The author Billy Mills wrote about the eight lies of Iktumi in his book, Wokini. Iktumi, in the Lakota tradition is figure who is a liar or trickster. The eight lies of Iktumi prevent happiness and can even ruin a person’s life. I’m sure we’ve all fallen victim to these invitations to self-deception. We cannot change the past, but we can change how we look at the present.
1. If only I were rich, then I would be happy.
2. If only I were famous, then I would be happy.
3. If only I could find the right person to marry, then I would be happy.
4. If only I had more friends, then I would be happy.
5. If only I were more attractive, then I would be happy.
6. If only I weren’t physically handicapped in any way, then I would be happy.
7. If only someone close to me hadn’t died, then I could be happy.
8. If only the world were a better place, then I would be happy.
How could you change your thoughts so that you are not falling victim to the illusion? It’s very easy to find things to be angry and frustrated about. There are days when I feel like I hear and see 2% positive and inspiring conversation, and 98% complaining and negative conversation. One look at your social media stream and it’s probably full of complaining and snarky comments. It’s no wonder with this type of attitude prevalent in our society that we also have the largest rate of anti-depressant use in the world and that the majority of the people I know use alcohol or other stimulants to “have a good time”. Our society is focused on the shallow and material, and largely condemns that which has substance. (We are a capitalistic, so this is not a shocker.) I personally have lived many, many dark years where I went day to day angry, resentful, depressed, and in a lot of emotional pain because I believed in the illusions that were being sold to me by everyone around me. I thought that happiness was a place I’d arrive to one day when I’d healed from the scars of my life, found someone to share it with, and/or had reached a point where I didn’t have to be so budget conscious that I stressed over every dollar spent. I finally hit a point where I was just plain tired of it all and realized that happiness is a choice. We can choose to be stressed out over the events of our lives or the lack that we see, or we can choose to be happy about all of the wonderful positive things that we have. It can be a very hard battle and it requires a daily commitment and there are days when you’ll fail, but you have to get back up and keep trying. I’m not saying that you stop trying and cast all ambition aside, but instead to not let whatever it is you desire be the only path to happiness.