How to be happy again: I wish we learned this in school
Do you remember how happy you were as a child?
How to be happy again experiencing the same level of peace?
If there is one single notion that drastically changed my life, it would be the notion of presence.
With presence, I went from a place of total lack of confidence and suffering to a place where I found peace and self-acceptance.
I wish the notion of presence were taught in school. What if everyone knew about it? I wish we hadn’t that much suffering in the world.
Yet, I can’t really force people to change, let alone change the world. I had to change first, and I did so by understanding the notion of presence.
How unconscious I was back then
Before explaining the notion of presence, let me share with you a very personal story.
In 2012, I lived in Rabat, Morocco for my postgraduate program. I used to take a 45-minute ride to University. One day, as I went back from my classes, a beautiful 20-something, blonde and tall Moroccan girl hopped the tramway. She noticed the free seat and immediately sat next to me. I even remember her perfume J’adore from Dior, just to tell you how I remember every single detail of that scene.
As she pulled her brand new gold iPhone 5s, suffering from a huge lack of self-esteem and complex of inferiority, I immediately felt uncomfortable. My mind went wild as I started to compare myself with her: she’s so rich, she must be extremely happy, she’s so confident what about me?
My mind didn’t stop there, I really pity and even blamed myself for not being as worthy as her. Wanting validation, I pulled my Sony Ericsson Xperia just to show I had a phone too. I later “pretended” somebody texted me and “faked” replying to the person! During the whole journey until my classes and even beyond, my mind went back and forth on that scene.
I later regretted having “faked” everything, just to prove something to a total stranger who didn’t even notice me.
That was too much to handle for a single day. But with hindsight, I created myself this amount of suffering. A total stranger didn’t make me feel that way, I did. In the end, I never knew how to be happy in life.
How to be happy again: You can have two lives too
Honestly speaking, I’ve always told myself that I have two lives. The first one was when I was born until 2013. Apart from my fond childhood, I mostly remember sufferings and feelings of inadequacy from that period. The second was a re-born since February 2013, the year I discovered and applied the notion of presence. My only regret is not to have discovered it earlier. The story I shared with illustrates this post-2013 period.
The ultimate key to happiness: presence
Being present is arguably the ultimate key to happiness. 95% of people are unaware that they can control their mind. I suffered because I was part of the 95% for over 20 years. If you are part of the 95%, chances are you are suffering too. So how to be happy with yourself you might ask?
Why is presence so important?
Have you ever had this mental noise in your mind, an incessant background self-talk? We all normally do. Its activities get worse when facing challenging situation. For example, when the beautiful girl sat next to me, tons of questions, self-comparison popped out of my mind. We have the choice between identifying ourselves with these thoughts or shift away and observe them. We identify with them when we react and consider them as “real”. I failed to understand that my thoughts have no real existence. They are just like clouds passing by. But if we sustain and give them power, they will take control of us.
Concretely, if a thought “Oh, I am so inadequate” enters my mind, I have the choice. I can react and maintain that thought or I can just observe it and be sure that thought has no real existence. If I chose the first option, I would’ve carried on: “I am so inadequate, I am such a loser, I don’t deserve to live” etc., and it will continue on and on as my mind now controls me. If you chose the second option, which is to stay alert, to be present, then you don’t react, you don’t overreact but observe the initial thought and don’t feed it.
How to be happy again: The little voice inside your head is the enemy
This mental activity constitutes most of humans’ source of suffering. This little voice inside our head leaves no room for peace. The little voice comments, speculates, judges, compares, blames, likes or doesn’t anything. Maybe you couldn’t even sleep because of its continuous activities.
I know a friend who’s proud of the critical thinking he developed. He judges, comments everything. He’s also got a wrinkled face, too much for his young age. He’s proud about it, but I mostly realized how he lacks presence and how his mind controls him. And that is the problem; some of us cannot dissociate themselves from that little voice.
The voice in our head is similar to a little child: it hasn’t grown up, it is scared. That little voice too is at 90% negative. A unconscious person tends to believe in their negative self-talks. As a result, if you never heard of “presence” before, chances are, you feel unworthy, you lack confidence just as I described in the first paragraph.
Our mind is nothing but a tool
Our mind is nothing but a tool. We must use it not to let the contrary happen: the tool controlling us. You normally control your hand, and this is normal. If you move it to the left, it follows your instructions, if you move it to the right, it follows your will. But what if you can’t properly move your hand? What if it gesticulated wildly without your control? We can transpose this example to our mind. Normally, we have the power to control it just like when we control our hand. But most people have their “monkey mind” controlling them.
Here, I discovered the link between happiness and presence. We can say that the more we control our thoughts, the happier we become (or the lesser sufferings you’ll experience). But there is another link that I’d like to suggest. By controlling your thoughts, you can plant positive thoughts in your mind and reap positive results. Controlling our thoughts then remain crucial both for our happiness and outcomes in life. Remember that one of the top 5 regrets of the dying is not having ourselves be happier. If you haven’t read the article yet, I invite you to do so. I wish you well and hope you find the answer to your question on how to be happy again. By then, until next time! Sitraka