Tools for happiness
Inspired by Sri Chinmoy's acclaimed book 'The Jewels of Happiness', this site aims to inspire you in your search for fulfilment.
When we think of a hero we usually think of someone who saves another person’s life, fights for a just cause or achieves extraordinary success in his or her field. In the outer life heroism is judged by someone’s actions, and traditionally a hero is someone who has shown exemplary courage or sacrifice. But there is also something called inner heroism. An inner hero is someone who struggles with his or her own imperfections and strives to become the best possible version of him- or herself. This is the path of true nobility and character building. Not everyone can become an outer hero. But all of us can become true inner heroes. Here are seven steps to inner heroism.
1. Accept the world as it is
We don’t live in an ideal world, far from it. In spite of our best efforts to spread goodness and kindness, the world often frowns at us, ridicules us or just turns the cold shoulder of indifference. The rudeness, harshness and ingratitude of the world sometimes overwhelms us and we feel a sense of hopelessness. What use is our giving if nobody appreciates it? Faced with this discouraging lack of receptivity it’s easy to give up loving and serving the world and humanity.
An inner hero tries to see the bigger picture. The world is not a finished product, it is in the process of evolution. In order to change the world the inner hero knows he will have to accept the world as it is now, with all its imperfections and limitations. If she has to wait for the world to be perfect before she can offer it our service and goodwill, then she’ll have to wait for eternity.
The mother knows her child is not perfect, but still she loves him with all her heart. The mother sees the limitations of her child as her very own. An inner hero uses this unconditional mother’s love when dealing with the world.
Be an inner hero and accept the world as it is now. See its good intentions, forgive its faults and help it wherever and whenever you can.
2. Work hard without demanding appreciation
When we’ve achieved something, we often long for appreciation and admiration. We want others to praise the result of our hard work. When it doesn’t come we feel frustrated and disappointed. If you attach too much importance to the appreciation of others, you miss the subtle meaning and inherent satisfaction of hard work. Hard work is the chisel that shapes true character. It teaches us concentration, perseverance, endurance and skill.
An inner hero works with his heart, fully engaged in the present moment. She doesn’t allow her mind to think of the past or the future. In this way the work itself becomes like a meditation. Work done in this spirit is its own reward, leaving us with an abiding sense of satisfaction. Outer appreciation is like icing on the cake. It’s nice if it comes, but we’re not hankering after it
Our ego is an eternal attention-beggar. But when we embark on the path of inner heroism we realize that we have to outgrow the childish demands of our ego. True greatness lies not in proudly showing the world what we have done, but in quietly and humbly offering our achievement to the world, without asking anything in return.
“Unlike the outer hero, the inner hero is always supremely humble.”
3. Do not give in to negativity
It’s always easier to point out others’ defects and weaknesses than to appreciate their good qualities. Similarly, it’s easier to be lazy than to be active, easier to be negative than constructive, easier to doubt and suspect than to believe and have faith. Yet only by encouraging the positive qualities inside us do we make progress and go forward. And real happiness lies in progress, not in standing still.
There are two voices inside you fighting for attention. One voice is positive, encouraging and inspiring, the other is cynical and negative. Both are talking to you, but it’s up to you to which of the two you lend your ears. Strangely enough we usually listen to the negative voice, even though its messages are making us miserable and unhappy. Because we spend so much time with the negative voice, we don’t hear the inspiring, soothing and uplifting words of the positive voice.
Be wise, be a spiritual hero, and once again start listening to the positive voice. When you make the conscious choice only to listen to the positive messages inside you, you’ll soon discover that the negative voice will stop talking to you.
4. Fight with yourself, not with others
Heroes and battles are inseparable. Also on the path of inner heroism there are bound to be fights. The difference is you’re not fighting with others, but only with your own limitations and imperfections. By engaging in the inner battle you are moulding and sculpting yourself into a more positive, loving, brighter and kinder human being – a real inner hero!
Here fighting doesn’t imply violence or aggression, but the act of conquering or overcoming negativity. Fighting with ourselves means overcoming the hurdles and challenges of our ego, and aligning ourselves with our true nature, our soul. One very effective way to discover the soul is through prayer and meditation. Throughout the centuries thousands of seekers, sages, saints and yogi’s have travelled the path of spiritual discipline and succeeded in finding their inner treasures.
“We take birth for only one purpose: to win in the battlefield of life.”
5. Become a self-giver
When I was a child I loved my birthday, because it meant getting presents. Nowadays I get much more joy by giving someone else something they really like on their birthdays. Over the years I have realized there is much more joy in giving than in taking. When you give you expand your heart and become one with others. This feeling of oneness is synonymous with joy and happiness.
Here giving doesn’t necessarily mean to give material things. It can also refer to spiritual qualities like kindness, love, compassion and forgiveness. When someone smiles at me on the street I feel that person has given me something really valuable in the form of kindness. If you can forgive someone who has hurt you, you give that person something very precious.
When you can give your love, your joy, your concern to others without asking or expecting anything in return, you will discover a source of spontaneous happiness growing inside your heart. If you want to become an inner hero, then from today start paying attention to giving. Feel that each time you give, you are becoming a better person
6. Never give up!
Contrary to what you may think, successful people often do not possess more talent than the rest. And just like everybody else they also regularly experience failure before their success. What sets them apart however is their determination to succeed. They don’t attach much importance to their failures.
If you don’t take failure as the final result but as an unavoidable stepping stone in your learning process, you are bound to succeed eventually. To an inner hero failure is just that: an opportunity to do better next time. Take your failures as friends in disguise, whose only purpose is to lead you onwards on the path of success and progress.
Each time you fall down, just get up, shake the dust from your clothes, and cheerfully start over again – like a true inner hero.
“Allow failure to teach you a supreme lesson: Each sunset is the beginning of a very, very bright and powerful sunrise.”
7. Always go forward
The past can be a prison. When we think about all the things we’ve done wrong over the years we may become discouraged. Just because we lied or were rude to someone last week or ten years ago, we think we can never become good, better or best.
Everybody makes mistakes, including inner heroes. But instead of dwelling on his mistakes, an inner hero uses his mistakes to strengthens his resolve to do better next time. To the inner hero mistakes, like failures, are stepping stones which she uses to mould and shape herself into the person she wants to become.
To deal with past experiences the inner hero has a very effective mantra: the past is dust. Life happens here and now. Whatever took place in the past is not of any use to us now. If it was good, then we can cherish it as a nice memory. If it was bad we should just discard it.
Live your life with your feet in the present and your nose pointing towards the future. Then the past will no longer be able to imprison you and block your growth into the best version of yourself you can possibly be.
“If you make a mistake in spite of your best intentions, remember this mantra: ‘the past is dust.'”