Do you think it’s a little far-fetched that I can tell you right now the simple formula for a happy life? “The way to happiness is different for everyone,” you might argue. That’s the beauty of this particular formula. It can work for anyone, in any lifestyle. (This information comes from Tony Robbins, Creating Lasting Change.)
First, think of an area of your life that you’re really pleased with. It can be anything: career, health and fitness, financial situation, connection with your higher power, home and family, relationships with friends, etc. Now, think for a minute about why are you so happy with this particular aspect of your life.
Personally, I would say motherhood is the area in my life that I’m over the moon about. I absolutely love it, each and every day. I find fulfillment in watching my three children explore their world, and I feel so blessed to have privilege of guide them in their journeys. I love how affectionate and expressive they are, whether it’s their hugs and kisses, or finding love notes all over my bedroom and bathroom. I can’t get enough of squeezing them and snuggling with them. They are also hilariously funny and incredibly smart. Yes, there are many moments of tedium, not always being able to do what I would like, and some setbacks along the way, such as when my toddlers clog three different toilets by flushing toys, destroy my parents’ plasma-screen smart TV, or do this
to the carpet (I can’t really blame him, since I left my calligraphy ink within his reach). These incidences can be very frustrating, but they don’t take away from my happiness because I expect things like this to happen with little children. If, on the other hand, I expected to always have a clean, organized house and perfectly behaved children, I would not be happy as a mother, in my current reality.
Gandhi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Does that clue you in to the formula? Here it is: LC = BP (life conditions = blueprint) You are happy when your blueprint, or core expectations about the way life is supposed to be, are matching your actual experience in that area. For me, motherhood is everything I expected it would be, more even, so I’m not just satisfied with it but am overjoyed. (Hopefully that’s still the case when they’re teenagers!)
But what about the areas in which this formula doesn’t include an equal sign? Well, you simply won’t be happy until you make both sides of the equation match up. Consider an area in your life that you’re unhappy with (or at the very least, less satisfied with than the other areas of your life). Think about what your expectations have been for how life should be in that area, and you’ll probably notice a disconnect from the way things actually are for you now. When LC doesn’t equal BP, you experience frustration, pain, and/or disappointment. Suffering comes in when you believe you’re helpless and can’t change your life conditions (which is an illusion). In the situation you’re thinking of, can you change any of your life conditions to move closer to your blueprint/expectations? I would guess that if that were possible, you would have changed those conditions a long time ago. The good news is that you can always change what it means to you, or alter your blueprint.
Here’s my own example. I really love my husband, but at times I’ve been pretty disappointed about our marriage. I like to think of myself as a realistic person, but I had pretty lofty expectations about us being totally unified, being able to talk about anything, having my feelings validated, always enjoying each other’s company, and other things. The times I’ve been the most unhappy have been the times when the actual conditions of our relationship were furthest from these expectations. Thankfully, now that I’ve come to realize about the formula, I’ve altered my expectations (notice I didn’t say lowered). Although I would love to have a relationship encompassing these ideals, and although I believe that someday we will experience those things, I acknowledge the huge learning curve unity demands. As long as we’re moving in the right direction, remaining committed, and trying to improve, I can be satisfied with where we are currently. I can appreciate that the inevitable down-times make the up-times that much more significant. I can focus on recognizing and accentuating the positive aspects of our relationship and not worry about what I can’t change.
Basically, when our life conditions don’t match our blueprint, we have three choices:
1. Blame something or someone. Say, “It’s not my fault.” We love to blame our problems on events and other people, because it directs our focus away from ourselves, which can seem liberating, but is actually a trap. You may also blame yourself, which, if you stop there, won’t do any good but causes you a lot of pain. You’ll never change your life in a state of blame.
2. Change your life conditions. If you’re unhappy with your income, then find a way to raise it. If you don’t like your figure, then start exercising and eating better, or (although I don’t endorse it) get surgery. If your kids are brats, get new ones. (Totally kidding.)
3. Change your belief system, or blueprint. This is the key to longer-term change.
If you’re suffering, stop blaming, and choose option #2 if possible, or #3 anytime. If happiness is important to you, trust me, this formula works. Let’s hear it from you, readers. Do your experiences match up with the formula?