A Happier Life!

How to get a happier life:

Understand what you want. Make a request for what you want, not for what you don’t want.Understand that what you want is already within you.

Understand what you want. According to Marshall Rosenberg we all have the same needs; and wants and needs are the same thing. I believe we may prioritize these differently from person to person, and from moment to moment, but they are universal. The highest need overall is to contribute. We have all felt the joy of having given to another. I believe that it what we are here on this earth to do; to experience the joy of contributing to each other.

We have not been taught how to recognize what we need. As a matter of fact, we have been taught from childhood to not focus on our needs. It’s considered selfish. We have even decided that wants and needs are different. You will hear people say, “you may want that, but you don’t need it”, as though desires are somehow a ‘bad’ thing. We ultimately at our core know this can’t be correct because we have decided that there are needs we have to have. But we somehow limit this to air, water, food and maybe shelter; whatever the basics are to keep us alive.

But we all have needs and there is nothing wrong with this. According to Dr. Rosenberg, we all have needs related to connection, physical well-being, honesty, play, peace, autonomy, and meaning. However, we have confused the strategies to meet those needs with the needs themselves. For example, money is not a need. None of us need money. Now we do need food, and in our culture that requires money, but money is still not the need. And according to Dr. Rosenberg needs are not person-specific. In other words, I have a need for appreciation, but that doesn’t mean I have to get that from a particular person. I can get that need met with any person, including myself.

So how do I know what my needs are if I’ve been taught not to recognize them? That takes some practice. A good way to find your needs is to follow your emotions. Dr. Rosenberg also gives us examples of the emotions we feel when we have our needs met, and don’t have our needs met. When we have our needs met we experience variations on the following emotions: affection, engagement, hope, confidence, excitement, gratitutude, inspiration, joy, exhilaration, peace, and refreshment. Examples of emotions we feel when are needs aren’t being met are: fear, annoyance, anger, aversion, confusion, disconnection, agitation, pain, sorrow, embarrassment, fatigue, anxiety, fragility and yearning.

You can use all of the emotions to self-connect. As a matter of fact, the more you become aware of your emotions on a minute-by-minute basis and use them to connect, the more often you will be in the Flow and be open to having your needs met. So if you are feeling angry, you need to try to figure out what it is you want that you aren’t getting. You might have to tell yourself the story about why you are angry to find that. Focus on what it is you are wanting, not what you are not wanting. It could be you are feeling angry because you want more respect. Or perhaps you want something to be easier. It could be any number of things because anger is just the emotion telling you a need isn’t being met.

You will know when you have found the unmet need. It will resonate very deeply within you. It’s very likely you will actually say an emphatic “yes!” to yourself. It feels good to find it. When you have found it, figure out how to get that. Remember, needs aren’t person-specific. You can just take a moment to remember a time you did get respect, or ease. As you sit in that memory the feeling of having that need met will wash over you. The peace, the contentment, the joy will flood your being. This is the realization that whatever you need is already within you. You can use memories or your imagination to put yourself in the situation where your needs are getting met. You may decide that is all you need.

You may also decide that you want to take an action regarding the situation that stimulated the anger. The decision you make will now be from a different place, with a different energy, and is more likely to give you the result you want. This is where you make a request. The difference between a request and a demand is your openness to a negative response. With a request, you really are open to the other person denying the request. As a matter of fact, with a request, you would only want the other person to grant your request willingly. This is because you understand there is always a cost to a demand.

A demand means you want the person to do something no matter what their desire or need is in the moment. We only have two responses to a demand: refusal or compliance without choice. Both of those will cost both of us. If you demand something of me I am either going to want to push-back and refuse, or I will do it but I won’t get the freedom and joy of being able to contribute willingly to you. I may say or do what you want in your presence, but do something different when you aren’t around. I may want to do it, but I won’t get my need met of your appreciation for what I have done. There is just always a cost. There is also much less likelihood that I will get my need met. There are times when we can’t figure out any other way, but a request is always more effective.

With these steps we stay in the moment and self-connected, experiencing the Divine. This is a practice. It takes time. But it is a concrete way to a happier, more fulfilled life.

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