"Why Am I So Unhappy?": How We’ve Spent Our Entire Lives Learning To Be Unhappy

Self-Actualization
"Why Am I So Unhappy?": How We’ve Spent Our Entire Lives Learning To Be Unhappy
It makes sense that everything we do in life is, in some way, devoted to maintaining our happiness.
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The way we see the problem is the problem.

-Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Take the following examples:
  • We constantly strive towards the ideal body so that we can look and feel good.
  • We work towards financial freedom to do or have what we want.
  • We try to meet and attract higher quality partners and improve our relationships to form deeper, more authentic connections.
And all of this in order to make us happy. Makes sense, right?

Wrong. These things are not required for happiness. In fact, we would like to propose that happiness is an innate, default state that can be brought to the surface at any moment - regardless of how much (or how little) we have of these things.

Happiness as an Innate, Default State

Many people reading this will be thinking:

“If happiness is already a default state, then why are so many people unhappy? And why does my life suck?”
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…many of us have spent much of our lives learning to be unhappy. We do this by buying into a mental model that is deeply flawed: the idea that we have to get something to do something to be something to be happy.

The fact is many of us have spent much of our lives learning to be unhappy. We buy into a mental model that is deeply flawed: the idea that we have to get something to do something to be something to be happy. We’ve become so accomplished at it that we aren’t even aware we’re doing it anymore.

The model itself isn’t solely the problem. The problem is our lack of awareness of it, and our assumption that this is how the world works.

It’s a variation of the basic IF THEN model. i.e. in the thinking that if a particular thing happens, it is then I will be happy. The only difference between each individual is the particular IF chosen. Similarly, the only difference between the current you and the you from 10 years ago is the particular IF that you have chosen. Chances are that you probably now have many of those things you desired ten years ago, but are still in exactly the same place.

What does this mean?

We can see that it is the IF THEN model itself that is flawed, not what it is that you happen to put on the IF side of the equation. Instead of recognizing this, we might spend our lives perpetually changing the IF only to find that it fails us again and again.
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...it is the IF THEN model itself that is flawed, not what it is that you happen to put on the IF side of the equation. Instead of recognizing this, we might spend our lives perpetually changing the IF only to find that it fails us again and again.

“I thought if only I got into a long-term relationship then I would be happy…now I realise that it is only if we get married and have kids then I will really be happy…”

It goes on and on. And even though we all have our own variations, the same model applies.

It is the model itself that is flawed, not what it is that constitutes your IF.

Surrendering to the Present Moment

Have you ever experienced a scene of immense beauty – so beautiful that it took you to a place of bliss? Perhaps you saw a beautiful rainbow, or valley, or some other naturally beautiful scene. Maybe for a short time you even felt a oneness with a higher power.

Have you ever wondered why this happened?

Whatever the reason was, at that instant you accepted the present moment exactly as it was – not looking to improve it or change it in any way. You accepted even the crooked tree to the side as equally perfect. As you fully surrendered to the present moment, your conditioned wanting self dropped away as your innate, default happiness resurfaced.

The problems that you have (or think you have) are actually just your perception and a reflection of your unwillingness to accept them - just like you did with the crooked tree.
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