5 Flavors of True Happiness!

by Benjamin Langley on February 26, 2010 · 50 comments

If you would like to listen to this post, just hit the ‘play’ button…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Click here to download the MP3! [ 18 Minutes | 17 MB ]
  •  

    happiness, smile

    “To live happily is an inward power of the soul.”

    -Aristotle

    But this isn’t where most of us are looking.

    We want to get all the cool stuff the world has to offer… because that will make us happy…

    Right?

    We want to set powerful and efficient goals, because achieving our goals will lead to all the positive feelings we desire… or will it?

    What is real satisfaction in life… and how do we ‘get’ it?

    Why happiness?

    Because it is what we are all trying to get anyway.  There are a lot of delusions on this planet about what happiness is, where it resides, and how to ‘achieve’ it.  If ‘happiness’ isn’t a term that resonates with you, there are plenty of others:  satisfaction, self-actualization, peace, joy, and loving life.

    We all want this on some level… we just have some confusion about what it is… and how to make it more likely to happen.

    If this isn’t reason enough for you, here’s some wisdom from a philosopher who struggled quite a bit with happiness:

    “The world of those who are happy is different from the world of those who are not.”

    -Ludwig Wittgenstein

    This is very true, and we all know it from experience.

    The difference between a ‘nice guy’ and an ‘asshole’ is often little more than how we are feeling at the moment.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world with only ‘nice guys’?

    Is this possible?

    Let me share something with you from my own life… I’ve been spending a lot of time with my cousin’s four-year-old daughter… which I hope is preparing me a little for my own daughter who will be arriving next month ;-) … and I notice certain things about her.  First, she is an amazing, beautiful, little girl.  Second, she sometimes follows the rules that have been set out for her… and sometimes she doesn’t.  Yet she never stops being that amazing, beautiful, little girl.  Sometimes people get angry.  Sometimes I get angry.  And though I am not always in the space where I can appreciate the amazing, beautiful, little girl… that incredibly beautiful being never ceases to be.

    This isn’t just my cousin’s daughter.

    This is you.

    This is me.

    Sometimes we ‘break the rules’… sometimes we behave in a way that is less than constructive.  Yet the behavior isn’t who we are.  Beneath whatever behavior arises… we are all incredibly beautiful beings… it is only the attachment to narrow perceptions that keeps us from recognizing this… from dwelling in this beautiful place of Power… every moment of every day.

    Is it good to ‘change behavior’?

    Absolutely!

    There is nothing wrong with changing behavior… but no long term healthy change in behavior will take place (in yourself or others) without the recognition of this beautiful core of being.

    I encourage you to forgive yourself and others the same way you would ‘forgive’ a baby learning how to walk.

    When a baby is learning to walk and falls down… there is no need to yell… there is no need to get upset… the typical (and appropriate) response is an incredible amount of praise for the smallest achievement, complete and instant forgiveness for any mistake, and a real sense of excitement about taking the next step!

    Let’s say you own one of the most profound pieces of art in the world… it could be music, a painting, a sculpture… whatever floats your boat.  I hope that you would take the time to enjoy this profound piece of art… at least for a few minutes every day.

    True Happiness… real satisfaction… is one of the most profound things that can be experienced.  You could consider it the ‘art of God’… or simply the ‘art of being’.  Why not take a few minutes every day to bask in the majesty of this breathtaking work of art?

    Two very simple ways of doing this are:

    1. Recognize and enjoy your incredible inner beauty
    2. Bask in the amazing beauty of the world around you (it is usually easiest to start with that which is commonly considered beautiful:  works of art, flowers, the moon, a sunset, etc.  Then work your way into appreciation of less customary beauty:  dirty alleys, hurricanes, trash cans, etc.)

    So What’s The Basic Problem?

    When we place happiness outside of ourselves (assume it will come when we accomplish something or get something)… we strengthen the basic illusion of existence.

    You can be as happy as you want right now… consciousness is all you need!

    Happiness is always there.  You might call it the joy of presence.  It is the background hum of existence.  Beneath all the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ events of your life… is the deeper truth of happiness.  Sometimes we forget it.  Sometimes we get really out of touch with it… but it is always there.

    The best advice for happiness always depends on the person…

    But for many people, it is “Shut up, and get out of the way!”

    Getting out of our own way can be one of the quickest routes back into the recognition of happiness.

    But it is also useful to identify some different ‘flavors’ of happiness… to look at the broader spectrum of sincere satisfaction.

    5 Flavors of True Happiness

    1) Gratitude – Gratitude might be described as an Acceptance and appreciation of all the gifts that you have been given.  This is the easiest and quickest method for me.  I can really step into a powerful place of happiness just by being thankful for life, breath, thoughts, feelings, challenges, etc. throughout the day.  As they come up, I say “Thank You” and notice the feelings of gratitude in and around my body.

    After practicing gratitude for a while, I will occasionally feel myself ‘light up’… and it feels like my whole body has become a smile.

    gratitude, happiness, thank you

    Gratitude is a blessing to yourself and others… and one of the additional benefits… people tend to do a lot more for someone who is truly grateful!

    2) Compassion – This brings up an interesting quote by the Dalai Lama:

    “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

    There is a reflective nature of consciousness.  When you are really compassionate with yourself, you will automatically be more compassionate with others.  When you are more compassionate with others, you will automatically become more compassionate with yourself.

    Compassion might be described as an acceptance and appreciation of the Power of forgiveness… an instinctive forgiveness… feelings of joy and forgiveness arising as soon as there is any perception of wrong.

    How compassionate are you with a newborn… or with your favorite pet?  Can you extend this to yourself and the rest of mankind?  You’ll be much happier when you do!

    3) Love – Love can be described as an acceptance and appreciation of all the other beings on this planet as highly prized members of your family (if you don’t like your family, you can think of them as your favorite pets instead :-) ).

    happiness, love, cat, pet

    You could also see love as a recognition of the wonder of all that is.  Think about the last time you fell in love.  Usually the feeling isn’t just around the new partner.  The whole world tends to seem a little bit brighter.  What if you could do that without finding a new partner/lover?

    What if you were in love with existence itself?

    I think the Beatles said it best:

    “All you need is love, love, love is all you need.”

    4) Kindness – Another popular quote from the Dalai Lama:

    “My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.”

    kindness, dalai lama

    If you begin to just practice kindness religiously… feel as giving toward people as you can… you will very quickly ‘fall in love’ with your life.

    Kindness might be described as an acceptance and appreciation of true giving… giving with no expectation of reward… giving for the sake of giving… just giving.  ‘Giving’ need not be material possessions… in fact, giving material possessions can just bring up more challenges if you don’t understand how to be giving without need for ‘stuff’ to give.

    You can also feel kindness by appreciating the kindness of another.

    Can you get into the joy of giving?

    5) Humor – the Bible says to

    “Make a joyful noise unto the lord”

    There are few things more joyful than sincere laughter.  Humor can be found in all situations.  It definitely will not be appreciated by all persons in all situations… but it can always be found.

    Humor might be defined as an acceptance and appreciation of the temporary nature (or impermanence) of the world of form… the apparently ‘fixed’ objects and ideas we are surrounded by.

    Much of the humor used by comedians is situational… there is a setup, and then a surprise comes up… it is as if we are lead one way to delightfully discover that the actual path is back over there.

    We smile… we laugh!

    It is a little bit more challenging to practice humor with the impermanence that arises in daily life… but it is infinitely more rewarding as well.

    Any level of humor you can bring in to your daily life is invaluable!

    You can’t put a price on a smile!

    (please keep in mind these 5 flavors are just a few possibilities… if I haven’t listed your favorite, please continue to indulge in your own flavor of happiness to your heart’s content)

    All of these flavors cross over quite a bit.

    At times, it may be very challenging to distinguish them… and that’s fine.  The point isn’t really differentiating… but giving you a few different angles from which you can re-enter happiness.

    So after this reminder of a few ways of approaching happiness, I’d like to ask you a question.

    How much of what you do is designed in a way that it can truly make you happy?

    I’m going to say something that is likely to piss quite a few people off…

    Goals will never make you truly happy!

    That’s right!

    Goal setting, achieving goals, getting all the stuff you think you want… will never really satisfy you.

    Never!

    Not for any length of time.

    You may get a brief ‘feel good’ upon achieving or coming close to achieving a goal… but everytime you assume that something outside of you can make you happy… you push real happiness a little bit further away.

    (Please understand… there is nothing wrong with having goals… I encourage people to have goals… the challenge is only in assuming that the goal will make you happy… when you recognize that you can be truly happy now, you will notice that you are now much more efficient at creating healthy goals and achieving them!)

    After achieving a goal, most people only register the ‘I got what I want’ good feeling for a moment…

    After this… it is on to the next goal… because without a new goal… without the desire to find something else outside yourself to make you happy… who are you?

    happiness, success, goals

    Who are you really?

    The person who did this really cool thing?  The person who owns that really neat car/house/gizmo?

    Some of my own confused desires (based off social status or what other people think I should want/have/be) that stood in the way of happiness include:

    • Wanting to be the tough guy.
    • Wanting to be the guy who is really knowledgeable (or well-read).
    • Wanting to be the world’s greatest lover.
    • Wanting to be the guy with a great job.
    • Wanting to be the guy with a beautiful girlfriend/wife.
    • Wanting to be the guy who never gives up.

    (what ideas are you clinging to that stand between you and happiness?)

    Real happiness is the result of letting go of limiting views of self… of letting go of the need to cling to feelings you like… of letting go of the need to push away the feelings you don’t like.

    There is nothing wrong with having ‘worldly’ things, wonderful experiences, useful skills, etc.

    But if there is an attachment to them… the thing itself, the idea, or the goal of achieving it… you will have to let it go to return to true happiness.

    Getting back to the question we asked at the beginning…

    How do we get real satisfaction?

    How can we design our activities so they are more likely to increase our happiness?

    Recognize the completion!

    When you let go of the assumption that you need lots of stuff (or your family needs lots of stuff)… you will recognize that the vast majority of ‘wants’ are based off illusion… and a lot of what we assume we ‘need’ is also illusory.

    Once you begin to let go of the illusory wants and needs… you start to feel complete!

    Once you feel complete, you will have a completely different perspective on what you ‘need’ and what you ‘want’

    What about the Law of Attraction?

    The Law of Attraction has probably been around in some shape or form for thousands of years.  But recently it has been popularized by the movie “The Secret” and a flood of other products.

    There are some valuable insights, and some real challenges with the LOA.

    Valuable LOA insights:

    Attitude of Gratitude – I think I’ve already expressed how valuable I find gratitude to be, and it is awesome that the majority of LOA products encourage it.

    The Universe is Abundant – This is a powerful general attitude to hold when you approach life.  When you look around the planet, it is pretty easy to see billions of people battling over different layers of the same illusion.  How much could we reduce this if we all embraced the concept/attitude of abundance?

    The Primary LOA illusion/challenge:

    It’s important to ‘get stuff’ to live the life you want and be happy – again… when we place happiness outside of ourselves, we create an imaginary barrier to it.  The more we re-enforce this illusion, the more real it seems.  Almost all of the LOA products I have been exposed to are encouraging the reader/listener to build the life they want by getting more stuff.

    (keep in mind I’m generalizing based off my own experience and study here.  Your favorite LOA teacher might cover all of this very clearly… or they might not).

    It seems that most people would rather have more skillful means of playing the no-win game, than finding a method that make true happiness a reality right now.

    This brings to mind a quote from a song by Sheryl Crow:

    “It’s not having what you want… it’s wanting what you’ve got!”

    For a long time, I thought I got a Black Belt in Kenpo Karate because I had set a goal, and though I forgot about it, I eventually came back and completed it.

    That’s Total Bullshit!

    I got a Black Belt in Kenpo primarily because I love training in Kenpo.  If you love training in Kenpo, and you do it regularly, the natural consequence is eventually getting a Black Belt.

    If I find another martial art that I love and train in regularly, I’ll eventually get a Black Belt in it as well (assuming it is a belt-based system)… with absolutely no goal setting required.

    The other side of the coin… several years back I also set goals to make lots of money investing in real estate.  I didn’t achieve any of them.  Why? Because I have no interest in real estate!  I did my best to become interested… and it didn’t work.

    real, estate, card

    If you don’t love the journey… what’s the point of the goal?

    Is it worth doing something that doesn’t interest you in order to make lots of money?  Or get lots of prestige?

    Do you really want to put happiness on hold when you can enjoy it right now?

    Where does it come from?

    You could say that connecting with happiness is connecting you with your spirit… the deeper nature of the universe… which has an effect on your mind… which has an effect on your body… your physiology responds beautifully to authentic happiness

    Happiness is its own reward!

    There is no guarantee of a longer life (though many studies imply it is a strong possibility)

    But when you are truly happy… you will absolutely love your life…

    I would rather love my life for five years… than ‘deal’ with my life for 100 years!

    Another thing I’ve learned about myself…

    I used to want to do really big things.

    I used to want to be a millionaire!

    I used to want to change the world!

    Now I’m much more easy to please.  ;-)

    I just want to be of service to humanity!

    I just want to smile!

    I just want to connect with happiness and share it…

    I hope that you find this useful.

    Let’s close with some thoughts on a quote from the Buddha:

    “To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.”

    buddha, smile

    We are immersed in abundance.  Once you can accept that… you can also accept the fact that it isn’t necessary to cling to any of it.

    There is no need to hoard.

    There is no need to obsess.

    It’s there for you.  Make use of it as you need it.  When you are done with it… let it go.

    Notice that this attitude is possible for both the millionaire and the minimum wage employee…

    Happiness is available to all!

    Keep smiling,

    Ben

    P.S.  Some related posts from a while back:

    6 Tips to Achieve Deep Happiness!

    5 More Tips for Deep Happiness!

    Spread the word to fellow Explorers!

    { 49 comments… read them below or add one }

    Beat Schindler February 26, 2010 at 9:30 PM

    Wow – possibly the most complete treaty on happiness out there. Great compilation. Particularly enjoyed reading the stories. Facts only tell, but stories sell … lol … Can happiness be taught, or by extension, learned? Absolutely, and your post goes a long way in doing just that. Happy us, to read from happy bloggers like you :-) ))
    Cheers,
    Beat

    Reply

    Ben February 27, 2010 at 1:30 AM

    Thanks Beat!

    I totally agree about stories. They hit at a much deeper level of mind… and if they help to spread the happiness… so much the better!

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Andrew @ Blogging Guide February 26, 2010 at 11:21 PM

    I believe I am a happy person.

    I believe I am a positive person.

    I believe I am a giving person.

    Are they connected? Being happy and being positive and being giving?

    Perhaps…but it is not really a subject I have ever studied or thought about…and in one way I quite like that.

    I like the fact that I don’t have to think ‘I want to be happier…I want to be more positive’.

    Andrew

    P.S. When your cousin becomes a teenager she will rarely follow the rules that have been set out for her… and in most cases she won’t! lol
    .-= Andrew @ Blogging Guide´s last blog ..Jimmy Brown is Retiring =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 27, 2010 at 1:26 AM

    I agree Andrew… there is no need to get analytical about it (analyzing can be just another distraction).

    If you’re happy, positive, and giving… let none tell you otherwise.

    And wanting to be more happy or more positive would be missing the point. Just let go what’s standing in the way… and enjoy your natural state.

    I’ll have to heed my own advice when the little girl hits her teens :-)

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Mitch February 27, 2010 at 2:19 AM

    I particularly liked that you addressed joy as I often feel that happiness and sadness are emotions that can come and go but true joy is a way of life. Of course that’s all based on one definition..lol. Thanks for the truly awesome post
    .-= Mitch´s last blog ..Index of Free College Basketball Picks Against The Spread 2/2710 =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 27, 2010 at 8:31 AM

    I completely agree, Mitch.

    We all have our own terms that we like best…

    But the important thing about real happiness (or real joy if you prefer ;-) ), is that you recognize it as something that lies beneath the emotion of the moment. Even though I might have many pleasant and less-than-pleasant emotions in a given day… when I recognize that there is something deeper… remember the sense of peace that lies just beyond the perception of emotion… that is the real point of this post.

    And it sounds to me that is exactly what you are talking about!

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    David Rogers February 27, 2010 at 2:53 AM

    “If you don’t love the journey… what’s the point of the goal?”
    I totally agree that its not goals that make you happy, but enjoying the journey.
    I was also reading recently that if you want to spend your money to feel happier, go for experiences rather than items. Whatever we buy, soon “wares off” and ceases to make us feel good. Whereas experiences still linger in our memory, and we can even filter out the less fun bits.
    David
    .-= David Rogers´s last blog ..Can Gratitude Make a Difference? =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 27, 2010 at 8:41 AM

    I can’t tell you how many people don’t seem to get this, though (including myself in the past). I’ve seen people try to keep schedules that nearly drive them insane, just because they think it will result in a better paying position… and then when they have more pay, they will be able to enjoy their life.

    Not likely!

    And I agree about experiences as well. I don’t think they are needed to be happy… but I would take a trip to Japan (or any one of quite a few other countries) over a new car any day of the week. The new car is only nice if it drives me to someplace interesting :-)

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Tom February 27, 2010 at 8:25 AM

    Ben,
    You say that humor can be more challenging to practice. It is true, but once achieved, it can bring great satisfaction. There are so many instances in life when something is frustrating, and you have no way to change it. You do your best, and still can’t resolve the issue. You have two options. Be frustrated, or get the best out of it. Or the third one, better yet, enjoy it. Just a couple of examples from my life: leaking roof and there’s no way to get anybody out until the morning. Organize a camping session with the kid in the livingroom. Miss a flight and get stranded overnight in a city you’ve never been to. If you won’t make your meeting anyway, go site seeing, or be the calmest in line while they are trying to change your tickets and cheer up others.
    There’s always something enjoyable in frustrating situations, we just need to find it. And those become the most memorable experiences. I can’t remember much of my flight layovers, but I will sure remember spending an unexpected night in Paris.

    Reply

    Ben February 27, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    Tom, I couldn’t agree more.

    There are several experiences in life that I don’t think I would have made it through without a sense of humor.

    Many people won’t get it: “I can’t believe you aren’t taking this more seriously!”

    My response: “I just refuse to let my day be ruined by the fact that I can’t control all the external circumstances of my life!”

    An unexpected night in Paris?

    That’s an interesting story you’ll be able to share for the rest of your life… much more exciting than “yeah I got a little sleep on the flight… the in-flight movie was stupid, but the chicken was actually pretty good.”

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Rich Hill February 27, 2010 at 8:51 AM

    Happiness is pretty simple around here.
    Lots of clicks on ads, brings smiles.
    Other than that, being cooped up with three dogs and a cat that love me, well the cat not so much, and three foot of global warming blocking my car in, I can’t think of a better life.

    Reply

    Ben February 27, 2010 at 9:00 AM

    Thanks, Rich.

    And I’m willing to bet the dogs that love you (maybe not the cat ;-) ) would still make you smile even without the clicks on ads.

    As far as the blocked-in car goes… I’m in Colorado where it hasn’t been too bad, but I hear the whole East coast got pounded with ‘global warming’ this year… it’s a good thing happiness doesn’t depend on weather.

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Michelle Vandepas February 27, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    Ben,
    My daughter doesn’t need a reason to be happy. She just is. When I’m happy it is because I got hits on my website, or I went out to eat, or heard from my sister – always a reason. When my daughter is happy it is just because she is happy.
    Good lesson huh.
    .-= Michelle Vandepas´s last blog ..Small Pleasures Finding Grace in a Chaotic World – Justine Toms =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 27, 2010 at 9:36 AM

    Thank you Michelle!

    It does seem that frequently, children just get it. Just being. Just joyfulness.

    On the other hand… I’m happy if certain people call, but not so much when other people call… :-)

    This is one of the many powerful lessons I feel we can learn from children…

    In a few short weeks, we’ll get to see how much I can learn from my own little girl… ;-)

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Debbie February 27, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    Hi Ben,
    “It’s not having what you want… it’s wanting what you’ve got!” Love this quote. There is so much truth in it. This takes looking in side ourselves.

    You are so right with gratitude, compassion, love, kindness and humor.
    Humor can be a big part of this. When we have trouble understanding others or ourselves if we put a little humor in it helps to understand better.

    Debbie
    .-= Debbie´s last blog ..What i can Teach You about change and finding happiness! =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 27, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    Thank you Debbie.

    Very true… real happiness comes from serious introspection… noticing what arises, being able to let it go… and appreciating the joy that lies beneath.

    And it seems to me that humor might be the most important element… I’ve had some spectacularly embarrassing moments in my life… without the ability to laugh at myself and appreciate the fragile-ness of the ego… I don’t know how I would have made it through.

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Joel Williams February 27, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    It’s a very personal thing happiness. One personal laughing outwardly may be less happy than someone sitting quietly. As one of the latter I’ve often been accused of being miserable, once when I was just thinking how happy and content I was! Thanks for the very comprehensive article.
    .-= Joel Williams´s last blog ..How To Sell An Ebook Online =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 27, 2010 at 10:42 AM

    Thank you, Joel.

    Odd questions/statements/accusations do seem to go with the territory.

    It’s funny how people typically respond to deep peace.

    When I am in a state of powerful, peaceful joy (just after meditation in most cases)… I often hear:

    “Are you depressed?”

    “What happened?”

    “How can I help?”

    These questions add some humor to an already deep sense of happiness… so ultimately, I suppose it is just another thing to smile at and accept.

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Corinne Edwards February 27, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    You have certainly given this a lot of thought and have come up with many reasons to be happy – even when we don’t have all the “Toys” we want to own.

    This quote from the article really touched me.

    “we ‘break the rules’… sometimes we behave in a way that is less than constructive. Yet the behavior isn’t who we are. Beneath whatever behavior arises… we are all incredibly beautiful beings”

    That is such a comforting thought.

    And we can learn and grow so we don’t have to repeat the mistakes.
    .-= Corinne Edwards´s last blog ..HOW TO NAIL THE “BIG” INTERVIEW =-.

    Reply

    cheryl from thatgirlisfunny February 27, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    Hi Corinne,
    That is a beautiful thought! It warmed my heart to read it again in your comment. I hear forgiveness of others and forgiveness of self.
    .-= cheryl from thatgirlisfunny´s last blog ..What is Your Soul’s Agenda? =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 27, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    Thank you Corinne!

    Recognizing the beautiful being is sometimes very challenging.

    There is a powerful metaphor I learned from Ken Wilbur. Paraphrased: It’s like being in a dark room and having the window suddenly opened, and sunlight shining through. You bask in the warmth and brightness of the sunlight. Even if the window is closed, now… and you’re fumbling around in the darkness again… you still know the sunlight is there. You just have to find the window, and open it to bask in the radiance once again.

    And on my dark days… that might be the most comforting thought I have!

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    cheryl from thatgirlisfunny February 27, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    Hi Benjamin,
    The idea of being complete or “feeling complete” really stood out for me.

    From your post:
    “Once you begin to let go of the illusory wants and needs… you start to feel complete! Once you feel complete, you will have a completely different perspective on what you ‘need’ and what you ‘want’”

    This is subtle and of primary importance to halt the flow of mind chatter. When I do martial arts, I feel complete. Nothing is missing. I’m not wondering or comparing or planning what’s for dinner. I’m in the moment practicing moves with other people who are in the moment – focused and concentrated.

    We can achieve focus and concentration playing with children, trying out new recipes or solving complex problems. I watched women’s curling on the Olympics the other day. Because they were so focused and intent on sliding and brushing, I actually began to enjoy it. I recognized that place of concentration. I saw their joy and delight with their skill and ability. It wasn’t measured in smiling faces (which we paste on sometimes). I saw competence. When I feel competent, I feel complete. By that I mean that I’m able to express my joy, comfort, and trust. I can relax and I can honor my soul’s agenda to love life and be happy.
    .-= cheryl from thatgirlisfunny´s last blog ..What is Your Soul’s Agenda? =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 27, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    Absolutely beautiful, Cheryl!

    Focus and concentration are possibly the most straightforward way of letting go of distractions and stepping back into the natural state of happiness. And we can learn to be focused in any area of life!

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Bruce "the Mid-Life Mentor" February 27, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    “Happiness is its own reward” How much I agree with this. This is well written and well contemplated. Thank you for the time and effort put into this piece. It gave me an inner peace, a sign that it contains basic principles of living effectively. Thanks Ben!
    .-= Bruce “the Mid-Life Mentor”´s last blog ..Coconut Oil for Your Brain =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 27, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    Thank you, Bruce!

    There’s nothing wrong with ‘getting stuff’… but it can sometimes get in the way.

    While happiness on the other hand… well I for one am eternally grateful for every moment I get to enjoy!

    To give credit where credit is due, though… the inner peace is/was/always will be yours already. Hearing that this article helped you to remove anything that might have been standing in the way of the experience of that… allows me greater access to my own ever abiding (though occasionally un-noticed) sense of peace!

    So I thank you again!

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Eat Smart Age Smart February 27, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    Ben,

    You have outdone yourself my friend.

    This post is extraordinary. It has touched me and has moved me lot and goes hand in hand with what I’m learning now from reading the 2009 edition for the 4 hour work week.

    Thanks so much for putting it all out there for all of us to take advantage of your wisdom.

    I particularly like:

    “How much of what you do is designed in a way that it can truly make you happy?”

    Thanks,

    Krizia
    .-= Eat Smart Age Smart ´s last blog ..Workout DVD to get you in shape at home =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 27, 2010 at 10:15 PM

    Thank you, Krizia!

    The happiness question is a critical question to ask for anyone who is serious about loving their life.

    I haven’t read the updated 4 hour work week, yet… but I’m looking forward to it. Tim Ferris definitely seems to be more interested in satisfaction than what other people describe as success.

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Teagan February 27, 2010 at 6:56 PM

    Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Kind of goes along with the theme of your post. We can’t find true happiness on outside things like goals or things, and it’s not somebody else’s job to make us happy. We have to choose for ourselves to be happy. I think you really hit the nail on the head when you said, “I can really step into a powerful place of happiness just by being thankful for life, breath, thoughts, feelings, challenges, etc. throughout the day.” Give thanks and be happy. Sure beats being grouchy and depressed! ;-)
    .-= Teagan´s last blog ..I don’t want to be a health food nut! =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 27, 2010 at 10:17 PM

    Thanks for the comment, Teagan.

    Gratitude has been the easiest doorway to happiness for me for a while (followed closely by humor).

    Giving thanks works wonders!

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Being the Change I Wish to See - Sherri February 27, 2010 at 11:58 PM

    Hi Ben,
    “If you don’t love the journey… what’s the point of the goal?”
    That realization is what allowed me to let go of being laid off from the chemical industry and go into teaching math and science. I was making a ton of money, working 50-60 hours a week, liked the work but hated the politics and BS of the corporate world, and I was missing my son growing up. Now I love what I do and how happy I feel doing it even though some times are very tough financially. I’d rather struggle with money, spend more quality time with my son, and be happy than have the big job and hate my life. No amount of money is worth giving up your happiness for.

    “The stuff you own ends up owning you.” Tyler Durdan from the movie Fight Club
    I have all kinds of stuff, and now all I do is hate dusting it. I want to get rid of as much as I can that I don’t need, want or use; give it away, sell it, or recycle it. I don’t care.

    I see a lot of my unhappiness as self-imposed by all sorts of stuff instead of just being happy with myself, my life, my family and doing what I’m happy doing. It really is better to want what you have rather than constantly striving to have what you think you want. You probably really don’t want whatever it is anyway. I know I don’t. Material possessions don’t make me happy.

    When anyone asks me what I want for my birthday or Christmas, I usually answer with things like ending poverty, world peace, a cure for whatever disease, affordable medical insurance, or a massage or day at the spa, spending time with family or friends, or even putting together a set of new family photos to put on my wall of photos that I look at and appreciate every day, and tell the stories of to my son.

    Sometimes I answer rather flippantly anything I don’t have to dust or clean; or if clothing, nothing I would have to dry clean.

    To be happy, I also had to give up the strict education system we shove our kids into. It brought my son and me nothing but misery and internal strife. The education system is all about grading you, focusing on your negative and weak points, and putting square pegs into round holes. They don’t care if you don’t fit, they just keep pounding. When I started homeschooling my son, a lot of family stress and personal unhappiness disappeared because he is allowed to just be who he is and learn in his own way. Some kids thrive in the system. I did. But he didn’t. I now understand why kids drop out of high school.

    I guess what surprises me most is when you are happy with less then most people think your should have or want, the pressure to get you to do something you don’t like and makes you miserable is very strong from family and friends, and sometimes your community. Sometimes you have to be firm with others to keep your own happiness intact. They seem to have expectations and if you’re not meeting them you are not worthy of being so happy in their eyes. How messed up is that?

    Great post and perspective,
    Sherri
    .-= Being the Change I Wish to See – Sherri´s last blog ..Ugandan kill-the-gays bill part 10: “The Family” finally condemns the bill =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 28, 2010 at 9:43 AM

    Thank you very much for sharing your story with us, Sherri!

    It sounds to me that you’re right on point…

    And you are absolutely right. When you begin to let go of illusions and mass hypnosis… when you stop assuming life is about the endless accumulation of un-necessary crap… there are lots of ‘friends’ (sometimes your own family) that will do their best to get you to get back on the consumerism band wagon… if they can’t convince you, there tends to be a fear that they won’t be able to continue convincing themselves… and if that happens, serious introspection might occur.

    I do my best to be compassionate with these people. I’ve been there. I have held the same beliefs. I understand.

    I respect their beliefs, but I refuse to take them on as my own (again) just because they are popular beleifs.

    Thanks again for your insightful comment!

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    lance nelson February 28, 2010 at 2:04 AM

    Hi Ben,

    Interesting and have to agree having a sense of humour makes so many things much more fun. you’re right endless goals, never seem to work. the moment passes. Must get more joy as a way of life. I will be following what you say closely now as I have so much more to improve on. Thank You!
    .-= lance nelson´s last blog ..Bansko Snow Conditions: A Wonderful Morning =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 28, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    Thank you, Lance!

    We can all do a lot better at being happy and sharing it with others.

    Joy as a way of life… now that’s powerful!

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Lisa February 28, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    Hi Ben — What a great post. I just made my son read your Five Flavors of True Happiness, and pointed out that none of the five have to do with money. I have a 14 year old son who, like a typical 14 year old, equates having things with happiness. I try to tell him all of the time that I believe there is little correlation between money and happiness, but it’s hard for him to see. Just yesterday, I was speaking to him on this topic again and he said something that really made me think when I told him, once again, that having money and/or things doesn’t equal being happy. What he said was “why can’t I have both money and happiness — I think that would be the perfect way to live.” That comment really startled me for a minute. Then I told him that that the happiest people I knew, weren’t the people with the most money. To be fair, these people do not live in real poverty either.

    In my adult life, I have been rather poor, and now I am not, and I don’t think either financial status has brought me more or less true happiness — each status comes with its own set of issues, and my happiness during each phase of my life really has had nothing to do with the money or lack of it.

    What do you think about money and happiness? Is there any connection?
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Mojo Monday 127 =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 28, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    Thank you, Lisa!

    I’m flattered that you would have your son read this post.

    I can definitely see the difficulty of understanding this… particularly at that age. I think in my teenage years my attitude was more like Cartmen on South Park: “It’s all a bunch of new-age, tree-hugging, hippie crap!”

    These attitudes began ripening in me after a good 10 years of trying to do it the other way.

    As far as money and happiness goes… money can be a distraction whether you have it or not. Money is nice. All resources are useful in the day-to-day world. But real happiness is deeper than the ups and downs of day to day life.

    You might say that money and happiness operate in different domains.

    If you recognize that happiness isn’t based off money, status, houses, cars, etc… then you can be happy with or without money.

    If you think happiness is based off any of those things, then all the money and fame in the world will not satisfy you.

    A brief video clip that might shed further light on this can be viewed right here: Success Through Happiness: The Story of the Buddha

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Jeff Kay February 28, 2010 at 10:19 AM

    Thanks for the reminder that achieving goals is not the route to happiness. I set daily goals for myself, weekly goals, etc. And it makes me feel great whenever I’m able to strike something else off the to-do list.

    But none of it would matter without my family, health, and so on. Sometimes I’m guilty of taking important things for granted. Not for long, but for a while… And your post is a great kick in the pants, to not allow myself to get caught-up in Lesser Things, at the expense of Important Things.

    Thanks!
    .-= Jeff Kay´s last blog ..Big Snow, Public Houses, and Brockly =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 28, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    Thank you, Jeff.

    Nothing wrong with goals… I still enjoy playing with them from time to time.

    As long as you are enjoying what’s important… as long as you can recognize all the blessings you’ve been given (whatever they may be)… real happiness is always there!

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Keller Hawthorne February 28, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    Ben, this is an area I struggle with and have my entire life. I constantly rely on “outside” things for happiness – goals, money, success. It’s hard not to. I even rely on my environment at times – if it’s tidy and clean, I feel better about my life.

    There’s a reason us workaholics work so much. Be it either to chase that “good” feeling that comes from achieving things, or avoid the sadness we may have inside ourselves.

    I rarely take the time to stop and think about how I feel. Happiness comes so easily for some and not so much for others. People who take time to enjoy the simple things seem to get it. Thanks for the tips!
    .-= Keller Hawthorne´s last blog ..Earn 50% Commission By Recommending My New Premium WordPress Theme – Fresh Journal! =-.

    Reply

    Ben February 28, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    Thank you for sharing, Keller.

    Just to clarify… I’m no master of this myself. I still struggle. I occasionally fall into the delusion that getting something or changing external circumstances will make me happy. And I agree, it’s hard not to fall into it. The basic message of virtually all advertising is as follows:

    “You are incomplete. It sucks to be incomplete. Buy our stuff… then you will feel complete!”

    And how often are we exposed to advertising?

    What I have done, is notice on enough occasions how content and overjoyed I feel when I let go of all that garbage… that I would be selfish and irresponsible not to share what little I have learned.

    It could be as simple as taking a few moments a day to feel thankful. This fits in neatly with most religious traditions, but you don’t have to be religious at all to enjoy the benefits. Recognizing that every breath is a gift…

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Francis March 6, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Well said! I also agree that it seems that if we stay positive, kind, and giving, then we are happier that way. Sort of like the whole idea of karma, and that what you give out you will receive. So yeah, keep on smiling out there!
    .-= Francis´s last blog ..Chef Knife Sets =-.

    Reply

    Ben March 7, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    Thank you, Francis!

    The circumstances of an individual life are very karmic, but it is possible to be happy no matter how karma manifests.

    And as you said:

    “keep on smiling out there!”

    I couldn’t put it better myself!

    Ben

    Reply

    The Niche Think Tank March 7, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    I find the list of wanting to be’s is one thing I had when I was younger. I have alot of tattoos and found that the tattooing stopped when I realized I was cool without them. as it stands I have an arm that is half done. and I don’t really care to get it finished now. True happiness comes from the simple things shared and from inside.
    .-= The Niche Think Tank´s last blog ..The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz – Book Review =-.

    Reply

    Ben March 7, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    Very true!

    I have a single tattoo, and it is funny to see how counter-culture it seemed when I got it… as opposed to how mainstream they seem now.

    I still get the urge to get a sleeve done… but it seems doing things to be cool typically has the opposite result.

    Wanting to be cool just isn’t cool!

    The more I recognize all that I want comes from within… and is already there if I only pay attention… the more it seems I have the respect of others… and the less I seem to care… ;-)

    Funny how that works!

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Thought Bubble Ten March 15, 2010 at 9:45 PM

    I’ve learned from my friend and mentor, and discovered for myself, that happiness is really about letting life flow and staying out of its way. When that happens, life is really so easy. But we’ve got so used to getting in the way that we mistake it for our ‘natural’ state.

    You’ve really given this a lot of thought and observation. I think children teach us sooo much when we really pay attention. I wish you all the best with your own child. It’s got a great foundation to step into and grow in from!
    .-= Thought Bubble Ten´s last blog ..Einstein was wrong – stupidity is not infinite. I’ve got it right here in me head! =-.

    Reply

    Ben March 16, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    Thank you for your comment.

    I absolutely agree that we learn quite a bit from children… and once we recognize that we are all children… then we learn quite a bit more from everyone (I’m still working on this one :-) )

    keep smiling,

    Ben

    Reply

    Thought Bubble Ten March 16, 2010 at 6:40 PM

    I like the idea of being like children. That would be soooo freeing…wheeeeeee!!!!!!!
    .-= Thought Bubble Ten´s last blog ..Blog posts and comments – Why bother? =-.

    Reply

    Benjamin November 2, 2010 at 8:21 PM
    lance nelson October 31, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    Hi Ben I just re read your words, and feel it is one of the most inspird blog posts I have read. Thank You, again!

    Lance
    lance nelson´s last blog post ..Bansko Ski &amp Snowboard Hire &amp Lessons

    Reply

    Benjamin November 2, 2010 at 8:49 PM

    Thank you, Lance!

    It is amazing that when you come back and read something again… it’s like you can find it a little more profound every time!

    I have definitely felt this about several authors… and I’m flattered to have people re-reading my material.

    keep smiling,

    Benjamin
    Benjamin´s last blog post ..Meditation for Beginners – Relax the Forehead…

    Reply

    Leave a Comment

    *

    CommentLuv badge

    { 1 trackback }