Melvyn Tan
November 3, 2013 — By tanmelvyn@gmail.com

What’s Your Mantra For Happiness?

[blockquote source=”Psalm 105:3 (NIV)“]Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.[/blockquote] I’ve always wanted to be happy. Stuffs I used to think that happiness can be found by having the material things in life. And so I worked hard to buy stuffs. I would be so thrilled by having […]

[blockquote source=”Psalm 105:3 (NIV)“]Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.[/blockquote]

I’ve always wanted to be happy.

Stuffs
I used to think that happiness can be found by having the material things in life. And so I worked hard to buy stuffs. I would be so thrilled by having the latest gadgets or the most stylish clothes or the very expensive watches. But the thrill only lasted a while. And when I soon found out that my happiness index was on a roller-coaster ride; shooting sky high when I bought my most expensive watch and each high is soon followed by a new low; that’s when I started to think, hmm, maybe I should get an even more expensive one. This up-manship soon snow-balled into a huge amount of debts. Consumer debts, as they’d called it. And I am left licking my wound while staring at those so-called “priceless” possessions.

Smile
One day, I came across this study that had people who are clinically depressed do this one action for a specific amount of time – smile. It was found that many of these patients were able to overcome their depression just by doing this one action. (Source: Tony Robbins – Ultimate Power) The reason being this was that smiling fires up certain neurological connections. And overtime, these connections become stronger and stronger. Besides, your brain is not able to distinguish between what is real and what is perceived so you will be able to “act until it becomes real”. I tried it and you know what? For a brief moment it actually works! But soon I was left wondering if I’m trying to deceive myself into acting like I’m happy when I’m actually not?

Strategy
Then I thought happiness requires strategy. Just like in any other circumstances, if you do A and B, then you’d get C! In fact, in NLP this is called syntax. Meaning, the way that you sequence your steps will bring about the desired outcome. For instance, just the arrangement of these three words; Jack, dog, bite; would have very different meaning! So hence I traced back to the moments that I was happy and tried to break down the steps that led me to that emotional state. And subsequently, I would make sure that I follow the sequence religiously. As an example, I don’t particularly like running, I mean I prefer it to other sports, but the thought of it quite honestly doesn’t always give me the highs. So I tried to do the following, which has worked in the past. I would picture myself having accomplished the run, I would put on my running gear, I would play a particular song on my iPod, and I would get out of the house. While it proved to work most of the time, the times when it didn’t and I allowed it to, I would slip back into the old habits again.

Science (of the Mind)
So then I think happiness is a mind-set. A set of beliefs that one holds. For instance, for every event, the happy people will always see the happy side of things, while the unhappy folks will see the bad side. And that’s true, because you know of people where no matter what happens, they will always be happy. Again, as a chronic worrier, I cannot help but always look at the worse case scenario. Besides, I’ve always pride myself to do that because I’d say that at least I am prepared. Thing is, I’d expend a lot of energies and time just preparing for what most times never happen. Whereas if I had used the energies and time to focus on more purposeful work, more good might come out of it.

Spiritual
Then, I thought that happiness is dependent on whether you have a purpose in life. And if all of your activities and tasks are aligned to fulfilling that purpose. And so I started crafting my own mission statement. The funny thing was when I finished crafting my mission statement, I became more stressed than ever. And as I research on it, the experts were saying that it is good because now you have creative tension. However it was more tension than anything else. And that lead me to being paralyzed with fear and uncertainties that further prevented me from taking actions moving forward.

So what gives?

Today’s verse gave us the insight to being happy. Seek the LORD and your heart will rejoice. No it doesn’t mean that you should just be pious and you’d be happy. I’m sure many a pastors are not very happy people themselves.

Mantra
What it means is that to be happy, you need to seek the LORD. To turn to Him for your purpose in life. You and I have our own unique purpose. Yours would be different from mine and vice versa. But once you have uncover what your purpose is, make that your mantra in life. For example, mine is to learn, live, and lead an engaged life by focusing on Jesus daily. And my mantra is not just to serve my own needs, it also has to grow, serve, and contribute to you.

Application
Once you have identified your own mantra, then you’d need to align the rest, all those that we spoke about earlier. You see, it’s not that those methods don’t work or they are flawed. But without a true north, without a guiding light, without a mission; those become empty.  Let that become our mantra for happiness.

Prayer
Father, we seek You daily and in everything we do. We pray that You will show us the way. In Jesus name, Amen.