#19 How to Live Longer in Happiness – Part 3: Getting There
Everyone wants to be happy or happier, but living in the natural is easier. Part 1 of How to Live Longer in Happiness explains our nature and what it’s like to live in the natural. Part 2 describes the elements of happiness and what it is like to live in happiness. How to Live Longer in Happiness Part 3: Getting There explains how to go from living in the natural where you just survive to living life to the full where you live in happiness.
We Must Be Taught How to be Happy
Many people spent more time being raised in the natural so end up staying there or keep going back to it despite their glimpses of happiness. We all know happiness exists and everyone wants to be happy, but it’s easy to stay in the natural. Many people don’t know how to go from surviving in the natural to living in happiness. The key is to know how to live in happiness. Therefore, we must use our thinking brain and be taught how to be happy.
God Wants Us to Live Happy
Remember my story in Part 1 – God created us to subjugate the earth (the natural) and rule over the animals, meaning we have a thinking brain so we can problem solve, make decisions, and follow rules. When God created us, He was joyful and satisfied. He is so happy with us as His creation, like any parent, He wants us to have His same joy and satisfaction. He wants us to be happy.
God also gave us instincts to survive and spiritual instincts to deepen our relationship with Him. We must be careful that we don’t allow our survival instincts to overpower our spiritual instincts. Our spiritual instincts develop our conscience which dwells in our thinking brain and promotes love. Our survival instincts develop our alert system which dwells in our subconscious mind and perpetuates fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt.
Existence Depends on Emotions and Memory
Fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt preserve our existence. They prevent us from doing things that will get us in trouble or dead and give us the ability to overpower others. We feel afraid when we are threatened and we feel guilty when we’ve caused someone pain. We can also overpower others by making them feel afraid.
Fear is the strongest survival emotion since it is the one that deals directly with life and death. Therefore, fear is the major manipulator since it manipulates behaviors so we can exist.
Our existence also depends on memory. Our brains are so sophisticated that we have the ability to store memories. We remember good and bad things. These memories are crucial for us to continue our existence. Good memories motivate us to repeat proactive behaviors and bad memories protect us from repeating harmful experiences.
Our memories are stored in both the thinking (conscious) and emotional (subconscious) parts of the brain. Since our alert system is in our subconscious mind, this is where our bad memories are stored. They are tied to our survival emotions with the strongest survival emotion being fear since fear is the emotion that deals directly with life and death.
We’re Naturally Inclined to be Negative
Bad memories include the bad feelings associated with the situation we remember. These subconscious memories alert us to danger and prevent us from repeating behaviors that caused us pain and threatened our existence. Through fear, they remind us what not to do. For example, “Don’t touch the fire” (for fear of getting burned), “Can’t play in the yard” (for fear of getting kidnapped), “Don’t run with scissors” (for fear of getting stabbed), “Don’t get close to anyone, so don’t get married” (for fear of getting a broken heart).
To be safer and ensure existence, we focus on what “not” to do, so our subconscious mind is filled with “nots.” This makes us naturally inclined to feel, talk, and be more negative. Think about it – how much easier is it to say what you don’t want than what you do want?
Rules Tell Us What We Can and Cannot Do to Keep Us Safe
Parents set rules to delineate what their children can and cannot do, and tell their children, “Don’t” so the children will remember how to be safe and secure.
God set rules for us. He gave us the Ten Commandments so people could live better, live safer, and get closer with Him. I believe He wrote eight of the Ten Commandments in the negative, i.e. “Don’t have any God other than me,” “Don’t kill,” “Don’t commit adultery,” Don’t steal,” etc. in order to connect directly to our “not” filled subconscious mind (where our soul is) and so we would remember them better.
The Letter of the Law
Remember that our subconscious mind is not logical. Its maturity is like us at age three so it interprets information very literally. Since the people still lived primarily in the natural when the Ten Commandments were written, they had more active subconscious minds. Therefore, they interpreted laws literally. They believed in the letter of the law. In addition to the Commandments, they created more laws to help them have a healthier existence and ensure they were doing what was right for God so He would continue to bless them. Soon, they became too focused on the laws and enforcing them.
When we follow the letter of the law, we live in the context of right and wrong. Therefore, when we break the law we are condemned. Condemnation results in feelings of fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt. It takes us back to our nature. This wasn’t God’s intent. God wants us to live in the spirit – in Him.
The Spirit of the Law
Since God is spirit, His laws are not legalistic. They are spiritual. God wants us to follow the spirit of the law instead of the letter of the law. This concept requires conscious thought and conscious awareness. It is one we must be taught, so we need a teacher. Alas, God sent His son. Jesus is our teacher and our savior.
In Nature We Focus on What Not To Do; In Happiness, What To Do
Unlike living in the natural where our existence is based on what “not” to do, living in happiness is all about what to do. To live in happiness, the first “to do” is to be a student of Jesus and follow him. In other words, be a disciple (a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher.)
Going From Surviving in Nature to Living in Happiness
The following illustration shows what we experience in the natural and in happiness. The gap in between is what we’ll focus on for living longer in happiness.
To go from surviving in nature to living in happiness…
you must follow the spirit of the law.
What the Spirit of the Law Looks Like
The spirit of the law is what to do instead of what to not do. Therefore, if I summarize the Ten Commandments and put them in a spiritual to-do list, it would look like this. We must practice:
These translate into things like honor, compassion, responsibility, consideration, truth, and faith. They are not emotions, but values that we all know are right and just; the codes and attitudes that come from our conscious mind and conscience – from our spirit. These are the values God gave us because He values us. They are the spirit of the law. When we practice these values, we enhance our relationships, bring about a healthier environment, and create a healthier society. They promote joy, peace, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment.
Jesus’s Greatest Commandment
You can see these values spell “HEART.” Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments into one great commandment, to love one another as He has loved us. So, we are to follow the spirit of the law with love.
Jesus sacrificed Himself for us to save us from condemnation. This took courage and discipline. God gave all of us the gift of discipline. However, discipline opposes our nature. By nature, we are greedy, covetous, and gluttonous, and it’s easy to be dishonest, irresponsible, and disrespectful when we feel like we deserve to have something, want something we really can’t afford, or when someone hurts our feelings.
To get to happiness, we must follow the spirit of the law with discipline. We tend to cringe at the word discipline. It takes us out of the natural since it equates to self-control and that means we can’t have what we want when we want it. However, discipline renders obedience and obedience keeps us in right standing with whoever is in charge. In this case, it is God. Using discipline to achieve spiritual happiness can be challenging, but the reward is far greater than the challenge.
Die in the Natural, Be a Disciple, Live in Happiness
Finally, Jesus rose from the dead. He showed us that when we die in the natural, we will live spiritually in eternal happiness. But, we must accept Him into our mind, heart, and soul and follow Him.
When I put it all together, the way to go from living in nature to living in happiness looks like this:
What to do to Live Longer in Happiness
In summary, to live longer in happiness you must:
- Recognize what it’s like for you to live in the natural
- Assess the outcomes of living in the natural
- Choose where you want to live – If it’s happiness, continue
- Stop being afraid
- Become familiar with the elements of happiness and how they feel by identifying them
- Acknowledge the elements of happiness when you experience them (For example, when you enjoy something talk about how joyful it was or acknowledge how satisfying something was for you.)
- Be willing to do this for yourself so you can be better for others
- Be more consciously aware
- Practice honesty, empathy, accountability, respect, and trust constantly no matter how you feel
- Make an effort to talk in the affirmative – For example instead of saying “I don’t…” say, “I do…” or “I can…”
- Be a disciple
- Honor God by using your gifts and especially your gift of discipline
If you choose to live in happiness, you will never regret your decision. This is not to say that you won’t have any challenges and bad times. But, when you choose to live in happiness, you choose to be closer to God, and the challenges you face will result in even more joy, peace, love, freedom, and satisfaction.
How to Live Longer in Happiness Part 3: Getting There: