I guarantee I can make you happy . . .
Okay, well, actually even if I tried; even if I wanted to; even if I knew how, I could not do or say anything to give you happiness. But I still guarantee I can make you happy. How?
You need to learn where your current emotional set-point is, then work from there to increase it (you normally blow off everything emotional) or lower it (every little challenge or disturbance to your world causes you to nearly self-destruct), and then maintain it.
Your goal should be to reset your emotional balance at that point where the small negative stuff, like disagreeing with a coworker or being angry your boss didn’t choose your plan to implement, doesn’t create negative tidal waves that push your bad attitude into other aspects of your life. And when something significantly challenging happens, you don’t allow yourself to become dysfunctional, self-destructive emotionally, or consistently negative and unproductive.
PUT YOURSELF IN CHARGE
Back to the regular program: You need to take control of your emotional set-point, work on being satisfied with “enough,” and recognize how to attain emotional neutrality or balance. This concept appeals to me as an astrological Libra, as I seek constant balance. That is as far as my appreciation for the zodiac system, or whatever its called, goes. But back to the good stuff!
LEARN TO BE SATISFIED WITH “ENOUGH”
The first step to a healthy ESP is to learn to be satisfied with the basics. Recognizing that our needs are easily confused with our wants is important. We need shelter. We want a four bedroom, three bathroom showpiece filled with the finest furniture and amenities Ethan Allen and Best Buy can deliver. These wants become emotional crutches that serve as surrogates for internal peace. That’s why attaining them never makes us happy. Don’t let your checking account be in charge of your emotional set-point. You may have to record this statement, play it back during your sleep, and accommodate it subconsciously. It is a bit much to digest when your ego is on guard.
We are never content to have a good income that can, with careful management, provide for our family. We want a braggadocios title, replete with one-upsmanship-inspired job descriptions; an expense account fit for a king; and access to all the most important people. We need to think more about how our work can improve someone else’s condition, and less about how important we seem to our peers.
I am reminded of the now-familiar tale of the old lady whose greatest desire was for her loved ones to have . . . enough.
If you can first convince yourself that you should seek only enough, rather than enough to make you happy, you’re halfway home. The next step is to convince yourself that you are in charge of you. Not just where you go, and what you wear to school or work. Not even who you date or marry. I mean assign yourself as trustee, owner, boss, sole proprietor of your mindset and attitude, and thereby fully responsible for your happiness, or better yet, joy. Now your ESP is nearly yours!
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR EMOTIONAL SET-POINT
The notion that emotions are as controllable as your daily clothing choices is frightening. Its frightening because it forces you to be the sole owner when things become unbalanced. All of a sudden, instead of using a tough situation as the scapegoat when you choose to react negatively to external forces, you have to remind yourself you can choose to be rational and in-control, or you can choose to be unproductive, and emotionally irrational. You also choose whether you are resilient and regroup appropriately, or leisurely wallow in your pity. YES, you choose!
The ESP model says when you take control of your sense of well-being and are have a rational outlook on things, and your life is relatively normal, you are allowed, even EXPECTED, to be happy. Yes, HAPPY. Not okay. Not fine. Not alright. Happy. Say it three times and you will probably evoke mental images of sunshine and puppies.
Seriously, though, medical conditions like depression excepted, there are few reasons that most Americans should exist consistently in a state of anxiety, despair, or fretfulness. Convince yourself to enjoy most moments when you are not literally under attack or fear of physical harm. Value who you are, where you are, and give yourself permission to enjoy the bounty of enough.
Save those stronger emotions for times when there’s something to worry about, like your performance review, an IRS audit, or whether Louis Vuitton is ever going to change its “destroy rather than discount” policy. In those cases, allow yourself to emote briefly, but then remind yourself to return to your balanced set-point. Much like your body reacting to a strong stimulus, like being chased by a mad dog, or nearly hit by an unwieldy vehicle, save your emotional adrenaline for instances when you need extraordinary bursts. But know it should drift back to neutral ESP once the threat of real harm subsides.
It occurs to me that our national preoccupation with being tired and perpetually over-caffeinated is the result of allowing our emotional set-points to be so constantly ignored, we can’t function without artificial stimuli. But that’s a musing for another day.
But on a daily basis, your home, your car, your job, your significant other, your bills, your volunteer commitments should not cause you consternation. If they do, you must analyze how to become at peace with those things, or change them until you find that peace.
ATTAINING ESP, or EMOTIONAL BALANCE
Since you’re CEO of your ESP now, what do you do? Wallow? No, you work on balancing the ledger daily. Look at the stuff costing you emotional currency. Then fire the ideas and obligations that lower your sense of peace and balance. Let them go, and don’t look back. If it doesn’t help you, it hurts you. There’s no room for ambivalence when it comes to your happiness.
Changing different variables that influence you until you are relatively at peace with what you already have is life-altering.
Did you hear me? Creating peace in your life is your responsibility and it is life-altering.
You should now recognize that small problems require only small, quick reactions before regaining your emotional balance, that place called your ESP. The previously-constant drains on your ESP (you know who and what they are) will leave you emotionally bankrupt in times of true emergency, like deaths of loved ones, illnesses, and other crises that are also a natural and expected part of life. If everything causes you to react urgently, how can you possibly have enough strength to properly face, then rebound from, the real crises?
You now recognize that you have enough, and probably more than enough to live fully. You also have taken ownership of how you respond and react to external influences. So what’s next? There’s only one more small thing.
REGAIN BALANCE AFTER UPSETS
Everyone loves a good homecoming. As you practice the never-ending art of managing your ESP, you will get much better at emotional homecomings. I mentally re-set to my natural, balanced ESP almost automatically except under the absolute most-demanding and trying circumstances. And just like literal trips back to your home, getting back in balance is comforting. Once you own your emotional set-point; have established one that works well for your sense of peace, happiness and balance; and know when to apply a little or a lot of correction, you will enjoy life more. It does not mean you will never face challenges. Life is a challenge! It means you will deal with them, and life, better.
In closing, I am reminded of the tale of a little boy who was asked to tell his class what he wanted to be when he grew up. When he replied, “happy,” the teacher was dismayed that he did not understand the assignment. When she corrected him, and said the assignment was to talk about his goals, he wisely answered, “no, you don’t understand life.”