Feel Happier By Mark Tong The purpose of life is to be happy ~Dalai Lama Happiness. Delicious, isn’t it? The days sparkle, the sun shines and your life feels like an honest-to-goodness Disney movie. But despite wanting it so badly, it’s proved elusive. And when you’ve finally thought it was in your grasp, you’ve opened your hand and found…nothing. A family disagreement, financial worries or a bout of poor health can knock happiness right out of your hand. But equally holding the wrong beliefs can just as cruelly dash happiness from your grasp. Did you also know that you are more likely to have poor health if you’re unhappy? And that all your dedicated efforts to be healthy are often wasted if you’re happiness is compromised? Being happy is the best health regime you can ever have. But there are some very common beliefs that can innocently destroy your happiness and your health along with it. Here are 8 commonly held beliefs that you need to change if want to keep your grip on lasting happiness: 1. Putting others first is the right thing to do. Think about it: if you are sick and unhappy is it likely that you can help others as effectively as if you were healthy and happy? Even if you had the desire, your own pressing problems leave you little time or positive energy to be able to focus on someone else’s problem. Putting your own need to be healthy and happy first is essential. Once you’re full of vitality and joy, you can get out there and effectively start helping others – it’s a win, win! So do the right thing, be selfish so you can be effectively selfless – put yourself first. 2. Comparing yourself to others is wrong. This belief is well meaning but impossibly impractical. Comparing yourself to others is a basic human trait – it’s how you process the world and your place in it. It’s like trying to function without oxygen. But comparing yourself to a friend’s touched-up Facebook highlights or celebrity’s glamorous showreel can be a happiness assassin. If you want to be happy and healthy, be ruthless about who you compare yourself to. Be certain that you personally know that the other person is both, healthy and happy. And in a way that you want to be. So go find some healthy, happy role models to compare yourself to. 3. Money doesn’t buy happiness. I’m the first to confess that money doesn’t push my buttons. I’ve also traveled to many countries and I can tell you from first-hand experience, happiness is not related to how much money you’ve got. Unless you haven’t got any. Because poverty and crushing debt don’t make you happy or healthy either. Worrying about paying your bills or surviving redundancy is going to eat into your happiness like a virus. And stressing over how you’ll pay for your kid’s school trip or even start their college fund is equally going to stress you and your health out. Having enough money to eat healthily and live comfortably does make you happier. And that’s an amazing place to be. Enjoy your money and sure donate some too, if it makes you happier still. Mark, my partner, can testify that money translates directly to happiness and sickness prevention and smiles when given to aid charities like the one he worked for. So enjoy your money, you earned it. And if you want to, spread some around. 4. Being busy equals a fulfilling life. You’ve always been told that the devil finds work for idle hands and being busy and productive is essential for a life well lived. But if you don’t have sufficient time or stamina to exercise or eat healthily, your happiness will soon crash along with your body. And if you don’t have time for play, your health will soon follow your happiness into the trash can. A healthy work-life balance is essential for happiness. Prioritizing the things that make you happy and safeguarding enough downtime will keep you health in better shape than any gym workout. Make time for down time. Take 5, take 10. And if you can’t, then make yourself a new life where you can, because this one’s not serving you.. 5. Making your parents proud is your job. You want your parents’ approval, to feel the warmth of their pride. It’s only natural after all the love and affection they heaped on you. After all, they gave you your first chance in life, didn’t they? However, you are not your parents. Your dreams are not their dreams. And your life is definitely not theirs. In fact, it’s your job to make yourself proud. Whether your parents are proud or not is their call, not yours. Going after your version of happiness is absolutely your right. So get on with your dreams, your goals and do your job of making yourself proud. And leave your parents to do theirs. 6. Honesty is always the best policy. Do you always tell the truth? I don’t. I doubt if anyone does, thank goodness! Because ironically believing that honest is always the best policy is the biggest lie there is. Sure the sentiment is admirable and in theory it’s absolutely how we want to live life. But this is the real world, you’re a real person and sometimes the truth is wholly inappropriate. People are fragile beings. And sometimes telling them the truth does them no good and indeed harms them. There’s a time to tell the harsh, brutal truth and a time to tell a little white lie, even to yourself. Your happiness and health are robust enough to cope with you blurring the truth a little sometimes if you swap feeling guilty for knowing that you consciously put someone’s happiness and feelings first. Honesty is usually the best policy, but kindness is always the best policy. 7. Working through arguments is the best way to a healthy relationship. That seems sensible enough advice if you want to protect your happiness and health, right? Living with tension is pretty unhealthy, you’re sure – and you’re right. But in reality many relationships simply aren’t strong enough to withstand such harsh analysis. Trying to find a resolution can so often backfire and simply pour red-hot fuel on the original dispute. That seems ridiculous when you’ve both set out to work things out. But there’s a very simple reason why that happens. As I said, people are fragile beings, often with eggshell egos. And it’s too easy for either of you to inadvertently tear a hole in something so paper-thin, no matter how carefully you choose your words. If you really love someone, sometimes it’s better for your relationship that you bite your tongue and let it go. Forget talking it through. Instead take a breath, open the window and let your frustration disperse into the ether. Learn when to talk over a disagreement and when to leave well alone for your and your partner’s health and happiness. 8. Happiness can be found. The pursuit of happiness is a great ideal, but a lousy reality. Have you ever found a dollar bill? Or a set of lost keys? Sure you have. But what about a sadness? No? That’s because you find ‘concrete’ things, not abstract ones. The phrase ‘finding happiness’ or ‘pursuing happiness’ is no more than poetic license. You’re more likely to find unicorns at the end of a rainbow than ever stumbling across happiness. Happiness is a by-product of your thoughts and actions. And, as you’re human, of the way you react to events that happen to you. It’s a nice idea that happiness comes purely from your thoughts, but for most of us that will call for being reincarnated as Buddha. So concentrate on always reacting as positively as you can and happiness will appear as a blissful by-product. Are your beliefs still keeping you from happiness? You’ve worked hard on your happiness but it’s still hit and miss it’ll show up every day. You’ve made healthy living a part of who you are yet you don’t feel like the vibrant, vital person you dream of being. That’s a cruel trick of life. Your false beliefs have kept you and your happiness apart for too long. Open your arms and drop that heavy burden. Welcome happiness into your arms in its place. Hug it close. See your day sparkle, your sun shine and your life feel like a gorgeous Disney movie. Because the purpose of life is to be happy.