Finding Real Happiness - A Talk That Changed My Life
In 2015, I attended a free talk conducted by Vikas Malkani, an influential teacher of personal growth and self-development, and the founder of SoulCentre®. I came out of the talk feeling extremely inspired by his simple yet powerful tips on finding real happiness - so I feel compelled to share some of his happiness tips here so many more people can benefit from it.
Vikas began the session by stating that we all have an amazing mind. It is amazing because when we tell our mind to do something, it will try to find a way to get it done. Therefore, if we SET our minds to find real happiness, we will be able to find it.
Vikas then went on to define the meaning of real happiness.
Do you believe that real happiness can be achieved simply by a change of mindset?
So what exactly is real happiness?
Vikas explained that real happiness is happiness that never leaves us. It does not come and go, but stays once we find it. For example, a person receives a branded bag and starts showing it off to her friends. When she sees how envious her friends are, her happiness level is off the charts. The next day, she meets up with her friends again. However, this time, her friends also brought their branded bags along (some perhaps even more desirable than her bag). Immediately, her happiness level drops drastically.
This is not real happiness. Real happiness will stay with us no matter what happens - where ever we are and whatever we are experiencing in life.
So how do we exactly achieve real happiness?
Vikas shared the following 5 things (each starting with a story to illustrate his point) that we can all do now to be genuinely happy.
Do 10 Pull Ups Every Morning
Story: Your day begins, you look out the window and noticed that it is a hot sunny day. You start telling yourself, " It is going to be a hot and dreadful day! I have 3 sales calls to make and I will be sweating like crazy running around all day! This is definitely going to be a bad day."
Your day has not started yet and you have already made a decision that your day will not be a good one.
Your neighbor wakes up and she is looking at the same hot sunny day. She says, " Wow, it's another hot sunny day! But I can enjoy the sun and sweat it out. I will try to come home early today and have a good walk after work."
Both individuals are experiencing the exact same day and yet one will enjoy it so much more than the other - just purely due to a difference in mindset.
What you should do:
Start the day with 10 spiritual pull-ups to give yourself a positive start. All it takes is one minute of your time in the morning to complete these pull-ups. There will always be a long list of things to do when you wake up; making breakfast, attending to children, getting ready for work. However, it will make a huge impact to your day if you could just spend some time to start the day right.
So how do you do these spiritual pull ups?
Lift your arms out as if you are reaching for something and then tell yourself, " I am going to have an awesome day!", while putting your hands to your heart.
Lift your arms out again and tell yourself, " I choose to be happy today and be patient & kind to those around me!", while putting your hands to your heart again.
Repeat this until you have told yourself 10 positive statements. Then you can prepare for your day and go about your daily routine, with a stronger and happier mind.
Remember, if you take your best game out, be strong, be positive, then it will be a good day. You may not know what the day will bring to you, but you know what you will bring to your day.
Feed The Positive Dog
Story: In a village, a grandmother and her 8 year old grandson were walking on a path. The grandson was walking ahead of his grandmother, but soon ran back in fear as he had spotted two dogs fighting at the road up ahead.
The grandmother then said, " Let's sit down and watch to see who will win." After some time, the grandmother asked the boy who he thought will win the fight. The boy replied, "The dog on the left will win for sure, because he is the bigger, stronger dog!" The grandmother nodded in agreement.
Later, the grandmother said, "Do you know that there are also 2 dogs in your mind? These dogs are constantly fighting with each other."
"Really?? Why is that?" the boy asked.
The grandmother explained, "Because one is the positive dog who is always encouraging you, telling you how good you are. However, there is also another negative dog who is constantly telling you that you are bad."
The boy then asked, "Which dog will win?"
To which the grandma replied, " Whichever dog you feed the most becomes the bigger dog and will win the fight. Everyday, you are feeding one or the other. Therefore, you should always remember to feed the positive dog."
What you should do:
In your thinking process, you should always think positive first and negative second.
All of us like to fuss about our problems. All of us like to lean toward the negative. If you meet up with a friend for coffee, the session will probably breeze by if the topics centered around negative events and complaints in your life. However, if all is well, then there is nothing really to talk about.
Remember that happiness is a choice and also a result of that choice. If you choose to feed the positive dog, you will slowly develop the habit of positive thinking (regardless of any situation you are in), and this will bring you genuine happiness.
Story: A monk and his student were walking to the market. A man, who did not like the monk, came forward and intersected the pair. He then proceeded to tell the monk everything that he disliked about the monk. As the man went on and on, the student became more and more angry.
The man then asked the monk, "So what do you have to say about all that I've just said?"
The monk smiled and very calmly replied, "It's ok. You are right. Everything you said is right."
The man was shocked by the reply as he was expecting an argument to erupt. He then mumbled to himself before walking away, feeling confused and dissatisfied.
The student was puzzled and asked the monk, "Why did you agree with the man when he is obviously wrong?" The monk explained, " Because the task I gave myself today is to be happy, not to be right."
What you should do:
At times, we tend to sacrifice our own happiness in order to be right. Our ego is so big that we have to be right most, if not all the time. We also expect everything to go our way, to be perfect - just the way we want it.
However, we should not expect people and the world around us to be perfect. The world is imperfect so we have to learn to accept it and live with it!
Remember that you live in a world of duality. There are always 2 sides to things. When there is a front, there is a back. There is night and day, profit and loss, good and bad, a beginning and an end. Is it truly possible to experience only one side of things all day? Is it possible to have a perfect day everyday and be right all the time?
If you are a perfectionist and you have the urge to always be right, then you have to make a change. The world will never change for you. You have to lower your standards, ease up and do not hold on to your life so tightly. Remember that life, happiness and pleasure is not something you can squeeze into shape. The more you hold them tight, the more they are squeezed out of your hands.
Learn to accept that no one is always right. The world is imperfect. You are also imperfect. But that is perfectly alright.
Story: During a physics class, the professor requested for a volunteer. A moment later, a boy stood up.
The professor then pointed to a glass of water on the table and asked the boy if he could come to the front of the class and hold it up with one hand. The boy walked up to the front and held up the glass effortlessly with his right hand. The professor then asked if he thought the glass of water was heavy. Without much hesitation, the boy replied, "Not at all!".
The professor nodded and asked him to keep holding the glass while he continued with the lesson.
Minutes go by and the boy was still holding the glass. Slowly, the boy' s arm began to shake. The glass of water was feeling heavier and heavier. The professor asked the boy again if the glass was heavy, to which, the boy nodded yes.
What you should do:
In life, you are only allowed to carry a certain amount of baggage in your head. If you exceed the load, you will be unhappy.
Even if you are holding onto small baggages in your life, it will get heavier and heavier if you carry them for too long (like the story above). You may not have a major problem, but you only need small nagging problems to take away your unhappiness.
Remember that you only have this present moment (no one knows what tomorrow will bring). Therefore, don't waste it by carrying your problems with you all the time. Learn to let go. Correct any mistakes then move on. Forgive then move on. Cry then move on. Learn then move on.
Hug Your Life Today
Story: There was a great master in a village whom was highly respected and loved by many. During one of his annual teaching session, instead of launching into his usual speeches, he started the session by asking the crowd what they thought life is.
Many answers started floating around - "Life's like a game you have to play!", "Life is a journey.", "Life is sacrifice.", "Life is fun!", "Life is a celebrate.", "Life is a struggle!".
After the crowd ran out of answers, the master said, "I ask ONE question and I got 20 different answers from all of you. If life was just one thing, then all of you would have given me the same answer. Therefore, life is what you make it out to be. If you think life is a struggle, then it is a struggle. If you think life is a celebration, then have fun with it."
What you should do:
You should embrace life, embrace today because it is the only day you have now. For everyday that goes by you have one less day to live. Life becomes more and more precious as your time on earth becomes shorter!
Therefore, hug your life today. Bring happiness to your life and don't wait for life to bring happiness to you. Turn the focus around and ask not what your life can give to you, but what you can give to your life.
So to summarize, the 5 things that you can do right now to help you in your quest in finding real happiness is:
- Do 10 spiritual pull ups every morning
- Feed the positive dog
- Accept imperfection
- Travel light
- Hug your life today
I hope you have enjoyed the stories and learn something about how to bring real happiness into your life. Change does take time, but with a little daily effort, you can integrate these 5 amazing things that Vikas has taught into your life.