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Metro

  • Written by Eric North aka “The Happiness Warrior”


"When you are offended at any man’s fault, turn to yourself, and study your own failings. Then you will forget your anger." —Epictetus

As The Happiness Warrior, I’m constantly reminded of the contradictions in my earlier life and behaviors and how it impacts my mindset and attitude today. I’m forever grateful for the gift’s clarity and self-awareness. These are my greatest tools that always make my journey lighter.

When I was younger, I was angry and discontented. I never felt like I was in the right place and often felt disconnected. I liked being alone when I could truly be myself, I was afraid to show the world who I really was and carefully hid my needs and desires.

I was also insecure and uncomfortable with understanding my sexuality and greatly feared discovery. It was a different time, in the South, and one that wasn’t as welcoming. Much to my great shame I held back my potential. My conservative roots and values were hard to break from. My authenticity was somewhere in place that I had yet to discover. I was easily offended by others and sometimes felt the fury of insecurity. I was hurting myself more than anyone else.

As the years went by this mindset began to feel like a burden that I could shed, I began to be honest and open. I felt a release, became more connected and happier than I’d ever been. As in any life there are bad times and good, but I realized that I no longer had to feel so easily offended when began to feel secure in my authenticity. I began to see life on the other side of my fury and happiness was finally obtainable. We will always be happier when we are more tolerant and open with ourselves and others.

When I look back at my life and think about all of its trials, wonders, and adventures I also reflect on its lessons. I think about where I am now with gratitude, unrelenting purpose, and intention. I’m happy, even in moments when I feel sad. I like who I am in my presence and authenticity, and I’m no longer easily offended. This is how we raise our happiness and vibration.

All throughout my life I’ve always felt an innate need to examine my actions and think about how well I handled a difficult situation. It’s brought me moments of great self-reflection along with emotional pain and dissatisfaction. It’s also made me acutely aware of mistakes and hurts that I’ve left along the way. It’s made it easier to forgive myself and others.

To make this even more easy to understand there’s one statement I always stand by: “We never know what anyone else is thinking or going through at that moment”. Take these words to heart and feel your empathy and understanding expand!

For most of my early life I lived in a defensive bubble. Being different could make me feel hopeful and confident about my future, but the reality of the environment that I was raised in dictated my public personality and reactions. I was unsure of my sexuality and was terrified of being discovered and vulnerable much to my own guilt and shame. It made me volatile at times and my underlying insecurity made it easy for me to feel offended and angry. I lost friendships, moved around in social groups, and was emotionally unhappy with the life that I had created. I was offended by the thought of being my authentic self and exposing my vulnerability.

DENIAL IS EMOTIONAL SABOTAGE

Offense is a learned response that’s usually caused by a state of denial in our own subconscious. Too often we hear a glimmer of truth in our answers and fear the eye-opening results. The truth is hard but it truly does set us free. When we no longer care about the opinions of others we raise our spirit and find the happiness that comes naturally within.

In my formative years, I lived in a constant state of defense and denial. Deep down I knew my truths and their opposition to familial and societal expectations. I was living a life of carefully laid lies and half-truths as a way to survive and avoid detection. I was only authentic in my private moments and the rest of my life was lived with careful walls and defenses.

Being offended can have purpose and create change, but it can also go too far and become overwhelming. Vengeance is an ugly place in our heads that destroys us. It is always dangerous and overwhelming.

When we learn to silence and tame this uncivilized part of our instinct we can allow each new emotion to move through us. We emerge as someone stronger and one to be reckoned with. We gain respect with the unwavering strength of our thoughts and actions.

 HOW DO WE REACT?

We need to examine the feelings that were provoked inside us before we can reach an understanding and begin to trust ourselves.

1.       Suspend preconceived notions of malicious intent from others. We are most likely to project our own negative self-bias onto others.

2.       If our reactions feel too extreme they usually are. Take a breath and ask if it’s worth spending valuable time and energy on. It’s never as bad as we think it is at first.

3.       Be ready to give the benefit of doubt to anyone that hasn’t hurt or injured us in the past. Use good judgment and don’t be afraid to disengage and say no.

4.       Try to see negative words and judgments as constructive ways to increase your personal power.

5.       Self-absorption always leads to negative and offensive feelings. Think about the greater good and take actions that have purpose.

6.       Emotionally detach and breath before a provocation. Feel strength of conviction and know that your dignity is at stake.

7.       Always take responsibility for all consequences and actions. It’s no else’s responsibility to control our emotions and reactions. Don’t give anyone else that power.

8.       Consciously stop looking for things that offend us. This can stop the negativity cycle and creates a happier life environment.

9.       Adjust expectations for ourselves and others. Being encouraging and supportive lifts everyone’s spirit.

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

It’s easy for most of us to get frustrated when things go wrong and our perfectly laid plans, and pleasant expectations come to a halt. Our heart rate rises, adrenaline crashes, and we want to feel better immediately. This can cause us to make mistakes with how we treat others, blame ourselves, and lash out in anger or passive aggressive behaviors.

As The Happiness Warrior, I believe the best way to navigate through these circumstances is to take a quiet moment, breathe deeply, and think about the things that we might have done wrong. How we would do it better, and how we can overcome anything like this in the future. It’s a way to save ourselves and maintain respect and balance with others. It’s our responsibility and no one else to guide our lives. Take another path and open yourself to finding solutions and be your own happiness warrior.

EVOLVE AND LET GO

We will all be happier when we stop comparing ourselves to others and realize that we are not inadequate. Most of us have hidden gifts that we haven’t yet revealed to the world that need to be discovered. When we ignore the negative people in our lives we will always prosper.

When we’re easily offended we shut the door on truth and understanding. We’ll never really know the answers until we can reserve offense and judgment. We can learn more about ourselves when we react with measure. Only then, can our power and wisdom grow.

LEARN TO SAY NO

Learning to say no is the first step in dismantling the shame and guilt that come from our institutions. Be strong in resolve, purpose, and intention. Does it give you a feeling of release and hope? Does it make you feel more honest and whole?

Our minds are powerful and more resilient than we think. Use your brain and listen to your inner voice and move forward with momentum. Our vibration rises when we settle conflict with holistic solutions. Seek a way forward where everyone feels good and feel a sense of power and fulfillment. Wisdom is acquired and we can begin to see the magic of life. We all benefit when we are more relaxed and easy going. It’s amazing what we can accomplish with a smile of empathy and understanding.


ERIC NORTH - The Happiness Warrior

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