I’ve written about both of these topics extensively in this blog. This is probably because the study of narcissism is a professional imperative and profound interest for me, and happiness is something I see as essential to a successful life. How do we maintain our happiness despite the narcissists in our life, our government, in our communities?
If we look carefully at what people want out of life, it’s happiness. It’s the universal goal of all people. Each mortal being has a hunger deep in their heart for greater peace, love and happiness. One country in the world, Bhutan, has officially recognized this. Instead of measuring success in terms of the size of their gross national product, they measure happiness. They have adapted a Gross National Happiness Index. This very fact makes me smile. Countless studies have found that happy people are generally healthier. A study out of Columbia University found that happy people as less likely to have heart problems.
I am making an argument here to arrange your mind to be happy despite the narcissist in your life. You have the power to choose to be happy and if you choose that, nobody can make you unhappy. The operative words here are “power” and “choice”. We can always have power over our minds if we but choose to use it. If you need a profound confirmation of this, I suggest you read Victor Frankel’s “Man’s Search for Meaning”, which is one of the most influential books of my life. Based on his experiences in Nazi Death Camps during World War II, Frankel argues that man cannot avoid suffering, but he can choose how to cope with it.
Choosing happiness requires effort. It relies on us giving ourselves time to think and introspect. In every situation, there is a choice to be made. What do you do to try to feel better when unhappiness sets in? What you are not changing, you are choosing.
Struggle is a part of life. It is the grinding of wheat into flour which eventually becomes nourishing bread. Struggle refines us and gives life meaning. But inevitable struggle doesn’t have to ruin us, depress or overwhelm us. I believe that the evil, dark or some say satanic forces in this world exist to divert our attention away from reality to unreality, from positivity to negativity and from happiness to unhappiness. Encounters with narcissists, especially those whose pathology borders on the sociopathic or psychopathic, pull us into unreality, negativity and unhappiness. We can choose not to “go there” even if we can’t eliminate the narcissists in our lives, our government or our families.
Spiritual traditions such as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism. Islam and Buddhism give us formulas for happiness. In the Christian/Judean tradition, these are called The Ten Commandments. In Yoga/Hinduism, they are called Yama/Niyama. In Buddhism, they are referred to as the Five Rules of Buddhism. In Islam they are called the Commandments of Islam. These rules are the essential foundation for higher spiritual levels of peace and bliss. They are the least we must do to be happy. Look at these rules or re-look at them and set your foundation for happiness.
Unless there is happiness in life, there is no success. From the balcony of introspection, look at your life, at who shows up in it, at what life has set before you and determine what meaning lies in those things and how they can eventually lead to greater happiness and peace. You can choose to think that way instead of thinking, “woe is me to have had this experience, this dark person, this struggle come my way.” Happiness is a blessing upon your house; unhappiness is a pox.