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Happiness FAQ Happiness FAQ
by Joseph Gatt
2020-10-03 10:41:13
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Some questions I received regarding happiness.

Q: What's a shortcut to happiness?

A: Let's put it this way. If you're more interested in what goes on outside than on what goes on inside, chances are you will be happy.

What do I mean by that? If you broaden your interest in the world surrounding you, there's a good chance you will be happy.

hap0002_400If you narrow down your interest to what goes on inside you, and focus on your interest on who you are and what you want as opposed to what the world is made up of, chances are you could be depressed.

Let's put it this way. Most of the miserable people that I have met spend day in and day out thinking about who they are and what their personal relationship is to this world. As in “I'm the best, and the world is not treating me the way it should treat me.”

Most of the happy people I've met focus on the world surrounding them. They are not all Einstein’s. Some of them in fact can't even read and write and never went to school. But they observe the world surrounding them, nature, people, anything they can observe and study, they observe and study.

So if you stop thinking in terms of “I need this, I want this, I want to be treated like this, I want to eat this, I want to do this” and start focusing on “here's how the world works, here are different types of food that exist, here are different type of TV programs that exist, human nature is made up of this and that” chances are you will be happier.

Q: Is being religious important for happiness?

If to you religion is something like “I pray, so you should respect me” or “I go to Church, then you should treat me like I'm a good person” chances are you won't be very happy.

If you go to Church, to the Mosque, to the Synagogue, to the Temple, reasoning in terms of “there's something I need to learn” or “my relationship with God is not complete, I need to deepen it” chances are you will be happier.

That is if you go around saying “I'm a Christian” or “I'm a Muslim” or “I'm a religious Jew” and think you've completed your work and now all you need to do is sit around and wait for heaven's doors to open, soon enough you'll get tired and be depressed, because heaven won't come soon enough.

But if you reason your spiritual relationship with God or the heavens in terms of a work-in-progress, something you need to work on every day, and that every day you are making progress in perfecting your relationship with God, but that you're not there yet, maybe you'll find happiness.

Q: But if your relationship with God is not perfect, or that you as an individual consider yourself “imperfect” you can only be miserable!

A: If you think you're perfect, soon enough your colleagues, friends and family are going to start hinting that you're not. Soon enough, you will start arguing with people who point out your imperfections, and your life will be chaotic.

If you think life is a work-in-progress and that you as an individual need to perfect yourself and that you need to wake up every day and do a few things that will improve your life and that of others. Then chances are you'll be more respected, and you'll find a little bit of inner peace.

Q: Meditation and yoga are about “clearing” your mind of any thoughts. So that can lead to happiness!

A: You can only meditate for a few minutes, maybe an hour or something. So you might be interrupting toxic thoughts that will soon reemerge the minute you're done meditating or doing yoga.

The idea is not clearing your mind, emptying your mind, or reciting mantras that will “clean” your mind.

The idea is keeping your mind busy with ideas, concepts, observations, reflections that are not toxic.

“But I thought the world is full of toxic people and ideas and there are wars and famines everywhere, how could I keep ideas that are not toxic?”

Indeed it's a rough world out there. But there are a few beautiful things as well. You can study nature and keep your mind busy with that. You can study art. You can study science. Or even the good side of politics. Whatever keeps your mind busy.

Q: My parents/husband/siblings/friends are toxic people and I can't get rid of them just like that. They see the dark side of everyone. What should I do?

If those people come up to you and you share with them a few good stories, they should get rid of the toxicity when they are around you.

If you're playing the same toxic game with them and looking at the dark, ugly side of everything with them, soon enough, you'll be miserable.

But if those people come up to you, and you “kill time” with them telling great story after great story, that should clear you from trouble.

And rather than playing house politics or office politics, if you keep your mind busy with nice observations, no one is going to play politics with you.

Q: I try to lecture my boss/wife/husband/friend about nice, things, but they start yelling, screaming, throwing objects, and refocus our conversation on ugly things. What should I do?

If you're stuck with those people, you need to start planning an escape. Maybe those people don't have time to listen to your beautiful stories. But there are millions of people around the world who can't wait to hear your good stories, and who also have great stories to tell!

Q: My life is a series of traumas. My husband divorced me. My dad died when I was a baby. I have 5 children to feed and can't find the money. My mom and siblings used to beat me. I was bullied at school and eventually had to drop out. How do you find happiness with that?

Sub-Saharan African nations have an interesting concept. In terms of food, nutrition and the economy, they are of course very poor, barely surviving.

But when they can, in some cases every evening before sunset (they have no electricity) or on any give day, they will listen to a village elder tell beautiful stories that will make them forget about their hardships. Or they will dance their hardships away to music, and the lyrics themselves are telling a nice story.

Those stories tend to be stuck in their minds during the day when they're trying to survive. Those stories lead to reflection, harmony, and trying to work on a brighter future.

If you live in a “rich” country or in a “nice” country of sorts, rather than rehashing those traumas, if you stop focusing on what's “inside” and start looking at what's “outside” chances are you'll get hired for a good job, your finances will be in order, maybe you'll meet a second husband who will treat you and your five kids right, and things should grow smoothly.

Q: Human nature is violent, racist, cruel, sexist, selfish, crazy and all that. How do I get myself to stop focusing on that and focus on other things.

When you log into Netflix, you get to choose whether you want to watch a sit-com or a horror movie. No one forces you to watch the horror movie.

So in your readings, observations, reflections, research on life, you don't have to focus on the ugly side of life. You can choose to research the pretty side of life, keep your mind busy with that, and share your findings with everyone else.

Here's how I look at things. The more you know, the more you observe, the more likely conversation with other people will focus on what you know and how you observe life.

If you limit yourself to the ugly side of life, a lot of your friends will either be people who look at the dark side of life, or you'll have no friends at all.

Final Q: they say life is an “uphill battle” and that every day is a struggle. How can I be happy?

Of course, you can't ignore your daily tasks. But if you're getting those tasks done just for yourself and personal gratitude, people are going to start sabotaging you, because they'll want to get ahead of you.

If you do those tasks in the context of a wider view, and do those tasks trying to learn a few things every day, no one is going to come bother you, because they know that if they bother you, thousands of other people are going to get down on their knees and beg you to work for them.

And if people do bother you, and that you master those tasks while trying to make life a little better every day, that's the profile a lot of organizations are looking for.

There's a Hebrew word for those people who want to make things better every day, it's “rosh gadol” or “big head.” A “rosh gadol” is someone who doesn't brag about getting the tasks done, but comes to work every day hoping to make things a little better, and then forgetting about yesterday, making life better to day, and trying to make things even better tomorrow.

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