Saturday, October 1, 2005

Key to Happiness?

I wrote this early in my travels and it sounds a bit cheesy to me now but may still have some use for someone. Much of it came from reading the book "The Four Agreements".

We are born with the capacity to learn how to dream. But the people who lived before us taught us to dream the way society dreams with its many rules. This is reinforced throughout our life by our parents, teachers, jobs, friends, government, religion, etc. Most of us have not chosen our moral values, at first we may rebel, but eventually through immersion we form perceptions of what is right and wrong and faithfully agree (to believe unconditionally) to become part of society. Some people in society are ruled by fear (paranoia, greed, anger, jealousy, hate, revenge, envy, etc) and it starts to cloud their perceptions, limiting freedom, and create an image of perfection that is unobtainable. In India they call this “mitote maya” which means illusion. They cannot see who they truly are; they cannot see that they are not free. Death is NOT our biggest fear – it’s taking the risk to be alive. In our pursuit of perfection and pleasing others we may wear a social mask and lose our identity and integrity (see Integrity Blog).

Ignorance is bliss and most people will defend their way of life to the grave. Anyone who challenges it is considered a threat to themselves, friends, family, and society because change would involve risk and jeopardize safety not to mention implying that their existence to this point was aimed at an illusion. However, people who have a strong sense of self seek alternative points of view and constructive criticism from others. Their minds are fertile, have open communication, a pure intent, don’t judge others, higher self esteem, strong integrity, and are more proactive than reactive.

As we learn that some people are driven by ignorance, fear, and the pursuit of perfection may have a different perception than our own, we also learn not to take their views or actions personally. We start to become liberated from the judgments of others. We gain identity and develop our own set of principles to use as a center for making decisions. As this “principle center” strengthens we become immune to things outside of our control and our ultimate happiness/fulfillment becomes obtainable. We step off the emotional rollercoaster that is driven by money, acceptance from society, relationships, career, possessions, pleasure, physical appearances, or other uncontrollable influences.

When we live our lives according to principles we set for ourselves instead of rules set by others, out of love instead of fear, we unlock personal freedom driving passion and fulfillment for ourselves as well as others.

These ideas are common sense, repeated by many, and easier said than done. So why do some of us still live in a mental prison? Because we’re not aware, we resist change, and we don’t take action due to fear. We need to be aware of who we are, our potential, how we’ve been influenced by others, and the fact that we are the only one in control of ourselves. Then we have to change our perceptions of right and wrong to match our personal principles, and act out of pure intent also known as unconditional love. Awareness is easy, the hard part is changing.

Duane Batcheler

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