Happiness seemed to be random to me. My life was composed of a mixture of happiness, sadness, excitement, joy, sorrow, suffering, no different than anyone else.

But I noticed within myself that I had no problem understanding how I was creating the suffering in my life, I was good at that, but I couldn’t figure out how to create positivity. I’ll admit, I had a bunch of self-sabotaging qualities that I’m still working on, but something just didn’t seem right. It was like no matter what I did, I would bring suffering to myself.

My happiness seemed to end before it started, and I never really understood how I could create more happiness in my life. It didn’t seem like my actions mattered. Even if I tried to take matters into my own hands, I always seemed to create my own suffering instead of happiness. Maybe part of that was because I would never allow myself to get too happy because I was afraid that it wouldn’t last, but still, it got to the point where I desperately wanted something to change.

I couldn’t continue living that way. I was tired of feeling down, and feeling like life was happening “to” me. The want to have some type of control in the situations that were arising in my life. Creating my own happiness was my aim.

One day I came across the Four Right Efforts, which is a blueprint in Buddhism that shows how to get rid of the suffering in your life and enhance what’s good in your life. It all starts in the mind. Here are the steps:

Four Right Efforts

  1. Become aware of what’s causing you unhappiness. Unlearn the bad and unwholesome thoughts that you have.
  2. Guard against what creates your bad habits and thoughts. There are things that happen in our life that put us into our bad habits, become aware of this, and avoid these things.
  3. Become aware and celebrate when you have wholesome thoughts and wholesome actions. This will allow us to see the happiness in our lives.
  4. Deepen your wholesome thoughts and actions. When you recognize what these are. Double down on them.

(Here is a list of wholesome and unwholesome actions.)

As I was reading through these four steps, it all became clear to me. I was deepening the unwholesome thoughts in my life, and not the wholesome ones. I never even allowed myself to get past my unwholesome thoughts and actions.

Once I began to follow these steps, I noticed a huge change, not only in my mentality but my actions. When I adopted the habit of getting rid of my unwholesome thoughts, and acknowledging and deepening my wholesome thoughts, I realized that my actions do matter when it comes to creating my happiness. Being happy no longer seemed random!

I finally saw how my actions were affecting my life, and what I could do to make it better. So if you feel like the only things that happen to you are causing you suffering, and that no matter what you do you can’t seem to create happiness, follow these four steps and I guarantee you’ll see more happiness in your life.

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