Discover lasting happiness through self-observation

Many a times, we have observed in our work that the most debilitating suffering comes when one no longer finds any meaning in life. What is this life about? How do I navigate it? Do I have a specific gift for the world? You will find your answer when you look at your soul treasures – knowledge, talents and gifts – you have carried over from your past lives. By bringing forth what is in us, our soul treasures, that is the road to meaning and purpose.

In a previous post here, we wrote about how you can better understand what makes you tick by observing the habitual patterns of repetition that form your behaviour – the way you think, speak and act. Then we took it a step further by encouraging you to note down your observations in a daily journal. We also suggested several ways in which such journalling can be done. Yes, we totally encourage you to conduct your own social research project with yourself as the subject. It’s a good way to start if you are keen to understand how best to live happier and more fulfilled. We start by removing what blocks us from happiness and to do more of what brings it. Simple enough? Well, that depends on whether you are up to being totally honest with yourself and how open you are to change.

The different shades of I

If you are diligent in your mini research project, you will soon come to notice in your observations that this ‘I’ is actually made up of different shades of personality. Remember that personality is our interface with the external world of people and situations. And it’s so true that you are not the same with everyone. Nope. Especially not when stress is present. Not unless we have learned the essence of maintaining calm and equanimity under all circumstances as well as a joyful attitude no matter what happens around us, until then, we will continue to be triggered depending on what’s going on inside of us. That is, our feelings and emotions that have been shaped by so many factors while growing up and which now form the programming of our personal CPU that we call our subconscious. This is the stuff that runs our life 96% of the time without us being actively aware of it. This is what needs to be looked at, removed, and replaced if need be.

Self-observation helps us see the truth 

It’s a great skill that will stand you in good stead. To be able to just stop long enough to catch yourself as you respond to something, to just stand aside and watch yourself go by, so to speak. It is a very powerful skill that forms the basis of many a meditation or awareness technique. You can start with very brief moments that last maybe just a couple of seconds. They are usually enough. Then do it more frequently. What you want is to be able to see the patterns emerging. Don’t be surprised if you catch yourself going, ‘oops, here we go again’. ‘Oh dear, why did I do that again?’ Well, please remember this should not lead to self-bashing. That’s not what we want rather it’s about being the objective Witness. Watch and learn. And be compassionate towards yourself. We are all here to grow and expand.

Many folks have reported that such moments of utter and brutal clarity have been instrumental in helping them see where their own behaviour is keeping them from the best in themselves. We limit ourselves out of fear. Fear that comes from a deeper issue: a lack of confidence or self-worth. When we cope by staying within the safe and narrow, closing off opportunities that bring growth and expansion, we are actually denying ourselves a precious chance at finding true and lasting happiness. It’s interesting how we often sabotage our own happiness by repeating the same inner dialogue, ‘I am not good enough’, ‘I dare not’, ‘What if?’. But the beauty of it is that each time you catch yourself repeating the same old, same old scripts is when a window of opportunity actually opens yet again. Self-observation helps you see these precious moments for profound change and therefore a shot at lasting happiness.

Bring forth your soul treasures

In that way, we begin to reclaim the lost treasures we have hidden away out of fear of what might happen if we let them out. Instead it’s about time we say to ourselves, ‘I need to honour my gifts’. ‘I need to bring forth my soul treasures’. These treasures have been hard earned through all the experiences, good and bad, in all your many past lives. How can you not honour them? Out of the many there will be one or two that will stand out and these are the usually the same ones that have been calling out to you trying to get your attention except that you weren’t able to listen until now. By choosing to listen you will have chosen to step yet again out of your comfort zone. It’s like what Arjuna finally learned about himself at the end of his conversation with Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita. It is never about us. He was ready to fulfil his dharma, that of the kshatriya or warrior clan, so fight he must but with new meaning.

It’s what all of us who search for deeper meaning and purpose will eventually learn. Other-ness. To serve and to create. Where our talent meets the need of the world is our dharma. Sure it takes a lot of courage to embrace this but unless we take that first step of courage to bring forth what’s in us, we can never be truly happy. Instead we will die a slow and painful death of the soul. That’s what despair and depression is about. The essence of the Bhagavad-Gita is this: When we bring forth what is in us, we will be saved. When we know who we are, we will know how to act.* And as dawn breaks on the day the battle was to take place, Arjuna finally understands what he must do even if it meant killing his own kinsmen on the other side of the field or if he were to perish in the process. It is never about us.

Bhagavad-Gita

This is the quintessential spiritual reference book for anyone interested in finding their purpose in life and using their gifts and talents to serve humanity and God. When we first heard the Gita chanted in Sanskrit in a yoga ashram, though we didn’t know the meaning of the words at the time and learning Sanskrit came later when we were at Rishikesh, all we did was weep. We sat there totally transfixed, eyes closed but tears just rolled down our faces. We had come home.

We recommend several good reads in English of this great book starting with the ones by Mahatma Gandhi, Eknath Easwaran and *Stephen Cope. Like we always remind everybody, you don’t need to change your chosen religion or faith to enjoy the timeless teachings of the ancient rishis of India. The Gita is one such book. It asks us to consider an approach where we can live life filled with true and lasting happiness. How to embrace our dharma and become so much richer where it counts when it’s no longer about us. You will come to discover it has never been about us.

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