Sometimes the search for happiness feels like chasing rainbows. Yet spiritual masters throughout the centuries have assured us that happiness is our birthright. They also explain why the brief glimpses we occasionally get disappear so quickly. It all has to do with unseen adversaries like negative thoughts and behaviours that rob us of our happiness. Here is the top-5 of happiness spoilers, from bad to worst, including tips how to smash their pride.
‘Complaining about others is the surest way of wasting one’s precious time,’ spiritual master Sri Chinmoy wrote. Apart from a time-waster it’s also a perfect happiness-spoiler, because complaining focuses on imperfection. When you always zoom in on what is wrong with a situation or a person, you are bound to remain miserable. Instead, try to focus on the positive aspects and consciously overlook the bad parts. You’ll be surprised at how much good energy you will generate within yourself by looking at the bright side of people and things. So don’t complain. ‘Who complains?’ Sri Chinmoy asked rhetorically. His pithy answer: ‘The blind beggar in you.’
A sure way to ruin the promise of happiness is through expectation. Expectation binds us to an outcome we have imagined. And if our expectations are not met, we are frustrated. As American writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard said, ‘Our desires always disappoint us; for though we meet with something that gives us satisfaction, yet it never thoroughly answers our expectation.’ So if we want to find happiness, we should try to nip our expectations in the bud. ‘Peace begins when expectation ends,’ Sri Chinmoy said. Try to surrender to the natural flow of life. You’ll find that it has many wonderful and happy surprises in store for you that far transcend your expectations.
When your boss gives you a promotion, chances are that you are happy. Until you find out that your colleague has made an even higher promotion. Immediately your joy is shattered. Even the most successful businessman, singer, poet, artist or athlete will be frustrated the moment he or she starts comparing him or herself with others, because there will always be someone who is just a little better, a little more successful, a little more famous. Comparison is happiness-poison. When we compare we belittle our own achievements and destroy the joy they initially gave us. If you have to compare, then compare yourself with your own previous achievements, and try to improve. By focusing on bettering yourself you will find true and lasting happiness.
Worry has killed many a happy moment. Although its bite is always painful, worry tries to make us feel that we need it badly, that without it we will be totally lost. In reality nothing is more useless than worrying about the future. Just think about it: does worrying really help? Say, for instance, you are late for an important appointment. Will worrying be able to turn back the clock? On the contrary, your worries will only add to your misery. What you need at that time is some calm and clear thinking: call the person you had the appointment with, apologize for being late and try to be at peace with the situation. You’ll discover that it’s not half as bad as you thought. To quote Jesus: ‘Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ And if all else fails, remember this simple mantra: don’t worry, be happy!
Ranking first in the top-5 of happiness-spoilers is self-doubt. Few things are as destructive as this fellow. When we doubt others, they don’t lose anything of their capacity – and neither do we. Perhaps we misjudge them by doubting, but their reality and our reality stay intact. But if we doubt ourselves, we are pretty much finished. We won’t be able to accomplish anything. ‘Self-doubt is the very beginning of self-destruction,’ Sri Chinmoy writes. Fortunately there is an antidote, which is called faith. We should try to have faith in ourselves. According to spiritual experts, the best way to cultivate faith is to meditate. If we can silence our mind, we will gradually and spontaneously bring to the forth peace and joy from our heart. When we feel these positive qualities and realities within us, it becomes impossible to doubt ourselves.