Modern culture seems obsessed with finding the keys to attaining and maintaining a life of contentment and happiness. The belief that people must work to acquire happiness makes the problem worse. Most people assume that events in their lives determine their happiness– even though many individuals seem happy despite their hardships while others remain unhappy despite numerous blessings.
To achieve true happiness and a life of contentment, disconnect your sense of happiness from happenings. Happiness can endure regardless of life’s ups and downs. Society conditions people to believe that being happy is hard. But happiness is readily accessible. Being out in nature calms and soothes you because you don’t need to take any particular action to connect with its serenity. Tranquility is available to every person. Eastern practices such as meditation and yoga help you unite with the stillness and spiritual calm that is already within you.
Live A Life Of Contentment By Acknowledging The Three Thieves Of Happiness
Looking at the world through distorted thought patterns and internal filters enables the three thieves of happiness– control, conceit, and coveting– to steal your joy. They render you unable to see reality as it truly exists. By extension, the thieves adversely affect society at large. Scientific research suggests that people achieved dominance on earth through their ability to cooperate with each other– despite competitive tendencies that result in conflict and war.
The First Thief: Control
In the Buddha’s search many centuries ago for the reason humanity suffers, he came to realize that acceptance is the secret to a life of contentment. People’s desire to control uncontrollable things destroys their happiness and internal peace. Suffering isn’t the result of life events but of humankind’s reluctance to embrace the inevitability of such events. You can control your actions and how you respond to events, but you are powerless over events themselves or the outcome of your actions. Goals and desires aren’t obstacles to happiness. The trouble occurs when you anticipate an outcome that doesn’t materialize. You experience disappointment and unhappiness. Sometimes, the outcome you seek turns out to be less fulfilling than striving to reach it.
Human beings try to control the past and the future– to no avail, of course. Regretting the past and worrying about the future prevent you from living in the present. Being in the moment means accepting things as they are– even though the quest for control pushes you to believe you can manage life’s outcomes. You are responsible for booting the control thief– as well as all the other thieves– out of your house. It is you who decide who is welcome and who isn’t. You can’t prevent errant thoughts, but you can steer them in a different direction. You alone determine whether you will allow unhealthy thoughts to take up space in your mind or not. Meditation can help you brush aside negative or distracting thoughts. The goal is to recognize them as such and then sweep them away.
The Second Thief: Conceit
This bandit likes to pump up your ego and make you feel like the world’s most important person. Conceit wants you to forget your fellow human beings and focus only on your needs, wants and desires. Conceit says to ignore being part of something greater than yourself and forget that everyone is connected to an all-encompassing life-force. Happiness lies not in individual pursuits but in acknowledging that life, death and everything in between is eternal and ongoing. Combat conceit with giving and being. Acts of kindness are far greater sources of happiness than self-centered behaviors.
Like the other thieves, conceit wears a convincing disguise. Conceit tries to convince you that your happiness is all that matters. You may recognize that this thief is trying to isolate you from everyone and everything around you. Acknowledge its presence, but don’t be fooled. Understand the truth– you are on a journey to discover your connections to this world.
Conceit has a detrimental effect on society. People often believe that the world exists solely for their benefit. Humans play a unique role in nature, yet they still require the same food, air, and water that millions of other creatures also need. Every living entity has a history and a purpose. To banish conceit, serve others and celebrate your connection to the world around you.
The Third Thief: Coveting
Nothing is inherently wrong or destructive about wanting things in life you don’t already have. But coveting means you are envious of other people and harbor resentment because you may not be as wealthy, handsome or socially prominent as they are. Envy fosters discontent and inner turmoil; in its grip, you determine your self-worth by comparing yourself with others. Instead of being happy for their good fortune, you are disappointed, jealous and bitter.
A completely equal society is impossible. Jealousy over one issue or another is inevitable. But working on your inner self will allow you to be happy for others instead of constantly comparing yourself to them. People who practice gratitude– the opposite of coveting– are happier, healthier, kinder, more sociable, more compassionate and less angry. They may even have a strong immune system. But simply articulating gratitude isn’t enough to get rid of this thief. You must look inward and chart your own course instead of measuring yourself against others.
Being aware of a thief’s presence is crucial to banishing it. You may not always be able to prevent a thief from entering your mind, but you can prevent it from influencing you. You can always choose to live a life of contentment. Contentment means living in the moment and accepting your circumstances or situation. Contentment means finding peace and not being unhappy.
Three Steps To Banishing The Three Thieves Of Happiness
- Notice– Be aware of a thief’s presence. Catch it in the act.
- Stop– Don’t let the thief dominate your thoughts. Show it the door.
- Replace– Substitute a positive thought. Focus only on the present moment.
Using these steps effectively takes work. Live a life contentment by being cognizant of every moment when you believe that your happiness depends on a particular outcome or you’re fighting the reality of the moment. Instead of blaming a traffic jam for ruining your commute, realize that the situation is totally out of your control and practice acceptance. Make the best of the circumstances you encounter. Also, why not use the law of attraction to manifest what you want?