As my meditation practice evolved I discovered that the road to authentic happiness as nothing to do with my self-esteem, or maybe more accurately, my self-image.
Self-image arises from what from what you believe that other people believe about you. The authentic-self lies beyond the belief of others. The authentic-self is, according to the great American Psychologist Abraham Maslow, independent of the good or bad opinion of others.
Shifting my identity from my ego oriented self-image to my authentic-self I experienced happiness for no reason, a happiness that wasn’t dependent on my relationships, on my stuff (the stuff I had or the stuff I wanted), my job or on anything outside of myself.
I’ve come to embody the understanding that happiness is the most natural part of life because it is who we are at our core. When through meditation, or other practices of self-realization, we connect to the authentic-self, which is who we are beyond the masks of all our social conditioning; we access our happiness at the source.
I ran across a story by Paul Dalton, in which he shares a very personal journey. Paul’s story describes the pain of living behind the mask, a pain that almost drove him to suicide. His self-image, his conditioning, was his dependency on the need for approval from others.
But as Paul explains he was able to move beyond his self-image and in his words; “I didn’t invent a new me. I found the real me.”
As he as began to find his authentic-self, Paul, evolved three principles for authentic happiness…here he is to share them…
1. We live the feeling of our thinking.
As William Shakespeare famously wrote, “Nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so.”
Being authentically happy starts with the realization that you are both the source and the cause of your own well-being.
We never get to experience the world as it really is; we only get to experience our thoughts about the world. It wasn’t actually other people’s disapproval that made me unhappy; it was my mistaken belief that happiness is something that comes from outside of me in the form of approval.
Even when it looks as though your emotional state is being dictated by your circumstances, that is never true. Your thoughts are the root of your emotions. Just get curious and ask yourself, “If I weren’t thinking this way, how might I feel differently?”
2. Everything good is inside.
We each walk around with two versions of ourselves. One is our unconditioned self, which is innocent, flawless, and untouched by any trauma, criticism, or injustice we may have faced in life. The other is a learned self, more commonly known as the ego.
The primary role of the ego is to separate you from the truth of who you really are—a human being who is already complete, whole, and mentally and spiritually healthy. The ego believes that happiness is attained through material success, achievement, striving, earning, and deserving. I’ve often heard it described as “everything good outside.”
But your unconditioned self is the much bigger, wiser you. It already knows that you are what you seek; that real happiness is what naturally happens when you dare to show up unedited.
All the happiness you have been looking for outside of you can finally be yours when you stop chasing and start choosing.
3. Our relationship with ourselves determines our relationship with everything else.
One of the standout moments on my journey of self-discovery was hearing Dr. Robert Holden say, “No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.”
Read Paul’s story and the rest of his principles here…
The pull of our self-image based on the amount of money we have, our social status, our possessions, has a powerful influence over who we believe ourselves to be. This is object-referral because we are looking outside of ourselves and identifying with those objects.
It’s a two edged sword, on the one edge is our fear of not being liked by others (the fear of disapproval) and the other edge cuts at us because with approval we get an ego boost.
When we shift to authentic-self you begin to experience a freedom that allows you to create a life filled with true abundance, laughter, happiness and bliss. And you’ve discovered the road to authentic happiness.