How To Handle Happiness Deficit Disorder

It’s positively depressing how much has been written about happiness.  You know what makes you unhappy and how you need to grapple with losses, “It will get better.” However, if you have ordinary HDD – Happiness Deficit Disorder –here are two practical and profound approaches to happiness. Your life will never be the same again. Wake up every day with a:

  •  Beginner’s mind
  •  Beginner’s heart

In Zen philosophy even if you are highly educated to the point of mastery, when you fall down in sadness and confusion or stumble over obstacles, you are advised to re-explore the world with a beginner’s mind. This means getting back to basics, the ABC of things. For example, if you have been doing yoga or weight lifting and your execution is sloppy, you break it down move by move to reeducate your body and mind to get out of a bad habit, paying attention to all the rudimentary details like body alignment and focus. With a beginner’s mind:

  •  You eagerly start your day to learn rather than teach others a lesson. You perceive the world with fresh eyes and listen attentively; after all you are a beginner.
  •  You have the humility of a student which minimizes arrogance and that sense of entitlement which expects others to be mind-readers or do your bidding.  No more disappointment when they don’t.
  •  You aspire to learn a concept thoroughly – a thing and its opposite. You question accepted beliefs if you don’t understand them because you need to know why which keeps motivation high.
  •  You are not afraid to be your authentic self and make mistakes because as a beginner you learn from failure to triumphantly accomplish.

While the beginner’s mind has become a popular concept, not too many people know about a beginner’s heart.  By opening your heart freely like a young heart without bias, cynicism, or scarring, you can feel love and the lightness of being all over again like the first time you fell in love with a pet, person, or purpose.

 With a beginner’s heart:

  •  You are aware of toxicity and cruelty, so you are not naive.  However, you choose innocence to consciously redirect your attention to what is right with the world. You do not let toxicity invade you.
  •  You realize that darkness and light are just arbitrary terms and you let your heart lead with its own labels and categories.
  •  You are free and childlike in appreciating joy, humor and spontaneity, but you are not childish.
  •  You forgive yourself and others readily because you embrace your humanity – no one is perfect or right all the time.
  •  You are happier with less as you see into the heart of the matter.


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About Debbie Mandel

I'm an author, stress management specialist, and my latest book is "Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life" (Wiley, Sept. 2008). Also, I host a weekly radio show and run an educational site where you can learn more about building immunity to feeling bad: