People are wonderfully, frustratingly, mysteriously complex. Over millions of years, we have evolved to do pretty much anything to survive – and, one of our stranger powers is the power of deceit.

What I find fascinating about our ability to lie, is that it isn’t limited to other people. It’s easy to understand why people lie to others. It’s less clear why we lie to ourselves. But, this is exactly what we do. We rationalize our poor food choices. We justify our selfish actions with pretty words. We blame others for the things that we are also guilty of. Tragically, on some level, we know that these mental processes make us unhappy, but, we feel powerless to change.

Part of the problem is that people didn’t evolve to be happy; they evolved to survive. This has major implications for life in the modern world.

 
 

Since people don’t take the time to study and understand their own thoughts and emotions, they are at the mercy of their own self-deceit.

This is especially true as we get a little older. Like rivers running through a mountain valley, our prejudices, rationalizations and stereotypes turn into unquestionable assumptions. Changing them requires conscious effort.

Simply put, if you want to achieve true happiness at any age, learn to understand yourself. Learn to analyze your own behaviors as an outsider might. Ask yourself, “Why did I do that if I knew that the results would be negative?” “Am I really upset with my wife? Or, is something else going on?” “Is it possible that I’m angry because I haven’t eaten in a while and I’m hungry?”

Self-awareness is a process, not a destination. Fortunately, the more we invest in understanding ourselves, the more we can learn to recognize and combat our own lies. When we do, we will put ourselves on the path to true happiness.

Do you feel that you are good at understanding your own motivations? Are you able to tell when your brain is trying to trick you into a course of action that, while pleasant in the short-term, may hurt your long-term happiness? Please join the discussion.

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Here’s a short video that I recorded on the topic of finding happiness.

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