Depression, fear, worry and constant thinking play far too much of a role in the lives of the average person. We are used to reacting to certain things but when we think about our actions carefully, the negative emotions we often feel really aren’t worth it. With this post I want to share my own path to live a life filled with more happiness.
I can’t say I’m happy all the time and I’m certainly not ‘enlightened’, but the simple changes and techniques I want to share have improved my life more than I can possibly explain. From here I also know where to go to reach the ‘next level’.
The World’s (and my) Situation
How do you feel right now? As you are sitting down and reading this do you notice yourself thinking about other things…maybe your problems? If so, you are not alone. Our minds are constantly full of incessant thinking which leads us to feel certain emotions; the main place these emotions are derived from, is our ego.
I first learned about the ego and controlling our emotions through the teachings of Eckhart Tolle (Ecky) and have been able to improve my levels of happiness and outlook on life. Therefore I follow a similar path as to what he has taught the world through his books and films. Our ego is in place to help us protect our false sense of identity; this may be basing our perceived identity on things like:
- Our bank balance
- The car we drive
- The clothes we wear
- The house we live in
- The connections / friends we have
The list is endless, but if we base our sense of self on them and aren’t plugged into our real identity then the ego is going to have a lot of effect in our lives. Think about it, if we believe that our Mercedes makes us look cooler and of higher value to other people, what happens when someone damages it or insults it? We instantly become angry, frustrated and hurt. The reason for this is because we see ourselves in the physical item and we are so connected with it that we can’t zoom out and see the bigger picture.
Being able to notice your emotions through presence and dealing with them is the main focus of this blog post and what we are going to cover below. Your life can change drastically just through following the ideas outlined and hopefully you’ll start to value the things that really matter (friends, family, relationships) more than your material possessions. This isn’t about becoming a vagabond and giving everything away, but it is about not deriving your identity from the things you own, because through that route you:
- Can never be truly happy
- Will always be looking for something more
- Gain self-esteem through your purchases
If that is the life you want to live, I don’t recommend reading on. Otherwise, enjoy!
Simple Steps to Controlling your Emotions
Being able to control your emotions is a huge step towards unlimited happiness. For small things in your life, you will be able to use the following method to instantly change your thoughts and viewpoints. For bigger issues it might take more time, something I experienced very recently when I had quite a big ‘problem’, so I’m not quite at the stage where I have rid myself completely of negative emotions but I’m definitely on the right path.
1. Be Present
Presence is a beautiful thing, it is the realisation that now is all there ever is. It is also described as living consciously, being aware of your emotions and reactions to things as they arise. One great way to start becoming more present is through the use of meditation and I also recommend trying to be aware of being aware as often as possible.
For example, if you are about to go through a traffic light and it turns red so you have to stop, it’s easy to become a little angry or annoyed. The more present you can be (aware the red light has made you angry), the more you can succeed at the next step. There are other benefits to presence in that you are also more aware and alert to what is going on without a mind full of thoughts.
2. Watch the Emotion
As soon as you are present in a situation, that is to say watching the thoughts that come into your mind -Â observe them. If you feel anger at a traffic light then watch that anger. As soon as you watch the emotion, you separate yourself from it, therefore it can’t take over you and quickly disappears.
One good example from the book the Power of Now (by Eckhart) goes along the following lines:
Listen when a car alarm goes off outside. It keeps going and the noise becomes very annoying. The more you focus on it the louder the sound becomes and the more annoying it gets. However, if you just listen to it, and watch the emotions that arise, then a miraculous thing will happen.
You will start to notice the alarm doesn’t really annoy you any more, you may start laughing and actually find it funny.
This is a great example and one that allowed me to understand presence and watching your emotions more closely. I’ve started doing this more in everyday life, for instance, when someone sitting near me at work has music on too loud, I find myself getting annoyed quickly. As soon as I am aware I’m feeling the emotion, it quickly disappears and I no longer feel annoyed.
Sadly, I can’t say the same for my co-workers.
3. Some people enjoy Anger
It might seem ludicrous (because it is), but there are a lot of people who simply enjoy being angry. The reason for this is that to them, it is better to have a negative emotion than it is to have no emotion and be bored. Of course, they aren’t aware of this consciously but as soon as you are aware of it you will start to see people in everyday life who just love anger / drama.
A good example of this is when I was at a party last week. They had those fires that burn inside a type of floor lamp. A girl I was speaking to said it was too hot so I went to turn it down a little, but turned it off by accident. Not a big deal, right? Well, she spent the next 5 minutes swearing, moaning loudly to her friends and complaining about me to the staff at the event. All because of one tiny mistake.
It’s quite depressing that this girl was so unconscious, so unplugged that little things like this take up all the time and energy in her life. They give her something to think about, something to do; without the drama she created she would be sitting around very bored and unhappy. Her drama didn’t make her specifically happy, but her ego appreciated it.
4. Make your Choice
Now that you see it is possible to be truly present, observe your emotions and control them – which path are you going to take? You have the choice to look at any situation positively or negatively, some examples include:
Negative: A close family member passed away, life sucks, what is the point
Positive: I’m thankful for knowing the person, and know they are at peace now
Negative: I crashed my car, I’m going to have to pay a lot of money to get it fixed
Positive: It is a piece of metal, at least nobody was hurt and the situation can be resolved
Are you going to let the ego’s desire for pain and drama (described by Eckhart as the ‘pain-body’) creep into all areas of your life or are you going to make the decision to disconnect from your negative emotions and experience true, unlimited happiness?
The choice is yours.