In Unconditional Happiness: The Pursuit Beyond External Factors I highlighted the significance of perception, and how your perception is geared towards finding happiness in the outside world.
Because of that, you’re effectively blocking unconditional happiness from developing.
Although developing the right perception is essential, there’s one vital factor that’s absolutely essential to make this happen.
In the following discussion, we’re about to uncover the identity of this factor and explore how much it’s interwoven into your everyday life. So, let’s dive in and discover the missing piece of the puzzle that leads to true happiness.
A building without supporting pillars is no building at all
Every single word within these articles shares a common goal: to foster a profound realization of the inner workings of your mind. This realization will bring about remarkable changes in your thoughts and emotions, surpassing what you once thought possible.
However, to attain this realization, creating the right environment is crucial. I refer to this environment as the supporting pillars, essential for constructing the foundation of unconditional happiness.
Let me further explain this concept to provide you with a clearer understanding.
Subsequently, we’ll put it into practice through some practical examples and exercises, leaving no room for doubt as to why I call them the supporting pillars of the path to unconditional happiness.
The articles on this website can be broadly divided into two main categories. The first category comprises articles specifically designed to cultivate your understanding of the true nature of happiness.
As happiness is intricately connected to our thoughts and emotions—both originating from the mind—comprehending the mind’s workings becomes paramount. This involves gaining insights or a realization of how and why the mind interacts with its environment as it does.
I call these wisdom-based articles, constituting one of the two prerequisites for achieving unconditional happiness. An example of such an article is “Unconditional Happiness: The Pursuit Beyond External Factors,” which I hope you’ve had the opportunity to read.
While some may be tempted to focus solely on cultivating wisdom, assuming it will lead to faster attainment of true happiness, I must emphasize that such a thing is not possible, as you’ll hopefully soon discover in this article.
Developing wisdom requires establishing the right conditions, akin to laying the foundation of a building. However, this foundation alone is insufficient. Similar to supporting pillars on every floor of a building, the journey toward unconditional happiness requires continuous support at each step along the way.
In this article, my focus is on the importance of the foundation and supporting pillars that constitute the second prerequisite for true happiness.
Embracing the principles outlined here, even as your sole guide, holds the potential to greatly enhance the quality of life. I speak with unwavering conviction, as these very principles govern my very own life, and I promptly realign myself whenever I inadvertently stray from them.
Every single person who I’ve spoken to who has attained a relatively deep understanding of the mind, feels exactly the same way. This captivating phenomenon exemplifies the unparalleled power of cultivating the right perception which I talked about in Unconditional Happiness: The Pursuit Beyond External Factors. I’m aware this may sound a bit vague, so let’s delve into these supporting factors now.
A simple 4-step exercise to examine the supporting pillars of unconditional happiness
I’m going to take a somewhat unusual but very easy-to-understand four-step approach. Although it’s easy, I hope I can count on your humble participation. I aim to make a bigger point through these simple steps.
For our first step, I’m going to present you with a list of words that we’re going to work with. Presented in alphabetical order:
Altruistic, angry, compassionate, dishonest, disrespectful, empathetic, fair, generous, good-willed, grateful, greedy, hateful, helpful, honest, ill-willed, immoral, inconsiderate, jealous, just, kind, manipulative, moral, neglectful, reliable, respectful, self-centered, selfish, selfless, supportive, sympathetic, thoughtful, tolerant, trustworthy, untrustworthy, upright, unfair, ungrateful, unkind, unreliable.
As you can see, all of these are personal qualities – positive and negative ones.
For our second step, we’re going to use an image.
Next, I’d like you to go through the list of words and connect them to a corresponding smiley face. Although you may simply mentally connect them, if you wish to take a pen and paper, I’m all for it. Sometimes we can connect the dots more profoundly if we take the time to write it down. When you’re ready please proceed.
Now, I’m going to take a quick guess that, at least for the most part, you’ve categorized the positive qualities under the right side of the row of smiley faces and the negative ones under the left side.
You see, we are naturally inclined to do so. Whether you perform this test among young children or senior citizens, you’ll generally get the same results. It might be that a word such as “greed,” might not always be categorized on the left. I’ve taken a simple list of smileys, so I wouldn’t blame you for that.
if you take a moment to think about it carefully, when you act on any of the negative qualities, including greed, you do so at someone else’s expense. For example, when you’re greedy around food, you’re not willing to share. You’re greedy with money and, thus are less willing to properly compensate someone for a product or service.
Similarly, all the positive qualities are in someone else’s favor or on someone else’s behalf. You could say that a “just” person can become angry with people who mistreat others, but that was done because of a feeling of caring about others initially. “Just” came before anger.
Of course, as long as you’re attached to any of the positive ones they can all transition to the negative ones, but that’s not the point of this exercise. Attachment is another topic in itself (which we will definitely discuss in a future article).
We’ve finished the first two steps. Now it’s time to proceed to step three.
On this road, you’ll find two signs—one on each side. The left side displays the letter “I,” representing ignorance, while the right side shows the letter “W,” symbolizing wisdom.
In our discussion, it’s important to define these terms to provide a clear understanding. Here are the definitions we’ll be referring to:
- Wisdom refers to a profound comprehension of one’s own mind and the world around it, and how they interact. It involves the ability to perceive and understand the fundamental nature of things. It doesn’t include personal preferences (likes and dislikes) because those are subjective truths influenced by opinions and biases.
- Wisdom, furthermore, entails choosing actions that align with values, ethics, and long-term well-being. It can also involve a lifelong dedication to growth and self-improvement, characterized by humility, and a curiosity and openness to new ideas and perspectives that lead to growth.
- It’s worth noting that wisdom is not the mere accumulation of knowledge nor is it directly linked to intelligence. That’s why someone of average intelligence who is keen on discovering the truth is far more capable of doing so than a superior intelligent person who is not or thinks they already know enough.
- Ignorance, in this context, represents the opposite of wisdom, hence its placement on the opposite side of the road. Rather than referring to a lack of knowledge in general, here it specifically points to a lack of wisdom.
- It’s important to acknowledge that we all possess some degree of ignorance as long as our wisdom remains underdeveloped. Recognizing and accepting this fact cultivates a humble attitude that can propel our personal growth at a faster pace.
While you keep the above definitions in mind, for our third step, sort out the earlier mentioned personal qualities, and categorize them either on the left or right road, similar to what you did in step 2. Again, you may do this mentally, but it helps to actually write it down.
Take a moment to do this and then continue.
Just like you did in step 2, you likely came to the same kind of conclusion. The positive qualities ended up on the right while the negative qualities ended up on the left.
Here’s what that looks like:
To validate our conclusions, let’s compare our smiley faces, road, and personal qualities with an image that symbolizes wisdom.
But before we do:
Consider smiley faces as inner representations of expressions and feelings, understanding that even if someone doesn’t outwardly smile, they may still possess an inner smile.
For example, since I was young, people have often told me to smile because of my naturally serious look. There were times when I thought I was smiling at someone, but it turned out not to look like a smile at all, and I got completely misunderstood. Nowadays my wife often tells me to relax my face even when it is completely relaxed. When I tense my facial muscles and “relax” the frown, she thinks I’m relaxing while in reality, I’m making a physical effort.
On the other hand, someone may smile on the outside while harboring feelings of anger or other negative emotions.
Keeping this in mind, could you provide an example of a person who embodies wisdom? This could be a historical figure, someone you know personally, a fictional character, or simply an imagined representation of wisdom.
You may also consider focusing on a particular aspect of someone you know who exemplifies wisdom. It may be easier to identify and connect with that side of their personality in relation to our discussion.
Please take a moment before you proceed.
Is a kind person a wise person?
The simple answer is no.
Just because someone is kind, does not mean they understand the true nature of the mind, why it responds in certain ways, and not be affected by any negative outcomes.
It is absolutely essential to develop kindness in order to cultivate wisdom. Here’s an analogy that may be of help:
Many apps available in the market offer free usage, such as the option to remove the background of an image and download it without any cost. This can be particularly beneficial for content creators. Numerous apps provide similar valuable features.
However, most of them offer additional paid features or premium content that unlocks the full potential of those features. In the mentioned example, the app allows free downloads but limits the resolution to a relatively low level. Ideally, users would prefer the ability to download images in high resolution.
In our discussion, developing kindness and other supporting factors on the road to wisdom can be compared to using the free version of an app. There is substantial value in doing so. However, to truly unlock all the features and derive maximum benefits, one would need to invest in the premium features. This analogy represents the cultivation of wisdom. When you actively pursue wisdom, the rewards and benefits increase significantly.
A holiday with and without excursions
Let’s consider another example: Imagine you have been longing to visit a particular destination for a while, eagerly anticipating the opportunity to explore it. You take action and book yourself a trip, which includes your ticket, accommodations, and meals. All of these ensure a comfortable stay for you.
Once you arrive at your destination, you can certainly enjoy the captivating surroundings, interact with the locals, and immerse yourself in the new culture. However, there are limitations to what you can experience on foot alone.
If your goal is to truly explore the destination to its fullest, you would need to rent a motorcycle or a car and book excursions that allow you to dive deep into the culture. These additional endeavors are necessary to obtain the complete experience.
In this analogy, being kind is akin to fulfilling the basic requirements, i.e., going to your destination in the first place. It lays the foundation for your journey and ensures your basic needs are.
However, to fully exploit the potential of the destination and extract the maximum value and richness from the experience, wisdom comes into play. Wisdom represents the act of fully exploring and immersing oneself in the destination, going beyond the basic requirements.
Kindness is essential
If you want to use the premium features of an app, you first need to get that app. In the same way, if you want to immerse yourself into the culture of another country, you first need to go to that country.
Developing the supporting factors by being a kind person and concerned with the wellbeing of others is going to be of great benefit for happiness. Many scientific studies have confirmed this as well.1, 2, 3, 4, 5
However, engaging in acts of kindness is also essential to set the right foundation for the mind to develop wisdom and cultivate genuine happiness.
True happiness stems from understanding and realization. The realization that the way we live our lives must align with the factors that lead to our desired destination.
In other words, your thoughts, words, and actions must follow the path of wisdom as shown in the road image. There’s no other way.
In conclusion, my aim was to convince you of the impossibility of developing wisdom and attaining true happiness if our minds are not in the right place, or on the wrong side of the road (the left side).
I hope that my attempt to logically explain this has made at least some sense. As I mentioned previously, blindly believing in my words is pointless. That’s why I provided a simple exercise to help you see the underlying logic.
That’s why I also try to provide analogies that are easy to understand. The easier the better, because it needs to make sense to your mind. After all, it is the mind’s perception, and the thoughts that arise from it, that requires to be changed, enabling us to become the happiest person possible, unperturbed by external events.
In an upcoming article, I will share a highly practical approach to walking this path. I am confident that there are numerous untapped opportunities at your disposal presently. This article will center around exploring and maximizing these opportunities.
Engaging in acts of kindness, such as lending a hand, showing gratitude, being generous, friendly, and compassionate, are immensely important for happiness. Even if you just try to be a kinder person, you’re going to be a happier person.
However, acts of kindness can be much more as they are also the gateway to wisdom. The wisdom of understanding what happiness is, how it arises, and how to cultivate it. Developing wisdom is no different from cultivating the perception of the mind that happiness is within, and not out there.
In order to do that we must align our thoughts, speech, and actions with the qualities of wisdom. In simple terms, we can refer to those qualities as the umbrella term “kindness.”
So, in conclusion, as you develop your understanding of the mind, be sure to be the kindest person you can be. Not only will it positively affect you, but others will also start to appreciate you more and be inspired by you.