Dharma nodded and I poured him a steaming cup of his favorite Swamp blend. After a couple of sips, Dharma asked, "Tadpole, what is happiness to you?" I thought about it for a minute or two and told him that I was most happy when I was able to spend time with my family and friends, when I finish a big writing project, and when I am able to spend time in nature...which I do a lot. I guess I answered correctly, because my wise teacher and friend, gave me a big smile. "My boy, a wise frog doesn't put the key to his happiness in someone else's pocket. So I am delighted to hear that those simple things bring you pleasure. So many frogs and humans too, I suspect, require others to make them happy. sadly, that never works. The key to happiness is to find that sweet spot between being completely absorbed in yourself and being totally dependant on someone else to make you happy. That isn't always easy, Little One, but I have some tips that can help you and maybe your human readers find their happiness within."
Here are the tips I received from the happiness master.
1. Test yourself. Look within yourself to check if you have become emotionally dependent. Ask yourself: are you looking for a partner or friends as a way to make yourself happy? Does it upset you if your partner/friend doesn’t act or respond in a certain way? Do you complain about others a lot? Are your relationships the center of your universe? Does your world fall apart when you and your partner or friends don’t do things together?
2. Begin looking for happiness within you and not from outside. "We are often conditioned to seek happiness in things that surround us, after all, much of the modern economy revolves around the cycle of generating and satisfying needs with things. The answer lies in realizing that people are not things to fulfill our voids. Their job is not to make us happy – they are probably struggling just as hard themselves."
3. Practice being comfortable on your own. "Just sit and listen to your thoughts. “If you can’t love yourself, you can’t love someone else,” they say and for a good reason – it’s a simple truth."
4. Start creating and exploring your own potential. "It’s not uncommon for people to “hide” in their relationships, afraid of really giving their all and achieving their potential. The key is to break this cycle and start an activity – join a cooking class, work on your fitness level or start creating music. Any activity that draws creativity from you and teaches you about yourself can help you. Once you experience the joy of doing something really well and learning from your mistakes, you will be less prone to depending on others to fulfill you."
5. Complain less. This is something everyone can do. Notice the moment when you jump into that “whine mode” and stop yourself right away. "Instead of focusing on the negative, drill yourself to draw your attention to the positive, however trivial it may sound. Soon enough you will 'rewire' your thought patterns and suffer the burden of complaining a lot less."
6. Stop being needy. "Notice the moment when you are being needy with your partner or friends. Become aware of how this pattern repeats and then train yourself to break it the next time. Don’t give up if it doesn’t happen right away, the key lies in persistence."
7. Accept responsibility. This is a biggie! "Accept that you alone have the responsibility and power to affect how happy you feel. Then, go a step forward. Don’t just accept it, revel in it and see it as a gift that is always available to you, no matter what situation you find yourself in."
As we finished our breakfast, Dharma reminded me that while I can enjoy spending time with my little brother, I mustn't forget that I cannot expect him to carry the key to my happiness. Dharma stayed a little while longer this morning and helped me get my kitchen cleaned up, he understood that I was anxious to be on my way. He wished me a wonderful, restful, and peaceful vacation, then hopped away to see his next student.
For anyone reading this in the USA, I want to wish you a happy and safe July 4th! I am taking off a few days but I will return again on Monday, July 8th. Until we meet again, I wish you all health, happiness, and much