It’s Summertime – How can you Create Happiness?

Happiness is the one thing people chase more than anything else. At the start of coaching or therapeutic intervention, we usually reflect on what we want to achieve. People often say to me ‘I just want to be happy’. Happiness is not something you set a goal for, it’s a state of mind that you can choose and cultivate. Happiness is not something to be found in experiences or success or material things. It’s not something to achieve at some point, you can be happy right now.

Drukpa, Author of Happiness is a State of Mind offers a simplistic approach to happiness. He reminds us that happiness is already there. ‘Happiness is your nature’. You don’t need to pursue it, you just need to realise it’s there, in your heart. It may be covered by layers of thoughts, fears, worries and doubts, but it has always been there. How do we know this? For me the evidence is in a child. Observe children below the age of 5. They are naturally happy, fearless, adventurous, full of energy, have a lust for life and are naturally confident too. We were all like that before the conscious ego mind developed with all it’s doubts, fears and concern about opinions.

Drukpa adds: ‘The mind’s natural state is one of clarity and luminosity’. This is encouraging. We just need to learn to let go of the fog. Let go of the conditions we place on our happiness. Nurture the mind to loosen its grip on fear and worries. Then let the natural, true state of mind create your happy day, week and life. How often do we say ‘I’ll be happy if my day or week turns out successful? Well, it’s a bit like the chicken and egg; which one comes first? Happiness or success? Could happiness be the reason things turn out well? Research has now proven that a happy mind is more likely to create success. In fact success depends on a happy state of mind. So instead of chasing success, rather nurture and cultivate a happy mind. Our work is always inner work. With the investment of inner work, the outer world (a reflection of ourselves) resolves itself.

True happiness is freedom. Freedom from fear and worries. Freedom to be yourself. We were born with limitless creative, imagination. As we free our minds to open up, we can let in so much more life, so much more happiness. 

How can you cultivate happiness?

Here are six  key steps to happiness:

1. Gratitude
A key practice, gratitude activates happiness chemicals Serotonin and Dopamine and increases neurons in the prefrontal cortex; the higher mind.
– Start a happiness journal and capture 3 things a day for which you are grateful. This simple practice increases Serotonin levels by a significant 10% after 3 weeks according to research.
– Find happiness in everyday things like being grateful for warm water.
– Practice meditation. Take an attitude with gratitude into a mindfulness meditative practice. Reflect firstly on a person you are grateful for, secondly an event you are grateful for, thirdly something about yourself you are grateful for. In your Gratitude Mindfulness Meditation, focus on the feeling of gratitude – not the story.
– Express gratitude to somebody. Research found a 4-19% increase in levels of happiness when gratitude is expressed to a person.

2. Thought Labelling
You are not your thoughts.
– Standing back from your thoughts allows you to observe them, not be ruled by them.
– Listen to your own thoughts. Some thoughts drive emotional states:
– Shoulds or musts or ‘why didn’t I/they…’ create frustration.
– Always and never (this always happens to me) create anger.
– Catastrophising (expecting the worse) creates anxiety.
– All or nothing/black or white (nobody loves me/everybody hates me) thoughts create depression.
Ask yourself:
– Does this thought help me or harm me?
– Would I say the same thing to my best friend?
– Instead of giving yourself a hard time, bring compassion to yourself. Your journey is to become your own best friend.

3. Good Enough Decisions
Brain science has shown that making a decision, reduces worry and anxiety. It doesn’t have to be a perfect or ‘right’ decision, just a ‘good enough’ decision. Being a perfectionist can be stressful. Trying to be perfect overwhelms your brain with emotions and makes you feel out of control. You don’t have to prove anything. You are already enough just by existing, because of your own uniqueness. Once a good enough decision is made and even marginal steps taken in that direction, relief and happiness sets in.

4. Connection
It’s a basic need to feel love and acceptance from others. When we don’t, it is literally painful. Disconnection and loneliness creates pain. Research has shown that perceived rejection goes down the same pathways in the brain as physical pain.
– A key way to release Oxytocin is through touch – even a handshake or a pat on the back.
– 5 hugs a day is shown to raise Oxytocin significantly.
– Massage reduces pain, increases all the happy chemicals and decreases cortisol.
We are essentially social beings and cultivating positive interaction is essential for our happiness.

5. Savour Positive Experiences
Experience or relive a happy memory for at least 30 seconds, feeling it in the body. That develops happy neural pathways.

6. Meaning and Purpose
A longer lasting investment in your happiness is to identify what you find fulfilling and give expression to what brings meaning and purpose in your life. This can change from one phase of your life to another. It’s about expressing your unique interests, gifts and talents and how you can use them in service to humanity – asking: how can I help? When you combine your unique gifts with service to humanity, joy, abundance and flow follows.

Food for Thought
Happiness doesn’t happen to us. It is something we make happen. Nurture positive relationships, build on your own strengths, exercise choice, savour positive experiences and practice gratitude – often.

Sometimes we can do with a little help
Transformational therapies facilitate a gentle and effective way of healing and releasing issues of the past. It further provides useful mental tools that can be used to change unhelpful thought patterns. Ultimately therapy aims for wholeness of mind, bringing the head and heart into balance. The fears and doubts of the ego mind are exposed for what they are: false illusion. At the heart is who you really are, you’re unique, naturally happy, naturally confident self. Honouring your true self and living as your true self, is at the heart of happiness. Find our more at Timeline Therapy™.

Resources

Events and Courses
Join the forth-coming Meditation Course. The meditations are healing, uplifting and transformational. Full details are on the Events Calendar.

For all courses coming up in the Autumn, visit the Events Calendar.

Visit our stand Sunday 14th July at the Spirit & Wellbeing Day at the Chorley Football Club, PR7 3DU. Come for Energy Healing, Aura Cleanse, Chakra Activation to 12 Chakras. You can also experience a taster of Timeline Therapy™, buy health enhancing crystal jewellery and books

Meditation
Gratitude Mindfulness Meditation

Books
Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom by Rick Hanson
Happiness is a State of Mind by Gyalwang Drukpa
Foundations of Mastery: 12 Steps to a Fulfilled Life

Lifting the Veils of Illusions: 7 Steps to Spiritual Enlightenment

Time to Stop and Be – Mindfully

For many, life in the fast lane is becoming increasingly challenging. Workload rising, overtime hours stretching, email inbox brimming, all on top of family and home life demands, we are constantly on the go. Never a moment to yourself, to enjoy an interest, to get out, what still relax! As our lives get more and more out of balance, we feel stressed, drained and tired. The irony is, this state of tension makes us less effective at what we do and obviously takes the joy out of life. We become so focused in our tunnel vision that we lose a broader awareness. This is the small and limiting world of the ego self.

Living in the Present Moment is

The End of the Ego

The world of your ego mind, as real as it may seem, is a small part of who you are. In its illusionary world, the ego compares, competes, forces, struggles and is hardly ever satisfied. Separated from it, by the thinnest of veils, is another altogether magical world of your true, creative, expansive self. We know we’re in our ‘right mind’ when things flow, we feel light, enjoy ourselves and lose ourself in a pleasant experience.

The decision to make the present moment into your friend is the end of the ego – Eckhart Tolle

The End of Stress

Society has generally maxed out on stress and many people now find a slowed, calm and peaceful approach to work and life immensely more valuable and effective. Mindfulness physically increases grey matter in the frontal lobe of the brain used for creative thinking and decreases the part of the brain (amygdala) that triggers fear and stress.

The End of Anxiety

Living in the present moment is a powerful stress-buster. The present moment is naturally free from stress and anxiety. We only create anxiety when we have fearful thoughts about the future (all the ‘What if’ scenarios created by our imagination) and regrets about the past (all the ‘If only’ this or that didn’t happen). We all know through experience that when we lose ourselves in an enjoyable moment like listening to music or doing something creative like painting, time stand still and the mind clears.

Even if the present moment is a challenging one, by being mindful in the moment, you become an observer of your thoughts and reaction rather than buying into it. We soon realise that by not trying to fight against, hide from or change the moment, just acknowledging it, is far less stressful in the long run. Any concern about the future is an illusion as it has not happened yet. Anxiety therefore only exists on the inside. We can let it go by embracing the moment. No negative emotion can be experienced when we are truly in the moment. Herein lies great wisdom.

The End of Time

‘Never enough time’, is just another illusionary thought. Thoughts about the past and the future are only illusionary. All we have is this present moment. Life is truly lived only in the moment. Mindfulness brings a quality of experience that makes time stand still. It stretches and expands time. We end up getting more done in less time. 

Living in the Present Moment is

Truly Spiritual

Frequenting the present moment, means we come home to our true selves. To truly Know Thyself is to transcend the apparent importance of the small ego self and to evolve into the greatness, the expansion, joy and peace of your true magnificent higher self.

Truly Creative

When you are relaxed in the moment, you’re not just in your limited logical mind, you are able to bring your expansive creative right brain to the task at hand. The mind opens up to its unbounded creative potential and the possibilities that you can tap are infinite.

Truly Expansive

Free from contractive, restrictive fears and doubts, you are free to discover the innate power of your spirit. You are ultimately a creator. 

‘We are responsible for what we create. As we expand and learn to act and think with love and wisdom, we’re able to live in service of others and all of life’ Caroline Myss 

Truly Alive 

Mindfulness means you are coming to your senses. This sense experience makes you feel truly alive, brings you out of your head and connects you with your world. Healing takes place in this connection.Your energy, health and youthfulness returns. A sense of lightness and joy of life returns. All of this is possible with the simple practice of dropping into the present moment. 

How do I truly stay in the moment?

Mindfulness is simply the act of being fully aware of what you are doing in any given moment, which in turn clears everything from your mind, helping you to de-stress. Mindfulness is more often practised through breathing exercises aimed at focusing your attention in the moment. Mindfulness can also be practised in the form of mindful walking and mindful eating and the idea is that we take this practice through into every day activities such as cleaning the house.

Studies have shown that taking 10 minutes out in a mindfulness practice, reduces stress and counteracts depression even more effectively than anti-depressants. Mindfulness reduces anxiety, improves concentration, memory, sleep patterns, decision-making, creative thinking and problem-solving.

Relaxation

Anxiety keeps us in the “fight or flight” stress mode, often for prolonged periods of time. Easing the nervous system through relaxation is therefore essential to stop anxiety from triggering. Relaxation practices such as mindfulness and meditation, reduce stress and restore health.

Meditation

This simple practice of doing nothing but breathing may take discipline at first, but over time it physically reduces the reactive brain (amygdala) and increases the pre-frontal cortex responsible for creating a sense of well-being. Besides, it releases undesired thoughts and restores calm.

Do you want to have a go straight away?

Click through to the Meditations page for a choice of guided meditations: Mindfulness Reflection Meditation and Healing Emotions the Mindful Way.

Mindfulness Retreat

One of the most practical approaches to good health is relaxation. When we get the mind out of stress mode, the body can naturally return to good health. Our Mindfulness Retreat has exactly that purpose. Join us and experience practices that increase awareness of the mind-body link. Treat yourself to a day out of your everyday busyness, a day to retreat, re-set your mind, relax and be mindful with like-minded people in a tranquil environment. You will find it uplifting, healing, relaxing and re-energising.

Book your space now and join us on the One Day Mindfulness Retreat at the Xaverian Spiritual Centre in Preston. We are fortunate again to have Thai Chi Teacher, Tricia Pass taking us through mindful movements, (hopefully outside, weather of course permitting.)

All details are on our Events Calendar

Fascinating further reading

Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson

Mindfulness Manifesto