The Relationship Between Happiness and Beliefs

Do your beliefs make you happy?  Do you currently have beliefs that are leading to a happy life?  Do you wake up every morning happy and grateful for the life you have?

Right now you carry a set of beliefs inside you.  Are those beliefs serving your highest good?  Are those beliefs making you happy?  If the answer is no, listen up, because you’re doing yourself a huge disservice and the result is unhappiness.  How long do you want to be unhappy?

Happiness isn’t about what you have or what you’re doing.  Happiness is a state of being that is completely controlled by your own thoughts and beliefs.  If you’re not happy,  you’ve chosen not to be happy.  And if you think the world is making you unhappy, or your parents are making you unhappy, or the economy is making you unhappy, then you’re just plain wrong.  You are making you unhappy.  Because your level of happiness is directly related to your beliefs. 

Does this sound familiar?

“I’ll be happy when I win the lottery.”
“I’ll be happy when I get that promotion.”
“I’ll be happy when she agrees to marry me.”
“I’ll be happy when I get out of debt.”
“I’ll be happy when I get my own place.”

And so on.

What is your particular “I’ll be happy when…” story?

Years ago a friend wrote me a letter.  In it he said, “In order to be happy you must first decide to be happy.”  At the time I think I was 17, and I didn’t understand what he wrote to me.  In my world view, happiness was something that was a result of things going on in your life, so how could you decide what’s going to happen in your life, and therefore how could you decide to be happy?  But now I get it.  You can choose how you want to feel under any circumstance at any time in your life.  And if you can choose how you feel, why would you choose to feel unhappy?  Why not feel happy all the time?  But this is easier said than done.

So you have to look at your beliefs.  I believe that everything happens for a reason and that it serves my highest good.  I believe that even when bad things happen to me that they are there to teach me a lesson that will make my life better in the future.  I believe that life is a gift, and I can’t wait to see what I can do with this gift.  I believe that no matter what happens to me in this life, I am still loved, protected, and cared for by my posse on the other side.  I believe that I am never truly alone.  I believe I am helpful, caring, honest, kind, and just; and I believe people on our planet live better lives when people like me are around.

Are any of these beliefs empirically true?  No.  There’s no way for me to say these beliefs are absolutely true.  That’s why they’re beliefs and not facts.  I have chosen to believe these things, not because I saw evidence that they were true, but because my belief in them creates the evidence that makes them true for me. 

What do your beliefs look like?
“No one ever really gets ahead in this world.”
“People are selfish and will step on you to get ahead.”
“Money is the root of all evil.”
“Most parents screw their kids up so why bother having kids in the first place?”
“No one is looking out for me, they’re all too busy looking out for themselves.”
“I’ll never be good enough to get the job I really want.”

And so on.

But you’re choosing to believe those things and you’re making them true for you.  If my beliefs are not empirically factual, then neither are your negative or limiting beliefs.  So why carry them around with you like they’re facts?

Change your beliefs, change your world.

You choose your beliefs, and your beliefs create your reality.  So choose beliefs that serve and empower you instead of ones that bring you down or make you unhappy.

So how do you change your beliefs?  First, identify the beliefs you have that aren’t working for you.  The next time you find yourself unhappy ask yourself what you have to believe in order to feel so unhappy.  Write it down.  Keep doing this every time you find yourself upset or unhappy.  Identify the belief that goes with it and ask yourself if that’s something you care to keep believing or if there’s another way of believing that serves you better.  Keep a list of all these beliefs.   Then choose to let those beliefs go.  Those beliefs are gone. 

Next, come up with a new set of beliefs such that, if you believed they were true, would empower you.  Decide you’re going to adopt those beliefs.  Try them on for 30 days.  You have to really believe them though, you can’t just pretend.  Otherwise you’re saying, “I wish this was true” which means you believe it’s not.

Don’t tell me you can’t adopt a new belief in an instant.  You can.  You’re not saying, “This is empirically factual,” you’re saying, “I am choosing to believe this.”  Then let your reality reflect your belief back to you.  If you’ve never done this you might choose to believe it’s impossible.  Then of course, it is.  That just proves my point. ;)  Really, what do you have to lose? 

The more you adopt new beliefs that empower you, the better your life is going to get.  If you’re having trouble coming up with beliefs you can get behind, just try easy ones first.

“I believe that something positive happens to me every day.”
“I believe that there are at least 5 things I can be grateful for every single day.”
“I believe that people are usually kind.”
“I believe that somewhere in this world someone is acting kindly and unselfishly towards another person.”

You’ll find evidence of all these things if you’re looking.

But Erin, isn’t this just your RAS at work?  (That’s Reticular Activating System, which is just a fancy way of saying you see what you expect to see.)  So fine!  See what you expect to see.  Just start expecting to see great things!  Use the RAS to your advantage.  Why on earth would you choose to only see the negative?  What does that say about you?

You can’t fool the system though, so don’t try this:  “I believe people are really nice at heart except the big corporate greedy folks who prey on unsuspecting people, but hey, even they had mothers who probably loved them.”  Nuh uh.  That’s not going to work.  Adopt beliefs you can actually get behind without conditions.

My reality may not actually be real.  How would I know what was really real anyway?  But it doesn’t matter.  In my reality, I’m happy.  You’re welcome to share my reality with me any time you want.  I don’t own the happiness patent and I’m not going to charge you a royalty for being happy.

Don’t you owe it to yourself to carry beliefs that will bring you happiness?  Or do you believe you’re supposed to be miserable, lonely, depressed, scared, etc?  Tsk tsk.  Put that on your list and let it go.  I believe you’re better than that!  I believe you can adopt empowering beliefs.  I believe that happiness is yours and all you have to do is claim it.  If I believe this, you can too.

So what are you waiting for?

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