In the west, when we talk about wellness, we’re mainly concerned with getting rid of unwanted feelings, such as anxiety, low mood, paranoia, and hostility. Interestingly, though, we don’t focus on achieving states of bliss or ecstasy. You might see the odd writer mentioning “happiness” or “joy” here and there. But, usually, when you explore these concepts, they generally mean “the absence of pain,” not the presence of pleasure.
In India, though, mystics take a very different view. They focus on generating blissful and euphoric experiences for themselves. Peace, or the absence of negative feelings, isn’t enough for them. They want to live life in the best way possible.
In the West, we would do well to take what they say seriously. If you had the choice, would you prefer to be peaceful or absolutely blissful in your life? Most people would opt for the latter.
For centuries, we’ve just accepted that living is just a long slog, mostly suffering from brief glimpses of joy. But many people are now wondering whether we’ve got it backward.
When you observe young children, you find that they are primarily exuberant, with the odd moment of pain or fear here and there. The same is true for animals. They live in a naturally happy state, except for when fear takes them.
Science is now catching up with the idea that people’s natural state is blissful. It’s just a question of accessing it. Here’s how.
Let Go Of Your Time-Based Attachments
People often tell you that you should “live in the present moment.” And there’s significant clout behind this idea: many great sages and spiritual leaders throughout history have advocated this approach to life.
But the problem isn’t so much failing to live in the present, it’s getting away from thoughts about the past and future.
When you think about the future, it creates anxiety. You think about what could go wrong or how your life might not turn out how you would like it to.
When you think about the past, you mull over all the wrongs that have been done to you and how unfair they were.
However, when you let go of this type of thinking, you find yourself just enjoying what’s in front of you. When you are in this state, life is more blissful and exciting. You don’t feel bogged down with heavy worries.
Be More Open
Another trick to a more blissful life is to be open. Openness doesn’t mean accepting every argument that comes your way as the truth. Instead, it means allowing the world to be itself and not getting attached to the way you think things should be.
You’ll notice that many of the happiest people in the world are entirely apolitical. They aren’t going around marching for rights or condemning the nanny state. Instead, they’re just accepting things the way that they are.
When you take on this approach to life, you begin to feel like a parent to everyone. Other people make mistakes in their thinking and ideas, but that’s okay: they’re just limited individuals like you.
You’ll notice that when you let go, mental strife diminishes. You feel more peaceful and loving towards other people.
Make Gratitude A Habit
Being grateful for what you have is another way of being content. When you are content, you are happy with your situation as it is right now. You let go of your external desires and simply rest in the present moment.
For some people, gratitude is an important practice. It changes their brain state. When they feel grateful (and, therefore, content), there is no room left for worry, anxiety, anger, or fear. The world begins to right itself.
Be Radically Selfless
Living a selfish life seems like the optimal and rational strategy. After all, everyone else is out for themselves. We live in a society where people rarely give to other people and, if they do, they aren’t particularly generous.
Being radically selfless seems like a crazy plan. You worry that you’ll have no money and people will abuse you.
However, when you take on a genuinely selfless approach, you get out of yourself. Meeting the needs of other people allows you to meet your own spiritual needs. Plus, it creates a kind of feedback loop where each year, you wind up with more coming back to you than when you started.
Be Glad When Others Achieve Great Things
As researchers learn more about mental health, they’re discovering that people who celebrate the victories of others tend to be happier. When someone achieves something, avoid the ego-based response of feeling bad for yourself. Instead, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and feel what they are feeling. When they achieve something, look at it as something that is potentially good for them.
Also, remind yourself that profit and loss often conceal each other. While a friend’s career might be riding high right now, it will rarely last. Things will go wrong and, eventually, their fortunes will reverse.
Let Go Of Grudges
If you hold grudges against your parents or an ex-lover, it can bring you down. Anger is an emotion that hurts you, not the other person, so continually experiencing it can detract from your life.
Learn to let go of grudges. If other people disappoint you, accept it. Remember, when somebody wrongs you, it is an opportunity to learn about the world. If a lover cheats on you, it strips you of your naivety, allowing you to see things more clearly.
If you feel the need to forgive, it usually means that somebody damaged your ego in some way. The trick here is to let go of yourself, and not take things too seriously. If somebody harmed you but you’re still here, that’s okay. As long as you are alive, you still have plenty of opportunities to move forward.
Living a more blissful internal life requires a certain degree of mental hygiene. However, if you can get it right, you will discover that your life can become far better than you ever imagined. New levels of blissfulness are possible.