What will people think? No one is allowed to know about the narcissistic family's problems or the dysfunctional dynamics of its relationships. Children are admonished not to share the secrets existing behind the four walls. They are to always pretend that everything is fine. An idealized perfect family image is everything to the narcissist. Narcissistic parents will insist that nothing is wrong with the family and that the children show a perfect face to the world. My Life, Close Encounter Five Because our search is never for a thing, but for the feeling we think the thing will give us. We all know this already: We see wealthy and/or famous people who seem to have it all, but who have bad relationships or suffer from depression, and it's obvious that success didn't bring them happiness. The same is true for those of us who aren't rich and famous. We quickly tire of our smartphones and want the next model. We receive a bonus, but the initial excitement fades surprisingly fast when our lives don't really improve. We think that a new phone or a bigger house will make us feel somehow better--cooler or more satisfied--but instead find ourselves wanting more. Material gratification is external, but happiness is internal. When monks talk about happiness, they tell the story of the musk deer, a tale derived from a poem by Kabir, a fifteenth-century Indian mystic and poet. The musk deer picks up an irresistible scent in the forest and chases it, searching for the source, not realizing that the scent comes from its own pores. It spends its whole life wandering fruitlessly. When we are stressed, we are using an industrial, assembly-line type of thinking, instead of creative, out-of-the-box thinking. As we've touched on in previous articles, that assembly-line mindset is counterproductive to creativity. According to Sulack, cultivating gratefulness as a habit can change that type of thinking.
To be creative and get beyond those compensatory behaviors and try new ones, we must address the stress response, he says. Gratitude is one powerful way to do that. When you are grateful, your stress is reduced and you experience positive emotions. These in turn help you remember peripheral details more vividly, think outside the box, and recognize common themes among random or unassociated ideas. All of this adds up to a more creative response. A grateful attitude doesn't happen overnight. We can't just tell ourselves to look on the bright side. Only you can say which. For any choice you make or anything you set your mind to achieve or experience, there are consequences you must experience. Look at your desires and ask yourself why you want the things you do. Listen to the answers, for they will reveal a lot about why you've devoted so much of your life to chasing after the things you have. Keep the fire of desire burning inside you. It will change your life. Having the right desire will change it for the best. YOUR ENVIRONMENT IMPACTS YOUR REALITY Our life is what our thoughts make of it. Each environment you experience carries its own set of thoughts, feelings, beliefs and values. To the outside world, my family looked like the picture perfect, happy family, perhaps even enviable. We often had visitors on Sundays. In those days, nothing was open on a Sunday, so that was when families took drives or visited other family members or friends.
Our family of five was notorious for gathering around the piano and singing songs to entertain our guests. No one could have imagined the chaos and hostility to which my mother subjected us in the hours before company came and after they left. My mother's behavior was typical of narcissistic personality disordered parents. They are typically cold, cruel, and distant to their families when no one from the outside is looking. When others are around, they put their perfect family on display. Everyone is expected to perform to the parent's standards. The entire family revolves around the narcissistic parent and his needs, whims, and desires. In the same way we search for happiness, finding it elusive, when it can be found within us. Happiness and fulfillment come only from mastering the mind and connecting with the soul--not from objects or attainments. Success doesn't guarantee happiness, and happiness doesn't require success. They can feed each other, and we can have them at the same time, but they are not intertwined. After analyzing a Gallup survey on well-being, Princeton University researchers officially concluded that money does not buy happiness after basic needs and then some are fulfilled. While having more money contributes to overall life satisfaction, that impact levels off at a salary of around $75,000. In other words, when it comes to the impact of money on how you view the quality of your life, a middle-class American citizen fares about as well as Jeff Bezos. Success is earning money, being respected in your work, executing projects smoothly, receiving accolades. Happiness is feeling good about yourself, having close relationships, making the world a better place. More than ever, popular culture celebrates the pursuit of success. It's a process we need to practice and develop as a habit, training our mind to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. One way to do that is to reflect on a time in your life when you faced adversity and then consider good things that happened because of it. My husband did this naturally after his cancer.
After suffering through six months of grueling treatment, he'd often take my hand in his and remark, If it took cancer to get this kind of relationship, then I'm glad for the cancer. I can look back and see how losing three important people in my life in the space of three years changed me in positive ways. I'm more empathetic, open, and eager to help others. I became a certified grief counselor and founded an annual grief retreat because of my loss, not in spite of it. I have intimately seen how God can bring good from bad. When times are tough, you can always be grateful for the push adversity gives you to learn and grow, Sulack explains. While it is easy to take the path of least resistance, griping and complaining about your situation, true leaders know that pain is part of life, but suffering is optional. Whether it be your job, home, gym, school, social gatherings or anything else, each can trigger things inside that cause you to think only in the certain ways you'd think when you're in that environment. You think, act, believe, perform and see yourself as different kind of person whenever you're around certain kinds of people and in certain kinds of environments. Think back to various environments you've been in or are currently in and you'll see this is true. The important thing to always remember is that the environment is neutral and causes you to do nothing that you haven't allowed yourself to think and accept. It all begins with your perception of whatever it is you're experiencing. You can change how your environment affects you by changing your thoughts towards it and how you perceive it. Choose a new set of beliefs and attitudes that will empower you instead of taking your power away and causing you to feel unhappiness. Create the reality you want by seeing and feeling yourself in the environment you choose. WE REMEMBER MOST THOSE WHO WERE HARDEST ON US I love you for what you are, but I love you more for what you are going to be. Children are not permitted to have their own feelings or needs, or question those of the parent. There are few if any boundaries, physical or emotional, in the narcissistic family. Narcissistic parents believe they own the rights to their children's lives.
They feel entitled to know and comment on everything their children think and do, no matter how old they get. Until clear boundaries are established, adult children will forever be subject to this violating invasion of privacy. My Life, Close Encounter Six My parents hated closed bedroom doors, resented the feeling of being shutout. They wanted full access to their children all the time. We could never create a physical barrier to escape from the madness of our home life without the risk of further angering our parents. There were exceptions to the closed-door rule that only took effect when mandated by our parents. TV shows aimed at adolescents focus more on image, money, and fame than in the past. Popular songs and articles use language promoting individual achievement over community connection, group membership, and self-acceptance. It's no surprise that happiness rates have consistently declined among Americans adults since the 1970s. And it doesn't just boil down to income. In an interview with the Washington Post, Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development and an editor of World Happiness Report, points out: While the average income of people around the world definitely affects their sense of well-being, it doesn't explain all that much, because other factors, both personal and social, are very important determinants of well-being. Sachs says that while generally American incomes have risen since 2005, our happiness has fallen, in part because of social factors like declining trust in the government and our fellow Americans, and weaker social networks. Duty and Love If fear limits us and success doesn't satisfy us, then you've probably already guessed that duty and love have more to offer. We all have different goals, but we all want the same things: a life full of joy and meaning. Monks don't seek out the joy part--we aren't looking for happiness or pleasure. Choose gratitude. Choose joy. This will make you more creative and innovative--and ultimately more successful in any endeavor.