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Happiness

The beauty of pain

All beings struggle for pleasure and want to avoid pain. Yet is pain really inherently bad or is there something deep and transformative to it, which justifies a second look? Let’s do it the ExperienceZone way.

What pain really is

I’m a huge fan of Osho. An Indian guru who passed away too early. He posed an interesting hypothesis: The only problem is psychological pain. Physical pain is a non-issue, as once it manifests itself, we’re forced to accept it. Here’s an example: You break your arm during sports. Now, you might feel physical pain, which disappears after a while. However, the psychological pain might last, since you are worried not being able to work out soon again or being handicapped at school or work for some time.

This leads us to the second provocative statement: Psychological pain is an intense continuous negative feeling. Feelings are the children of thoughts and emotions. Negative feelings derive from the only negative emotion: Fear. Worries about the future are forward looking thoughts contextualizing fear. Regrets about past events are backward looking thoughts mixed with fear. Do you get my point? The root cause is our mind wandering into the past or present and putting negative meaning onto situations. If we run into a vicious thought cycle fueled by never ending fear, pain emerges.

Why pain is a blessing

Believe me: I learned the lessons below the hard way and still need to remind myself every time when my expectations don’t match reality.

  • Pain makes you find yourself: A recent break-up led to a heartbreak. This type  of pain is somewhat interesting since it relates to another person. Whenever I’m faced with a challenge, I go deep into it, which meant contemplating about the time spent together. After some whiles in those conscious meditative and unconscious dream states, I got increasingly self aware. Self-awareness is not an epiphany moment but construction work. You peel the onion until the naked self lies in front of your mind. Admittedly a disturbing process and discovery for an extrovert like me. Anyway, self-awareness is the necessary prerequisite for self-acceptance, which might be equally difficult to obtain. Full acceptance of my failures and weaknesses as they made me who I am today: A unique yet flawed, a complete yet vulnerable person.
  • Pain makes you change your life: The final stage of the continuum is self-actualization. Once you know who you are, you can change your belief-system based on your natured and nurtured personality. You can give up of all limitations and let go of all restrictions you’ve put on your self because he said or she said. You can fully express yourself and completely align your words and actions to you inner core. You can define your calling, mission or  raison d’etre based on your uniqueness, the portfolio of passions and god-given set of gifts.
  • Pain makes you value pleasure: Everything in our world is relative, i.e. happens on one dimensional scales and is subject to individual perceptions. In fact, there’s no objective reality but only the meaning or quality we give events. Visually we separate brightness and darkness. Yet there wouldn’t be darkness without us knowing what brightness is. It’s just different intensities of light. Hot and cold are tactile perceptions. Yet there would be no experience of hot water if we wouldn’t know how cold one feels like (mind the hands-in-the-bucket-test). It’s just different qualities of temperature. Same applies to pleasure and pain. We only appreciate pleasure if we experienced its counterpart: Pain.

Some words of caution: I don’t urge you to seek pain. There’s good reason why we’re wired to avoid pain. We’re meant to live a happy life. Pleasure doesn’t make you happy though. It only scratches the surface. To become truly fulfilled, you need to look at the dark fruits on the pain tree. You can only harvest those if you step back and change your viewpoint.

How to make pain your ally

Here’re my takeaways and actionable advises after dealing with psychological and physical pain all my life as a human being.

  1. Appreciate it: Welcome pain once it’s there. Pain is your teacher. Open the door. Embrace it. A private mandatory coaching session hosted by the universe is nothing to be ashamed of but a chance to become whole again, learn and eventually grow.
  2. Dive into it: Learn to contemplate or meditate over pain. Listen into yourself. What kind of pain are you feeling? Why are you experiencing it? What does it have to do with your life? Then take full responsibility instead of blaming anyone for “hurting” you.
  3. Draw conclusions: Think about what you want to change. Pain will vanish, yet might return if you don’t transform fundamentally. Stay vulnerable as this attitude bears most learning potential and is the real essence of being alive.

Why fun is an indicator of happiness

Fun, joy and satisfaction. All three terms represent moments of pleasure. Yet they seem to be of volatile nature – unpredictable in their appearance and disappearance. How can you preserve these occurrences or even transform them into a deeper and sustainable state of mind? Let’s investigate this one the ExperienceZone way.

Happiness is a choice – not a reaction

If this is so, we need to start from square one. This is where you make the most important decision in life: Do you want to be a victim or creator. Latter requires self-determination. Once you took full responsibility (better accountability) for your life, you want to work on your attitudes. In other words: The glasses need to be half-full going forward.

Why’s that important? The way you choose (or better “decide”, as a decision is exclusive and action based) to look at life impacts your inner processes. Gratefulness towards your past (e.g. the education I received) and confidence towards your future (e.g. the career I’ll have), creates a flow. The state in which everything works almost effortlessly and the right things seem to “happen” at the right time. Your flow is as stronger as your level of gratefulness and confidence.

There is an ExperienceZone recreation & fun continuum. It goes like this: Fun, joy and satisfaction are temporary phenomenons often caused by external triggers. Happiness is a sustainable state fueled by backward-looking gratefulness and forward-looking confidence. The combination of both create a flow in the present moment. Contentment is the result of surfing the happiness wave. It fuels your heart with rich experiences and reassures you to be on the right track. You calm down as you know that you don’t miss anything and that everything which happens has a reason and is good for you eventually (even if you don’t see the master plan behind the curtain instantly).

How do you live a happy life?

Yeah, there’s research around this. I don’t want to come up with my top ten advises. You can buy a book and read it over a good cup of tea. I only recommend you three simple steps:

  1. Run a personality analysis. Why is the pursue of happiness such a hype these days? Reason being, people are often confused in this complex and faster spinning world. Whilst being addicted to thinking about the outside world, they forgot what it takes to simply be. “Being” on the one hand side requires accepting external stimulus via your senses without judging them (like the smell of fresh coffee) whilst being grounded. Grounding can be reinforced physically and requires emotional stability. Latter you gain through a personality analysis. It helps you to find out where you’re from, who you’re and where you want to go (as a basis for your mission and aims in life).
  2. Decide to live a self-determined life. Self-determination implies accepting full responsibility for your life, i.e. what happened in the past and what will take place in the future. It requires you to finally jump on the driver seat. Of course, there’re other factors impacting your destiny like driving through rush-hour traffic. Yet, unconditional accountability makes you lighter (since you don’t need to blame anyone else) and gives you a boost of extra energy (since you are the designer of your life).
  3. Change your attitudes. Your attitudes represent the raw materials of words. Words shape the thoughts and thus feelings of yourself plus other people. As outside, so inside and vice versa: A two-way street, whereas the importance of this direction recently increased. I talk positive, I think positive thoughts and have good feelings. Also, I plant my ideas including their qualities into the heads of others.

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