Happiness is a choice we make - June 2016
Written by Pavithra LH @starcrystalportal.com

As we look at our life, with all its ups and downs, we notice, how much of our thought and actions are dependent on our desire to control things the way we want so we can be happy.

But however we make things work for us, we realize that they don't last that long and even if they do last for a while, we are again not happy with what we have as ego within us is tired of what it has and now wanted to get something else. More! is the word that is in our minds. That is what ego is all about, to acquire things to make an identity, a self. If we can notice this within us, then we come to realize that whatever we have acquired or achieved from whatever the outside source, be it a person, a thing or a status, would not make ego happy for a long time. So we come to the ultimate realization that nothing outside of us can really bring us permanent happiness but only us.

Then making ourselves happy becomes our choice; our responsibility. If we want to be happy then it is a choice. Our thoughts and our perceptions towards life are how we feel happy or sad. And also, how much of it is ego controlled is also a big factor.

Victims or victors
They say some people look and see a glass as half full while the others see it as half empty and even complain about it. It's us and us only that can make this life a better place for us. This is a sobering realization as we go through our life searching happiness outside. Same with wanting acceptance or wanting to feel worthy and loved. They all need to be found within or we make our life a painful existence. We blame others for not giving us love or not accepting us for who we are, but is it really they that are not accepting us? or is it us?. Why be the victim?

Sometimes all this is overwhelming and confusing for us as we have gotten used to our ways of life and patterns, and are somewhat comfortable in our comfort zone and the thought of all these new ideas seems impossible to understand or achieve. This is the case for most of us. For some pain becomes unbearable and all the entertainments, distractions and escape routes that they use as copying mechanisms seems to not work anymore. Sometimes that is the reason that made us search peace and happiness in spirituality. Which got us to take a journey of seeking happiness and joy and that deep connection with eternal.

For some even taking that journey do not bring happiness as we begin to notice it is as a state of mind. Or an attitude. We need to change our attitude towards life situations if we really want to be at peace and be happy.

Spiritual awakening is not that fun either
At the beginning of this spiritual journey, it all feels so happy and some stay in that state without really facing inner demons and living somewhat an unconscious life. But if we begin to do the real work then things are not as rosy as they are. As part of making that connection with our true-self requires a process of dismantling of ego self and its attachments to the material world. This requires deeper levels of trust and faith as most of the things that we experience are not tangible as this process goes on. Not having faith and trust also make the journey a living hell for some. Someone once told me, in order to reach Haven you must first go through hell metaphorically. It is a hell for the ego to be dismantled and die. As the process take the person through many levels of dismantling, removing things that they were attached, be it people, status or material processions. Ego exists only through creating false identities through forms. It uses people, things, situations to make an identity so it can exist. When we go through our Spiritual awakening process, these identities gets dismantled. The less we have attachments and identities the less ego we have.

This process, how hard or long that may be, ultimately connect us deeper with our true self and eternal spirit. But can we change our attitude as we go through this journey to make things better for us? Or we can go through this process kicking, screaming and complaining all the way. Whether we are on a spiritual journey or not, we can do things right now to bring us happiness by changing our attitudes towards life situations.

Re-framing our thoughts can bring us happiness
The word re-framing might be misunderstood but what that really means, in this case, is changing our thoughts and experiencing them in another way. Basically changing our perception. We see the world through whatever the perceptions we have.

From our vantage point at that time of our consciousness awareness, we might see a thing one way and then when we change our thinking, our way of looking at it by bringing some awareness to what we are viewing. We change our perception. It is like, the thing that we are viewing now has different properties. It has different effects on us. Our emotions and our mind are acting differently towards the thing that we once saw.

We must learn this way of thinking. To think with awareness and make decisions on life choices. This way we can look at life differently instead of reacting to everything that we come across in life. Ego is permanently in the separated thinking, there is no oneness and feeling of connection to others unless for its advantage. It always looks for enemies, someone to blame, make wrong or put down.

React before thinking
Most of the time we react to situations before we even notice we have reacted to them. That means we are running autopilot again. We are not aware of ourselves and have gone offline and are acting based on set rule and patterns in our mind. It's like driving a car. If we go to work every day. We have seen all the sign post and where to turn and where to stop etc; based on that we have set those rules in our mind so our mind knows where to go and where to turn. Most have the experience of coming home and realizing we don't remember anything. This is autopilot mode in action. This might seem okay in some situations but overall, the rules and patterns that we have set in us are somewhat distorted patterns stemming from past experiences and also manipulated by ego. So they distorted our view and allow mind and ego to control us. So instead of acting on conscious thinking we react and bring out those distorted patterns and make choices.

Can we stop the reactions
If we can be online most of the times, meaning be conscious and aware. Then we can make inform choices as to what to do in that moment when we are faced with a situation.

We can learn to change our way of thinking so that we stop our mind before we react. We sort of program this into our mind. Meaning we practice this continually and pay attention. This way we have allowed more awareness to come to us, to be online, consciousness and make wise choices as much as we can.

Every time a situation arise in our life, the first thing that happens is a set of pre-programmed patterns get activated and thoughts and emotions arrive based on that. But what if we can learn to stop before that and make informed wise choices. How do we do that?

Here are some steps and ideas to use so you can make a better choice and change the thinking so the ego is not in the driver seat anymore but you are and you have changed your way of thinking so that you can bring more happiness and peace. You made the choice and took actions.

1. STOP!
We can learn to stop before this pre-programmed pattern gets activated. This gives us the time to think, actually see what is going on. This is the time we notice what is going on and how can we participate in this situation. How can we make an informed decision? Also, if possible learn to witness and neutralize the situation so no more reactions at all.

2. Surrender
As we witness the event, we can take into account there are things in our life that we cannot change at that time or the choices that we have made have brought us here. Instead of reacting we can choose to surrender to this fact. That means mind will not run thousand pre-program patterns and go on a roller coaster of emotions and false realities. The past does not need to be brought in to punish ourselves or others and react. Instead, we can be at this moment as we make a choice of what to do. We surrender to the event as it is and make an informed choice.

3. Make a choice
As we let go of the reactions or the mind made roller coaster of thoughts as we surrender to the reality of where we are. We do not go into unconscious, fantasy worlds and leave this moment. Instead, we stay here and think of what we need to do in that moment. So we can make a wise choice based on the information we have at that moment.

4. Re-frame our thoughts
Our first choice at any event is to see it as what it is. Meaning, we learn and understand all events and situation are simply neutral, which is neither good or bad. But when we are faced with situations, mind and ego make the choice with all its pre-programmed patterns and scripts whether it's good or bad. If we can learn to witness events as neutral then we neutralize the whole negativity towards the event.

If we are not there yet with seeing things as neutral then we need to really work and finding ways to re-frame our thoughts. Meaning, If we see something from a point of negativity, this might not be entirely true as ego see enemies in anything, so it makes judgments. We can look at the same event and find something good in it and change our thoughts at that moment.

If it involves people, then find the good in them or the lessons of that interaction instead of judging it. Say someone did something to help you. You can just say thank you and forget about it. Most of us are so busy so we say thank you without even thinking about it. Or you can make a choice right then and there to stop, recognize and realize that this person has made an effort to support you. This is a form of love and I acknowledge it and express the love from my heart. This is re-framing your thought and seeing things with more conscious awareness point of view. We probably don't need to do anything more than simply saying thank you sometimes and other times we can do something more to acknowledge the person. But with both actions, we are aware and fully present with the event. What we have done is shift our consciousness our awareness and emotions based on that re-framing of our thoughts.

Relationships
This is really important in personal relationships as this helps to build trust and love within. You can notice positive changes immediately as you are the one who is changing. The thing is we are not making any effort to change the other but we are making an effort to change us, our thinking.

The minute we do that we shift our vantage point and have raised our consciousness to another level. Our thoughts, emotions, and our body show this immediately. We feel lightness and there is more light within all of a sudden. We have shift gears and made one small change in increasing happiness in our life.

As we do this for a while, our relationships with ourselves and others become more fulfilling. Suddenly, there is a deeper connection with humans and nature and that brings more joy to us. We have changed our reality.

5. We do the best we can
This realization is critical to us at any point in our life and especially when we deal with others. We can release blame, regrets through this practice while being accountable for our thoughts and actions. When making a choice or when we say or do something or even react to something; we are doing it from the consciousness awareness we have at that moment, at that point. Including whatever the pre-programmed patterns we hold and how unconscious or offline we are; At that moment. That is important to understand as we make choices based on our awareness at that moment. If we have got distracted or unconscious and reacted to something that means we were not fully online. We were not consciously aware of that moment and was not in the now moment. So we are making a choice based on our awareness of life at that point. Meaning from our vantage point at that moment.

When we realize this, we learn to forgive ourselves for the choices we made in the past. As well as to the reaction of ours and others. We can forgive others easily and make our life better with this attitude in life. Read more on forgiveness on this blog post

Also, with this realization, we can move on with the knowing that we've made the best choice at that moment and leaving any regrets and fears behind.

6. There is a lesson in everything
Whether it's a person or an event, there is a reason it is there in our reality and life has brought that to us. We can choose what we are going to do with it. It can be a pleasant thing then we might not complain about it but at this place of our spiritual journey, we know there is a reason for anything to be in our life at this moment. Some are manifestations of our hard work, things have shifted and other times they are there to show us there is something more that needs changing, there is something that we have not seen, something that we must learn. If there is a lesson to learn we must learn it. If we look at situations as gifts, lessons that we need to learn instead of problems. We actually have the ability to shift our thinking and release what is unpleasant from out reality. We change and with it, our reality change.

7. Let go
This is something that becomes a challenge at the beginning but with time and practice, we learn to let go of things easily. The ego is the part that continually attach to things and want things to be same to feel secure and solid. But life is something that continually change and the only thing we can do is learn and let go of ego and its attachments to situations that bring us pain.

As we realize that nothing stays same and things can stay or leave us anytime and we have not much of a control as we want. We learn to have less expectation and attachments to things as we know the reality of life. Nothing stays the same and everything has cycles. Things come to our life and then they go or change form as cycles continue. As we go through our spiritual journey we learn the impermanence of nature and learn to not be so attached to things as we know it is not us who wants these attachments to feel safe but ego self. The more we are aware of ego self and its hold on us the easier it is to understand where we are with stuff in our life. With this knowing, when we are faced with a situation where we have to let go of something, we learn to let go of them with less emotional and mental trauma to our being.

8. Witness
This level of conscious awareness can be reached by learning to not judge situations in our life and also learning to let go of things easily. Witness means we are not judging the situation or the person but simply witness the event. If possible with compassion and understanding of who we are, where we are, or where they are. We hold no judgments or have any entanglements with the event or the person. We associate the event neutrally. As we know all events are natural. Like any other thing in our life at first this becomes unattainable, but with practice, we make changes to our thinking to grow this muscle of conscious participation with life.

9. Gratitude
Gratitude is something we can cultivate with every moment of our life. Keep an eye and be grateful for everything in your life. At first, you might find it hard to be grateful for anything or you might only see one or two things. Keep building this, pay extra attention. As you change your attitude towards things, as you change your thoughts and look at life differently, you become softer and begin to notice more things in life that you can be grateful for. When you do that life begins to reciprocate with giving you more to be grateful for. Acknowledge them, be grateful and you will notice more things to be grateful the next moment.

10. Feeling that you are part of something and you are serving
Whoever we are and wherever we are in our life at this point, to be happy and be at peace, we have to come to a realization that we are part of something great and there is a purpose to our existence. With that realization, we can choose to change our attitude towards life. See the goodness in life and the purpose for our existence. Learn to see the lessons in things and how we can be part of all this. As we built this awareness and begin to notice the oneness with everything, there is a peace that comes with it. If we want to feel peace and happiness, this is a place, a state that we must learn and arrive at.

As we go through practicing these and staying in the moment as much as we can. There is more of an awakening within. Also, we notice there is more love and warmth building within, towards us and the world. This slowly builds up, bringing small quantities of peace and happiness each moment. These are just a few ideas and there are more ways we can bring peace and happiness to us, but the main thing is to change our attitude towards life. It's us, we change within. We make the choice to be happy.

For Peace and Happiness!!
Pavithra