In Search of Happiness

Unconditional Friendliness Inside

Emergency Self-Rescue

Are you having a thrisis? How do you know if you’ve got it? And if you are suffering from a thrisis, what can you do about it?

I recently came across the term “thrisis” and it’s been playing on my mind ever since. A thrisis is a mid-life crisis in your thirties. Given my birthday last month, I’m certainly susceptible. In fact, I think I may have contracted it some years ago but didn’t know what to call it.  The Florence Nightingale in me tells me I should get it seen to ASAP.

An open mind seeks possibilities

Now that I know there may be an issue, I sign up for a seminar on “Happiness” by Charlie Morley, all the while telling myself to keep an open mind. In doing so, I discover I’m an “optimistic sceptic”.

According to Charlie’s research on Happiness, Happiness is “a fundamental friendliness towards life”, otherwise known as “unconditional friendliness”.

To be happy, Charlie says we need to differentiate between what we can change and what’s outside of our control. The reality is, most of what exists outside of us is full of uncertainty and uncontrollable. Trying to control the uncontrollable is like trying to swallow the sun. The only thing for certain is that it’s sure to give you more than a sore throat.

Instead, look around you and observe what’s going on. By observe, Charlie means to simply acknowledge what’s happening, without judgment. This allows us to make friends with our mind and, by doing so, increase our awareness of what is and what isn’t. When we are able to acknowledge what has come to pass with unconditional friendliness, we give ourselves the chance to change the way we see the world.

The 3 Paradoxes

Charlie identifies 3 paradoxes towards happiness:

  1. Help others to help yourself. This is also known as “selfish selflessness”. It’s WIN-WIN even though it’s not altruistic.
  2. Thinking more about death is good for you.It’ll shake you up to wake you up,” says Charlie. Pop quiz: what do buddhists talk about most when they get together? Death, according to Charlie.
  3. Happiness is a habit. It takes a lot of practice. The first step is to “accept” your unhappiness. By doing so, you acknowledge where you are and that allows you to move forward.

Pause for Thought

Come to think of it, thrisis is unlikely to be only an age-related condition. In fact, this condition might be part of what many of us experience day-to-day but don’t call out by name. The French call it “ennui” and I’m sure other cultures have a name for it, too.

My one consolation, the Agile principle of “Fail early, fail fast”. The quicker I discover there’s something wrong, the quicker I can begin to address it and the more time I have in sorting it out which should increase my chances of getting it sorted. Call it “Optimist’s Logic”. What’s more, my spidey sense tells me there’s an adventure in all this, so things can’t be all that bad.

How can you express unconditional friendliness right now? And tomorrow?

8 Responses to “In Search of Happiness”

  1. Florian writes:

    Thanks for putting a name on something I was feeling (and still am). I just turned thirty a couple of months ago and was feeling this complete unhappiness with myself, my life and my job about a year ago.
    You are right, the first step for me was accepting this unhappiness and then looking for ways out. The first way was quitting my job and following my gut feeling to becoming an agile coach who travels a lot. It changed a lot, but not everything. Maybe that even contributes to the first point in your list: Help others to help yourself.
    Just two weeks ago, I had another one of these “Hey, look at it, you’re unhappy!”-moments. Only noticing, accepting it and challenging the way I live changed a lot and I am still curious where the change will take me.

  2. portiatung writes:

    Thanks for sharing your story, Florian. As I get older, I discover it’s the questions we ask that help us grow instead of grasping only at answers.

  3. Tim writes:

    “The first step is to ‘accept’ your unhappiness. By doing so, you acknowledge where you are and that allows you to move forward.”

    Gosh, how many times have I heard similar advice that acceptance is the first step? And yet, I don’t think I’ve done very much conscious accepting.

    I have this “thing” that happens on the weekends where I’ll often feel anxious because I have a lot of time alone and I feel like I should be with people. So I spend a lot of time dreaming and scheming about how to get more people in my life. And it’s not a pleasant endeavor, this dreaming and scheming. It feels hard, and stuck, and hopeless because I’ve spent so much time on it and haven’t gotten very far.

    I did something different this weekend. I had the same feelings about not wanting to be alone, but then I sat and said to myself “I’m going to be alone today.” And that felt good. It felt good to be honest about that. And then I elaborated, “I didn’t make plans and so I’m going to be by myself today.” (Which was also true.) And that felt good, too.

    I don’t know what’s next in this process, but I do know that accepting the situation relieved the emotion. It’s not like I had an aha! moment that “I’m alone.” I’ve *known* that. But now I see there is a difference between *knowing* something and *accepting* something. Knowing happens in the head. Acceptance is an emotional event.

  4. Tim writes:

    BTW, could you say more about #1? “Help others to help yourself”? Can you give some examples? I’m reading that sentence two different ways, and they mean very different things.

  5. portiatung writes:

    Hi Tim,

    Thanks for sharing. As for “Help others to help yourself” – I took Charlie to mean that to be happy, we need to give to others. By giving, we realise the value we can provide for others as well as experience gratitude for what we have.

    I’ve come to accept that giving can never be an altruistic act because of the joy I feel from giving. Nonetheless, this doesn’t take away from the act of giving itself.

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