The Secret Paths to Happiness

Two simple beliefs have radically altered the way I think about happiness.

  1. The higher your energy levels, the happier you’ll be.
  2. Our beliefs about ourselves determine how we act.

These statements are, of course, oversimplified. Let me explain them a bit more.

The first statement is pretty straightforward. Without a high level of energy, you can’t do the things you love.

The second statement is more complex, and you might disagree with it.

I believe we take actions to confirm our own beliefs about ourselves rather than pursue happiness. Happiness is irrelevant in most cases. If we believe we deserve happiness, then sure, we’ll pursue courses of action that increase our happiness. But if deep inside ourselves we believe that we are worthless, then we will pursue courses of action that confirm we are worthless (or whatever else we believe we are).

I had to hear this quite a few times before it really “clicked” for me, but this realization has totally changed how I view the world and how I pursue my own happiness.

I can think of four habits of mine that affect my energy levels, and one that affects my self-beliefs.

I love to exercise, eat well, sleep well, and spend time with friends and family. These things make me feel good and increase my energy levels. None of these habits is revolutionary, I’ll admit.

My other habit, affirmations, actually is a bit revolutionary. I’m sort of obsessed with affirmations, and I forget that most people don’t know what they are.

I’ll explain them in a nutshell: Affirmations are affirmative statements you make about yourself that you wish to be true. I repeat mine to myself in the mirror most mornings. Check out some below:

“I, Tom Rains, always live in the sacred present.”

“All problems are minor, and nothing fazes me.”

“I, Tom Rains, take care of things right now.”

I believe affirmations work because they help “rewire” the beliefs we have about ourselves, thus changing how we act. It’s sort of amazing how affirmations work, actually. Many times recently I have wanted to push off some important task for later, and then I remember . . .

I, Tom Rains, take care of things right now.

And it’s like my brain says, “Oh, right. I forgot that you take care of things right now. Let’s complete this task immediately.” It’s actually borderline creepy how influential affirmations can be.

I’m telling you: you have the power to rewrite your own beliefs about yourself, and this will change how you act.

If you want to learn more about affirmations, I suggest you read this article by Dilbert columnist Scott Adams.

If you can stick to habits that boost your energy levels, create good self-concepts, and eliminate negative self-concepts, perhaps you’ll find it easier to feel happier.

This is a heavily condensed version of things I’ve been mulling over all year. I hope you find it helpful.

Merry Christmas to all of you, and see you in 2018!