On Happiness and Blissfulness: TRUST

TRUSTTime is not running out, it’s flying… and flying high! One more week since I wrote my last article on the series “On Happiness and Blissfulness”. I must admit that the exercise I have been having trouble following it is the “Healthy Plan” that I introduced in my previous article. Here you are a link to the previous exercises of this series in case you could not read them or you simply want to review them:

This time, there is something new: two capital sins against happiness instead of one and… two exercises! (NOOOOOOOOO! No more exercises, please!)

Capital sin no.5 against happiness is: DISTRUSTING OTHERS

Basically, there are two types of behaviour related to trust: instinctive distrust and proactive trust. It is true that in our DNA, in our neural basis, there is a “mechanism” that makes us distrustful by nature, but when that “distrust” becomes unhealthy, it prevents us from being happy. At the end of this article, you will find a link to a video about how trust increases the levels of oxytocin in our brain. Oxytocin makes us more generous.

How to overcome that tendency to distrust the others? How to show proactive trust? There are several strategies we can use to enhance trust. Generally speaking, people are more trustworthy than you think. Unfortunately, the news and media contribute to lower our level of trustworthiness, the way we perceive other are trustworthy. So, a good way to increase our trust in other is to have in mind this fact: PEOPLE ARE MORE TRUSTWORTHY THAN WE THINK. Trusting others helps us create a circle of trustworthy people around us.

Another way to increase our trust is by minimizing the psychological harm of feeling hurt. It is not easy, though. It requires practice and self-awareness.

In all kinds of relationships, you should proceed with the same enthusiasm as an archaeologist digging deep into the emotions of the other to uncover them, carefully and with awe, aware of the delicacy and importance of this finding.

To increase trust, we have to forgive. Forgiveness makes us happier. If we do not know how to forgive, learning how to forgive will make us happier. But now, the question is: how can you forgive someone who has betrayed your trust? Here you are three things you can remember when you think you cannot forgive:

  1. Empathize with the person who felt compelled to lie or cheat.
  2. Remind yourself that you are not superior to the people who have lied to you.
  3. Allow yourself to adopt an attitude of forgiveness towards those people who lie to you.

EXERCISE 1: “Write, but not send, a letter of forgiveness”
This exercise involves writing a letter of forgiveness to someone whe has treated you badly (YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SEND THE LETTER). It consists of three steps:

  • Step 1: recall the incident.
  • Step 2: write a letter of forgiveness.
  • Step 3: achieve the psychological closure of this incident.

This is a difficult exercise, because most of us find it difficult to get rid of the anger when someone has treated us unfairly. However, keeping that anger and resentment is more harmful to us than to the others.

Capital sin no. 6 against happiness: DISTRUSTING LIFE.

Even though life can be extremely unpredictable, you have to trust life. In order to be happy, we have to detach from the outcomes. How to be happy without trusting the outcomes? The path is the goal (the process is the source of happiness, not the outcome). A good strategy is to separate happiness from the outcomes.

As some studies show, people prefer to be busy rather than idle as long as they have a reason to be busy. In other words, when we have a purpose, being busy makes us happier than being idle (I know, it sounds strange, but studies show so). And it turns out that when we have a purpose we are more prone to enjoy the path, not the outcome. It is very good to have a preference for a certain outcome before it is reached, but once the outcome has been reached, we should not judge it as “good” or “bad”. This attitude helps us dettach from the outcome and enjoy more the process.

There are three types of approach towards outcomes:

  1. Obsessive pursuit of a passion.
  2. Indifferent pursuit of a passion.
  3. Despassionate pursuit of a passion.

This last approach (no. 3) is the more effective, because it involves preferringr an outcome before it occurs, but changing this preference once it has occured.


  • Reflect on the negative outcomes of the past (over time they are usually perceived as less negative as we felt they were when we first experienced them).
  • Search negative events that turned out positive in the long term.

Antidote: You can trust life indeed.

Subjective beliefs can shape the objective reality. Always? Not always, but more times than we usually think. It is about having or developing the ability to see beyond the superficial reality.


“The three things with an unexpected twist”, that is, three things that started as something bad but, in the end, they turned out to be positive. You have to think about the positive consequences of negative events.

Identify three things that are slightly negative and, then, connect the dots and take out thre positive consequence of every one of them. You have to do that every day over a period of 7 days, and at the end of the week, answer the following questions:

  • Was it easy or difficult? Why?
  • How do you feel now that you feel that no event is “purely” positive of negative? Do you feel you have more trust or less trust?
  • Is it easier now for you to see the positive consequences of something negative? Elaborate your answer.

(I recommend you to take up Raj Raghunathan’s course “A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment” where you can find this exercise more elaborated)

Here you are some interesting links:
Paul Zak: Trust, Moral… and Oxytocin
Amit Nagpal: Trust Makes Us Great
The 13 Behaviours of a High Trust Leader
Brevities on Trust and Sincerity
World Happiness Report
Smart Trust
Paul Piff: Does Money Make You Mean?
David Steindl: Want to Be Happy? Be Grateful

I will be back in a week with the last article of this series. Till then, be happy!

Michael Thallium

Global & Greatness Coach
Book your coaching here

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