A monthly column by social entrepreneur and A2B Transformation Group founder Vivienne Schultz.
Most people experience happiness as a feeling but happiness is a much deeper and more complex experience.
Science has connected the experience with a chemical reaction in the brain and gut that produces happy hormones such as dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. You can produce happy hormones through regularly exercising, singing, dancing, having sex, laughing, creating, cycling, etc. You can even become addicted to those activities because they produce the happy feeling. But somehow, you’ll know, that there is more required by your spirit to achieve happiness.
I want to share with you the most powerful and permanent way to catalyse happiness, namely…..accomplishing the ablest response to every challenge we face.
You will find that achieving the highest (most able) response may not necessarily look the way that society sees it. Neither will they tell you that the gameplay of life is that life offers you the magnificent opportunity to grow to your optimum state of being every day – but it lies in your hands whether you take up those opportunities with boldness, or not!
Here are 6 happiness jewels that I wish to share
1. No theoretical, well-ordered classroom teaching method or soft auditorium seat will get you to your optimum state of being. Intellectual understanding requires good short-term retention ability, and only when you have that does your society perceive you as “clever.” Sadly, you will notice that most of those so-called clever people become conformists, consumers, and imitators of the system, instead of creators, manifesting very little of their Godly unique contribution to the world. They get reined-up by employers as workhorses for life, giving their unique self up to become dependent on and controlled by time, money and tasks. What a delusion!
2. Instead, you have to physically take action and engage life, boots and all, and contribute in life-giving ways, preferably from an early age, getting your hands dirty, showing up at all opportunities and facing up to all life’s challenges — not hiding in groups, but by yourself.
If not, you will quickly slide into the camp of the masses, where talk is cheap, defaulting into destructive patterns of behaviour, having false highs by your destructive actions, e.g. reporting the mistakes of those who took action, thinking life is about doing things right as opposed to doing the right things. You take the easy way out (the flight response) by blaming the “instructor/challenger” for being unclear, unstructured or not intellectual enough, as a way to delay your own forward action.
Your “flight” response can become sophisticated, arguing that flighting is the politically correct thing to do, conceited from your high horse stating that you are protecting human rights e.g. “ leave them! (to continue disempowering their children, etc.) – it’s their culture”, “I do not take sides- you sort out your own fights”– allowing bullies, heartlessness, and narcissism to prevail.
3. Did you know that the best prognosis for reaching optimum human lies with the fighter, not the flighter? The saying goes, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.“
It is proven over and over that the more one thinks theoretically about a challenge, the more clever theories, and intellectualisation you will come up with, the less able to respond fully to the challenge.
4. The only way to win is to fail forward, to lose like a champion and to suffer in a loving way, not hurting others in the process.
Think of the Olympic medalist who turned back to help his injured opponent across the finishing line. Not only did he write his name in the annals of history for all time but on that day he changed the entire meaning of winning in an arena that has been perpetuating a paradigm of compete and compare for all time: He showed that winning is not a competition but a contribution and a transformation. A triumph far deeper and mightier than crossing the finish line.
5. Discomfort is cooler than you think.
Every time you experience discomfort, you should re-frame it and celebrate it as a critically important primitive-brain-integrating-training session. Every experience will help to strengthen your frail ego and overcome your neediness on material satisfiers. The latter creates dependency and external locus of control and holds you bondage from moving to higher heights in life.
6. Life was never about the task after all, but all about the man.
Think of how we have been pushed into becoming task-driven from early childhood years without synchronised self-awareness. The task has always driven, and all that is taught to us is how to accumulate knowledge to perform a task satisfactorily. Yet, did anyone ever teach you that your mind is the “engine” that drives the task, and how that engine exactly works! Until you become aware of the components of your inner self, you will stay a slave of the task, and the time and the money driving it. You will unintentionally disempower others in your quest for chasing tasks and eventually become stressed-out and die purposeless and unfulfilled.
Most of what we are doing is distracting us from truly learning about ourselves. We distract ourselves from the emptiness and meaningless of not knowing who we are by compulsively, mindlessly working, eating, buying things, attending church sermons and putting up shows with humans that we perceive are successful. We further arrogantly discredit or judge others as a means to boast about our own greatness. These actions amount to paralysing remorse and regret when our consciousness hopefully eventually kicks in and we realise how and what we did and said that disempowered plenty humans in our wake. We avoid situational pain and ignore the fact that we are dying; and then we land on our deathbed, wailing:” Who am I and what have I become”?
Can we really love our God with all our soul, strength and might, if we do not know ourselves deeply enough to live the unique life we were blessed with?