Letting go of Social Norms



Growing spiritually and being Happy by letting go of social norms and beliefs, is an important lesson I have learned as I progress and mature in life.

The spiritual dimension influences up to 80% of our lives. On average, our deeds in the past, decide about 65% of events in our life in the form of destiny. This destiny is played out by various elements, both in the physical plane and in the spiritual realm.

The Spiritual Path of Action is inherently about practicing Spirituality by the principle that ’As one sows, so shall one reap’. If we were to look at why we experience happiness or unhappiness in life, from the viewpoint of the Path of Action, then all happiness and unhappiness and all of our life’s events are experienced as either due to destined or wilful actions.

The destiny that we are born with is just a sliver of our accumulated give-and-take account over all past actions. Through our destiny, we pay or gain the merit of past actions and thoughts. There are beliefs about happiness that actually make us unhappy, here are a few:

Belief 1: I need other people’s approval to be happy.

Do you often do things only to please other people? Human beings are driven by “social proof.” Approval is extremely important to us. We wait to buy the latest gadgets to look cool. We attend family gatherings to appease all members. We don’t pursue our dreams because our families don’t approve. But just ask yourself: Are these actions (or inactions) bringing you any real happiness? The pursuit of approval is very different from the pursuit of happiness. Let’s not fail to distinguish between the two.

Belief 2: I will be happy when I have…

…a bigger house, a promotion, a baby, awards, degrees, respect, those designer bags and shoes! It’s the belief that when you arrive at a certain destination (or attain a specific goal), you will be happy. The reason why this belief is so strong is because it’s partly true. Yes, you will feel happy when you get promoted or buy a house. The question is: Is this happiness lasting? While you will escape your neighbours noisy parties, you will have to pay interest on your bond and spend good money maintaining your new house. Each level of accomplishment will bring its own set of problems. Does this mean you stop working toward your goals? No! Goals are important, and one needs to be ambitious. However, think about this: You can be happy now and also when you get the promotion. Do you really need to postpone your happiness?

Belief 3: I can’t be happy unless everything goes right.

Have you ever lost your luggage on a vacation? It upsets everything, doesn’t it? Instead of enjoying the charms of a wonderful new city, you’re running around buying clothes and other stuff, wondering if the airline will ever return your luggage. That’s what happened to me on my trip to Amsterdam about 9 years ago, one of my first trips to Europe – excited and no clothes to wear accept the clothes I had on. Strangely, now when I think about that trip, the trouble I faced because of the lost luggage doesn’t bother me, in fact I recall still having a great time, and managed to buy clothes the next day and on arrival with no clean clothes for the following day, I still painted the down red. The only thing that mattered to me was that I had an opportunity to travel to Amsterdam and experience the wonderful city.

Belief 4: I can’t be happy because of what’s happened in the past.

The past controls us in mysterious ways. You might have lost a loved one to misunderstanding or death. You might have failed to achieve your dreams. As a result, you may have developed one of these beliefs: “I am not meant to find happiness” or “It’s not my destiny to be happy.” I believe that I have the right to be happy, despite my past misfortunes. Your past doesn’t control your future unless you let it. Millions have turned their lives around. If they can be happy, why can’t you?

Belief 5: Happiness is not a habit that can be learned.

Can you actually learn to be happy? Like learning baseball or the guitar? Yes. Happiness is a skill—one that you build through a number of daily choices. Numerous studies have indicated that people who are happier have certain habits: they exercise, meditate, pay attention to their relationships, pursue their goals diligently, lead balanced lives, are grateful. Research shows that by thwarting negative emotions, such as pessimism, resentment, and anger, and fostering positive emotions, such as empathy, serenity, and gratitude, the brain can be trained to become happier.

Happiness does not depend on fate; it depends on our habits—habits that anyone can learn.

Our beliefs can bring us happiness or sorrow. Is anything in life ever perfect? We have ups and downs every day. Life is imperfect—perhaps that’s what makes it more interesting!

Question your beliefs about yourself, your life, and happiness from time to time. See if they still serve a positive purpose. If not, change them.

What beliefs do you think you need to change to be happier?

Remember, most importantly you don’t have to follow social norms.