Everyone wants to be happy. But how do we take agency in that? How can we live life by our own rules and achieve happiness? Kristina Mand-Lakhiani joins host Rodney Flowers in a deep discussion on the true meaning of happiness. Kristina is a co-founder of Mind Valley, an international speaker, entrepreneur, and a mother of two kids. People are sometimes afraid to be happy, or perhaps they equate happiness to a definition of success that isn’t even their own. Kristina sheds some light on how you can take control of your happiness and talks about important questions you should be asking to fully understand.
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Happiness Mindset: Living Life On Your Own Terms With Kristina Mand-Lakhiani
I am excited about the show. How many of you are interested in being happy? Living a happy life. How about living life by your own rules? Sometimes it seems that resistance, opposition, the job or something is ruling our lives. It seems like we don’t have control, especially during the times that we’re going through right now. I have someone with me who’s going to talk about how we can be happy and how you can live by your own rules. I have Kristina Mand–Lakhiani in the studio with me. She is the Cofounder of Mindvalley. She has been in the personal transformation industry for over seventeen years. She’s an incredibly talented international speaker, serial entrepreneur, artist, philanthropist and a mother of two kids. She’s here to talk about happiness and how to live life on your terms. Without further ado, let’s welcome Kristina Mand–Lakhiani to the show. Welcome to the show, Kristina.
Thank you, Rodney.
How are you, Kristina? It’s great to have you on the show.
I’m excited about you and the conversation that we’re going to get into. Where are you now? I think you’re on the other side of the world at this point.
I am quite far away from you. I’m in Estonia. It’s a small European country in the North. It was minus twenty degree-Celsius here. I’m far North in Europe.
Minus anything degrees is cold to me, whether it’s Fahrenheit. It’s cold here. It’s not quite minus degrees but it’s cold. Anything below 32 degrees, it’s time to change the weather. It’s good to have you here and talk about being happy. I know this is something that you are passionate about, you’re an expert in this field. You’ve created Se7en Days to Happiness. Is this a journal? Is it a program? Tell us a little bit about what you have going on?
Thank you for being interested in this job of mine. I started my career as a speaker on the topic of happiness. I have been in the personal growth industry for seventeen years, but mostly on the side of business and marketing, helping other authors reach out to millions of people. Eventually, it rubs off you and you start coming up with your theories. I’ve learned from literally everyone in the personal growth industry. Eventually, I started coming up with my ways to live life the way it may have made sense for me.
I went on stage with a topic of happiness and I have a seven-step process to learn how to be happy, and then from there, it evolved. I talk more about authenticity nowadays but I’m happy to talk about happiness. When you said that I giggle a lot. It’s because I take fun very seriously. It’s been my motto for my life for as long as I remember. It’s a quote by Oscar Wilde who says, “Life is too important to be taken seriously.” My quest right now is to understand life in a much simpler way so that you get to enjoy it here and not wait for some elusive state of happiness somewhere far away in the future.
Let’s talk about how to do that because especially now, there are a lot of challenges and uncertainty that’s happening in the world. A lot of people are finding it difficult to find happiness. It seems like it will return to some type of challenge, opposition or difficulty. It’s one of those things where happiness, I don’t know if it’s at the forefront of people’s lists or minds at this point, is just trying to survive and get to the next day. How have you been able to make life simple? What are some of the things that you recommend in terms of making life simple?
My quest right now is to simplify my life.
You quite haven’t figured it out yet.
The thing with happiness is it’s easy to be happy when everything is perfect. The true master of happiness is when you can be happy not despite your problems, but with your problems. That’s exactly like the times now which tests your ability to be happy. Happiness is such an ambiguous term. A lot of people would say that it is not as important but if you look deep inside, truly all we want is to enjoy our lives on a daily basis. Whatever you call it, whether it’s happy, content and at peace. No matter what problems we have at the current moment, we all always want to enjoy the present moment and enjoy life, and be in that state of whatever you call it where you are okay, fine and you’re enjoying it at the moment.
With that said, the theory of happiness has to adjust to the circumstances to some degree. For the current circumstances, my favorite quote in happiness, and I don’t even know where it comes from but I’ve heard this idea and it’s brilliant. It says, “Happy are those people who aren’t on a detour but still can enjoy the landscape.” I heard it in 2020 and I thought it’s relevant because it feels like we are in some kind of detour because we are patiently waiting for things to get back to what they were or what they are supposed to be to something more normal. Are we capable of staying happy in this current moment despite the detour and enjoy the landscape?
In life, everything is much easier than it seems but because it’s easy, we sometimes overcomplicate and think that we have to think our way or analyze our way or solve our problems into happiness, but it doesn’t work like that. You either go with the flow or trust the process and let yourself experience that, and then it makes sense or you keep struggling. It’s a deep question you asked me. I can keep talking about it for an hour but I’d like it to be more of a question and answer than me going on to a rant.
I’m just waiting for you to finish. I agree with you, Kristina. We create a scenario in our heads what we feel will make us happy. Happiness is a state of mind. That’s where I’m going. Sometimes we take ourselves out of our own happiness by saying, “We’re thinking if it was this way or if it was that, then I would be happy or that would make me happy,” instead of embodying happiness. That’s a doable practice but we get distracted from that or detoured from that because we feel that we create a scenario in which we strive for what we feel will make us happy. If we don’t get that, then that’s our excuse to not be happy, “I’m not happy because it’s not that way.” It is a buyout because we don’t have it the way we want it, but if we can embody happiness, which may be a challenge. I would like for you to talk about how we do that, but if we could embody happiness, then we can live in a state of happiness every single day.
I know you didn’t ask me a question but I have to comment on what you were saying because it’s true. I have this way of putting it. You’re not happy because everything is perfect but everything becomes perfect just because you’re happy. There is a beautiful teacher of happiness, Srikumar Rao. He is one of my many teachers. There is this model of, “If this happens, then I’ll be happy.” Once you break this model, that’s when you start getting it. There are different ways of talking about happiness. We can talk practically about practices and exercises to learn and train ourselves to be a little happier, or we could talk about it philosophically and going deeper into the topic and just discussing the theory of it. We can go either way.The true master of happiness is when you can be happy not despite your problems but with your problems. Click To Tweet
I like the idea of getting rid of those if-then statements or scenarios. Social media and social pressure have created the illusion that this is what happiness looks like. We have this definition of what happiness is, and we try to live by that. It’s deceiving because you can wake up every day and decide that, “I’m going to be happy today.” I love the way you put it despite your challenges, shortcomings or whatever is potentially making you unhappy but with all those things. That’s when it comes down to a decision and a commitment. You’re deciding, “This is who I’m going to be, what I’m going to be, and how I’m going to feel,” and accepting that and living by that code.
The problem with happiness is the fact that it is such an ambiguous term. Scientists and researchers do have some ideas of what it is and how it’s being achieved because you can’t measure happiness. I understand that it is a subjective feeling but who cares? If you say you’re happy, that’s good enough for me. I’m happy for you then. The thing is that our idea of happiness is this absence of trouble, pain and discomfort. You said an interesting phrase, “You can’t wake up every day feeling happy.” That’s the trick, every day is not going to be the same beautiful as any beautiful day. I love this idea by Susan David. She’s a psychologist and TED speaker. She says, “Pain is the price of admission to a meaningful life.” It’s such a deep saying. I’ve been in personal growth for seventeen years so I know the pain. We have this idea that happiness is the absence of pain.
All the fairytales end up with, “Lived happily ever after.” When we are children, our parents do that to us. They want us to be happy. What do they do? They solve our problems. They create situations and environments where we might feel discomfort, but we are not supposed to feel bad feelings, pain, sadness, sorrow or anything like that. We grew up with a myth that this is a possible thing and it’s not going to happen. The trick of figuring happiness is to learn to be at peace with life the way it is. I’m not saying that you have to have no expectations, but can you be at peace with what life gives you and do the best out of that, and then still enjoy it while you’re on a detour.
This is a great segue to living by your own rules because society would say, “If you don’t have X, Y or Z, if you’re not doing X, Y, Z, and your family isn’t X, Y, Z or whatever it is, then you’re not supposed to be happy.” When you’re living by your own rules, the rule is, “This is the rule. I’m going to be happy regardless. It is the rule that I’m going to set for myself. No matter what, I’m going to be happy or I’m going to feel joy. I’m going to smile, feel confident, feel like I’m winning like a champion, and feel like I’m a success. I’m going to be successful. I am successful where I am here today.” Those are rules that you can live by.
This is what’s important. This is how we win and change the game. We can establish the standards by which we decide, “This is what I’m going to feel today. This is who I’m going to be today. This is how I’m going to show up today.” I have a saying about living from in here instead of living from out there, because when you live from out there, everything out there in the environment, outside of your heart, in your space and your environment, those are the things in society. That’s what’s dictating.
When you’re living from that news and social media, and all the things that are happening out there, it dictates who you are, how you show up, how you think and feel. I don’t think it’s a great place to be. You’re living from in here. It’s the things that are in your heart, things that matter most and you’re emotionally connected to that bring you joy, happiness and bliss. Also, make you feel strong and worthy, and is aligned with your contribution and the gifts that you have. There’s a spiritual connection there.
When those things are driving you and you’re living by those standards, then I feel like that’s when you truly live by your own rules. You can’t help but be happy in my opinion. You’re going to have some days better than others and that’s expected. It’s no different from the sign going up and going down, and the tide going in and going out. You have to accept the rhythm of life. There’s a rhythm of life. There’s a drumbeat to life. There’s good and there’s bad. It’s like both sides of the coin. There are the heads and the tails.
You can learn to accept the rhythm of life and realize that just because it’s dark, doesn’t mean I have to be sad. Just because it’s raining, doesn’t mean I don’t have to be unhappy. Just because it’s not working out the way I want it to right now, doesn’t mean that I can’t be emotionally joyful. It’s just this is the beat for the day. I’m happy even with that. Realizing that I’m alive and I get to enjoy this even though I may not like it that much. It’s not my preferred sound but still, I get to hear it. That is something to be grateful for. How do you know what you like if you can’t distinguish between what you don’t like? There’s something to be said about days that aren’t as joyful as you will want them to be. There’s still a lot to be grateful for in those times.
You touch upon a lot of deep concepts and ideas. One thing I wanted to share based on what you were saying is that one more reason why we misunderstand happiness is that our society tells us that success equals happiness. If you take any society, we live in slightly different societies, but every society has a certain scenario for success. I was born in the Soviet Union and that society doesn’t exist, but I still remember the scenario of that society. You have to study well, get a good degree, get a good job, have a family and all of that. That’s an interesting thing because we are told from childhood to be successful, and then you’ll be happy. Why do you have to study well? That will make you successful and you’ll be happy.
We equate society’s definition of success with happiness. That’s why social media is damaging because social media dictates the idea of success universally very strictly. Even any idea. It’s not just success. It’s what’s healthy, what’s happy, what’s correct and what’s a good person nowadays. There is no room for deviation and your own definition. Once somebody asked me, “How can I be successful and happy?” As I was answering this question, I suddenly realized I said it because it happened so that my inclination was close to what society considered a success.
For me, it was easy to do things that were bringing me success and still feel content, but it is some portion of humankind who feels this way. There are women who don’t want to have families and society will forever consider them broken in some way. There are men who are not after money, who may be into some other expression of themselves, and they will be considered unsuccessful. There are many examples. The moment when you detach the idea that success and your happiness are the same, you get a little chance at becoming happy, because if you don’t detach that you will be following society’s definition of success by default, just because we all want to be good people.
It is an illusion because if we say success equals happiness, then we bypass all the things that we can be happy for because of right now. We put happiness out some time far in the future. We make it inaccessible for us.
It’s because it’s the prize.
There you go, we make it a prize, and thereby depriving ourselves of something that we can have in a moment. It’s thought-provoking because with these times that we’re experiencing, many people are committing suicide or giving up on life. They’re feeling like there’s nothing to live for because of the things that are happening in the world, and it’s nothing new. We’ve had those types of situations before where people will take their lives. It’s more recognized now as a result of what we’re going through. It’s sad that as human beings, we sometimes can’t find the happiness in stillness or in the present moment, the happiness in today regardless of what’s going on, just to be alive, to wake up and breathe.
One of my mentors, within his talks, give people action items that they can take to do the tips that he gave in his talk. At the end of the talk, he would say, “What’s the first thing we’re going to do in the morning? We’re going to wake up. Raise your hand if you’re going to wake up tomorrow.” People would raise their hands and he would look at them and say, “I hope so because waking up is not a guarantee.” Waking up is something to be happy about. You have another opportunity. You have new mercies. That in itself if you are alive and you get to experience it. I always tell people, “Life can be hard, difficult, challenging and painful, but then you get to experience and do that.” What’s the alternative? It could be happiness or not experiencing that pain. It could be not only experiencing the pain like you’re not even experiencing life.
It’s interesting. I’m not a psychologist or psychotherapist. The pieces of deep depression are something I wouldn’t dare to comment on. I love the saying and I’m paraphrasing Viktor Frankl who talks about suffering and pain a lot. He has this beautiful idea that suffering ceases to be suffering once it finds meaning. He’s the guy who promoted the idea that you have to find meaning in your life, whatever that meaning is, and that will help you to go through anything.
Another related idea is that pain is inevitable but suffering is a choice. That brings me to another thing that you mentioned and I wanted to comment on that, it just skipped my mind. The same Susan David that I was talking about, she has another beautiful idea. She says, “Stop judging your emotions.” The idea is that once you do that, it opens up a whole lot of opportunities for you because we’re used to saying, “This is good, bad, positive, negative, dark and light.” Anything that happens to us, we have certain expectations of certain emotions and we judge our own emotions.You’re not happy because everything is perfect, but everything is perfect just because you’re happy. Click To Tweet
What she suggests is don’t judge emotions because emotions are given to us the same way as physical pain is given to our body. There is a medical condition where people don’t feel physical pain, and their bodies deteriorate. They die earlier because they are not capable of paying attention to the areas of their body that require healing or whatever attention that they require. It’s the same thing with emotions, they’re given to us for us to pay attention to certain areas of our life.
Psychologists will tell you that you cannot numb emotion selectively. If you’re numbing any kind of unpleasant painful emotions, you are going to numb pleasurable emotions and joyful emotions in the same way. It’s what you were saying, we are here, be grateful that you get to feel and experience, that you’re not dead before you’re dead, and you’re not an emotional zombie. I’ve been in personal growth for years, I know this ideal perfectionist picture of some kind of Zen Buddhist in a state of almost feeling nothing except joy.
The truth is that we human beings came on Earth for a reason, and that reason feels in different ways. It’s like when you come out of the gym, I’ve had an intense gym week and every single muscle in my body has been hurting for days. It’s physical pain but I enjoy it because it reminds me that I’m alive and that my muscles have done the work. If we reframe our idea of painful emotions, stop being negative towards them, and try to fight and eliminate them, they stop being painful. That’s an interesting thing. Resistance is painful. Once you stop resisting, it stops being painful and it flows through. You touched on a lot of very interesting things. This time is exactly the beautiful time to put to practice everything you know about happiness. With all your problems at hand, can you sit down and enjoy the moment? You are here. You’re alive and there are prospects in the future.
I love what you said about practising happiness. That’s something that we’re not good at doing. We don’t know how to practice or we don’t practice. When it’s time to put happiness into play because we haven’t practiced, it’s very hard to execute it. Physical pain, challenge, resistance and opposition, all that is natural parts of life. It’s not something we should try to avoid. It’s something that we should happily go through because as we go through it, there’s something positive and purposeful that happens. We all know when you squeeze your orange, you get the juice. That’s how I think about those things.
Whenever you’re under some type of pressure or challenge, it is developing. You have to recover from those things. It’s not something you keep constant pressure and resistance upon yourself because it is uncomfortable. It is a time to step back from that and recover but that’s the process. I believe that in life, you own this field of adversity. I’ve said it many times and that’s how I look at life. Life is a beautiful landscape that we’re in but yet within that beautiful landscape, there are bumps, bruises, opposition and resistance. They exist as well. How we maneuver around them or overcome them, how we play this game dictates how far we go, how happy we are and how we contribute. All of those things are dictated based on how we play the game. You talked about practicing happiness and how important it is to practice that. When you need it to show up, it’s not something you got to go figure out because you’ve been practicing it all along.
Going back to this landscape that I’m talking about, understanding that opposition and resistance is part of the landscape of life or the field that we’re playing gives you a different perception about it. It’s not something that’s coming up to hinder you or stop you or make life difficult for you. It’s a necessary thing that shows up in life. It’s a part of life. You can’t experience life without experiencing challenge, opposition, difficulty and sometimes pain. It is part of it. It’s like the Law of Polarity which says, “For every front, there’s back. For every up, there’s a down.” It’s balanced. You can’t live life unbalanced. That is the equalizer to life.
We have that perception and realizing that it’s not something that’s trying to take you out or hinder you. Your approach towards it can be different. It’s our approach and our thought process about the things that show up in our life that seems to make life difficult. That’s where it leads to feeling unhappy or feeling some type of strain or stress. It is the thought process that we have about it and towards it. If we can switch that around and change our mindset towards it and think a more positive thought about what it is, our approach will be different. The feeling about that is the feeling that’s controlling everything. It’s not the opposition or the resistance itself. It’s the feeling about it. That’s what’s driving our behavior and how we feel.
To add to what you were saying. First, the biggest problem with us in happiness is our perfectionism. You were beautifully saying scratches, dents and everything but that’s exactly what makes us beautiful. If we think that this makes us faulty and makes us broken, that is such a big problem because we have this perfect picture of what my perfect life is. What does it mean to be perfect for me? When we don’t correspond to that perfect picture, that’s when we start feeling unhappy.
I have another theory that I would want to share to add to what you were saying. People say that what doesn’t break you makes you stronger. It’s not necessarily true because if that was always the case, then a lot of people around us would be incredibly strong, evolved, beautiful, kind and loving individuals. Unfortunately, whatever doesn’t kill you puts you in a position where you can either become stronger, transform, become better and you can grow, or you can become traumatized. You can become a little less you, a little more guarded and less alive. Which way is it going to be will depend on your context, practices and skills. The interesting thing is that unfortunately, society still hasn’t built a school that gives you the context to deal with life’s experiences.
On the other hand, you were talking about mindset. The thing with mindset is that you can’t logically get it, you have to feel it because there is knowledge. Knowledge is like a book on a shelf. It’s good that you have it but unless you take out the book, read and experience it, the book is not going to change anything about your life. A simple example on the same topic. Everybody knows the idea that happiness is in your hands, but that idea is an empty idea unless you experienced that.
My own story. Being in this field, I know the idea that happiness is in your hands. You create it and it doesn’t depend on anyone. My son had to go through an unexpected surgery. It was an appendectomy so we didn’t expect it in the morning. In the afternoon, I took him from school, then two hours later I was in the waiting room waiting for the surgery to go through. It was a long and agonizing wait. No matter what I would have told myself, “Happiness is in my hands,” I could chant that for two hours, it wouldn’t have made my waiting any easier or better because this is knowledge. This is an empty idea that has not taken root in my body. Thank God, the surgery went well and everything was okay.
A year later, I was in a car and some popular song came up on the radio. There were these lyrics on the song, “Everything is going to be okay.” At that moment, I felt in my body that I was eighteen again, before I had children, responsibilities and worries for people that I love, and everything seems much easier. I suddenly felt like that eighteen-year-old girl. I suddenly realized that as long as I have me, I’m going to be happy and okay at some point in life. That idea that happiness is in my hands moved from my consciousness, from my understanding mentally into my cellular level. I felt it in my body. That’s when my mindset changed.
Knowledge, ideas and information are good, but they will only change your life if they become from knowledge, a mindset and a different look on life. That happens through experience. You have to have experience. Some experiences are good and some are bad, and if we don’t judge them at all, some experiences are cool, not cool, boring and draggy, exciting, painful and pleasurable. There are all sorts of experiences in our life. All of them have the potential to give you a transformation. Transformation is when you see the world differently. The question is in your context. I am circling back to this idea, whatever doesn’t break you makes you stronger. I’ll rephrase it. Every single experience in your life, whether painful or pleasurable, has a potential for transformation if you have the context for that.
The question is for people that may be going through some type of experience right now, how do we develop the context for that? They’re not teaching you how to develop that type of context in schools. In your opinion, how can I best prepare myself to receive or experience a positive transformation through the difficult experiences that I may encounter in life?
It’s a simple question but it’s not a simple answer. There is one practice which I would strongly recommend but you also need ideas. Reading and learning from people is a good background for that practice. We all read a lot of books and hear a lot of ideas, but which one is going to be used in this? Every single moment is unpredictable. Mark Twain said, “I had 100 problems in my life, and 99 of them never happened.” In personal growth, we love to prepare for problems in the future that never happens.
The only practice that is crucially important for you in life is the practice of introspection. You have to have awareness. Awareness is a habit that helps you to go through life, not on autopilot but get the juice out of that. When you are aware, you know that this is the moment when I need to apply introspection and try to create a context that is going to make sense out of this experience. I’ll get out of it better and not worse. It’s a simple thing. You could learn how to deal with adversity because unfortunately, nobody teaches us.
Our parents create this environment for us as children where we don’t get to feel pain. We grow up with the myth about happiness that its absence of pain, and second, with lack of skills to deal with pain. Knowing how to deal with painful emotions is a useful skill for life in any context. I’ve mentioned Susan David a few times because she’s good at that particular topic. She has a book on Emotional Agility. I don’t want to go into psychology but she’ll give you all the tools you need for that.Resistance is painful. Once you stop resisting, it stops being painful and flows through. Click To Tweet
When it comes to introspection, a simple way to practice this is in the evening before you go to bed if you have a moment like 10 minutes, 15 minutes to do the practice. You sit down and you think of the most emotionally charged moments of the day. I say emotionally charged because I don’t want you to judge them good, bad, painful and pleasant. Any emotionally charged moment of the day. Something which made your heart open or something which makes you cringe. Think of those moments and ask yourself a simple question, “What does this moment mean about me? What does it reveal about me and my values?” Every single moment will reveal something about you and your values.
At that moment, it’s like physical pain. If you have a splinter somewhere, it’s painful but when you move it out, your body gets the chance to heal. The same way with everything in your life. You have an emotionally charged moment. I want you to understand that painful and positive emotional moments have to be let go of. Even huge joy has to be let go. You can’t cling to big happiness in the past. It’s as bad as clinging to a big pain in the past.
That practice of introspection allows you to let emotions go because it’s like a splinter, you take it out and your body gets the chance to heal. Your life gets a chance to heal. To be more practical, let’s say you have an argument with someone. You explode and say something unpleasant to a person. It’s an emotionally charged moment. It’s something that you can beat yourself up for and feel shame for and become a little less happy and less satisfied with yourself.
What does that experience tell you about yourself? Maybe it reveals certain values or you lashed out because something is important for you and that important value wasn’t on it. Maybe you haven’t drawn a boundary. Believe me, we are all essentially good people. In almost any experience, if you ask yourself, what does it say about you? What kind of values does it highlight? Apart from you letting go of that emotional charge, you will learn to love yourself despite whatever you do in your life.
I want to bring up the fact that you talk about letting positive and negative feelings go, which is by definition, emotion, energy in motion, and how dangerous it is to hold on to any of those emotions because that’s where we get stuck. We try to create a scenario on a feeling that exists or has existed in the past. We’re trying to create a present-day scenario for energy that has gone. It was there for a moment, this energy, this feeling, you were feeling it, and it was good for that particular time. It felt good to us or bad that we haven’t let it go. We haven’t forgotten about it. We try to create a present-day scenario for that emotion and it doesn’t work. It causes so much disconnect, discontent and discomfort.
Feelings are supposed to move. They’re not supposed to stay. It’s something that you experience. When you hold on to these things, there’s a flow with feelings like the ocean. It moves and there’s a flow to it. When we get stuck and hold on to those emotions, we disrupt the flow. Whether good or bad, you can prevent yourself from feeling some other emotion or some other feeling because you’re still holding on to a feeling that you had.
It’s like money. Some people are tight with money and there’s a fear that if I let this money go, I won’t get any. That can lead to not having money because you’re afraid you disrupt the flow. You’re attached to the money you have that you can’t see the money that you make and have in the future. This is disrupting the money that you could have in the future, even in the present day because you’re holding on to this thing and disrupting the flow like a hose pipe with a kink. I wanted to bring that up because that was important. Kristina, how does identity play in what you are describing to us regarding being happy and dealing with challenges and obstacles? What’s the role of identity? What practices do you have for us relative to how we manipulate, shape or deal with our own identity?
I’ll tell a story. A friend of mine asked her date. They were having a first date. She said, “What does it mean to be happy?” The guy said, “Happy is when you don’t have to lie to anyone, even to yourself.” This is an interesting idea. You can be happy only when you’re at peace with yourself. It’s crazy but everything in life comes back to your relationship with yourself. The more I live and learn, the more I come back to the same formula. If you want to learn to love people, learn to love yourself. You cannot love anyone unless you have learned what it means to love yourself. You want to be kind to people, can you be kind to yourself? You want to be tolerant and understanding, do you tolerate and understand yourself?
This relationship with yourself is such an interesting topic because we are uptight and critical of ourselves. I made a post where I said that there is no such thing as toxic love and too much love. All the toxicity comes from the lack of love. I got criticized heavily and told that self-criticism is a good thing. I don’t want to go into that, it’s a very deep thing. I’ll quote a wise person, the Dalai Lama. I had a chance to ask him that question because on one side we were building Mindvalley, and parallel to that I was working with refugees in Asia so I saw a lot of suffering and misery.
Mindvalley is a company that tries to help people to live more meaningful, fulfilled, happy and extraordinary lives. I said to them, “I don’t know how I can marry these two worlds in my brain.” He said a simple thing, “Kristina, you cannot help anyone if you’re not happy.” That’s a very profound thing. Something which we deny ourselves in the Western world so much. I particularly was brought up in the Soviet Union on nineteenth-century Russian literature. It’s all about martyrdom. I get our fascination with giving your life for something bigger than you, but the thing is that it’s romanticism.
In reality, we sacrifice our happiness, not for big ideals, political stance, democracy or whatever. Some of us do but mostly, we sacrifice our happiness not to rock the boat and upset someone in our life because you think that by sacrificing your happiness, your loved ones are going to be happy. That’s the interesting thing. It comes back still to that same relationship with yourself. Can you figure out your relationship with yourself? Do you have the commitment to be honest with yourself because it’s scary, and stay true to yourself no matter what your truth is about?
If your happiness is not what society or your loved ones think of success, do you still have the fortitude to see, “That’s what makes me me? We think that sacrificing our happiness for our loved ones is something good. I went through a divorce and many people told us that, “You’re hurting your kids.” The truth is that the most important thing is if I’m happy, it’s not about everybody else. Everybody else can figure it out. Their reaction to what I’m doing to my life is about them and not about me.
There is some type of game that we’re after by doing epic. We feel that if I sacrifice my happiness, then I’m doing some good deed. What’s the game? Why do you think we do it?
It’s not the case for everyone but it’s one common case of why people are. There are other reasons why people are not honest with themselves, and why they sacrifice their own happiness is because they don’t trust themselves. Sometimes we wouldn’t change the job or we wouldn’t choose. Let’s say, “I want to be an artist, but my mom or dad wants me to be a doctor because this is a better paying job.” That’s a case where we sacrifice our happiness because we think that we are doing better for someone else. For our hypothetical future family and children and whatnot, we don’t separate from relationships because we sacrifice our happiness because we don’t want to hurt a loved person.
There is another scenario where we sacrifice our happiness because we don’t trust our judgment or because we don’t want to be bothered with going onto that path. It’s much easier to take the rulebook. People love scenarios. I remember I was getting an interview here on the radio and they said, “What’s my recipe for happiness?” I was like, “It’s not easy.” The thing that we want are 1, 2, 3, do’s and don’ts, and then ten things to do to be successful in business. It doesn’t work like that because life is full of contradictions. Sometimes it’s day and sometimes it’s night, and both are necessary. Sometimes it’s warm and sometimes it’s cold. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s good with the minus.
I am a huge proponent of going with the flow because another problem of contemporary society is fascination with hustle. We put ourselves like those hamsters in a wheel and we create more resistance because we believe that we have to earn success with blood and sweat. If it comes easy, then it’s wrong, I’m an impostor and it’s not going to last. People need to chill and learn to relax and trust the flow, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t see that sometimes you have to work. It’s Saturday night, my friends are waiting for me to go out and drink. I am okay working right now but it doesn’t mean that I’m going to be working 24/7 until I die and burn out. That’s my point. Sometimes you have to work and sometimes you have to rest. There is no hard and fast rule of when is what. There are no recipes in life. You have to figure it out. The beauty of life is that you have to figure it out depending on your circumstances.Every single experience in your life, whether painful or pleasurable, has a potential for transformation. Click To Tweet
I want to add to that. We are creative beings. The figuring it out, that’s what we were put on Earth to do. As we create and figure things out, we produce and contribute. We give ourselves back to life. The fact that there’s no recipe gives us that blank canvas that we get to create for ourselves. The step-by-step way to go has no benefit to you because you don’t get to exercise the creative side of yourself. It becomes more robotic. That’s why we have imagination.
It’s beautiful. I brought up identity because of this fact. We are creative beings, we have imagination, and we can think our way into success. I know that’s a different topic. That’s a show in and of itself. I use the football analogies a lot because there are plays that are designed for the offense to run, “This is the way this play is supposed to go, you’re supposed to run this way, and people are going to block and you’re going to have a clear path to go.” When the ball is snapped, things happen within seconds, and it just doesn’t work out that we put the best running backs. The ones that are most successful teams have a way of figuring it out and creating a play. We call those people, the playmakers. Why? Because even though things can break down, their creative nature and skillset within the game allow them to create plays.
The beauty of it is in life we have this resistance and opposition which allows us to practice our creativity. If we didn’t have those things, if we didn’t have resistance, whenever we thought something worked out that way, we would never exercise our imagination. We would never be challenged. We would never have to go deep and discover our true power and capability of figuring things out. If you look at some of the things that have been created from the challenge, you didn’t study that there would be astonishing people that were in serious opposition. A challenge in something beautiful came out of it because they were able to think their way through it. They were able to figure it out.
Another reason why I’m grateful for the challenges and oppositions that show up is because it gives us that opportunity to exercise or practice that nature and that characteristic of ourselves that we have been given at birth. We didn’t even ask for it. It’s a gift that we have. Back to identity, we fail at times to realize who we are in the face of opposition and what we have and our capabilities and ability to overcome and create. That’s why identity is important. If I’m a player on the field, I’ve got to know what I’m good at. If I know what I’m good at, then when that opposition comes, I know how I can maneuver. I know things that I start thinking of ways I can use what I have to overcome.
You have to trust yourself. You’re not taught that. At least where I come from, we were told that if you love yourself too much, you’re going to be complacent. We have another cool person in Mindvalley, Marisa Peer. She’s a hypnotherapist and she teaches self-love. One of our guys asked her the question, he said, “If I think that I’m enough, am I not going to be lying in bed just thinking I’m good enough. I don’t need to do anything?” She said, “The ironic thing is that you are lying in bed and not doing anything because you don’t think you’re enough. You’re afraid to go out and expose yourself.” Do you have enough love for yourself to go and challenge yourself and trust?
Kristina, how can people connect with you if they wanted to learn more about you?
Through Mindvalley, I’m a Cofounder although not as visible as a vision but a rising star. I have my own Instagram account where I express my everyday life philosophy on a regular basis.
What is your Instagram?
Thank you for coming to the show. This has been a wonderful conversation with you. It’s been a pleasure to meet you and experience you. I’m grateful to have you, hear and take in your philosophies and ways of being.
Thank you so much. It was such a pleasure to talk to you. It was a little unusual because you’re taking things deeply. Thank you so much for that.
Here, I don’t believe in playing on the surface. If you’re going to get into this game, get all the way and commit. That’s something to be said. Sometimes we want to put our toes in the water, maybe our legs. We don’t want to submerge ourselves into who we are and what we’re capable of. It goes back to trusting ourselves. I don’t want to go too far. I believe in going all the way. Submerge yourself into it. That’s when you can get your best work in my opinion. Before we end the show we always like to ask our guests. You’ve given us a lot, but if there’s one thing you can leave with us that would help us overcome adversity, dominate our challenges, and consistently win at the game of life, what would that be?
I want to repeat what the Dalai Lama told me, just be happy. The thing is that it’s your choice. Do you even allow yourself to become happy now and not hold it off as a grand prize at the end of your life? Remember that the best service you can do to the world is by figuring out your relationship with yourself. Can you love yourself and be happy? Learn that and that will change a lot of things in your life.
Kristina Lakhiani on the show. Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure.
There you have it. Another successful episode. There are very interesting questions here. I love what Kristina said about going back and evaluating yourself, doing some introspection of yourself, and taking the time to look at that and ask yourself, are you loving yourself? Are you understanding yourself? The best way that you can serve the world is to understand who you are, to love yourself, and to be in tune with who you are and what you have to give. That takes some time. There’s not a class that teaches that. You don’t find many people recommending you go back and you look at you. One of the most difficult things to do sometimes is to look at yourself in the mirror and take a deep look at how you’re treating and how you understand yourself. It’s necessary. If we want to be happy and if we want to live by our own rules, are we being honest with ourselves? Are we trusting ourselves? Do we know ourselves enough to answer those questions? That’s something to think about. That could be potentially game-changing. Until next time, peace and love.
- Se7en Days to Happiness
- Srikumar Rao
- Susan David
- Emotional Agility
- Marisa Peer
- @KristinaMand – Instagram
About Kristina Mand Lakhiani
A serial entrepreneur, speaker, mother, philanthropist, everyday-life philosopher, and a woman on her own journey of spiritual growth.
Also the co-founder of Mindvalley, a global school that delivers transformational education for all ages.
She started her career working for the government of Estonia, where she was born and raised, before she joined the non-profit sector and worked for organizations such as the United Nations, Oxfam, and AIESEC. In 2003, she co-founded Mindvalley — a global school that delivers transformational education for all ages. In 2009, she launched Mindvalley Russian, taking Mindvalley’s best authors and teachings to the Russian-speaking market.
She is also the author of Live By Your Own Rules, a 30-day optimal learning quest designed for transformation to help you identify, understand, and accept all the dimensions of your authentic self so that you can live an extraordinary life and make happiness a regular practice.