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The Key to a Happier Life

I learned one of the most important lessons about being happy from this lady I used to work with.

She was actually grumpy most of the time. And she explained to me that she was only happy when the weather was between 68 degrees and 72 degrees. If it was under 68, it was too cold. Over 72, too hot.

Because we live in Oregon, the temperature is only within that window for about 20% of the time. That means that she was unhappy for 80% of the year.

I think this is a great metaphor for how our openness towards life determines how happy we are. If our window is really narrow, in other words, if we don’t have a lot of tolerance for things we don’t like, chances are that we’re going to be unhappy most of the time because there are so many factors that we don’t control, right?

So if we expand that window, if we build more tolerance to the things that we don’t like, then we’re more likely to be happy most of the time.

Buddhists have a word to describe this quality of being open to how life is: equanimity. Equanimity doesn’t mean that we don’t have preferences. We might prefer one food over another, or hot weather over cold weather. But it means that we’re open to what life brings us, to how life unfolds itself. It means that we accept that we don’t control every aspect of life and that our happiness comes from within, and it’s not derived from external factors.

Here’s my challenge for you: find something in your life that it’s outside your control and has been frustrating you, and find a way to be okay with that.

As we free ourselves up from this need we have to control everything, the happier we are. So I encourage you to find one thing and to find a way to be okay with that.