Today I want to take a closer look at one of my favorite books by Adam Jackson, “Ten Secrets to Happiness.” By itself, this book is not great, but the wisdom that is embedded in it is very valuable.
It so happens that behind the hustle and bustle of days, we do not notice how our years pass.
Looking back, we regret what was not done and what we did not achieve in our life. And sometimes it seems that there will be nothing joyful and bright ahead because life has almost passed … But in reality, everything is not so, many people live life to the fullest and rejoice in every moment of it, regardless of how old they are.
The young man carefully examined the photograph. Although he was able to notice some similarities in body size, hair color, and mouth shape, nothing else suggested that the old woman in the photograph was the same woman who was sitting in front of him.
– Apparently, over the past years you have not aged, but, on the contrary, have become younger. What happened? How did you achieve this?
- I met one person who changed my life … an old Chinese! About twenty years ago, when I retired, I first felt old. At night I could not sleep, although I was very tired during the day. I lost focus and memory, and my arms and legs became stiff and heavy. You can imagine how pathetic I have become. But one day everything changed. At the bus stop behind me stood an elderly Chinese man with a backpack on his back.
The old man smiled at me, I smiled back, and we started talking. He said he travels the world. I couldn’t believe it. How does a person his age have the strength and energy to travel around the world with a backpack on his back? Of course, I asked him about it, and he laughed: “We are all old to the extent that we think we are old.” We started talking about life after sixty, and where I noticed only problems and difficulties, he saw advantages and new opportunities. “Experience and wisdom come over the years,” he said, and then he asked me a question that I had never thought about before. Why should life become less pleasant just because we have lived another year? “On the contrary,” he said, “life should be better because we are becoming more and more experienced in this art!”
A conversation with this Chinese made me for the first time realize the validity of the saying: “A person is what he thinks of himself.” It is not age that makes a person old, but his mind. The conversation with the Chinese gave me such pleasure that I missed at least four buses. I was completely mesmerized by the secrets of True Happiness, the secrets with the help of which every person – of any age, of any faith or skin color – can create his happiness. These secrets gave me a new burst of life. I felt like I was born again. Everything seemed to be black and white, and then suddenly it was painted with wonderful, bright colors. But, of course, only I have changed. And the most valuable of all secrets for me has become … the power of self-images.
- Ideas about yourself? The young man asked incredulously.
- Yes. The way you see yourself, the opinion of yourself. One of the most important reasons people are so unhappy with their lives is because they are unhappy with themselves. It may seem incredible, but many people are not at all like themselves! They have many complexes – sometimes physical ones, such as “I have too big a nose” or “I am ugly”, “too young” or “too old”. At times, these complexes are associated with mental abilities, for example, “I’m not as smart as others”; sometimes people think they have character flaws: “I have no sense of humor” or “I’m a bore.” But, whatever the reason, if you are dissatisfied with yourself, how can you be satisfied with your life?
The young man immediately thought about his complexes – and there were quite a few of them.
- Where do all these complexes come from? – he asked.
- From life experience. They usually appear in childhood. I remember how one unhappy person said to me: “As a child, I adopted from my father the turns of speech, posture, opinions … and from my mother – contempt for my father!”
Of course, our ideas about ourselves begin to form in early childhood. We do not yet know who we are and what we are, what we should be, and we learn this from those around us, from our elders, from those who are wiser, who love us.
Let me give you an example: little Jimmy comes home from school with a bad grade. He thinks, “Why am I studying so badly? Maybe because I watch too much TV or not persevering enough. Maybe I’m stupid, or maybe I’m just lazy. ” He shows the diary to his father. The father looks into it, and there are no fives or fours – only three and two. He says to Jimmy: “Well, one thing is clear – you didn’t fix anything here!” But after Jimmy’s father scrutinizes the grades and reads the teachers’ notes, he becomes furious. He exclaims: “Jimmy, the thing is that you are not trying at all, you are a lazy fool!”
- Now Jimmy has no doubts about himself – he knows that he is lazy and stupid, and carries this knowledge throughout his life. Every time a difficult task arises before him, he says to himself: “I cannot cope with this, because I am lazy and a fool.” And so he avoids difficulties, considers himself lower than those around him, and regrets that he was born as himself.
- And yet, how to get rid of such complexes, or negative beliefs? The young man asked.
- Good question. The first thing to do is ask yourself the most important question you can think of: “Who am I?”
- Because the answer to it will help us assess how unique we are. For example, did you know that after meeting and marrying your mother and father, the probability that you were born was less than one chance in three hundred thousand billion ?! Any of the three hundred thousand billion completely different people could have been in your place, but it was you who succeeded. Moreover, there has never been a person like you in world history – and there will never be another person like you in it again.
The next question to ask yourself is: “What are my ideas about myself?”
- For example, “I’m a freak” or “I’m a fool”? The young man interrupted her.
- Yes. And then you should think: “Why am I so sure that this is true?” Was the reason for this word or actions of another person, or did you somehow become convinced that this is a fact? You see, most often we borrow our ideas about ourselves from other people. The people around us are like psychological mirrors. However, it would be better if I just show it.
Mrs. Moses took out several mirrors from a drawer. She arranged them so that the young man saw himself in each of them. These were crooked and distorting mirrors, miniature simulations of those that can be seen in the “room of laughter,” and the young man hardly recognized himself in the reflections. In one, his head seemed elongated, about a meter long, in the other his ears became like wings, and in the third, he seemed the fattest man in the world. Looking at these reflections, the young man burst out laughing.
- Which one is most like you? Mrs. Moses asked.
“None,” the young man replied.
- Why do you think so?
- Because these are “toy” mirrors. They cannot show correct reflection.
- Right. But what if you never saw the correct reflection of yourself? You would be horrified looking into these “toy” mirrors. Fortunately, you know your physical appearance, because before that you saw yourself in an ordinary, impartial mirror. But have you ever seen a genuine, impartial image of how you look psychologically? You see, although there are mirrors that reflect our physical appearance, there are no ones that would show us how we look from a psychological point of view.
Instead, we rely on the reactions of others to determine who we are on the inside. If people call you selfish, you believe in your own selfishness. If someone calls you a fool, you can believe that too. Yes, people are mirrors for us, but they are crooked mirrors, they are prejudiced.
The biggest mistake you can make in life is self-image based on the opinions of others. When a parent or teacher tells a child, “You are naughty,” or “How selfish you are,” “lazy,” or “fool,” they create a negative — and a false, image of himself.
The child could indeed do or say something that could be considered whimsical, selfish, lazy, or stupid, but this refers to the child’s behavior, not to himself.
The difference is very subtle but important. There is a big difference between saying “You are a bad girl!” and “How Not Nice Spilling Juice on the Carpet.”
“Isn’t it the same thing? The young man asked.
- Have you ever had to do something that you later regretted? Make a stupid mistake or do something nasty?
- Who hasn’t happened to? The young man nodded.
- And what, just because you did something stupid, you can be considered a complete fool?
“I think I understand you,” said the young man.
- Many people confuse human behavior with the person himself, and as a result, we have a negative opinion about ourselves, which is not necessarily fair, and yet we retain it for life.
The young man made some notes in his notebook.#“I understand how we have negative perceptions and complexes about ourselves,” he said. – But how to get rid of them if they already exist?
“Well, knowing the source of such perceptions is already the first step,” Mrs. Moses said. – Sometimes, to solve a problem, it is enough just to realize it. However, some beliefs are so deeply rooted in our souls that their destruction requires more than aware of their origin. In such cases, one of the methods is “affirmations”, or positive statements.
- What are they? The young man asked.
- This statement is a phrase that we say to ourselves, either out loud or mentally. A positive statement would be, for example, the words: “I am a loving, intelligent, unique human being.”
- How can this help? The young man asked.
“If we hear something very often,” Mrs. Moses explained, “then we begin to believe it. For this reason, most of our ideas arise – as a child, we hear the repetition of the same thing. This method is widely used in advertising.
They invent a phrase, repeat it over and over again on radio or television, and sooner or later we begin to believe in it.
To control your life, you need to gain control of your beliefs, and using affirmations is one way to achieve this.
- How often should a statement be repeated so that the subconscious mind believes it? The young man asked.
- Of course, it depends on how long you have had the opposite negative opinion. Also, it is advisable to repeat the affirmation with feeling, as if you believed it; you should not pronounce it in a detached, monotonous voice. I would advise repeating this statement at least three times a day – morning, afternoon and evening. If you want, write it down on a card and re-read it whenever you can.
Another technique that can help change the way you think about yourself is to act like. For example, if you think you are unattractive, act as if you are beautiful; if you think you lack confidence in yourself, act as if you are confident in your abilities.
“Doesn’t that mean that you are pretending to be someone else? – said the young man.
- Sure. But the most incredible thing happens when you start acting like you are attractive, confident, and happy. – You start to feel likable, confident, and happy!
Perhaps this is also better explained with an example. Imagine a young girl who considers herself ugly and is going to dance with her friends. All evening she stands in a corner where no one notices her – and it is not at all surprising that she is not invited to dance. If this girl believed in her beauty, she would put on a more catchy dress and stand in the very center, among the people. She would relax and enjoy herself, but naturally, she would become more attractive.
Now imagine a person who is going to give a speech. He’s so nervous that his knees are shaking. He feels that a little more – and he just turns around and runs to the exit. But he knows that he needs to go through this test, and therefore tries to act as if he is confident in himself. After a confident opening phrase, the audience applauds, and now he really feels more confident. Likewise, at times we may feel miserable, but if we behave happily and smile at people, more often than not they will smile back and we will perk up again.
Another means of improving our self-image is to search for what we like in ourselves.
- This sounds good in theory, but how easy is it to do in practice? – asked the young man, making cursory notes in a notebook.
“It’s very easy,” Mrs. Moses said. – It is enough to consciously ask yourself: “What do I like about myself?” or “What am I good at?”
“Yes, but the answer could be“ Very little ”or, worse,“ Almost nothing, ”the young man objected.
- One of the most wonderful qualities of the human mind is that it is always looking for an answer to a question, and even if the answer does not exist, the mind will surely find it. Most often we ask ourselves negative questions: “Why am I unattractive?”, “Why am I so stupid?”, “Why can’t I find a job?” And the mind will certainly find the answer to any question asked to it: “Because you have a big nose”, “Because you were born a dumbass”, “Because you do not know how to get along with people.”
But when we ask positive questions, we get positive answers. If you still cannot find anything that you would like in yourself, try changing the question “If there was something in me that I would like, what exactly could it be?” Such a question simply requires a positive answer. Other great questions change our attitude towards ourselves: “What are my strengths?”, “What can I cope with?”, “In which areas can I make a significant contribution?”
Affirmations, “as if” behavior, and positive questions are very simple and effective methods by which we can begin to change our attitude towards ourselves. Also, we should stop adopting false opinions based on the reactions of others. We constantly need to remind ourselves that although other people are our mirrors, they are distorting, imprecise mirrors.
If I needed to reduce all this to one phrase, I would suggest that you remember these words: criticism does not need talent, or great intelligence, or strong character. Only God can create a flower, but any stupid child can tear off its petals! When people are hostile or rude when they express cruel and evil opinions, their words are reflections of their restless soul – but not yours. Therefore, do not listen to anyone who is trying to explain to you who and what you are – of course, unless this is a positive opinion. Do you think I could study at the university at my age if I listened to the opinions of others? Do you think that I would start learning to ski at sixty-five if I agreed what did others say about this? Could I learn to draw at sixty-eight? I think if I listened to others, I would have died long ago or lost my mind.
People say that at my age it’s just stupid to take on all this. Many people still think I am crazy. Perhaps it is, but I want to tell you only one thing – I am happy and content with my life.
Once I read that the best that a person can achieve in life is to know himself because only then he becomes completely free – free from the restrictions and rules that others would like to impose on him, who have the opportunity to live the way he would like live … and be happy.
The young man felt a surge of inspiration:
“It sounds so simple and looks perfectly reasonable, but … does it work?
- There is only one way to be sure of this. Try it yourself! Smiled Mrs. Moses. “