Do you ever feel worried or anxious about the things that are going on in the world today? Are you feeling confused about whether you should even try to be happy when there are people losing their jobs, their homes or even being killed in other parts of the world? If so, You are not alone
Many people find it very difficult to maintain a positive, optimistic outlook on life when they’re constantly bombarded with news about how much suffering exists in the world. Some even express a sense of guilt about improving the quality of their own life while so many others are experiencing extreme hardships, traumatic loss, and crushing poverty.
This difficulty seems to be rooted in a sense of hopelessness about our ability to do anything to make a difference in the lives of other people who are so far removed from us. While we are deeply moved by the compassion people have for others, however, we believe the strategy of “sympathetic suffering” actually does more harm than good.
The Way to Happiness
The reality is that your ability to maintain your own happiness and peace of mind in the midst of a troubled world is the best foundation you can have for making a real difference. And here’s why.
1. Because “Sympathetic Suffering” Feels Bad
When you read bad news in the newspaper, watch it on the evening news, or talk about it with your friends over coffee or in online chat forums, how do you feel?
If you focus on the idea that the world is falling apart and on the sadness and suffering of others, it’s hard not to feel worried, sad or even downright depressed. What–if anything–can you do when you feel so negative? Not much, that’s for sure. It’s okay to be happy!
2. Because Your Pain Servers No One
If you stopped breathing would there be more air for others? The same is true about your happiness and peace of mind. Can you think of one time when you were sad, upset or angry about something, and feeling that way made a positive difference in someone else’s life? You can only give to others what you already have. It’s okay to be happy!
3. Because Your Happiness and Peace of Mind Can Actually Serve Others
Maintaining a happy, positive frame of mind allows you to be more effective at accomplishing the things that are important to you in your life. It helps you in your ability to serve others, and in serving others you can actually help make the world a better place. It’s okay to be happy!
4. Because Happiness Breeds Happiness
Sadness shared does not diminish the sadness, but happiness shared does multiply the happiness. Think about it. Remember, the last time you were with someone that was really happy. Didn’t you enjoy being with them? Wasn’t their happiness infectious? Why? At a very deep level, all of us want to be happy and are drawn to whatever encourages and supports our own happiness. It’s okay to be happy!
5. Because What You Focus Your Attention On Grows
When you consciously focus on being happy, you will find more happiness in your life–Guaranteed! This isn’t “magical thinking.” It is just the way our minds work. We can’t help but recognize and pay attention to those things that are similar to where we focus our attention. And if it is true that what we really want is to be happy, then focusing our attention on the activities and thoughts that contribute to our happiness is essential. It really is okay to be happy!
6. Because It Feels Better
This may not seem like a great reason to maintain your own happiness while people around you are suffering, but think about it, when do you get the most done? When do you make the biggest difference in your life and the lives of people around you? It’s when you feel good–when you’re positive–when you are upbeat–when you are happy. Isn’t it? You’re sadness, upset or dissatisfaction helps no one. Give yourself permission to be happy today.
7. Because When You’re Not in Action, You’re In Distraction
With as much as there is going on in the world these days it’s easy to be distracted from your goals and desires. If you’re like most people, when you’re distracted you end up moving around a lot but never getting much done.
The fastest way to make a big difference in your life, and the lives of people around you, is to begin taking actions that move you in the direction of what makes you feel good. And we believe what makes most of us feel the best is when we are living in harmony with what we value and contributing to others. So discover what you value most and take actions that are in harmony with those values. It’s okay to be happy!
8. Because You Say So
“If you think you can or if you think you can’t, either way you’re right.”
This famous quote by Henry Ford puts it in a nutshell. It speaks to the very essence of why it’s true: if you say it’s so–it is so.
Our thinking can be one of the most fundamental limitations on our ability to be happy–or to be anything else for that matter. Say it out loud–It’s okay for me to be happy!
9. Because It’s Who You Are
We are born from the essence of pure joy; it is our nature to be happy. But somewhere along the line we learn to believe that we must earn the right to be happy–we must be deserving of happiness.
“Each of us, every person, regardless of wealth, status, age, or religion is given everything we need to be happy and fulfilled. The greatest lie in our culture is the one that says you are broken, incomplete and need something outside to give you happiness.” ~Gurucharan Singh Khalsa, Ph.D.
Happiness is our birthright, it is our nature, it is who we are.
10. Because You Can Make a Difference
If you can learn to maintain your personal happiness, regardless of your circumstances, you actually can make a real difference. If the world seems to be falling apart around you and you believe you can’t make any difference at all, then how else would you expect to feel but miserable? And what can you contribute when you’re feeling miserable?
Give up the idea that you–one lone person–can’t make a difference. It’s not true. Just because there are so many things you can’t do anything about, doesn’t mean there aren’t just as many things you can do something about.
Get connected to what means the most to you–what you deeply value. Find ways to experience those values in your life and also when contributing to others. When you do, you will experience making a difference. It’s not just okay to be happy; it’s the best frame of mind for making a difference.
So the next time you feel hopeless about your ability to do anything that could make a difference in the lives of other people who are so far removed from you, remember your suffering helps no one and may be keeping you paralyzed–unable to do anything to support anyone, including yourself.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Hopefully you now see how maintaining your own happiness and peace of mind in these troubled times is the best foundation for making a real difference in your life and the lives of those around you.
With much love,
Beth and Neill