How are you feeling today? Are you on cloud nine (=very happy) or down in the dumps (=very unhappy)?
Buddhism teaches us to strive for joy unaffected by our external circumstances, but for most of us, that’s not too easy. Some people seem to remain in a baseline level of happiness with few disturbances to their peace of mind, and some – like me – seem to go on a rollercoaster of emotion every day. I’m either over the moon (=ecstatic, extremely happy), blowing a fuse (=getting very angry) with everyone around me, or wallowing in the depths of my own misery (=being very sad). Sometimes the variety of strong emotions I experience every day leaves me exhausted!
I’ve read a lot of books about happiness, two of my favourites being The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama, and The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Ruiz says the four steps to happiness are as follows:
- Be impeccable (=honest, truthful, with good intentions) with your word. Don’t lie, gossip (=talk about other people), or criticize.
- Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. When you are immune to (=unable to be affected by) the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of unnecessary suffering.
- Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.
- Always do your best. Remember that our best changes from moment to moment. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.
Do you think these four steps could help you? How? What do you think is the key to real happiness?