Image by Steve Cutts
Welcome to the 21st century.
Unrelenting technological advancement has outpaced societies ability to educate and cultivate a mature collective consciousness.
The Exponential growth in our interconnectedness,
combined with widespread ignorance is corrupting our minds.
Thus, the reign of ego has begun.
Consumerism is king. It’s more, more, more.
We don’t appreciate that which is already within our possession. Choosing, instead to focus on what we don’t have.
Notice, it’s funny how we only look above our social economic class, not below.
Unabating self-indulgence corrupts us.
Who can blame you?
Many condemn a search for happiness and the common phrase ‘ignorance is bliss’ dominates in circles of those whom perceive themselves as intellectuals. A Freudian perspective is interwoven with modern western society- the belief that culture as we know it, is an elaborate manifestation of repressed desires, that man is nothing more than a bundle of instinctual drives. This is a dismal belief.
To compound this, attention is a precious commodity, and we are at the mercy of psychological hooks everywhere we look. The media consumed, conditions us and the sheer negativity poisons the mind with toxins, such as fear, hate, envy and obsession. The youths underdeveloped minds are warped by false role models, and mental toxins are wrongly accepted as the norm — a part of life, even glorified and romanticised by the media.
This is psychological warfare.
Rates of depression and anxiety are skyrocketing.
Our health and very wellbeing are deteriorating. The line between pathological and normal is fragile.
So why are we not seeing the bigger picture?
We confuse short bursts of pleasure for happiness and bombard our self with distractions to avoid turning our gaze inwards.
Not only do you have to transcend your environment, but you need to free yourself from your internal troubles.
Image by ‘Olivia Moore’
I stand contrary to the easily sold messages, lapped up by the masses such as ’love yourself as you are’ or ‘you are enough’.
As this is an oxymoron, and a fallacy, you shouldn’t love yourself while you are pathological — you should do everything in your power to rid yourself of the mental toxins and enjoy your privilege to an uncorrupted mind.
But we hate change, and desperately cling to a faulty sense of self. To avoid doing the internal work necessary to become a healthy, flourishing individual.
Naturally, we take the path of least resistance. It’s so much easier to blame the world for how we feel.
Why is it, we spend the first quarter of our lives developing our minds in preparation for work, promising ourselves that we will be happy in the future.
We devote hours to hobbies, take pride in maintaining a high social engagement, spend late nights and early mornings at the gym sculpting the ideal body and frequently browse dating platforms to find the ‘one’ all in attempt to fill a void. Only to find yourself at the finish line spiritually bankrupt and no happier than when you started?
It’s not your fault.
Formal education and society as a whole, fail to teach us life’s most important skill — happiness.
Yes, that’s right happiness is a skill. But its elusive nature, and widespread superficial appearance are boosted by collective ignorance
You are not doomed to eternal unhappiness by accepting these difficult truths of reality, you are liberated from them.
Our Identification with a false self is the root cause of all suffering in the world. I want to promote that people are good and that everyone can enjoy genuine happiness.
Become the change you want to see in the world. To begin the most challenging but rewarding of endeavours. You must become in the words of Marcus Aurelius “strict with oneself and tolerant with others”.
Think back to the last time you heard or held a discussion about kindness, Gratitude, Empathy, or love? Powerful transformative emotions are seldom shared, at least in my experience, these conversations need to be encouraged.
The mass of research conducted on negative emotions outweighs positive 1000:1. Psychology is focused predominantly on the pathological, those whom require long term medical treatment interventions. This flags an important consideration, instead of simply focusing on only the pathologies, why can’t psychology help us not only recover from neurosis but begin to flourish?
A desire to change and consistent hard work is a prerequisite to happiness. Certain traits come more easily to others but with hard work anything can be achieved. This is the only true motto I know. If you are not prepared to take on the most rewarding task of life, then do not read on.
Exploring and Integrating views from philosophy, religion and Social sciences. I will attempt to present you with clear recipe for happiness.
Please understand, you already have everything you need to be happy.
“We read the world wrong and say that it deceives us”
Let’s examine your worldview.
Is it accurate?
The world doesn’t flow like a film, there is no clear structure.
It is chaotic. On the surface it may appear like we are mighty and all- important but realise cause and effect relationships run in random directions.
Stop superimposing mental constructs onto the world and viewing it how you think it should, or ought to be.
When you create a world based on faulty perception it creates a disparity between actual reality and your perceived reality.
When a discrepancy occurs, and it will.
A simple exercise can help to remind you of the bigger picture and stretch your mind:
Close your eyes and visualise the earth, we are but a speck of dust on a beautiful spinning mud ball. This should not bring you fear and anxiety, but peace and clarity (stay there for as long as you like).
Focusing on uncontrollable events will stunt your growth and cause unhappiness.
It is better to only concern yourself with that which you have control over, ironically this in turn, will expand your sphere of control.
Therefore, the first step towards happiness involves questioning your world view, is it realistic?
Image by Richa Arora
THE REMOVAL OF MENTAL TOXINS
Take time to analyse and contemplate the thoughts, fantasies and beliefs you entertain. A vast amount of suffering you endure is an illusion generated by your own mind.
Are your thoughts destructive or constructive? I find, I am either my greatest ally or worst enemy.
Direct your focus on the removal of toxins, which poison your mind and wreak havoc on happiness.
How often do you take the time to pause and observe? By devoting yourself to regular practise, you will begin to cultivate a powerful awareness. Gaining the ability to distance yourself from the mental drama by focusing on the emotion not on the act which caused the emotion, you can exert control.
If someone wrongs you understand it a deficiency of their own mind, try to be sympathetic as they are the true victim. We can never truly be happy if we dissociate our self from the happiness of others.
Remember ‘opposite emotions cannot coexist’
This is not to say you should repress your negative emotions, rather see them for what they are. Isolate the emotion rather than the experience which caused the emotion, this strips the negative thought of its power and hold over you.
Viktor E. Frankl a psychiatrist whom endured the Nazi concentration camps, recalls of his experiences during the camp and details events where even in the most difficult situations, surrounded by suffering, he could escape into blissfulness with thoughts through his love (opposite of hate) for his wife.
In-fact Victor saw the circumstances as an opportunity for an ‘inner victory’. I’m sure we can do the same.
By clearing the bad you are beginning to make way for the good.
DO THINGS FOR OTHERS
Forgive people, whom have done wrong to you. If someone has done you wrong or said something hurtful, do not let your emotions overwhelm you. Show compassion and forgive them. Someone whom is at peace with themselves and genuinely happy, would not intentionally do wrong to another. Rather they would, strive to lift people up.
Have a purpose which is bigger than you, build or join a meaningful cause- expand your responsibilities!
Begin to do nice things for others, altruistic behaviour releases endorphins in your brain. It brings happiness to both sides of the party and is extremely contagious, set of chain reactions of kindness.
Give to charity and get involved in community projects which are trying make a real change in society. It doesn’t necessarily have to be financial. Give your time, ideas and energy. Offer advice for friends, colleagues and strangers in need.
Try to see the best in others and be polite and courteous in all situations.
I challenge you to bring a smile to someone’s face today.
CULTIVATE INNER PEACE
“The outward freedom we attain will only be in exact proportion to the inward freedom, to which we may have grown, at any given moment”
“Without inner peace we have nothing we need to be happy”.
It’s Inside out. Stop living on a pendulum and recognise the importance of building your internal fortress.
How do you cultivate inner peace?
You guessed it! Meditation — Science has revealed positive structural differences in the brains of those whom devoted their life to the practise of meditation (increased Gamma rays, higher coordination). Aspire to reach such a level of mental balance and clarity.
we’ve all heard it a million times before, but truth is consistent meditation for just 5 minutes per day can transform your life.
Meditation doesn’t have to be boringly passive. There are many techniques, as one size doesn’t fit all. Explore and find what works for you, I enjoy stoic visualization techniques, and developing my attention loop by forming sentences about what runs through my mind, I do this to make unconscious thoughts, conscious.
If you’re new, try the phone app ‘headspace’. It’s amazing for beginners. The narrator guides you and streak features help to build consistency and learn the basics. Don’t become discouraged if you find it difficult at first, there is no such thing as being ‘bad’ at meditation.
Each time your mind wanders and you pull it back to say your breath, this is one rep, a mental push up. It doesn’t feel like much but you’re indeed strengthening your mind.
After you begin to experience the benefits, it really doesn’t feel like a commitment, but rather, something to look forwards to.
Carl Jung the founder of analytical psychology, wanted to bridge the gap between spiritualistic and psychology. He believed the discipline will be incomplete until there is an acceptance of both Western and Eastern concepts.
Through vast travels and the exploration of both his own, and patient’s personalities, a core principal emerged.
The psyche seeks balance, applying scientific principles to help others digest his theory, he used the biological principal of homeostasis and, likened the psychic movements of energy with terms such as ‘entropy’.
When you are hot you remove layers of clothing, when you are hungry, you eat. The psyche has evolved as part of the world we live in; therefore, it is only natural that it will follow the process of becoming balanced.
“opposites are the ineradicable and indispensable preconditions of all psychic life” (pg. 170; Jung, 1970).
This idea is echoed by the stoics, as one of the four cardinal virtues being ‘temperance’. And again, it is seen by the Ying and Yang.
Think about it, It’s all around us. Day and night, hot and cold. We are not separate from nature.
Achieving moderation, and striving to find counterbalance activities and solutions to difficulties is key to fulfilment and happiness. Through inspection and recognition, we can become whole.
Although diving into your unconscious and attempting to balance your psyche, to become ‘individualized’ is a lifelong process, to become ‘individualised’ is not what I’m talking about here.
What you can do today, is pay attention to where you are directing your energy. Both thoughts and actions, are you balanced?
Recognise when there is an imbalance and make the necessary adjustments.
Temperance also extends to pleasures. Pleasures can be sources of unhappiness only when they become cravings, this unjust weighting upsets the mind. Remember, if a desire turns to an obsession- it has become toxic. Enjoy the pleasantries of life but, understand that desire lead to more desire.
Becoming comfortable with the word ‘enough’ can do wonders for your state of mind.
Image by Or Yogev
Have the courage to become unorthodox. And do what you know to be the right thing. If you look to others for help you will be disappointed; the problem is not a lack of ability, wealth or any other superficial metric we are programmed to place our hopes in. No,no,no stop turning outwards for a solution to your inner troubles. By placing all your hope on the external world, it will end with up with you being disappointed. The answers you seek are running through your veins.
I’m on my journey to cultivating genuine happiness and freedom. My reflection has led me to the belief that it may well be the case that I would enjoy plummeting down into a negative state only to rise up for momently bliss. The colours this rollercoaster ride add to my existence are entertaining, however as I mature, I am begging to catch myself before the vivid emotional drama begins pulling me in for another ride.
Perhaps, lasting happiness is boing because it is always the same.
It may be true that renunciation is the highest form of intelligence, the initial sacrifices seems to hurt, but maybe we’re misinterpreting this and after bypassing our primitive brains whining , it may actually become clear as an enhancement, by stripping away the superficial layers you’re parting from the hedonic cycle and are no longer a victim to your mind.
Liberate yourself with discipline and become happy.
Jung: the key ideas
Happiness, A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill.