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:
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.
– 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.
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™.
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
Gratitude Mindfulness Meditation
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