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How to Achieve Lasting Happiness

Writing is another powerful way to sharpen the mental saw. Keeping a journal of our thoughts, experiences, insights, and learning  promotes mental clarity, exactness, and context.  — Stephen R. Covey  

My mind is a powerful engine that runs my life. I’m sure that’s the case with you as well. Ironically, I’m more conscious about what I eat and wear than those thoughts that fuel my mind.

When we put our net worth on a paper, we never include our biggest asset — our mind!

Think that for a second. Isn’t that an astounding revelation? I spend more time pondering over the food that I eat and even the water that I drink than to safeguard the quality of thoughts that run my life.

It’s always a struggle to develop consciousness towards intangibles in our lives — anger, frustration, self-pity, low self-esteem are the forms of impure thoughts that influence the quality of life without my awareness. Manifesting internal awareness is the key to your happiness.

A view of reality

Our world savors the outer reflection — a beautiful body, a muscular body, a beautiful house, a beautiful car. This approach leads our thinking to form opinion by an outer reality of our lives more so than an inner reality. We are judged by our possessions more so than how magnanimous our hearts are, how compassionate our thoughts are, how benevolence our actions are.

To find yourself, think for yourself.
– Socrates (BC 469-BC 399) Greek philosopher of Athens

An outer reality vs Inner reality

As I pondered in a moment of silence, I stumbled upon the truth for the mental clarity and boundless happiness. If I develop awareness of two distinct realities — an outer and inner reality — I can subvert fake, momentary desire of selfish and egotist pleasures. An outer reality is what exists outside and around me. An outer reality subvert my inner reactions by molding thoughts that incessantly flow though my mind like an ocean surf pounding the beach front. These thoughts form opinion about everything that I do during the day. For instance, when someone drives recklessly, I tend to get exasperated quickly with rushing thoughts of anger. These thoughts spur actions that often hurt me, from within, yet I feel helpless and act upon those thoughts of impurity.

An inner reality is a form of pure thoughts that arise from my own controllable actions by practicing meditation and yoga. An inner reality is akin to a warm room with boundless tranquility unaware of the harsh outer reality — inclement weather that exists outside.

I practice mediation and yoga everyday to create inner reality that is pleasant and entirely in my control. We allow our thoughts to be blended by impurity that comes from the outer reality. A reckless driver subvert my otherwise tranquil thoughts with impurity of anger and exasperation. Those who live life of boundless mental clarity and happiness know how to keep an outer reality from influencing their inner thoughts. With this, I’ve learned not to focus on actions that I cannot control.

I cannot control actions of a reckless driver, but I can choose how I react by controlling my inner reality. This is the first step to the path of mental clarity.

Outer goals vs inner goals

I tend to spend about an hour every week to plan my actions for the week with specific goals that I’d like to achieve. Over the time, I’ve found that sometimes it becomes rather difficult to keep perspective of what truly I wanted to achieve. More importantly, I’ve felt emptiness even after achieving certain goals.

I’ve stumbled upon another shiny truth in the quest to solve this mystery. I’m almost always focused on the outer goals — what I wanted to achieve in a physical form. I’m not focused at all on the inner goals — how I can achieve a spiritual balance from within. For the last few months, when I plan my week, I also plan time to develop my spiritual being.

Achieving physical goals or outer goals without achieving spiritual goals or inner goals is akin to focusing on physical fitness without the quality of food we eat. Often, we juxtapose our outer goals and inner goals to subvert thoughts that are necessary to achieve these goals.

Additional tips for the mental clarity and happiness

1. Use power of mantras daily.

Mantra means a hack for the mind. ‘Man’ means mind in Sanskrit. Mantras are being used in the Eastern culture for thousands of years to train mind to form a habit. I use mantras for mental clarity. For instance, I frequently use, “Think well, eat well” mantra to remind myself the importance of choosing the right thoughts and food for my mental and physical clarity. “One thing in, two things out” is a mantra I use anytime I shop something and bring a new item to home. for example, If I buy one new shirt, I’ll donate two old shirts.

2. Engage in small acts of compassion.

Compassion has power to unleash positivity by performing positive actions to help others. I always try to make an effort to help someone everyday to unleash power of positivity to influx my mind. Act of compassion acts as an agent of clarity and boundless happiness.

3. Learn not to expect an outcome.

This is rather difficult and somewhat esoteric. How can we not expect an outcome for which we work hard for? It’s human nature to expect favorable result from any meaningful effort. However, if I can act without expecting result, I can detach emotions that arise from the outcome that is not in alignment with my perception. The theory of karma simply teaches to act with compassion and leave the outcome to the fate with no emotions attached. Try this exercise with small tasks that you engage in. Once you master the concept, you can apply that to bigger things that you do in life. This doesn’t imply that we put lackluster effort behind our action for the fact that an outcome is irrelevant. It’s exactly opposite. It enables us to put best of our thoughts and actions knowing that an outcome will not jeopardize the clarity of our thoughts.

Associate reverently, as much as you can, with your loftiest thoughts.
-Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American naturalist, poet and philosopher.

How do you achieve mental clarity? Have you stumbled upon different ways to purify thoughts for a better and balanced life?

Photo by: ConnectIrmeli

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  1. Zoeybear
    October 16th, 2012 at 12:59 | #1

    I love your analogy of how setting outer goals without working on inner goals is like setting fitness goals without monitoring which foods you eat. It makes a lot of sense to me.

    I’m studying for the engineering licensing exam on top of regular schoolwork, and I have noticed it is impossible to achieve my studying goals if my mind is not cared for.

  2. David
    October 17th, 2012 at 05:43 | #2

    re: The Covey quote you open with – in Critical Path, Buckminster Fuller spoke of the value of seeing your life as an experiment and thus journaling and photographing its progress. I find that useful for seeing where I’ve come from and the progress that’s been made.

    Agreed on the meditation. Know Thyself – it is the platform from which we live our lives. Unless we get to know whats beneath all the activity of doing and thoughts of the mind, we’ll be forever distracted by what is temporary and miss what is always with us.

    Surprisingly, what is under the noise and drama of our emotions and thoughts is a profound peace and inner happiness. Until we connect with that, we’ll spend our lives looking for happiness out there, basing our quality of life on what is fleeting and temporary.

    And that’s a sad thing when what we’re looking for has been with us all along. To quote T.S. Eliot:
    “…the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

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