The Happiness Illusion (updated)

 

happiness is not good enough

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Garden of Eden

You are constantly bombarded by self help gurus that preach the mantra that happiness is the primary goal for you life. Take some time to observe your own life and calculate the amount of time each day or week where you feel truly happy. I’m not talking about the times you feel content, challenged, or at peace, but instead the emotion of feeling very happy or elated. If you are forever chasing some state of happiness where the majority of the hours of the day are filled with happiness, then you are setting yourself up to experience yet another emotion, which will be a feeling of disappointment. You immediately jump to the conclusion that there is something wrong with me. I must be doing something wrong or I would be happy all the time, instead of the brief forays into happiness I am currently experiencing.

I’m guessing your day is filled with time spent in some or all of the following emotions:

  • Feeling anxious.
  • Frustration with yourself, others, or some man made process or rule.
  • Feeling challenged by your work and/or people you work with.
  • Loving others or feeling loved.
  • Feeling the fear of the unknown or known.
  • Anger or being pissed off about something or someone.
  • Self loathing for not living up to your own expectations or the expectations of others.
  • Envy for things or envious of what others have.
  • Fleeting moments of bliss or happiness.
  • Satisfaction with accomplishing something or learning something new.
  • Feeling uninspired or tired.
  • Feeling appreciated or unappreciated.
  • Desiring stuff, money, sex, or some mind altering drugs or alcohol.

I could go on and on with this list of emotions we experience often on a daily basis. We are filled with all these thoughts that affect our well being and all the yoga and mediation in the world will not eradicate them from your mind, believe me I’ve tried. Give yourself a fucking break, you are an emotional bundle of somewhat uncontrollable thoughts and you know it. Don’t and I mean do not let some dumb ass on YouTube tell you that if you buy this, or practice this, all of this will go away, and your life will become one big vacation. You can’t exist in some state of continuous bliss; you are not the Dali Lama. Sure you can seek enlightenment and end all this suffering and discontent, and I hope you achieve it someday, but on the off chance you don’t then you are going to have to learn to live in the world you currently inhabit.

I think happiness is overrated, there are many other emotional states that should occupy your mind; those that are more valuable to you and to others. I’m not saying you should live in some state or misery, but chasing a state of happiness is an illusion. Replace that quest with these feelings or life goals:

  • Taking responsibility for you life, your work, and your decisions.
  • Feeling challenged by your work and the fulfillment you feel when you step up to take on the challenge, win or lose.
  • Feeling good about yourself because you are working at being more disciplined.
  • Being grateful for all the shit you have; just look around you and notice the type of life that many are merely existing in, and you will see you have a lot to be grateful for.
  • Developing an appreciation for the people in your life, family, friends, co-workers, and customers.
  • The quiet satisfaction you feel from learning that came from reading, studying, experimenting, watching, and listening.
  • Desiring more from yourself or desiring more from life than you are currently getting. Desiring more for your life is not a bad thing. A lot of great things have been done by people with a burning desire to accomplish something.

Suffering builds character

In fact I would challenge you to consider that happiness as your constant state of mind would put you at a big disadvantage in life when it comes to achieving what you want. You need to experience difficult times, challenges, and a certain amount of pain to grow as a person. Maybe you can be satisfied by all the obstacles you have overcome to be where you are today, instead of wishing for a life of ease and self gratification. If the totality of life consisted of sitting on a beach in the Caribbean and drinking one Margarita after another how happy would you be then?

Think back on all the things you have accomplished, the events in your life that bring back good memories. What about the time you landed that job you wanted, or met that special person, or obtained that degree or certification you worked so hard for. I’ll bet you weren’t sitting around bullshitting yourself in some blissful state of euphoria; instead you got off your ass and took action. Quit wishing for happiness and start doing something constructive; in the long run you will feel a whole lot better about yourself.

I used to watch all this motivational shit on YouTube from Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn, Eric Thomas, Les Brown, and Bob Proctor, but instead of motivating me it made me feel dissatisfied with my work and my life in general. To tell you the truth these people have some good ideas, but ultimately they are trying to sell you one of their books or have you come to their seminar. Meanwhile they make you feel unfulfilled about your life so they can generate more sales and then you just feel like shit when you could have been enjoying the life you have.

You already know what you need to change in your life to progress. You certainly don’t need someone else to tell you the areas of your life that are pretty fucked up.

Let me leave you with this quote from Gary John Bishop that comes from his book UNFU*K Yourself:

I expect nothing and accept everything!

Try living your life for a while expecting nothing and accepting everything that happens to you. If you expect to be happy all the time and can’t accept it when life sucker punches you then you are doomed my friend. Drop the stupid expectations and take life as it is served up to you, then you can at least control the suffering and enjoy the good stuff.

Namaste

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Airline Travel

Resultado de imagen para small airline seats

I must admit this is kind of a rant if you will. In the last few months I have been traveling about every other week, so I have had the joy of flying with a particular airline that has its headquarters in Dallas Texas where I live. I won’t name the airline, but if you know anything about Dallas it could only be one of two airlines. Let me first explain my company does not purchase first class tickets for their employee’s so I fly coach exclusively.

Let’s start with the seats and their lack of size and comfort. I weigh about 160 pounds, so I would be an average sized man, and I barely fit into these seats. I’ve noticed some pretty big guys and gals on the plane and I can’t believe they can squeeze in these tiny seats. Recently I needed to pull out my laptop and get something done for work before I landed. I was in the middle seat, although I’m not sure that mattered all that much and let me tell you I could barely type and the screen on the laptop was vertical. There is not enough room to comfortably use a computer on these planes with the exception of flying first class. I try to get an aisle or window seat, but there have been a few times I was in the middle seat, which is maybe 5 times worse than the aisle or window seat. In any case these seats are way to small, with no consideration for the customer with the only objective to jam more people on the plane to make more money per flight.

Now what about flight times? I love it when the airline says we have a 2 hour flight, but what they don’t tell you is they intend to board the plane 30 to 45 minutes prior to take off and then they close the door having you nicely trapped on the plane. Now you are likely to sit around for 30 to 60 minutes on the runway before departing to your destination for all kinds of reasons usually related to their inability to understand logistics. You start to feel some sense of relief when you land, but wait there is more. During a recent trip we taxied around the runway for 25 minutes before getting to our gate and then it took them 10 minutes to hook up the walkway so you could actually leave the plane. Add another 45 minute Uber ride and then I am finally home. Here is the total time:

  1. Uber to the airport 45 minutes
  2. Get to the security check area and get through it 15 minutes
  3. Sit around the airport for 1 hour before boarding
  4. Board the plane 30 minutes early
  5. Sit on the runway waiting for weather or other planes to take off (say 45 minutes)
  6. Two hours for actually flying
  7. 30 minutes once you land before you actually get off the stupid plane
  8. 45 minute Uber ride home

Grand Total = 6 hours and 30 minutes

Let’s talk about the TSA, also known as the people that work at the security check you need to go through to get to your gate. If you are TSA precheck then life if much better for you, but if you are not you are treated like a potential terrorist. Take off your shoes, your belt, take your laptop out of your backpack, empty your pockets, and now you get to stand in a full body scanner with your arms raised like you are under arrest. To add insult to injury they do random body searches, which I think is more like every 10th person or so. Now if you don’t have anything on you because you are trying to hold up your pants and you just went through a full body scanner, why in the hell do you need to be patted down?

I won’t even go into cancelled flights, the airline employee’s, the smell of fuel in the cabin while you are sitting on the ground, the louder than hell cabin, other passengers babbling incessantly,  or how hard the fucking seats are.

Unfortunately a two hour flight can take you places over a 1,000 miles away, a lot further than you could comfortably drive in a day. So flying is a necessary evil for many of us and it is a shame the airlines and airports can’t make this a more tolerable experience.

Well I feel much better now. Sorry about the airline rant and if you work for an airline as a pilot or steward I’m sorry for you, as you are not to blame for what has become one of the worst ways to travel.

Namaste

 

 

 

Listening to Ego

ego quote Richard Rose

It often starts like this “Well I need a healthy ego to bolster my self confidence and achieve things in the world”.

Here is a definition of ego that I think is pretty good:

a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.
“a boost to my ego”
synonyms: self-esteem, self-importance, self-worth, self-respect, self-image, self-confidence

I highlighted self-importance because this is where the destructive side of ego is unveiled. We get ourselves into all kinds of life limiting thought patterns, when we are controlled by our egoistic mind. Here is where we come up with ideas like I’m better than someone else, or I deserve to have something. To start out with your not better than anyone else and you don’t really deserve anything. Our ego will limit what we do because instead of working for something we end up  trapped in our egotistic thoughts and become resentful thinking we deserve it.

Here are a few examples of ego driven thought patterns:

  • My boss is such a moron and doesn’t deserve his or her position. I’m much smarter than them; why am I stuck in this mediocre job? – Now that’s a nice judgmental attitude and to top it off a bit of entitlement thrown in for good measure.
  • You tell yourself that I’m so fit and healthy, and when you see that overweight person walk by, you think to yourself wow they are fat and should lose some weight. Nice now your ego facilitates physical comparisons, judging people by how they look without knowing anything about them.  
  • You are driving your 10 year old car and you see someone with a new 100k Tesla, and you think why don’t I have a car like that? Again a sense of entitlement mixed in with unhealthy comparison.
  •  Everyone is an idiot, the conservatives and liberals in this country are completely clueless. Everyone in government is corrupt and worthless. Sure you are qualified to be the judge and jury for just about anything.

Do you see a pattern here? As you let your ego drive your thoughts a few patterns of behavior emerge. The egotistic mind results in being judgmental, critical, comparing yourself to others, and a sense of entitlement. All of these thoughts prevent you from doing something productive with your time and will only chip away at whatever level of happiness you currently have.

Stop this shit!

You don’t deserve anything. If you want something go out and get it, but quit thinking you deserve it, because you don’t. You not entitled to anything that you haven’t earned.

Stop judging people! You just met someone and you begin judging how smart they are or how attractive they are. This is bullshit and you know it. You just met them so you don’t know anything about them; quit judging and get to know them. You might be shocked at how reserving judgement allows you to get to know some really great people.

It’s your ego that keeps telling yourself that your better than everyone else. Another ego trip that we indulge in is we begin to think we are the role we play at work. Maybe this role is well compensated or comes with a big office and lots of perks. You feel pretty special as the Director of ______________ (fill in the blank). Your sense of identity and most of your waking hours are wrapped up in living out this role. The egotistic mind loves it when you become some role, as it just makes life so much simpler.

Stop kidding yourself, that role you are so fond of is temporary and you know it. What happens the day you walk out that door and are no longer the Director of x? If you are driven by your ego, you may be crushed or madly searching for another role to attach yourself too.

Just for a while observe your own ego and catch yourself when you become judgmental or begin comparing yourself to others. You will come to a realization that your ego is getting in the way of you having a real life. Kill the ego and begin enjoying your life.

Namaste

The Cure for Expectations

house_sitting_expectations

I recently wrote a review on the book UnFu*k Yourself where one of the authors rules for life was “I expect nothing; I accept everything”. As you think about this for a while it begins to make sense. Expecting things to turn out a certain way or for people to act a certain way is the road to disappointment. To start out with it takes you away from the present and instead you are living with expectations of the future. Let’s take a few examples:

  • While I’m driving I expect people to follow traffic laws. Little things like stop signs, traffic lights, speed limits, etc. Now this is one hell of a stupid expectation. When humans get behind the wheel of a car they turn into complete morons.
  • I expect that I will be recognized for my work at my place of business. Occasionally this happens, but never enough to live up to our expectations.
  • I expect that my significant other will appreciate the things I do for them. So what is it that they must do to live up to these expectations?
  • I expect that my children will be as motivated and driven as I am. That’s a real crock of shit.
  • I expect that my government will spend my tax money smartly and not build up trillions of dollars in debt. How silly is that?
  • I have expectations for myself surrounding being constantly happy or healthy. Set the bar high my friend and disappointment will find you.

These are just a few examples of how we all live with expectations that are literally sucking the fun out of life. There is no better way to mess up living in the present than by having all these stupid expectations. I’m not advocating that you don’t have dreams or goals, but be aware that if these are laden down with heaps of expectations you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Things rarely turn out the way you expect, often things turn out much better or much worse. You have so little control about how things will turn out, or what someone thinks of you, and planning on how things will turn out is a risky proposition. Do the best you can but don’t be so definitive about the outcome.

So what is the cure for this never ending life of expectations? I’m guessing if you read Gary Bishop’s book you know the answer. One little, but powerful word Acceptance is all you need to understand. By accepting things as they are, you are taking a big step towards living in the present. Give yourself a fucking break; you can often be accepting of others, but you can’t cut yourself some slack. If you can start living with a mindset of accepting life as it is, you will begin to really enjoy what you have and maybe even the things you do. Here are a couple of different ways to look at acceptance:

Acceptance-1Acceptance 2

You don’t need to throw away all your dreams or vision for the future, but don’t get so specific that you put yourself in a corner when things don’t turn out exactly as you expected. Throwing out those silly expectations leaves you open to a whole new perspective and to enjoy how things unfold. All of this can provide amazing levels of joy instead of comparing what happens to your expectations.

I will leave you with one other quote from Gary Bishop that really resonated with me.

“Plan for victory and learn from your defeats.”

Here are a few quotes on acceptance to ponder.

Happiness can exist only in acceptance. George Orwell

The greatest gift that you can give to others is the gift of unconditional love and acceptance. Brian Tracy

The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. Nathaniel Branden

My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations. Michael J. Fox

Acceptance looks like a passive state, but in reality it brings something entirely new into this world. That peace, a subtle energy vibration, is consciousness. Eckhart Tolle

Namaste

Fitting in

fitting in

I find it ironic as companies search for talent to fill roles in their organizations they tout a culture of innovation and risk taking. It amuses me that leadership espouses these principles, but the reality is often a culture of conformity. We hire for cultural fit more than looking for individuality. We want to find people who believe the same things we believe, and act the way we want them to act. What most organizations want more than anything else is people that will fit in and not question the most recent management fad implemented in their companies. Gone are the minuscule privacy afforded by the cubicle and in its place we now have the open office. Note that anyone that actually did any real work would know that open offices are a joke.

open-office

Now this is awesome, sitting right across from someone all day. 

It is no small miracle that employee’s search for solitude to work in a conference room or god forbid working at home. My guess is that any company that summons its workers to come to the office each day is losing anywhere from 25% to 50% in productivity and on top of that they are pissing off the workforce. Brilliant!

I predict that this conformity imposed by many employers will drive away the most intelligent people to somewhere else. Where will these individualist land; that is difficult to know. There is certainly a trend towards people leaving large corporations and striking out on their own, becoming self employed, but not everyone is inclined to do so. Is it possible that there are some intelligent enterprises that can allow an employee be an individual and work when and where they are most productive? Maybe but I wouldn’t look to an employer that has more than 1,000 employees and in most cases around 500 or less.

Asking people to conform to every rule or adhere mindlessly to every stupid process does have ramifications. Let’s just say you throw lots of money at your people so that they feel they really can’t leave because the golden handcuffs have them immobilized. The dirty little secret is that the primary incentive for them is financial, and the quality of the work suffers as the employee becomes increasingly resentful. Again brilliant!

Instead of a team of inspired individuals you now have a pack of financially driven robots that follow every command. Think of it, you got what you wanted, all your people fit in, follow your processes, and believe what you believe. One little problem is that all  this conformity and culture fit has left you with a workforce of zombies where the only differences are gender or ethnicity. Good luck being innovative or dodging the next bullet that the business world has just around the corner.

If every day you have to hold your tongue, swallow hard, and kiss the ass of some moron then good. You now have a reason to do something better with your life. Quit fucking yourself over; you have one life and you don’t need to spend it subjugating yourself to someone or someplace that tries to turn you into something you are not.

Think about it.

Namaste

 

What are you waiting for?

 

Wating Game

Like most of us I have deferred doing many things in my life. I tell myself maybe it’s not the right time, not just yet. I tell myself maybe it is too risky or beyond my abilities. I tell myself that it is too expensive or I just don’t have time for it. Unfortunately I have lied to myself and time marches on with me no closer to my dreams.

I tell myself there is lots of time to do that which I long to do in the future. I have focused my thoughts and desires to be something I will attain in the future. My mind does not live in the present it only focuses on the future. I make investments in myself, in others, sometimes financially or physically so that I will have a better future, or so I think. The irony is, there really is no guarantee of the future. The future has yet to happen and it is a figment of my imagination.

Ask yourself is there something you want to do? Maybe you would like to write a book, travel somewhere, have a relationship with someone, start a business, purchase a new home, or find a way to give something back to the world.

What are you waiting for?

 

With no guarantee of the future, all of this waiting for the right time to begin to live the life you want is simply wrong. You don’t know how much time you have left on this earth, so why wait? Here are some examples of deferring to the future:

  • I’ll start that business or buy that thing when I have more than enough money saved, maybe 4 or 5 years from now. Are you really going to wait 4 or 5 years for something you really want to do? Are there no other options?
  • I will stop that addiction (smoking, drinking, drugs, gambling) sometime in the future when the time is just right. Have you noticed the time is never quite right? Will you be better off deferring being free from the addictions that are dragging you down?
  • I don’t have time to work on that book I always wanted to write. I have far to many responsibilities to attend to. If you had all the time in the world what other excuse would you use? Have you ever thought that you have never prioritized your writing over all the other bullshit you think needs to be done?
  • I really would like a better relationship with my significant other, children, siblings, parents, friends, but I’m too busy to call or spend time with them. Do you really want to go to your grave not being present for the people you love?

These are yet a few examples from my own life that plague me; I’m sure you can come up with your own list.

Quit imagining that you have all the time in the world to do the things you want to do, because you don’t. Make at least some effort to prioritize what is important to you and do it. If that means you have to be a little selfish then so be it. Look at your habits and decide do I really need to sit there every night and watch 2 hours of television.

Decide right now that the future is an illusion; begin living in the present and start doing the things you want to do and I mean now!

Stop taking for granted all the wonderful things that are happening around you understanding that tomorrow they become a thing of the past. You cannot wait for something to happen to experience fulfillment, happiness, and joy in your life; decide that the time is now.

happiness-is-now

These things that you want to do or have, may or may not bring the satisfaction you think they will in your life, but by not acting on your desires you will never know.

As human beings we attempt to live our lives in the past, present, and future. We often work in soul crushing jobs so that we can enjoy two or three weeks off. Are you actually working yourself to death for a couple weeks off? You can have a life more fulfilling that that; you were not created to simply settle.

It’s fine to think about what you want to become or have, but don’t stop by just dreaming about it; you must act and you must live in the now.

Namaste

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of life’s greatest pleasures

never stop learning concept on blackboard

We spend a good part of our life looking for satisfaction by acquiring things like bigger homes, expensive cars, and other possessions. Our quest for these things becomes our focus, believing that they will bring us happiness and pleasure. I’m not sure where all of this came from, maybe it is a result of our culture, but it often leads to a misguided approach to life.

As human beings we have an innate need to learn, which leads to self improvement, and yes happiness. For me and so many others, one of life’s greatest pleasures is learning. Think about the times you have been really happy. Maybe this was when you were pursuing a degree, studying for a certification, or learning something from your own studies or work. Unlike acquiring some material possession your pursuit of knowledge can never be taken away from you, it will not erode or decay over time. The pleasure you get by learning doesn’t wear off, but instead provides an infinite source of gratification.

Most of us can agree that goals are a good thing, they provide focus and direction, but make sure that learning is one of your highest priority goals. In fact those other material things are often the result of learning. Sure it’s great to have a nice car, a comfortable home, electronic toys, and whatever else you enjoy possessing. Unfortunately as you focus on attaining these things, once acquired they leave you with a taste for more much like any other addiction. One should also weigh the cost of what you might have to give up to acquire all these things. While learning costs you very little, maybe the cost of the book, and an investment of your time.

Take a few moments today and think back on a time when you were not obsessed with things, but instead spent your time learning about subjects that interested you. Can you think of anything that brought you more pleasure? It is never too late to change the way you think, modify your goals, and focus on the one thing that can bring you great satisfaction, happiness, and pleasure.

The very act of learning about things that interest you opens the door to everything else, creating opportunities go grow and to contribute to this world. Don’t misunderstand me I am not advocating you become a monk; I have material goals, but most of my goals are centered around learning for personal or professional development, and these are the goals that that provide the most pleasure in my life.

Namaste