you think and taking action. Let me be clear that your change must come from a place of acceptance. Paraphrasing Shunryu Suzuki:
I am perfect just the way I am, and there’s always room for improvement.
You are not defective. You don’t need to fix yourself. You must accept yourself, focus on your good qualities, and use your tools of improvement to build new ones.
But Really, Who Are You? To me, at least. I’d like to know who’s reading, so drop a note in the comment box. Tell me what you’d like to see, what you mostly read, etc.
Think on these, for now. Then act.
“Why am I not growing?”
If you’ve asked yourself such or wondered how you can grow, proceed to the following inquiry:
“When was the last time I was uncomfortable?”
Not the no-eye-contact-cross-the-street type uncomfortable.
You know what I mean. That time you were asked to give a make-or-break speech to a large crowd with under 24 hours of preparation.
The time you were dropped in the middle of a foreign country with only a child’s grasp of the language.
Or how about the instance where you simply kept to your circle at a social because you didn’t want to meet anyone else?
You are uncomfortable with discomfort, which is stunting your growth. Because the very growth you seek occurs within the confines of discomfort.
You want to improve your judo? Walk up to the black belts in your class and get thrown around. Want to learn Italian? Put away the rudimentary language program and start speaking to a native.
“But what good comes from such discomfort? Won’t it kick you out of flow and into anxiety?”
Fair question. If I may:
On Flow: If flow (the optimal zone) sits between boredom and anxiety, better to adjust from the latter. Why? For one, our minds and bodies are far more capable than we can sometimes imagine. We’ve all been told to do a task which we swore we couldn’t undertake, only to find our way through it with a new-found confidence.
Now if the task proves to be beyond your reach, you now know your happy median from which you can perform. Incremental discomfort is still discomfort, and you will still grow. Not a great idea to go from benching the barbell directly to two 45-pound plates, but adding 5 pounds to that barbell every day will put you where you never could’ve imagined (regardless, use a spotter).
However you fancy, the point remains the same: Just leave your current comfort zone.
I once read a rather poignant article on affirmations. The article was addressed to young, clueless males who struggled in the dating scene, though the principles remain universal.
In this article, the author mentioned that there were only two affirmations anyone would ever need:
- I love myself
- I am Enough
My attention immediately fell upon the second. Is it true that at the root of our struggles and insecurities is the belief that we are not enough?
As a corollary, can we overcome the insecurities by affirming that we are enough?
I can hear it now: affirmations are junk. Affirmations are useless. Etc.
But what if those affirmations are proclamations of truth?
We know that an affirmation cannot work without the agreement of logic and emotions. However, as sure as the mathematical principles are two fundamental truths to every human: Our love for ourselves, and our inherent value.
“The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them.”
I was sifting through Darren Hardy’s infinite wisdom this morning. Apparently conventional wisdom has it all wrong when it comes to goals:
*Write down goal -> Take action to achieve goal*
This is an ineffectual framework. The more effective framework looks like the following (hence the aforementioned quote):
*Write down goal -> BE(come) person you need to be to achieve goal*
You are encouraged to state your new-found characteristics in the BE (present) form, and not the BECOMING (future) form. For if you are becoming, you will never get there.
Perhaps the most potent truth not covered by Hardy is the following: Achievement is not outside of us; achievement, like everything else that carries true value, is found within. The more you see your goal as external, the further you run from yourself in the pursuit of emptiness.
Your external goal may be perpetually down the road, however BEING the person to accomplish that goal can start today.