17 September 2012

The Secrets of True Happiness

The secret of true happiness is not to have one's feeling be dependent on the external happenings. It is to have joy, the internal feeling of the heart that change not with happenings. It begins with knowing your identity and accepting your strengths and even your weaknesses. It is knowing the world is imperfect and unfair and hence living at ease with those that are beyond our control and making it better with those that are withing our control. Using the body-mind-heart-character model will dislodge the secrets of happiness. Pleasure is good feeling from the body. Happiness depends on the external happenings. Joy is the internal peace & pleasure of the heart and does not depend on the external events.

It is interesting that friends in the email and facebook communities talked about happiness recently. On reflecting what they have said, here is my consolidated view on happiness. I always want to put any good quote or advice that I read or heard into a context so that we can understand the truth and proper use of the quote or advice. The internet world is full of good advices and opinions from people all over the world. It is so easy to share things. However good things without the context only leads to misunderstanding and wrong use that may result in great harm. So we must learn and build models of the world around us to gain better understanding and predictive power upon which we can influence the outcome of our life.

A recommended model to use in the understanding of the human behavior, of which, happiness is the topic of interest in this post,, is the Body-Mind-Heart-Character-Relationship model. I will write about this model in greater details in future. But for now, we apply the B-M-H part to the understanding of happiness.

Here is the mind-map for the "The Secret of True Happiness".

The Body-Mind-Heart Make-up of a Person
When we look at the three parts of Body-Mind-Heart of our 'person', then we can easily see that "Happiness" of the body gives us pleasure and come from external happening such as having a good party, a joy ride in Disneyland. Reading a good book and watching a good movie with the visual and sound effects give us pleasure in our body and also our mind. The movie has a good plot and it is touching. It makes us think of lovely and good thoughts.

The Negative Type of Response & Solution
Bad things also happen in our life, such as loosing a sale, reprimand by our boss, betrayed by a friend. 'Unlucky' accidents, not due to us, also happen to us to upset and depress us. So we can quickly conclude that since such bad things happen frequently to us in this world, a good solution will be to get-out of this world. A good start is to simplify our life. Make sure we don't depend too much on the things of this world. The lesser the dependent, the less upset we will get from it. If you take this to the extreme, you can join the monastery or to become a hermit. That is the negative way to solve the problem - avoid it.  But does our solitude brings us happiness? The answer is partially. There is a conflict of real living and living as if dead! What are to do with the feelings that we are built with? The answer lies not in eliminating but in directing it. Build the internal joy of the heart is the answer.

The True Happiness is Internal Joy - Build it Up.
The passage to the door of the heart comes from our mind. The door to our mind is our body of course. But we must now take care of what we input into our mind and then into our heart and into our spirit if you are of the religion persuasion. We are to guard our mind and heart through controlling our body.

Joy comes first with our mind knowing our identity and then accepting our make-up, our strengths and also our weaknesses or limitations. We are uniquely make up of different extent of strengths and lack of strength, in our many attributes. Acceptance of our uniqueness is the first step to great joy. Then we recognize that the world that we live in is an imperfect world and it is also an unfair world. For factors that are beyond our control and influence, we just need to adapt to it and be at ease with it. For factors that we could influence, we help to make it  a better world.

The keys to more joy in our heart is to learn to be contented. Being content does not mean we don't strive to be better. We want to be better but at present we are contented with what we have. We learn to be contented in whatever situation we are in. Joy comes easily when we have a grateful heart. When we appreciate what others have done for us. The secret of joy is but having faith and hope. Faith that this is a good, yourself, others, world and hope that we can make it better. On deeper reflection, joy is but a facet of something call Character, that we must develop into maturity. The final outcome, the fruit, of this mature character, have many facets shown in the mind-map. It is best summarized by Paul in Gal 5:22-23 of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness (forgiving, empathy), goodness (good works), faithfulness (loyalty, integrity, trustworthiness), gentleness (giving ways) and self-control.

It is easier and more effective to spend time and energy to build what is in the inside of us, our character, and of joy as one facet, than trying to control our external happenings which usually lies beyond our sphere of influence. Why waste time trying to control those that are beyond our reach? Build up your inner joy that you can do by controlling what your read, see, touch and mix with and think on those thoughts that are pure, right, worthy, lovely and of excellence.

Determine to have joyful day no matter what because joy is what you are made of.

Lim Liat (C) 17 Sep 2012.

Updated Map:

See also The Key to Happiness - Just One Word

And for a wonderful talk on Happiness:
Happiness 101 with Tal Ben-Shahar www.youtube.com
He recommends:

Take Action -- Do them regularly to have Peace & Happiness:
1. Give yourself & others permission to be human.
2. Simplify Life and Give Times for Recovery
3. Exercise regularly 3x30min/week
4. Meditate & 3 Deep Breaths often esp when upset
5. Appreciate Life and be grateful. ... Write down 5 things you appreciate every day.
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