23 January 2008

The Philosophy of Happiness – Accepting Yourself

If you don’t like who you are you’re not going to be happy now are you? There is a fundamental need to accept oneself before one can be happy. Most of us who are in some way unhappy dislike something about ourselves and hence envision our happier counterpart as someone with very different characteristics. This subconsciously drills into our mind the notion that we cannot be happy simply as we are and therefore puts a condition upon happiness. If this condition is reached all well and good, but if its not (which most often it isn’t) then if you do not change your thinking you are doomed to a life of unhappiness. Not a pretty thing really. What I’m suggesting is that there is some link between being content with who and what you are and being happy. Indeed the words happy and contented are synonyms.

Who cares if your fat, short and poor, why does that mean you can’t be happy? Why do we let the media do this to us? We’ll we don’t really, at least I know that I too am affected by the same stereotypes and I certainly don’t give them my consent to tap into my subconscious as they do, particularly in such a negative way. The irony is that consciously we know that the media’s ideal is bollocks, rubbish, fake and unrealistic, we're not stupid, yet subconsciously we still absorb and believe the ideas we are feed. This is simply because the mindless repetition of the media's ideals become ingrained in our very thought processes. This is essentially how the subconscious mind operates.

The Subconscious mind stores far more than the conscious mind yet the conscious mind’s information is more direct and controlling. The idea of affirmations are that we should affirm things we wish to be the case, as it will in turn allow us to accept them and allow our subconscious mind to act upon them. It’s a rather strange idea which if you haven’t heard before might confuse you for a while. What’s more the whole thing is mood controlled.

Allow me to use a simple demonstration. If you need to do something difficult and you think “I can’t do it”, its quite likely you won’t manage to do it, for one reason or another. If on the other hand the same difficult situation had been approached with a more positive “I can do it” sort of attitude, then suddenly your chances of succeeding are much higher. It’s funny how the subconscious mind works. Having faith in yourself is unfortunately not an easy thing to do.

Unfortunately we live in a rather negatively tuned environment. I’ve already noted that the media tend to not only be unrealistic and so forth but tend to focus on negative qualities and events. See “The Philosophy of Happiness – The Media & Unrealistic Expectations:” for further details. By focusing on negative qualities it becomes far to easy for us to blame ourselves and to beat ourselves up internally. We don’t accept or like who we are and thus we think negatively. Thus we wish to change to be something we do like and in doing so place a condition upon happiness in assuming that one must become or do that thing to be happy. A fantastic example is of course the media’s emphasise on people being thin. So many of us strive for this ideal yet the whole time you aren’t at the stage you want to be and are still unhappy and as such are highly unlikely to get to the stage you want to, in turn making you unhappier. This leads to a negative cycle of blame, guilt and unhappiness. Life is spent striving for an ideal to make you happy and in doing so you are not content "in the now" and remain unhappy. (The idea of being happy "in the now" is discussed further in:“Living in the Now –The Philosophy of Happiness with a Twist of Zen:”)

What we should of course do is simply enjoy and love ourselves simply for being what and who we are. To view life through a realistic yet positive lens and be content with where we are. That way if we never get anywhere at least we can be happy. The true irony however, is that often being content with who you are makes it easier for you to follow your own desire to do something. The example of losing body fat is again pertinent here. If we are happy with where we were we’ll paradoxically be more able to follow through on our own wishes and change ourselves, funny that. At the very worst you accept yourself for being fatter and simply live life happy and not worrying and stressing yourself over your weight.

Think about it, you may never lose the weight but at least you can be happy. Only you know how hard you may have tried to lose weight and how it failed each time. Indeed it’s statistically proven and has been said by the famous Tom Venuto in his Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle, that 95% of conventional diets fail. Why is this? More often than not it’s a psychological issue as I commented in “Why Diets Don’t Work”.

America has been dieting for years, and with it the average weight has gone up. As the ideal media weight goes further and further down so too does the average weight rise. Why you ask? A large part is no doubt environmental. There is a problem with America and food being so cheap and plentiful. However there is also another side to the problem and that is simply that people are never happy with how they are, so they try drastic things to change like going on ridiculous diets. They are unhappy the whole time, as they are not happy with themselves. They see little progress as goals and expectations are far to high and they ultimately fail. Then they get depressed and eat. This leads them to get more upset, often angry and frustrated and creates a negative cycle that endlessly fulfils itself all while spiralling further downwards. The evidence seems obvious in how fat countries are getting with the same rise in dieting.

Now as I said, don’t get me wrong, environmental issues clearly play a large role, but psychologically there is something here too. People just aren’t happy with how they are, they just aren’t accepting of their own selfs. I want you to look into the mirror and see that what stares back at you however fat, however tall, however lopsided and ugly is the vessel that you find yourself in. That thing gives you life, it gives you experience, it gives you both pleasure and pain. It is god in a sense. Get rid of it and you get rid of yourself. That’s not to say you can’t alter its exterior, but remember, its simply an exterior. The real you is more so what’s inside it, what makes the vessel do what it does.

To be healthy and well requires not only physically doing the right thing but psychologically feeling that you are doing the right thing. Accepting yourself is an important piece in the vast jigsaw puzzle of total-wellbeing that will help to make life a more enjoyable ride and probably bring greater results as a paradoxical added bonus. Indeed Studies have shown that people who are happier live longer:
http://www.health-and-happiness.info/happiness/happiness-increases-longevitywhere-do-we-find-this-gift-of-life.html, so there’s got to be something to it.

Essentially being happy will make life worth living and quite possibly make it not only of better quality, but of longer duration. Happier people are also more likely to create positive change, help the world and generally get more done. So whats the secret to being happy? Well there is no one clear cut simple answer, but the first step to anyone being truly happy involves accepting yourself. You cannot truly love others and the world you find yourself in and thus be happy, until you love yourself. You have to come to terms with yourself, its always the way. So how can you go about it? My suggestion would be to go and do something nice and simple, not something hedonistic, but rather something seemingly spiritual. Go and sit in a nice garden and simply sit and watch the plants, and give yourself time to relax and accept yourself. Never force yourself against your will, work with yourself, cooperation can yield even greater benefits than competition, particularly when it is of an internal nature.

So go now, and be at one with yourself. I mean why the hell not? We only live once, we deserve to love ourselves, at very least. So even if all you’ve got time for is a quick sit down on your floor and a gentle five minute pause where you simply focus on how wonderfully intricate life is, than so be it. But trust me, do at least this, the dividends you will reap by accepting and coming to terms with yourself are worth far more than anything else we can fathom.

1 comment:

Greg said...

Thanks for the great and motivating post! I fully agree with you especially on letting your subconscious mind help you achieve success. Do check out http://www.subconscious-mind.org, they have a whole host of interesting and helpful articles.

 
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