Oscar Wilde once said, “Life is too important to be taken seriously.” The question Kristina raises here is simply, “Do you know what is happiness?”
In this talk from Mindvalley University City Campus in Tallinn 2018, Kristina Mänd Lakhiani talks about the one topic often discussed in personal growth but rarely addressed in everyday conversations.
The following is full text of Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani’s, co-founder of Mindvalley speech.
Kristina Mänd-Lakhiani – TRANSCRIPT
Gratitude is a beautiful example of long-term strategy over instant gratification, because the thing is that when you express gratitude, you do feel a little bit better. But generally it doesn’t make you feel euphoric, ecstatic, joyful. It just makes you feel a little bit better; it shifts your perspective.
But the thing is that there is a research that shows that if you express gratitude on a daily basis for 30 days, your perception of your own happiness goes up 25%. And that’s exactly what I’m talking about. We have to look into long-term strategies which may be in the instant are not as effective but in the long-term they help you raise your set points of happiness.
And you express gratitude for the things that you are grateful for in your work life, your mission, your purpose, in your personal life and for the things that you’re grateful for in yourself.
So this is the exercise we do on a daily basis to raise our set point of happiness.
2. BEING PRESENT
Another methodology which I really love is the idea of being present. And the idea here is that in reality time is an illusion. There is no future, and there is no past. And most of the unpleasant emotions that we feel they have something to do with either the future or the past. If we’re scared, if we’re stressed, it is usually because we are afraid about something that might happen in the future, usually.
And if we feel, let’s say, resentment or anger, this kind of negative emotion is also usually rooted in the past. And the happiness is the emotion that you feel in the present. If you move happiness to the future, it will become excitement. If you move happiness to the past, it will become usually nostalgia. But the truth is that the happiness, the true pure joy, is in the present moment and only in the present moment.
So if you practice consciousness and bringing yourself back to present moment, that actually over time works wonders. You start — your set point of happiness starts going up. You walk out into the nature and you feel the freshness of the air. That’s the moment to be happy about, because how many times we don’t even notice how we breathe, what we see around us. And when we see these things around us, if we don’t bring ourselves back to the now to notice, the life might just pass by without us truly learning what is happiness.
You know in personal growth we have the idea that transformation starts with taking on personal responsibility onto yourself. And there is this beautiful thing that says that we don’t need anyone for happiness. Happiness is within you but if you’ve ever had a child sick or a parent sick or I don’t know a fight with a person that you love, with a friend, with your spouse, you know that it is really hard for this wisdom to make sense in that very moment. And in the moment when something is happening to you and your loved ones, it is okay that you do not feel happy. It is okay. Because you are a social being.
And what is I? Is I just this physical body or is I all of this? Is I — perception of me, does it include you? Or does it only include me?
So in that moment I felt that yes, as long as I have myself I’ll be okay. But it is also okay to not feel so happy when something is wrong with the person who is really close to you. You have to surround yourself by people whom you love, whom you care about, who you’re attached to even though it means that sometimes you might be a little bit unhappy if something happens to them.
So just to sum up that idea about the relationships, scientists have shown that people in relationship, they are healthier, they heal better, and they live longer. And the reverse is true, as Vishen said “Social isolation is the epidemic in the current day society,” and he said “it is despite Facebook and Instagram.” But I would say it is also because of Facebook and Instagram. We are forgetting how to interact. We’re forgetting what it is to truly connect to each other.
Facebook and Instagram is another layer which we put on ourselves. This is another thing we have to learn to deal with and not to lose the social connection.
And I’ve also heard that social isolation is apparently the number one killer in the current day society, because social isolation makes you less likely healed from, let’s say, such things as cancer or cardiovascular disease. So relationships are important not just for happiness but also for our health and longevity.
The strength of your social relationships is super important for happiness.
It is clear that you cannot truly be happy unless you are happy with yourself. And I know the number one question that I hear when I talk about this topic is that “But where do I know the difference between healthy self-love and actually egoist or unhealthy relationships to yourself or self-centeredness?”
And I haven’t lived a very long life; only 40 years but that piece of life has taught me one thing, that almost all the bad things that we do to other people are because we don’t truly love ourselves. Because if we truly love and accept ourselves, we don’t need to prove anything to anyone. We don’t need to prove anyone wrong to show anything to anyone. And that’s where all that unhealthy stuff happens is if when you truly don’t have the self-love.
And people who seem that they’re self-obsessed, this is them compensating for the lack of love for themselves. This is what Vishen was talking about — I’m really sorry kids – but unequivocal, is exactly when you do not need anybody’s approval to be okay with yourself. And a lot of the times when I hear somebody saying, “Oh they’re so full of themselves”, that’s exactly the problem. We do not see — we only see the mask and we only see what social media shows us. We don’t see the void and the pain of those people.
We only are nasty if we don’t love ourselves truly, which is why I think this is a very important point in learning to be happy. And there is never such thing as too much love for yourself. You cannot be happy unless you truly accept and love yourself.
5. DEALING WITH THE NEGATIVE
Dealing with the negative. When we talk about happiness, often we talk about shifting the perception, looking at things differently, seeing the light versus the dark. But the truth is that there are both. There’s light; there’s dark. We were just talking about seasons in Estonia. I come from Malaysia. We don’t have seasons there.
And I remember when I lived in Estonia, I loved spring. And spring is not as warm as summer but just the sight of Sun makes you feel happy. Just a little bit of warmth when you can take off those gloves and feel the air on your hands, that makes you happy. And you can only truly appreciate spring if you have survived the winter.
So what I’m talking about is there is going to be negative in our life. And the art to learning to be happy is not to ignore or not notice the negative or be okay with the negative. It is actually to learn to work with it.
What you do when you feel a negative emotion? First of all, you acknowledge that it exists. You give it a true and fair and honest name without spiritual bypassing. You actually acknowledge this is what I feel. You allow yourself to feel it, to feel it and every emotion feels in your body in certain way which actually helps.
I like the connection between emotions and the physical body, because by translating your emotions into physical body it’s easier to work with them.
So let’s say if you feel fear and it’s somewhere in your stomach, just relaxing that part of your body really helps. Or if you feel like anger and it’s up here, breathing deeper really helps. And then after you let it be, that’s when you’re ready to move on and transform this emotion but you have to let it be.
One thing that life will throw in you are negative emotions in the form of being upset with someone. And I think that the point is that we are sometimes thinking that forgiveness is about — you know if I forgive, the evil is not going to be punished. So we don’t want to forgive, because we want some kind of learning out of that, or the evil to be punished. But the truth is that forgiveness is not a practice for anyone else but for you.
Being upset with someone is like taking poison hoping that the person who upset you is going to suffer. If you upset with someone, if you are angry with someone, if you hold a grudge against someone, the only person who is suffering is you. Just you.
And the moment when you realize that, the moment when you realize that forgiveness is not about the other person who has hurt you but it is only about you, you have much more motivation to work on that.
You cannot help anyone if you are not happy.