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15 THINGS YOU SHOULD GIVE UP TO BE HAPPY: An Inspiring Guide to Discovering Effortless Joy by Luminita D. Saviuc, published by TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by Luminita Daniela Saviuc

1. Recognize That We Are All One

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. — Albert Einstein

On the surface we might all look very different from one another, but at the core level we are all the same. At the core level we are all ONE, connected with one another in a very deep and powerful way. At the core level we are essentially the same, all members of one human race. There is no separation except the separation we create in our minds because of our attachment to fear.

This isn’t an idealistic sentiment. When President Bill Clinton announced the results of the Human Genome Project on June 26, 2000, he noted that upon examining the discovered elementary building blocks in the DNA sequences, scientists had concluded that we truly are in essence the same and members of one larger family. We truly are all ONE.

There is much more to life than what meets the eye. There’s more to each and every one of us than our fearful and judgmental minds want us to believe.

Don’t be fooled by appearances. Seek to understand, accept and embrace the oneness of things. Don’t let your fearful mind strengthen this false idea in your head that who you are is better or worse than everyone else, that who you are is separate from everyone else.

2. Make Peace with Your Own Darkness

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. — Matthew 7:3–5

Look around you, at all those people, events and places that you find distasteful, different, ugly and unworthy, and see if you can recognize yourself in them. Every fault you find in others touches a denied weakness in yourself. If the things you see on the outside bother you, it’s only because they reflect back at you the things that are already within you.

The world is our mirror, reflecting back at us the things that are already within us— the things that are tormenting us, the things we haven’t yet found a way to make peace with and the things we are constantly rejecting and hiding from ourselves. Bring awareness into your life. Give as much attention to your thoughts, feelings and reactions as you give to those things, people and experiences that cause you to hold on to judgment and criticism.

Pay close attention to your reactions, and whenever you catch yourself projecting your own darkness, your own pain and your own suffering onto those around you, with a smile on your face, silently repeat these words to yourself:

“I am better than this. I can do better than this.”

And choose to do better.

Give up the need to judge and criticize not only those around you but also yourself. Learn to look for the good in people and also in yourself. Accept and make peace with your own darkness so that you can accept, embrace and make peace with everyone else’s darkness.

Heal every part of you that’s in need of healing. Make peace with your imperfections, your fears, doubts and insecurities, and you will be at peace with the whole world.

3. Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I’m not perfect—and I don’t live to be— but before you start pointing fingers . . . make sure your hands are clean! — Bob Marley

Deep down inside we are all the same. We all want to love and be loved, we all want to be happy and to share our own happiness with those we love. No sane person wakes up with the intention to hurt other people or to make their lives harder.

Everyone’s doing the best they know how to do. Everyone has their own story, their own reasons for doing the things they do. And even though at first sight it might look like some people are just horrible human beings, if you look deep within them, beyond their words, actions and behaviors, chances are that you will see more than that.

We are all shaped differently by our environment, by the people we spend most of our time with, by our friends and families, and also by the education we received while growing up. But even though on the surface it might look as if we’re all very different, if we can look beyond the surface and if we can put ourselves in the shoes of those we feel the need to criticize, we might discover that all those differences that we first perceived are nothing but illusions, and that deep down inside we are all the same.

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