Whoever said money can’t buy happiness hasn’t ridden a bike! Well, in truth, it’s not the bike making you happy, it’s the person you are when you get on your bike. Even if you drop ten thousand bucks on the sickest bike, it’s not going to make you happy sitting in your garage. For some of us, biking equals happiness because it ignites our authentic self; encourages the act of play, the freeing of our soul, happy endorphins, and healthy friendships.
The pursuit of happiness
Are you on the hunt for happiness? Trying to grasp it from everywhere but the place it is found. If discontent is your affliction, consumption is not your medication. Many people have tremendous suffering, and don’t know how to handle it. And so, they push it down and turn to shopping, addictions, relationships, careers, sex and control as an attempt to ease the pain.
Contentment and happiness requires us to dig deep and get in touch with our true self. Only then can we discover that even during suffering, it’s possible to be content. We gain the confidence to understand that right now in this moment we may not be totally happy, but we hold the power inside to find patience, gratitude and contentment.
How discontent surfaces in your life
Do you fill your emptiness with things?
Loneliness and the disconnection with your authentic self can make you turn to consumption. You feel anxious, and so you desperately search for stuff to buy, people to have a relationships and sex with, social status to acquire, food to devour or substances to abuse.
Understand that your discontent is driving the your underlying motivation to feel pleasure and avoid pain. You consume as a way to change your current state of being. When you find yourself in this moment, even if your anxiety and panic is making your skin crawl, BREATHE, get quiet and go into the feeling deeper. Having a direct experience with your emotions is the only way to heal.
A great method to dealing with these anxieties is to help others, because one of the best antidotes to pain is selfless service. It’s in our very nature as human beings to want to be of help others. This is where we realize our heart’s natural capacity for compassion, and where we can find joy. When we help others, our confidence surfaces because we realize we can offer something of value to the world. The experience allows us to see the real nature of things and what truly matters.
Are you a flaw finder?
Do you like to point out what’s wrong with people or how dumb people are? Do you get bothered easily and express your judgments with friends? If your answer is yes, this habit is probably damaging many aspects of your life, and you might not realize it.
If you constantly point out other people’s faults—slow drivers, loud chewers, bad fashion, sexual orientation, etc you’re perpetuating negative thinking, isolating yourself from forming relationships, emitting negative energy and blocking compassion. Pointing out others faults only serves to worsen your insecurities because this habit not only feeds a critical view of the world, it actually makes you more critical of yourself too.
Consciously make an effort to find something good about each person you meet. No one is perfect, including you, but everyone has something unique and special to offer the world. The more you invest in recognizing the greatness in others, the more you’ll uncover the greatness in yourself. And the happier you will be.
Are you a grudge holder?
It can be extremely difficult to let go of anger and resentment toward someone who hurts you, especially when there’s no sign of remorse. I mean, why pardon someone who just screwed you over?
Well, science has proven that choosing not to forgive is choosing sickness for yourself. With a myriad of damaging effects, including aging from increased cortisol, heart disease from stress and higher blood pressure, depression from a feeling of injustice and disturbing memories, and loss of friendships and social support from having a bitter mindset.
Let it go. You can recognize that you deserved better treatment, while also letting go of the negative emotions held toward the offender. Forgiveness is not weakness. Forgiveness and compassion sets you free, it demands courage and integrity and it can bring you the peace you need to be happy.
No one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. Therefore, we should not be quick to judge others and take things personally; instead realize that compassion is the answer. With the practice of compassion comes the solace, grace and comfort you long for.
Are you a power-seeker?
You may not realize your fear of powerlessness is causing you to reach outward relentlessly, to change the world around you. You obtain material possessions, you strive for increasing status, you obsess over your appearance and you seek relationships where you can be in a dominant role. All of these behaviours are a method of manipulating and controlling your external world as a way of making you feel safe and valuable, and it’s a way of avoiding the pain you feel without control.
Instead of reaching outward to change your world, you must look inward to work on yourself and create your own internal power. Practice being mindful and recognizing the fearful parts of you that want to take destructive actions.
If you use emotional games to punish or control someone, or physical force to dominate someone, then you actually create consequences that are painful for you. If you instead find internal power, and use loving intentions to understand or connect with others, you will create very different consequences.
Are you a blamer?
Relationships align us with those who mirror back to us the areas in which we need to heal or they will mirror back to us the space of self-love that we’ve created. Relationships will trigger fears, and it is our choice to enter conflict, run away, or go within.
Many times we try to change the other person in order for us to be happy. We judge or blame others, and think it’s always the other person who, has issues, who’s crazy, who demands too much, or who simply isn’t enough. Sadly, those with poor relationships often have an unhealthy relationship with themselves. They haven’t found their true identity within themselves, and look towards others to define them.
At any given moment, you’re either consciously choosing to be open to growth, with love; or you’re unconsciously choosing to protect against pain with behavior, such as anger, withdrawal, obedience, or resistance. See how all of the challenges in your relationships are a reflection of your thoughts, your traumas and your limiting beliefs. How do you think your past could have created issues relating to: low self-worth, anger, bitterness, jealousy, rejection, fear, etc.? There is so much wisdom to be found in these earlier versions of yourself.
Finding your inner zest
One of the best ways to find contentment, happiness and joy, is to look inwards. There is medicine in mindfulness, and it starts by pausing and taking a conscious breath. In doing this, we merge body and mind and have a greater sense of awareness, understanding and purpose.
There is a lot of talk about finding your life purpose—if only we could find that, we will be happy. We see purpose as an elusive thing only a lucky few are born with. In reality, it’s always present in everyone. I call purpose your inner zest. It’s the essence of who you are and the talents and passions ever-present in your life. Your inner zest is your innate talents and personality blended with your life experiences. It’s simply what makes you “you.” It’s not your job title or your external role such as mother or husband. Your inner zest is your unique recipe that’s unlike anyone else’s. For example, my innate personality is “creative maverick”. and that gets combined with all my life influences, experiences and traumas to create my recipe.
Think about your personality and talents. What bubbles up? Are there things you love to do that feel natural and come easy to you? Think about your life experiences, whether it’s been relationships, random jobs, travel, hobbies, educational or athletic pursuits; it doesn’t matter how or if they ended, all of these experiences are unique to you and incredibly valuable ingredients you’ve collected along the way.
Once you can describe your inner zest, you have to stop pretending like there’s no time left on earth for you to do something with it! Make time. How can you inject this new-found knowledge to your everyday life, your current job, or how can you apply it to a new career path?
Unleash your inner zest and you’ll be rewarded with a heavenly contentment stew.