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Old 10-07-2007, 01:53 PM   #1
piercehawkeye45
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How to be happy

This is something that I struggled with throughout most of high school but by college, I started figuring out what personally worked for me to become regularly happy. I'm sure these areas will change and get more complex as I get older, get married, and have kids because of changing priorities but I'm trying to find my base right now so I will at least always have something to work off of.

I know there have been disagreements with this theory in the past, but I have found Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory to fit in very well for me even though it isn't a perfect match. The theory states that the highest level is self-actualization and assumes that when one reaches that level, he or she will reach their greatest potential for happiness and other aspects of life.

I personally have found self-improvement on both the physical and cognitive level to be the main difference maker once I got my social needs met. I have been socially accepted, both sexual and non-sexual, and confident in high school before but the feeling never matched the euphoria I've had when I started to drastically improve myself. The mindset, I think, is what made it so much better.

Skipping the physical and security needs, what has worked for the people here and how have they changed as you guys have aged? Reading, sharing ideas, constantly reflecting on my life, and analyzing the world around me have worked best for me.



And yes, I do know that I will never be constantly happy, the up and downs of life are very important and I realize that.
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Old 10-07-2007, 02:42 PM   #2
DanaC
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I think part of what allows me to be happy (much of the time), or at least content, was learning to let things go. There are times when an argument, or a fight, is useful and times when it is destructive. I try as much as possible to avoid the latter. Letting certain 'facts' about myself go was also helpful. I have eczema still, but it is not an essential fact of my being. It is not what defines me (except, presumably, at some subconscious level). Every so often, I find my mind travels back to the past and I feel the anger again, that feeling of spinning out of control, of the deck being loaded, the pitch tilted against me...but not so often. When I get a spell of that, I know I have fallen into depression (something else that I no longer cnsider a defining fact). Most of the time, I can think of those years without anger, without having to either relate so strongly to my childself that it is hurtful, or so divorced from as to be unfriendly. Likewise the years of relationship breakdown and my younger adult self.

Most of all, I think, learning not to give myself such a hard time over things has allowed me the headroom to deal with a lot of stuff that was holding me back. Learning to forgive yourself is an important thing, I think. learn the lessons, sure, but learn them kindly.

Probably the final thing I could defintively say has helped in making me a happier person, is actually reaching the conclusion that I don't want children, that I don't mind being the age I am (27-33, I had a serious problem with the whole age thing) and that I might at some point end up in another relationship, which would be alright. And that I might not, and that is also alright.

Last edited by DanaC; 10-07-2007 at 02:48 PM.
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Old 10-10-2007, 12:27 PM   #3
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Hmmm....good one Pierce.
I think it was important to develop my own ideas and to seek less validation for my subjective reality. I quit keeping track of how I'm feeling every second and dwelling on it. I think it keeps me from naturally changing. And I'm going to agree with Dana about giving myself such a hard time. Everyone does this I think...and it's a definite block to a quality life. I was recently so unhappy and in complete turmoil but there was something telling me: everything may not be as bad as you think....keeping walking in the light. That isn't spirtualist hooey, I just have to remind myself that no matter how bad things are....there are people out there suffering worse than I am, and maybe I should get my pasty ass off the computer or the couch, and go do something for someone else. When I'm too self-serving I fall into misery.

Anecdote:
My husband and I were still dating and I was in between jobs and broke. He wasn't doing so well either. We weren't even scraping by. We had a regular habit of going to help down at the shelter serving food.....This one particular fall Sunday we walked down to the shelter and served the food, and had to grab a bag of bread to go ourselves. We were happy the whole time...and had fun. The point being, don't sit on your misfortunes, and go flipping do something for someone other than "I" or "me" "me". We are comfortable again, and learned to grow our own food...which is also fun. I think happiness is directly related to misfortune I guess........

I think you have to first..let yourself be happy?


Hmmm. Maybe I'll think about it more and come back to this. There is a better point that I feel I should be making.......

Or maybe happiness is just my husband holding a Klondike bar.... yea....that makes the most sense to me I think.
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Old 10-10-2007, 01:41 PM   #4
TheMercenary
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Hmmmm... life advice. Good stuff. How to be happy? Hmmmm I may have to add to this later as well. Oh well here goes for an off the cuff response.

Like the others have said, and some very important lessons so I will try not to repeat them if I can.

1. Learn to control the things you can and don't stress over the things you can't. This sounds so simplistic but if you start to look around you and apply this to every single thing that makes you mad on a daily basis you will find it will relieve a lot of personal stress. Try it as an exercise in the course of a day or a week. Every time you get pissed off about some thing ask yourself, "how much of this situation is in my control and what can I do to change it right now". A lot of the time you will find that you really cannot control alot of what makes you unhappy or angry. Accept it and move on but don't stress over it or even dwell on it. "Whatever" becomes a useful phrase in these situations.

2. Don't hang around people or in situations that make you unhappy. There are people you have to interact with on a daily basis that are really just unpleasant. They may be angry or sad or bitchy or whatever... but that doesn't mean you have to have them home for dinner. Do your business with them and move on. You don't need to engage in long conversations with them, interact only as much as you need to, and then move along. Being around negativity will bring you down. The mood will rub off on you.

3. (leadership principle here) People always want to make their problems your problems. Don't let that happen. Compassion is good, as is empathy, sympathy can be dangerous to your well being. When people bring problems to you always ask yourself is this my problem, their problem, or a system problem. It is rarely your problem, but if they can get you to take on their problem that is not good for you or your personal happiness. People want to make their problems your problems for many reasons. The more they can get you to invest in their problems the less they have to deal with them. Resist it. Help if you can but don't become so invested in the problems that eventually they are your problems and now you have to deal with them.

4. Never pick a career or do a job that makes you say to yourself, "I hate this job" or "I hate going to work". If you do, you need to get out of it and find another job or get another career. Shity jobs will make you unhappy. That doesn't mean you can't do jobs like that as a bridge to something better, most of us do at many times in our life. But don't make it a career or plan on doing it forever.

5. Intimate relationships. This is a tough one and JMHO, so take it for what it is. Don't stay in negative relationships because it is convenient.

I will think on some of this and may add to it... I hope this is constructive.
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Old 10-10-2007, 02:02 PM   #5
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Martin Seligman After he figured out the notion of Learned Helplessness, he turned his attention to happiness versus depression, worked out links between optimism and happiness. If there is an answer I think this guy has it. That said I have only tried to apply his stuff in a half-assed sort of way.

Authentic Happiness website
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Old 10-10-2007, 05:24 PM   #6
Griff
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I initially thought of Maslow as well PH. I've been reading a lot of Buddist stuff, which has helped me appreciate the now, in a not Richard Gere sort of way. I still plan and work for future payoffs, but I try not to continuously revisit things that stress me out. I don't worry at work, I just enjoy the kid time and am hopefully more engaged and productive for it. I've been slowly cutting away the deeply ingrained religous modes of thought that had me seeing things in a negative light, instead focusing on understanding myself. This helped me overcome a very stressful period recently and pulled me out of a truly brutal funk that I'd sunk into. I'm becoming more contemplative and less obsessive. I certainly don't know much, but I know that with a certainty that gives me release. I've taken personal responsibility for my joy and my spirit. I finally realized that it isn't healthy for me to farm out these operations. done babbling... good thread idea
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Old 10-10-2007, 09:16 PM   #7
TheMercenary
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Griff View Post
I've been reading a lot of Buddist stuff, which has helped me appreciate the now....
Me too. I sort of consider myself a student of the subject, even if it is a half-assed approach because I cannot be a pure full time student... Human failing. Me. My fault. Lama Surya Das has been my mentor. He has written some awsome books. This was the first and best of his books: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/boo...67901574&itm=1

http://www.spiritualityandpractice.c...ers.php?id=227

Any where here they are:

http://www.thebigview.com/buddhism/eightfoldpath.html
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Old 10-10-2007, 05:27 PM   #8
DanaC
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Yeah, excellent thread idea. I found myself consciously thinking through why I am so much more content these days.
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Old 10-10-2007, 05:29 PM   #9
theotherguy
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Alcohol.
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Old 10-10-2007, 05:30 PM   #10
DanaC
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Oh hell yah. That too. And drugs.
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Old 10-10-2007, 05:31 PM   #11
theotherguy
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I don't like drugs, but I do loves me some whiskey.
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Old 10-10-2007, 05:59 PM   #12
Aliantha
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Happiness is something you decide to be or not. Being 'happy' is not the same as being joyful for example.

to me, happiness as a definition for a way of being means that my basic core feeling for life is peaceful. I know there will be things which will irritate me, but they don't control me. They don't have the power to change my state of being. Sometimes sad things will happen, but again, do I let that feeling control me or do I stay true to my state of being?

I'm not perfect. Far far from it, but I do recognize that most of the time, I can choose to be happy if I want to, regardless of what my immediate circumstances are.
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Old 10-11-2007, 03:44 AM   #13
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Take responsibility for everything that happens around you. Once you find out there's no such thing as 'not my problem', everything else falls into place.
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Old 10-11-2007, 03:54 AM   #14
DanaC
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I disagree. Too many people take responsibilty for things they are unable to affect. That said, lots of people take little responsibility for things they can affect. I think that knowing what you can and cannot affect and taking responsibility accordingly is important for happiness.
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Old 10-11-2007, 09:01 AM   #15
TheMercenary
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaC View Post
I disagree. Too many people take responsibilty for things they are unable to affect. That said, lots of people take little responsibility for things they can affect. I think that knowing what you can and cannot affect and taking responsibility accordingly is important for happiness.
Exactly. That is what I was trying to say.
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