We all have core beliefs about ourselves, our relationships and how the world works. It is how we make sense of the world.
Our experiences shape those core beliefs. If we grow up in a warm, secure home, we will likely view other people as essentially good and the world safe. If we grow up with verbal and physical abuse, we will feel inadequately prepared to cope with a hostile, unpredictable world.
Subsequent life experiences – good or bad – can challenge our initial core beliefs. Traumatic events, loss and grief can shake our faith and trust in others and in the universe. We can question what we once took for granted. We can give up.
Sometimes, we hang on to core beliefs that no longer match our real life experiences. These can be the hardest to question and give up. For many, it is as hard as changing religions.
Challenging our old beliefs that no longer work may be the key to discovering happiness.
Most of us don’t recognize that there are common myths about life that set us up for disappointment. The biggest myths are that life is fair, we get what we deserve and that if we just work hard, we will be successful. We expect to live to a ripe old age.
The truth is that life is not always fair. Good things happen when we’re bad. Bad things happen when we are good. What goes around, doesn’t always come around. We can have our dreams, make our plans, work towards them but have our dreams shattered by unexpected circumstances. Accidents and illness can happen to us even if we’re careful, eat right and exercise.
So should we just give up and stop trying? Should we abandon all hope of lasting happiness? Should we give up trying to be good?
Of course, not.
We can revise our core beliefs and change our expectations about life. We can make sense of life and still be happy.
Life though not perfect is still beautiful and worth living. You and I though not perfect are still beautiful and worthy of love. Though life can be random and unfair at times, we can strive to be fair in our relationships. In fact, we can choose to be better than fair and strive to give more than we get.
As I’ve said before: life does not give you everything you choose, but you can choose to make the most of what it gives you.
The timeless, joyful moments of life make it all worthwhile.
I will no longer complain that life is unfair because I did not earn or deserve the best things I have been given – the people whom I love. Although I miss my mother, I was lucky to have had her in my life, and with grace I appreciate the love that I was given through her.
Your happiness exercise for today: What are your core beliefs about the universe, society and your relationships? Considering your life experiences, do those assumptions still make sense?
Sit down with at least one other person and compare your core beliefs. Are either of you still holding onto the common myths about life? Reformulate your world view to one that makes sense of the world, embraces life and empowers you.