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Tag: being happy

Expect the expected

We all know that happiness can come right here right now. We’ve discussed it here on ForeverHappyNow many times already. That is because happiness is nothing more than a choice, and a state of mind. But we still hand over the control aka the choice to the monkey-mind!

There is a huge chasm that exists between our current life and the life that we believe we deserve. The operating word being ‘deserve’. Do you believe you deserve a better pay or a better bonus? Of course! A better relationship? A better house? A better car? A better friends’ circle? The answer is always yes. The image we have of ourselves is often of do-gooders who are somehow waylaid by life, unable perhaps to get to that level of greatness we each think we are so capable of.

And we certainly may be capable of greatness – no denying that. But when we envision ourselves as great people, we also begin to believe that we deserve more than we already have. This comes in the way of happiness because being great is not necessarily the same as being happy. This leads to higher expectations, anxiety and dissatisfaction.

Setting the ‘expectations’ bar very low helps. The great late-physicist Stephen Hawking, famous for books such as A Brief History of Time and The Theory of Everything, was diagnosed with motor-neuron disease. He was paralysed and unable to talk from the young age of 21. His doctors gave him only a few years to live, but as those who have seen his videos and interviews (he could speak only through a computer) know, he was also a witty and humorous person, and lived till the age of 76. An interviewer once asked him, “Are you always this cheerful?”. Mr. Hawking replied, “My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus!”

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Day One

Amazon has a concept called Day One. Jeff Bezos has written about Day One in detail in his letters to shareholders. His idea is that Amazon employees should always consider themselves as though working for the very first day of Amazon’s existence. This way no one takes Amazon’s success for granted, and everyone continues to work as doggedly as possible. No past successes will form a ceiling for future achievements.

This is a great philosophy for a company no doubt. But I can’t help but wonder if this is healthy when applied to our personal lives.

The person who couldn’t understand what “Adios amigos” meant in Spanish one year ago, is now able to converse well in the language after taking classes. But her thought? “I’m still so far away from attaining native fluency, I feel so stupid, and my progress is so slow.” The person who months ago only knew ABCDEFG as alphabets can now play “River Flows in You” on the piano. But his thought? “Damn those YouTube child prodigies – here I am at 45 struggling with sight reading, while my eyes can barely keep up with the speeds of their hands!” The person who couldn’t see his feet because his tummy got in the way, has now lost 30 kilos. But his thought? “My abs still are not visible – I hate my body, especially that stubborn lower belly fat.”

If any of the above seem familiar, that is because all too often, we are critical of ourselves beyond reason. We can then re-purpose Day One this way. Think of that first day when we did not even know anything about the skill / ability we wanted. From zero understanding of vocabulary, or music or dance or coding etc. we have now become significantly better.

Being happy with this fantastic progress from day one, let us continue to take small steps every day, to reach grand heights one day.

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