We now come the end of this series of articles on how to maximise your happiness. We learned that there are actually 6 layers to achieving happiness:
Maximise Your Happiness - Layer 1: Desire. What do we truly want?
We learned that a lot of the time, our desires are not defined by us but by others. We often set our goals not by our own values, but by the values of others. And as a result we may achieve the goal but wonder why we are still not happy. Alternatively we fail to achieve the goal and fail to be happy as well.
Often the media dictate to us what we 'should' want, and that having the latest and greatest will make us eternally happy.
Often 'happiness' is merely the satisfaction of 'material' things like houses, boats, etc. That's because that kind of happiness is easy for advertisers to satisfy. Whilst material wealth does go a way towards happiness, it cannot satisfy the inner happiness that we all crave.
Additionally we are often motivated by the desire to out-do our competitors. This is the kind of desire that is motivated by envy. But what we get when that is satisfied is just the one-upmanship kind of satisfaction and not true happiness.
Clearly, for any deep and lasting happiness, other factors need to be considered.
Maximise Your Happiness - Layer 2. Beliefs
What you believe plays a foundational role in how you view the world and how you respond to it. A principle reason people fail to be happy is because their beliefs are 'limiting' - in other words, they do not have scope for expansion or empowerment.
Take, for instance the saying 'Money Is The Root Of All Evil' from the Bible (Timothy 6:10)
For a start it is a misquote. It should read 'The love of money Is the root of all kinds of evil' (New International Version)
"The love of money causes all kinds of trouble. Some people want money so much they have given up their faith and caused themselves a lot of pain." (Contemporary English Version)
The second translation is much more contemporary and doesn't mention evil at all.
In both cases above, money itself is not evil, nor is it the root of all evil. But becoming obsessed with it is definitely not helpful to say the least!
However when you define your behaviour to 'be poor' in order to satisfy the belief, you deny yourself the richness that having money can bring.
We could repeat this for many sayings. They each 'limit' what you can achieve. Even what you believe about yourself can limit your actions and limit your achievements in life.
Maximise Your Happiness - Layer 3. Ego and Identity
We mentioned in this article about the fact that our 'Identity' is what defines us, it makes us 'who we are'. When we were little we took part of our identity from our parents because our critical faculties were not developed enough to create our own. However, as our identity developed over time it became more and more unique.
However, as with beliefs, our perceived role or identity can also be limiting. We may have talent as a sports person or a mother or a baker. But we may not see ourself as talented in these areas because we have been placed into another role by circumstances, often not in our control.
The remedies we discussed all revolved around changing the core beliefs about yourself such as saying affirmations or reframing.
Maximise Your Happiness - Layer 4. Time
This layer is the first of the so-called internal layers of happiness. How we experience time is that our experience is always 'now'. Even when we remember, the remembering is occurring 'now', and when we are planning, the planning is always happing 'now.
We can be happy or unhappy by remembering or planning. But if we focus on 'now', we can always be happy if we so choose. Of course we can also choose to be unhappy! The choice is ours.
Maximise Your Happiness - Layer 5. Conditioning.
Here we discussed how happiness can be the result of conditioning. Conditioning is defined as a very primitive form of learning and associating feelings with certain circumstances. The infant and child mind is very malleable so a certain stimulus will always lead to the same response.
Happiness is often defined as an effect of the achievement of some desired result. Humans have been conditioned to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Thus we will always do things a certain way, and always think a certain way in order to achieve this end.
We also discovered that happiness can be learned, and unhappiness can be unlearned. We can use such techniques as anchoring, stress reduction, joy boosts and brain state changes to reduce and eliminate unhappiness almost permanently.
Maximise Your Happiness - Layer 6. The Current Mood.
Ultimately, the core of the Happiness Onion is your current mood. Essentially, your current mood dictates how you will see the world at any given moment. For instance, if you are agitated about something, you are probably not focused on something happy. In this instance you need a way to change your current mood.
We discussed several ways to do this, namely becoming centred, changing your posture, making yourself laugh, listening to music, and practising gratitude.
The key to happiness is to be aware of these 6 layers or facets. Be aware of your current mood and try to determine which layer is determining it.
Once aware, change your mood to the one you desire by focusing on that particular layer and the suggestions we made for it.