Today’s topic is a big one. It’s something I’m definitely still working on, and it’s something that will always consciously take work. To me, this topic is the FIRST STEP toward achieving true happiness – the cornerstone of everything else in this journey into contentment. It’s called introspection.
When was the last time you sat alone with your thoughts? Just actively thought about the things in your life. Have you slowed down long enough to remember you even exist? Some might be afraid to do this – worried they’ll feel negative emotions or nothing at all. Some might just think it sounds like a waste of time. We live in a society where we aren’t supposed to think about ourselves or how we are doing emotionally. But here is the thing: You are responsible for your own reality and your own happiness. And if you aren’t happy, it’s time to start looking inward.
Here are some key concepts to help jump start the introspective process:
1. If you want to be happy, you must focus on yourself. It starts with you. You are the ONLY thing that can make you happy: Not your significant other, or your job, or your money, or your vacation. You have to be okay inside first, before you can improve your own life – or others’ lives.
2. You will never find happiness externally because your external environment is always changing. You can’t control the outside world and what happens to you as a result of that world. If you’re in a negative state of mind because of things that are happening to you, remember to love without setting expectations (compassion shouldn’t be based on certain conditions like a business deal) and change your perspective to see the good! It’s about controlling your mind.
3. Ask yourself: Do I love myself? What’s something I dislike about myself?
– Is this dislike caused by an external factor, such as my job or a relationship? If so, remember that you are placing too much expectation on the external world. Remove the expectation and accept your inability to change that situation. (Note: It’s important to remove yourself from a toxic situation, just don’t be emotionally controlled by it.)
– Is this dislike caused by how I feel about myself inside? If so, try to work on fully accepting yourself. Forgive yourself for your mistakes, learn from them, and move on. List out the positive things that come from that thing you dislike. Remember that our flaws make us unique and beautiful.
4. Remember there is always room for changing and improving. Introspection allows you to see what you like and do not like about your reality, so you can shape it to your desires. Make a conscious effort to decide what is positive and what is toxic in your life, based on your thought process. Again, if you can’t change the situation, change your perspective. If you can change it, love yourself enough to do something about it!
5. Goals, standards, and ideals are all good things – to an extent. Goals keep things exciting. They keep you striving for something greater. Having standards and ideals are good because they signify a sense of self-respect and a filtering out of certain negative experiences. But goals, standards, and ideals are bad for you when you start basing your happiness on them. When you start attaching your well-being to these external factors, you’ll find yourself riding short lived highs (or suffering from let downs), not experiencing lasting joy. Again, remember that happiness comes from within us. It’s not based on what happens to us.
6. Remember to stay positive with yourself. Getting frustrated with ourselves does nothing but discourage us. Do not compare yourself to others. Always remember that everyone is on their own path and journey – and we are all just trying to figure it out together. No one has all the answers. And the beauty of each of our own unique journeys is that the answers are different for each person – only you, looking introspectively, can find the key to your happiness within you.