Stop caring what other people think of you

“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do it.”—Eleanor Roosevelt

People perceiving you as rich, beautiful, lucky, tough or smart will not make you happy, yet you wouldn’t know this if you observed how much time and energy people spend trying to get other people to think they are those things. If people think you have got it made, it won’t make you happy. Just look at celebrities—many people admire them and think they have it made, but clearly it doesn’t make them happy. In fact, given the number of divorces and trips to rehab, you could posit they are one of the least happy segments of the population. So stop being concerned with what other people think of you, it’s a waste of your energy and keeps you from having a quiet mind.

© 2013-2021 Sara Weston. Excerpted from the book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UK,  CAFR , ITES and DEA FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

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Without the story, where is the problem?

I once flew down to Peter Island, and as I arrived at the hotel, the manager received me with a tall, iced rum cocktail and a heavy dose of frustration and annoyance. She shook her head and said, “Didn’t you check the weather? There’s a hurricane coming, and we’re sending all the guests home tomorrow.” She was really embarrassed for me, but I chuckled a bit at her discomfort—I was the one who had to schlep back to New York without having a lovely Caribbean dive trip, not her!

The next day on the ferry ride to the airport, the other hotel guests assumed I’d been down there for several days like they had, and not wanting to deal with their pity or even self-congratulations that at least they’d have 4 or 5 good days, I didn’t mention that’d I’d just arrived the day before.

Several hours later, back at JFK, I made a call while waiting at the baggage claim. I had just started dating a guy and thought we could go to dinner. I’d met him at work, installing a piece of software on his computer. We’d been flirting for a few weeks, and gone on a first date just a few days earlier. It had ended with a kiss that, well, had a lot of fireworks, so I thought seeing him would be a fun consolation prize. This was pre-cellphone days, so I called Information for his number, and then upon calling him, an answering machine picked up. A young woman cheerfully let the caller know that the two of them weren’t home. I don’t recall her words, but it was obvious she was not a flatmate or a relative, they were a couple. I was shocked that he not only had a girlfriend, but that they lived together! Now the evasive way he responded to my assumption that he lived alone made much more sense. I know I’m a glass half-full person, but I thought this revelation alone was worth the trip!

When I returned to work, I didn’t explain to my co-workers why I was back from vacation early. I was new and didn’t know anyone really well yet, but even so, I could see there was still an opportunity to make a big story about my disastrous trip—all the time and money wasted traveling there and back, the disappointment of not getting to scuba dive, and most of all, the idiocy of not knowing to check the weather before flying to the Caribbean during hurricane season. There was even more opportunity to tell the story about that guy over in Accounting I’d gone on a date with who, turns out, has a girlfriend! But instead, I simply didn’t tell any of these stories. I’d been meditating for several years, and the mind simply didn’t have the drive to tell these stories. I just did my job as per normal, and everything was calm. I didn’t tell these stories to my co-workers, and more importantly, I didn’t tell them to myself, and I literally, and happily, forgot about all of it. What I noticed is that without the story of disappointment, there was no disappointment. Without the story of embarrassment, there was no embarrassment. Without the story of frustration, there was no frustration.

It was after this incident that I became acutely aware that we have the option to tell stories or not. And if we don’t tell them, they don’t exist. It was a moment of recognition of how we make our world with our thoughts. The experience existed, the credit card bill existed, but all the drama around it simply wasn’t there, because I didn’t tell the story. It was a really powerful moment of watching no story arise, and observing how silent and blissful that no-story was.

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” Dhammapada, The Sayings of the Buddha, Thomas Byrom translation

Core Practice: Be Honest With Yourself

Additional Tips2Honesty with yourself is essential to being happy. You have to check that what you are doing in your life is working for you. Sometimes we have such a strong idea of how our life should be and what will make us happy, that we don’t want to face that these ideas aren’t right for us anymore. We may have grown out of them or they may have never been our ideas and dreams in the first place, but instead were imposed by family or society and accepted by us as ours. Other times we have invested so much time and energy to get our life to where it is, that we don’t want to face the fact that it is no longer working. When we honestly recognize that something is no longer working, then from this place of recognition we can begin to change it.

Being honest about what is working applies to all aspects of your life, big and small—whether it’s recognizing that you’re bored with your job and you need to mix it up, or that constantly checking your phone diffuses your focus and you need to dial it down. When you change what is not working in your life, despite past ideas of what you think will make you happy, you will be a happier person.

Note that you don’t have to necessarily share or discuss your internal honesty with others. In fact, if we had to share all our internal insights with others, we’d never be completely honest with ourselves! What matters most is that you are simply honest with yourself.

© 2013-2021 Sara Weston. Excerpted from the book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UKCA, FR , IT, ES and DE. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

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Who Has Ever Gone Beyond

The student asked the Buddha: “Why is it that wise women and men in the world—priestesses, rulers, and others—always offer sacrifices to the gods?”

The Buddha answered: “They offer things to the gods because as they get older they want to keep their lives as they are and have no misfortunes.”

“But, Buddha, does it ever make any difference to their old age by making these careful offerings?”

“Their prayers and praises and offerings and hopes are all made on the basis of possessions, rewards, and longings for pleasure. These experts in prayer are longing to continue becoming. But it will make no difference to their old age.”

“Please tell me, Buddha, if all the offerings from these experts don’t get them beyond old age, then who has ever gone beyond?”

The Buddha said: “When a person has thoroughly understood the world, from top to bottom, when there is nothing in the world that agitates them anymore, then they have become somebody who is free from confusion and fears and tremblings and the longings of desire. They have gone beyond getting old and beyond birth and death.”

—Sutta Nipata, from The Pocket Buddha Reader

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Sara is the author of How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UKCA, FR , IT, ES and DE. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

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Choices

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.
Dhammapada, The Sayings of the Buddha, Thomas Byrom translation

Core Practice: Exercise daily

MedGalWalking

Everyone knows that exercise helps the physical body, but it also really helps clear out our non-physical energy body. In the course of our daily lives we pick up all kinds of stuff—stress from work, tiredness from dealing with family or friends who are having a hard time, stress from relationship, financial woes or simply having too much to do. Exercise helps blow out this buildup, so it makes us feel much happier. If you think of your aura as acting like a sponge that absorbs the feelings and thoughts of those you interact with, exercise is like rinsing and squeezing out that sponge. Women in particular benefit from daily exercise because they pick up even more auric garbage than men.

The type of exercise regimen you follow depends on your level of fitness and your demeanor. What’s important is to find a type of exercise that you enjoy so it’s not something you dread doing. It helps to alternate what exercise you do so you don’t get bored, and for those who are on stationary equipment like an elliptic trainer or treadmill, it’s great to watch TV shows or movies. If you haven’t exercised in a while, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before you start up again. She can advise you on a good regimen for your age and fitness level.

© 2013-2021 Sara Weston. Excerpted from the book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UKCA, FR , IT, ES and DE. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

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Wait—I’m thinking more now that I’m meditating!

Since I started to meditateA concern I hear frequently from folks who’ve recently started meditating is that they feel like they are thinking even more while they’re meditating than they did when they first started.

What’s really going on is that when you begin meditating and practicing mindfulness, you become aware of the quantity and quality of thoughts that flow through your mind. You’re not really thinking more, you’re just more aware now of what is flowing through your mind.

Be patient with yourself. The number of thoughts that go through your mind will slow down the longer you practice meditation. You may always have thoughts flowing through your mind at the beginning of your meditation, but what changes is that they begin to slow down more quickly the longer you practice.

© 2019 Sara Weston. Sara is the author of How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UKCA, FR , IT, ES and DE. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

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Core Practice: Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the process of watching what is passing through your mind and stopping the thoughts that are draining or unhealthy. Most things only need to be thought through once. The rest of the thinking, the mulling over and obsessing, is not only draining, it actually makes it harder to objectively see what is best. When you keep your mind quiet and don’t play your worries, schemes and dreams over and over again, you create space for inner knowledge to bubble up and be heard.

Mindfulness isn’t limited to stopping negative or repetitive thoughts, it also includes not holding conversations in your mind with people you know. A lot of people talk to other people in their minds, explaining their beliefs and defending their positions. Not only is this a waste of energy, again it prevents your mind from being still. When your mind is still you can more clearly see the pointers in the universe. The universe gives us all kinds of information, but you have to be still to see it. When your mind is going round and round defending your ego, you miss these pointers, not to mention the relaxation and brightness that comes from being still.

The good news is that after practicing mindfulness for a while it becomes automatic, so as negative or repetitive thoughts and inner conversations arise, you naturally stop them and redirect your mind to higher, calmer thoughts or no thoughts at all.

© 2013-2021 Sara Weston. Excerpted from the book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UKCA, FR , IT, ES and DE. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

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Don’t own other people’s thoughts and feelings

Gulls_croppedA large portion of the thoughts and feelings you have are not yours, rather you pick them up from others. This may seem entirely shocking and untrue, but you can do an experiment to fact check this for yourself. Go for a hike alone on an uncrowded trail and take note of the number of thoughts you have. After you have been hiking for an hour or so, you’ll notice your mind is still and that you don’t have many thoughts. Next go to a mall or someplace crowded and walk around for a while and observe how many thoughts are running through your mind. In a crowded place you’ll notice your mind becomes very loud and full of thoughts.

It’s helpful to be aware of this phenomenon because if you’re around an angry person, you’ll notice that you’ll begin to have angry thoughts. If you’re around someone who is worried about money, you’ll be worried about money. If you spend a lot of time with someone who is depressed, you’ll feel tired or hopeless when you’re around them. When you realize that a lot of the things that you think and feel aren’t coming from you, you can be an “educated consumer” and not spend as much time with people or in places where you pick up crappy thoughts and feelings. You can also learn to not act on the emotions that you pick up externally that aren’t yours.

Excerpted from the book How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UKCA, FR , IT, ES and DE. © 2013 Sara Weston. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.

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