How many times have you been asked, "Are you happy?" and quickly stated yes, without so much as a thought? How many times have you been asked, "What do you really want in life?" and again answered quickly, "I don't know!"
In truth few people are truly happy in their life, with their current circumstances of living, work, relationships and more. However, most people want to be happy in everything, but they don't know how to find true happiness. It is important to never settle for believing in the moment without regard the long-term consequences of a decision.
Does this sound like your own journey through life? Being flippant with your decision when asked questions, even by a close friend or confidant, but hesitant to take that leap of faith when it comes to being personally responsible for the actions, will always affect your life and your happiness.
The road to happiness often proves to be too difficult for many. The reason we fail to become happy is that we fail to find things that actually make us happy and differentiate from our needs and wants of the moment at hand.
We can consider the reasons of happiness in three different types of mind systems. These are:
1. Pleasure and Pain (related to lower brain centers)
2. Reason and Emotion (related to the cognitive system), and;
3. Empathy and Love (related to the Higher Self).
Pleasure and Pain
Normally we use pleasure and pain as decision guides in our regular thinking. We ask ourselves if doing something will be pleasurable (fun, exciting, safe) or will it bring us pain (discomfort, heartache, sadness). However, though pleasure indicates fulfillment of the bodily needs, it certainly has limitations as a decision guide. Our lower brain centers send out messages about our bodily needs and the lower brain centers determine if it will produce pleasure or pain. They tell us when we need food, sleep, heat, cold, to love or not, and so on.
Our first response is to categorize these signals from the lower brain center. And unfortunately, we feel the need to respond to these messages with proper actions to feel pleasure and avoid pain without thought to what needed to make a proper decision. And again, we almost always instinctively choose pleasure, again without thinking.
Even though pleasure makes us content, it can hardly give us long-term happiness. We may buy bodily pleasure using our resources, yet we may remain unhappy. That's what happens when we don't consider that achieving the most long-term, pleasurable results often come at the cost of pain. We need to overcome the pain to find true pleasure.
Reason and Emotion
Reason and emotion are other important elements as decision guides. They relate to our cognitive domain and are above the principle of pleasure and pain. With proper thinking we would first consider the pleasure and pain signals and spend more time thinking with reason and emotion to make a better decision. Adding this step will bring us closer to truly knowing what will make us happy.
The cognitive domain allows us to view our external and internal environments from a broader perspective. We make decisions using the pleasure and pain guide and if it just so happens to work out or we convince our self that we made the right decision, we are happy. Well, a bit happier.
This is because our cognitive domain finds that either we have been able to satisfy our immediate needs or we trick it into believing that we have. Did you ever make decisions and not convince yourself immediately and consistently that you made the right decision? Sure you have, sometimes! And, then you hear that inner voice (the cognitive domain) telling you that maybe you made or you are about to make the wrong decision. You should listen to that inner voice. It is sending you a message, loud and clear that your happiness is at stake. It is important to find harmony within the cognitive system before you make any decision if you truly want to be happy.
Empathy and Love
Our higher self is the supreme factor in deciding whether we are happy or not. The higher self is our inner hero that defines the concepts of anxiety and happiness for us. It allows us to have the feelings of empathy and love. The higher self allows us to think and work towards attaining happiness for self and others. To be happy in life, it is important to follow the higher self that often expresses itself as a positive inner voice. For instance, you may feel a pang when starting to do something that is wrong. That pang itself is the inner voice and your higher self.
When you must make a decision, understand that the first choice you make will likely never be the best decision for you or your happiness. You must get in touch with your reason and emotion guide first to assure that you are in harmony with the cognitive domain. This requires some or a lot of thinking and it is necessary.
But wait, let's not forget the higher self - the supreme inner hero - that allows us to be happy. If we are not sure that we will absolutely love the decision that we make, we will risk offending our higher self. Once offended there will always be that nagging thought that maybe, just maybe, we made the wrong decision. That nagging feeling will overpower our ability to convince our self that we are truly happy. Eventually, at some point in the future, we will realize that we made the wrong decision and are not truly in love with the decision that we made, and now must work at reversing it.
Don't let this indecisiveness happen to you. Know what will make you happy, truly happy, by thinking each of your decisions through all three mind systems to secure the best possible outcome for your future happiness.
Excerpted from, "Finding Peace, Serenity and Tranquility" by Bill Hood