Decide to be happy.
Stuff to ponder
Happiness, gladness or joy is a state of being. And thanks to the positive psychology movement, we’re understanding more about the brain science of happiness. Even if you’re not the person with a sunny disposition, you can learn how to bring more happiness into your life.
The benefits of happiness
There’s been a lot of study in the area of brain science around happiness. According to research*, happy people experience the following advantages over their less happy peers:
Reduction in Stress – 23 %
Better Health – 39 %
Productivity – 31 %
Positive Social Interaction – 34 %
* Shawn Achor, goodthink.com
The benefits of being happy extend beyond increased productivity, greater resilience, decreased stress and being someone who’s pleasant to be around.
The spiritual component
Spirit science concurs that happiness is an important component in our lives. Although many people seem to operate under the premise that no pain means no gain, “suffering is optional.” In fact, the charge to happiness is rooted in spiritual traditions. Being happy is necessary.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama says that from the Buddhist perspective, all Beings strive to be happy. Jesus speaks on happiness in several books of the Bible. A Course in Miracles states that “happiness is an attribute of love, and that love equals happiness.” (W103.1)
According to the Law of Attraction, like attracts like, and so to attract happiness to our life, we must be happy. But what constitutes happiness?
Two kinds of happiness
There are two buckets of happiness: things that bring temporary happiness and things that bring lasting happiness. Temporary happiness encompasses those things of the illusory world, aka the world we live in: chocolate ice cream (I know, very sad), lottery wins, vanquishing an opponent, etc.
Those things that bring lasting happiness are not bound by time or space. Like peace, joy, beauty and freedom. Think universal truths.
The good news is that you can strive to introduce more happiness of both types into your life. Just know which ones are real and are your true and lasting goal.
What’s your weather?
Years ago I was having trouble staying in the space of happiness. I was going through some challenging life events and I felt like I was walking under my own personal rain cloud. As I thought more about my state, I realized that my personal weather was like Seattle — a little misty, a little cloudy, and a bit gray.
I felt like it was contributing to my moodiness and broodiness. My Seattle weather was affecting my outlook on life and I wanted my weather to be more Miami. I wanted sunshine. In my book, sunshine was connected to happiness.
This metaphor gave me a whole new way of understanding, and categorizing, how I was feeling. I could check in with my personal forecast.
This was a helpful tool that allowed me to zoom in on my happiness gradient without attaching judgment. My morning weather forecast might be London in the winter, but I knew that by using some tools (which we’ll go into through this course) I could change my personal experience and bring out the sun.
Deciding to be happy
Much of our personal disposition is learned. We are shaped by our family of origin, our social circle and society at large. Our responses to the things that occur in our life are often unconscious. Emotions like fear, worry and doubt. We react out of habit. Learning and habit are helpful, except when they’re not.
This is good news. You can decide to be happy. You can choose to think happy thoughts, have a happy reaction, be happy. You are the creator of your experience. Happiness is a choice.
If you’ve spent your lifetime creating from a less than happy place, don’t despair. You’ve got support to help you change your habits. Here are 3 things you can do immediately to up your happiness:
1 – Stay in the energy of positivity. Surround yourself with people who are “Up”. Avoid people, websites, and all other things that broadcast negativity. Create a bubble of positivity that is protected by strong boundaries that you enforce.
In Power vs. Force, David Dawkins, MD, PhD speaks about the energy of consciousness and how, by understanding and using the scale of consciousness, you can improve your life. Things high on this scale are emotions like love, peace and joy, music, art, nature, and elevated Masters. Stay in positive energy by surrounding yourself with these things.
2 – Gratitude practice. One of the fiercest tools for generating more in your life, a gratitude practice is just like what it sounds: being grateful. Start a gratitude journal where you log, each evening before going to sleep, those things that you’re happy for.
Create a practice where you write letters to all the people in your life for whom you are grateful, from your first grade teacher who complimented you on your ability to cut things out so carefully with safety scissors (the genesis of your skills as a surgeon), to the person who loaned you twenty bucks when you had not a dime to buy food.
Find the medium of practice that inspires you.Remember, you can’t be a little bit in heaven and a little bit in hell at the same time. When you’re in the energy of gratitude, it’s the same frequency as the other universal truths, including happiness.
3 – The area of manifestation. The Bible says that the world was created with sound. “In the beginning there was the Word.” Your words are creative, and the mouth is the area of manifestation.
We’ve become so good at watching what goes into our mouths — healthier food, less/no cigarettes — but we are often careless about what comes out of it.Be vigilant with your words! Banish certain words and phrases from your speech: I can’t; I’m sure they will say no; I can’t do that; I’m having a bad day.
Create the happiness you want in your life by speaking correctly. (Special note: what you say about others is important, too. They are mirrors, so what you say about them is a reflection of you. Speak kindly. Be happy.)
Map Your Happiness
Print out the Happiness Map from the Resources section below. Each section represents an area of your life. On a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being extremely happy and 1 being pretty miserable, rate the amount of happiness you feel right now in each area.
For those areas that you rated 2 or lower, make a list of why you feel you’re not happy. Your list may have one item, ten or twenty. Don’t judge yourself. Write them all down. You’re going to work on these throughout this course and learn new tools to incorporate into your life.
Right now, make the decision that you’re going to be happy. That’s the first step in your practice. Great job!
Happiness Map (pdf)
The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor
TED talks on happiness https://www.ted.com/topics/happiness
A Simple Act of Gratitude http://365thankyounotes.com/