I told you so.

September 28, 2007

This article was written by Gary van Warmerdam, a life coach, who will be happy to sell you tools and offer assistance on how to work through this process (can’t blame a guy for making a living).  In Get Some Hairapy – a hairdresser’s prescription for happiness, I talk about the scripts inside your head and the exercise of writing a new one to change the way you think.

I will keep saying this until everyone hears me:  Happiness is not dependent on what happens to you but on how you handle it!  Crap happens to everyone, but not everyone is destroyed by it.  Are you prepared for the roller coaster of life, or do the dips hit you so hard that you lose you way?

How the Mind Affects Your Happiness

Published September 27th, 2007

Understanding the Mind

As humans we live in two worlds. There is the external physical world of work, family and friends that we travel in. Then there is the world of our mind and imagination. It is a virtual reality that can appear and feel just as real. When it comes to your emotions the virtual world of your mind can be more real.

If you are seeking to create greater fulfillment and happiness in your life most sources will point to making changes in your external world. However it is changes in the virtual reality of your mind that will make a lasting impact on your happiness and fulfillment.

Those suggestions to find what you love, do what you are passionate about, and achieve your goals will lead you towards happiness. However without addressing how the virtual reality of the mind affects your emotions you can still end up disillusioned and empty. The importance of addressing the role of the mind in your happiness may be difficult to grasp because even the opinions in your mind will point to changing your external world in order to be happy.

What Your Mind Doesn’t Want you to Realize

Most everybody has heard that money doesn’t make you happy, other people don’t make you happy, and that you have to make your self happy. Very few people will tell you how. Your mind will propose that happiness has something to do with the success and accomplishment in the external world. This is exactly what the mind wants you to believe and act on.

As long as you are more focused on the external world of success and accomplishment your mind can avoid giving up the control it has over your emotions. The mind is a dynamic and living entity that has an agenda of its own survival ahead of your emotional well being.

As you put your attention on the dynamics of the virtual reality of the mind it begins to lose control and power over your choices and thoughts. The process involves first becoming aware of the mind and the projections it makes. More self awareness will result in being aware of your self as separate from your mind that is generating thoughts and opinions.

What your mind doesn’t want you to realize is that your happiness and life fulfillment is really determined by what goes on in the world of the virtual reality. At the most essential level of emotions your happiness and sense of fulfillment in life has very little to do with accomplishments in the external reality.

The virtual reality of your mind is likely to disagree with these statements.

Your Happiness and Unhappiness is Created Internally

Take a circumstance such as being fired from your job. In the moment you might feel like it is the worst experience of your life. Those feelings are really created by the self judgment, criticism, and beliefs in the mind. There might also be blame and anger at your former employer. These opinions about the event are generated in the virtual reality about being fired. It is these opinions and beliefs that drive the emotions.

Now imagine that a few years have passed. You have moved on and circumstances are better in your life. Your virtual reality will interpret being fired as a beneficial turn of events that helped facilitate a better life. It was an event that was necessary to bring you to your current state of enjoyment. The story projected in the mind changed and so did your emotions.

Did the event actually change? No. You were still fired on that day at that time for the same reasons. However since your opinions and beliefs about the event changed so did your emotion. Your emotions are created by the beliefs in the virtual reality of your mind and are independent of the event. Most people only change their interpretations over time. However with awareness you can change the opinions and beliefs in your virtual reality in any moment.

How you feel in terms of happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction is not a function of success, failure, or other external factors. Happiness and fulfillment is determined by the opinions and beliefs in your virtual reality about your accomplishments and perceived failures. After all success and failure are just description labels projected by the mind. They can change with time or perspective.

Shifting Priorities

When you understand the significance of how your virtual reality impacts your emotions it will become more important to create peace and quiet in your mind. Depending on how important it is to be happy, you might even conclude that changing your opinions, beliefs, and fears is more important than your external goals.

Without accomplishing a shift in the virtual reality of the mind external success will often be empty emotionally and leave you wondering, “Is this all there is?”

The Measure of Success is Emotional Happiness

You can be a success in your field, make lots of money, and receive accolades from peers and authorities in the external world. However if your internal world of imagination dictates that you are not good enough or a poor performer you will hear the stories of failure in your head. You will feel the emotions of a failure in your body.

If you are unable to satisfy the critical voice of the Inner Judge in your head no amount of external rewards will be satisfying.

Numerous studies indicate that wealthy people are not much happier than the middle class.  Once a person’s basic needs are met there is very little change in a person’s happiness as they gain wealth.  What these studies don’t explain is the lack of difference.    That’s because these studies don’t reveal the aspects of fear, judgments, criticisms, and beliefs, that make up the virtual reality of people’s minds.  These elements of a person’s mind do not change because of a change in their wealth.
The Conflict Between Worlds

When there is a disparity between the image of success that others have and the image of failure in your mind you will feel a conflict brewing. They believe you are a success and yet you know your self image in your virtual reality as a failure. It will seem as if they don’t really know you and this will create a feeling of disconnection. You will feel like you don’t deserve the attention and compliments. You may end up feeling like a fraud to them.

A simple example of this is when someone tells you that you are beautiful or talented. A person that doesn’t feel congruent to this on the inside with their beliefs will feel uncomfortable and dismiss or minimize the comment. In this way their worlds appear and feel more congruent.

Most people most of the time will dismiss the evidence that contradicts their virtual reality. Sometimes this is called denial. At other times people will sabotage their success in the external world just to rectify the incongruity between worlds.

Hollywood is filled with examples of people who achieved acclaim only to feel empty inside. They often seek an internal high through substance abuse only to have it ruin their hard work and everything they have built. When they crash it appears again that their virtual reality was telling them the truth.The virtual reality of the mind is all too willing to sabotage and destroy external success and accomplishments in an effort to maintain continuity and control.

The Illusion of Fulfillment and Happiness

As people strive to be happier and more fulfilled they purse what they believe will make them feel better. More specifically this is the virtual reality’s version of what will make them happy. What the virtual reality equates to happiness does not necessarily equate to happiness in the real world.

In essence the virtual reality claims that happiness is to be created by changing the external world. When achievements are made and goals reached there is often euphoria albeit temporary. The long term internal feelings of dissatisfaction generated by the opinions, criticisms, and judgments of the mind remain unchanged. The virtual reality solution to this return of dissatisfaction is setting higher external goals.

When a person has little awareness they chase whatever goal their virtual reality proposes will make them happy. As you gain awareness you begin to be a skeptic of the thoughts and proposals in your mind. You turn your attention to changing the how the virtual reality operates.

Anecdotes Don’t Help
Some people refer to the distortions in the mind and claim that “People see what they want to see.” These simple explanations are just projections of the virtual reality about the virtual reality. The result is that the mind has added another layer to the virtual world with that belief.

For the person that gets called into their boss’s office their mind may project visions of getting reprimanded or fired. When they get there they might find they are getting a bonus.

A person might project that their partner is cheating on them. In their virtual reality they create a movie of their partner leaving them abandoned and alone. Their virtual reality generates emotions of fear, jealousy, anger, and loneliness. In reality their partner might be madly in love and devoted to them. But they don’t have a relationship with their real partner. They have a relationship with the person in their virtual reality. They treat and act towards their partner according to the beliefs and images the virtual reality projects.

In these scenarios it is not a matter of people seeing what they want to see. People do not want to see visions of being reprimanded, fired, or abandoned. It’s not that simple. The virtual reality of the mind is active and has taken on a life of its own. It projects scenarios continually throughout the day separate from our wants and desires. When these projections in the mind are based in fear the result is unhappiness.

People do not see what they want to see. People see what their virtual reality projects. This isn’t so dangerous by itself unless a person believes what their mind has projected. Without belief in these images they have no power to produce emotions or reactions.

Changing Your Mind is Not Easy

The mind is like a many headed hydra. Often when you attempt to cut off one head two heads grow back. The same thing happens in other places in life. When we prune a tree or bush many buds shoot out with limbs that remain. When you attempt to squash negative thinking the same can occur.

When you attempt to describe, justify, judge, or explain why the mind does what it does you are often adding layers of opinions and projections to the virtual reality. In effect you feed it and make it stronger when you attempt to apply simple anecdotes to the process of changing the mind.

To make changes in the way your mind projects stories and images in your virtual reality is counter intuitive. In the beginning you can not go directly attack it and attempt to cut out everything you don’t want. Without skilled techniques and guidance it is likely to bush out and seem bigger and more difficult than before.

To really change what the virtual reality projects requires that you become skillful in slicing it apart in a way that it doesn’t grow back.

To change the patterns of the mind and currents of emotion might seem like a daunting task. At least that is what the virtual reality projects as if it were truthful analysis.

Whether it is easy or difficult is irrelevant compared to the consequences. Your happiness for the rest of your life weighs in the balance.

Challenge Your Mind

The virtual reality of the mind is alive. It has a life of its own and it is seeking to ensure its own survival. If you are unsure of this simply attempt to make all your thoughts silent for a few minutes and see how the voices in your head behave.

They typically become unruly, tell you to stop wasting your time, this isn’t important, and the guy writing this article doesn’t know what he is talking about. Everything will be an attempt to change the subject or sabotage the process.

The person that becomes a skeptic of these thoughts and recognizes their automatic reactive nature has a chance to change their world.

A Quiet and Peaceful Mind

The difference between happiness and misery begins with changing the quality of images and story projection in the virtual world of your mind. When you go beyond the simple projection of happy stories and images you find another world. In the state of a quiet mind the virtual reality is silent. The visual images and projections are nil. You see the external world as it is. When you do you find out that it is beautiful.

You do not paint upon it your judgments, criticisms, fears, justifications, or even opinions and descriptions. When the internal virtual reality is dissolved so are the voices in your head that keep you from peace and quiet. Only when you dissolve the virtual reality of your mind do you have a chance to live in the real world. In the beginning this may only happen in brief moments. With practice it becomes a normal way to live.

When the mind is tamed and dissolved there is no longer the unhappiness, frustration, anger, or sense of emptiness that it often tempts us into. You are able to see the world as it is, and people as they really are. There is the realization of and perception of beauty as the fog is lifted and your eyes open to this clarity.

Happiness and fulfillment obtained solely from focusing on your external reality is fleeting and may leave you wondering, “Is this all there is? To discover a greater and more lasting happiness you will have to follow a path of dismantling the virtual reality of the mind.

Only through dismantling the false projections of your virtual reality are you assured of being free of emotional suffering in the changing circumstances of your life.

For more insights into the relationship between the mind, emotions, and beliefs listen to the free mp3 Audio podcasts on Awareness and Consciousness

For specific exercises in Self Awareness and changing the core beliefs behind the virtual reality of the mind practice the exercises in the Self Mastery Audio Program.

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