4 Happiness Hacks

Feb 21, 2018

“The real mission you have in life is
to make yourself happy,
and in order to be happy,
you have to look at what you believe.”

-  Miguel Ruiz

I love the book The Four Agreements, by Miguel Ruiz. It’s a classic.

In it, he tells us of four powerful agreements that we can make with our self that can help us be happier and maybe even change our life.

I understand them like this . . .

QUESTION YOUR CONCLUSIONS

Life would be crazy if we didn't assume a lot.

We assume our car will start when we turn the key or push the button. Or that our favorite yoga teacher will be there to teach the class. The problem is when our assumptions are wrong (it doesn’t and she isn’t) we are not happy.

We suffer a little bit.

These small daily assumptions help us lead a sane and predictable life. And it's annoying when our assumption is wrong.

There is another layer of assuming we do, without even knowing we are doing it. It’s the hidden underlying assumptions we have that really make us suffer.

For example . . .

We assume someone is mad at us when they really aren't. Or that we have let someone down when we really haven't.

We assume that life should be easier, people more understanding, our children should act a certain way, our efforts appreciated.

These assumptions are life sucking fugitives. If we don't seek them out in their dark hiding places and expose them, we will continue to suffer.

The way out is to investigate your assumptions. First become AWARE. That's a very yogic principle. Then apply another tool of yoga - Svadhyaya, which is self study.

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Is this really true?

  • Can I be absolutely positive it's true?

Rather than fighting against reality for an assumption about how things should be, do some deep questioning and self study. You might uncover an assumption you have that's causing necessary pain. Why not just give up the assumption?

You might be astounded at the volume of guesswork you automatically accept as fact when it is not fact. It's assumption.

CHOOSE YOUR WORDS WITH CARE

Before you speak, again ask yourself, “Is it true?" and then ask, "Is it kind?" Even if it is true and kind, ask yourself, "Is it necessary?”

If you let this principle govern everything that comes out of your mouth, you will be a more loyal friend and a better influence on everyone in your life.

You will be a much happier person too.

Once you begin to watch what you say and speak with integrity, it changes your life. It builds the habit of restraint. And that is a very useful habit to have!

Examining your words will lead to examining your thoughts and beliefs. Then you are really getting somewhere. Try it and see for yourself.

When you realize that your words are a reflection of your thoughts and your thoughts create your future, you will start to pay attention to what you speak.

If you know something hurtful
and not true, don’t say it.
If you know something hurtful
and true, don’t say it.
If you know something helpful
but not true, don’t say it.
If you know something helpful
and true, find the right time to say it.

- The Buddha

LIGHTEN UP

A lot of our suffering comes from thinking that other people’s actions, reactions and comments are directed at us.

At the heart of the matter it’s rarely about you, it’s about them. The more you realize this and can stop taking everything so personally, the happier you will be.

The truth is, we are all so wrapped up in our own “stuff ” that we limit our possibilities. When we don’t take things as a personal affront, we have so much more freedom and energy to really notice the choices we have.

Redirect all of the energy you put into defending yourself, explaining your actions and feeling like you are being judged. Put it into positive thoughts and deeds instead.

Guess what? You'll be happier.

BE REAL

When you know that you have done your best job possible, really tried and gave it your best, you feel great.

Your best will vary from day to day, moment to moment, and is dependant on your health, emotional state, energy level and the unique situation you are faced with.

Sometimes the best you can do is to do nothing.

The tricky part is honestly recognizing your capacity and determining the extent of your individual responsibility in any given situation. It’s important to be discerning in every situation because doing too much can be detrimental to your health and also can hurt others.

When you enable others by doing too much for them, it can stunt their growth, ultimately making life harder for them - and sometimes for you!

Always doing your best involves being present and conscious enough to discern what the best plan of action is; it could be taking a nap or running a marathon, depending on the day.

As Ruiz says, "Assume nothing, speak with integrity, don't take anything personally, and always do your best." You'll be happier.

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