Happiness… An inside Job

In the pursuit of happiness, one of the hardest concepts to get our head around is the fact that happiness is an inside job, with the sole responsibility of happiness is within us rather than dependent on other people or external factors.

I know people say ‘happiness is a choice’, but how many of us really chose to be happy? Isn’t it easier to blame others/ events / weather for our unhappiness rather than admit we are unhappy because we choose to be?!

For me, it was one thing knowing that whether I am happy or sad depended entirely on me and actually doing something about it! Doing something about it, turns out to be quite simple; and it was all in my head!

  • Positive reframing

Every day we come to face to face with many events and circumstances that affect our emotions negatively. Everything from arguments, bad days at work, tantrum throwing children (or adults for that matter!) to cancelled trains and unfair parking tickets test your emotions and feelings to the limit.

Whatever the situation maybe, one of the main things to remember is that there is something between the situation and you, and that is your thoughts about the situation. By changing the thoughts can completely change the way you feel about the situation; you can go from feeling completely awful to something resembling happiness and the power to make this change is entirely up to you.

In psychology, this is called positive reframing; a way of trying to reconsider the things and events in a more positive light. Positive reframing doesn’t change a situation, but it changes the way you feel about it by putting a positive perspective to it, finding the ‘sliver- lining’ in every situation.

Example diagram

There isn’t always an easy option, but there is always a silver-lining if you look hard enough for it. One of my all-time favourite quotes is ‘this too shall pass’ and whatever situation you find yourself, whether positive or negative, it too will come to pass so ride out the negatives and savour the positives.

  • Make Gratitude your attitude

Cultivating gratitude is one of the best ways to be in a state of happiness. By focusing more and more on what you are grateful for, the more you start seeing life in a completely new frame of mind. This is also one of the key tools in using law of attraction to your vantage; what you focus on you attract – so by focusing on what you are grateful for you are more likely to attract it into your life.

How does gratitude help you to be happier person? First of all, being grateful for things you have make you count your blessings and this has an impact of our mood and emotional well-being and this is backed up several studies (including C.Watkins et al (Berkeley)) . Other positive psychology studies have shown that practicing gratitude consistency leads to not only to positive emotions, but to positive experiences, improved health, stronger relationships and resilience to adversity.

Most of us have something to be grateful for; food on our plates, a shelter to stay warm; someone to call a friend or a family and if you are reading this, then a smart phone or a computer at your fingertips to access abundance of information. There is always something to be grateful for, in any situation if you look hard enough.

  • Live in the moment

One of the fundamental things to remember is that the only reality we have is this moment in time is the present while the past and future does not exist outside of our mind! So if we focus on the present moment, rather than worry about the past or be anxious about the future, we are on the road to living a happier life.

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy” – unknown

In does take some practice to be present in the moment but when you start living this way, you can learn to appreciate the beauty of the moment and live a fuller life. Here are few techniques that you can use to stay in the moment.

Breathe: One of the best ways to do this is simply be and focus on this present moment. Turn off your smart phone / computer or whatever distraction you have around you and focus on your breath and stay present to the moment.

Notice small things: Another exercise to stay in the moment is to notice what happening around you without judgment and notice the small things; sound of a clock ticking, bird song in the garden; light flickering on your phone; vapors rising out of a hot cup of tea.

Meditate: Of course one of the ultimate ways to be present in the moment is to practice meditation. There are many meditative techniques and teachings out there, but the main thing with meditation is patience as sometimes it will take time to train your mind.

  • Good relationships

I recently watched a TED talk by Robert Waldinger on a 75 years study into true happiness and satisfaction, based on Harvard study in America. Since the 1930’s, this study followed over 3000-odd adults in America, ranging from Harvard graduates to deprived inner city Boston young adults, to understand what really makes people truly happy and not surprisingly, one single reason that stood out as vital for happiness is good relationships and social connections.

However, in the first instance, fostering good relationships seems to be at odds with the concept of inner happiness. If your happiness is driven by your inner most thoughts and feelings, why should a good relationship matter? First of all, we humans are social animals and we thrive at best in groups and when we are connected to others. So we can be happy on our own, but we are much happier when we are connected to someone else.

But even far more fundamental point is that people who have inner happiness are much better at relationships than those who rely on other people to drive their happiness. Those who have found inner happiness are usually whole and secure and they do not need other people to fill in their happiness, instead their own happiness flows into the relationship, flourishing the relationship.

“Happiness is an inside job. Don’t assign anyone else that much power over your life” – Mandy Hale

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Practical Mind Tools: Vision Board

So what is a vision board, I hear you ask. Well, perhaps not those of you who are well versed in the law of attraction and the techniques that goes with it. Perhaps there are some of you guys out there who are experts at this and I would love to hear from you on how you create your vision boards.

For the novices, vision board is simply a board where you capture your visions for your future, aspirations and desires all in one place.  This is perhaps one of the most basic and effective way of putting law of attraction into practice. After all, we are all visual creatures and what we see is more likely to affect us than having just abstract pictures in our head.

Creating a vision board is really easy:

  1. Find a suitable board, whatever size you require. I always find the blank art canvases are great for my vision board purposes, but you can use anything from cardboard to plywood.
  2. Find suitable images to fill your board with. You can use magazine clippings, writings, quotes, print outs from the internet, whatever works for you and whatever that captures your vision. It doesn’t have to be an exact match of your vision, it can be abstract or represent you vision indirectly, but as long as you can relate to it, that is the main thing. I tend to use words and pictures in my vision boards and I often like quotes that resonate with me.
  3. Then use the visions to fill the board up and stick them on securely.
  4. Main thing is put the vision board somewhere where you will look at it regularly, perhaps on your bedroom wall.

The more you look at your vision board, the more your brain gets reminded of what you want. The more you are reminded, the more you think about it. But like any law of attraction tool, you need to frame your thoughts and feelings positively. You may subconsciously create resistance by looking at it and thinking ‘oh I am never going to achieve that!’ Instead, every time you see your vision, imagine you have achieved it and how would it feel like? Bring that feeling into the present and close your eyes and feel it for few minutes.

Nowadays there is a wealth of online tools available to create vision boards; there are even apps for vision boards. So you can go crazy and go overboard with the whole thing! So my suggestion is focus on one board at a time. If your vision changes, then change the board or change the images, after all our visions are rather fluid and that is a good thing as that how we move forward and evolve.

To feel or not to feel, that is the question!

Feelings are wonderful abstract things and where would we be without them? How could we experience happiness, joy or pleasure? Yes, there is the other side to it, the feelings of pain, anger, sadness, but doesn’t these negative feelings also shape who we are? If I take my daughter as an example, she is one and half years old and her mood and feelings change quite quickly within space of few minutes. One minute she may be sad because she is missing her comforter toy and the next minute her favourite music comes on or she discovers a new toy and she is overjoyed. How can I tell that she is happy without knowing what her sadness looks like? Even for myself, how do I know I am really happy without having experienced what sadness feels like?

As adults our feelings and the emotions that they evoke are very complex. Not only we experience a range of emotions from utter joy to despair, but our feelings differ towards the same set of circumstances at different times! Our feelings are very subjective experience and its very person dependent; my feelings may evoke a completely different set of emotional response to someone who is standing next me going through the same experience, whatever it may be, may respond completely differently, depending on their beliefs, values, life experiences and personality.

It was a bad, mad, sad day!

So what has got me thinking about feelings today? Well, for a start, I had a bad day few days back; I had a day where I felt annoyed, sad and drained and I attracted situations that gave me more reasons to be annoyed, sad or feel drained. I tried to shake it off several times by thinking positively, visualising how I want things to go and even practicing gratitude.  But alas, things didn’t change and the negative circumstances just kept on coming and by the end of the day, I just really wanted to go to bed and forget about the whole day.

According to law of attraction, we attract what we are thinking into our lives and therefore, at least at a subconscious level, I have chosen to have a bad day or attracted set of circumstances in my life that led to this particular bad day. In hindsight, this was true for me. I was travelling by air that day and I was rather anxious as this was only few days after Germanwings flight went down in France. I couldn’t shake off the sadness that I felt for those involved or the feelings of paranoia that I had over getting on a plane, however mild. Also the holiday I had high hopes for didn’t pan out the way I wanted it to as the holiday destination had bad weather for the whole week and I rather spent way too  much time cooped up in the hotel room feeling rather bored.

So as I sat in the airport on our way back home, I knew I am on a verge of starting a bad day and I knew I had to change my thoughts and feelings to more of a positive vibe but I just couldn’t do it. I was trying to think and feel positive, but it really felt like swimming upstream (see below), not natural and very hard work. I just couldn’t shake off my feelings quick enough to make a difference to my day.

Looking back, perhaps this can be explained by Ester Hicks and Jerry Hicks (The Astonishing Power of Emotions):

‘The most common misunderstanding that prevents people from getting control of a situation and gaining their personal balance is the belief that I need to get to where I want to be right now or as quickly as possible. We certainly understand your desire to find the answers to your questions quickly or to solve your problems as fast as you can, but still, that urge works against you. When you feel an urgency to be somewhere else, you are pushing hard against where you are. That is upstream.’

Best thing I could have done that day was to accept my feelings for what they were and what I was feeling at that point in time does not define me as a person. I know ‘this too shall pass’ and I know I will have a better day tomorrow because a good night sleep always does wonders. Besides, now that I have been reminded what a bad day feels like, I can perhaps appreciate the next good day when I see it come up!

upstream-fog-bill-wakeley

Feelings and law of attraction

Feelings play an important part in law of attraction; you cannot feel bad and expect to attract good things. The more pro-longed the negative feelings, the more difficult it would be change them. For example, if you feel you don’t have enough money, chances are you will attract situations where you will not have enough money, it doesn’t matter how you earn. Same also goes for health. If you always felt unhappy about your body for example, how can you attract the body you want? In order for law of attraction to work for you, you must change your feelings towards your body first; you must learn to be happy with it in the first place.

Now, I know this from first-hand experience, this is easily said than done and you cannot instantly change your feelings. Your programming about self-image perhaps took good few years to achieve, so it’s unrealistic to think these feelings will disappear overnight, unlike my bad day. Changes to feelings take time, especially if they are strongly rooted feelings, but the good thing is once our feelings are in tune with what we want, and then changing our thoughts become matter of fact. Feelings can be strong enablers to make law of attraction work for you, but changing feelings and associated emotions can be hard work and with practice, feelings too, in time, can be changed and mastered.

Personal experiment….Pear-drop pendent!

pendent

On holiday, I had a perfect example of how law of attraction worked for me which I wanted to share. I would describe myself as a careless person when it comes to my personal possessions, which I have always been okay with, because I had learned at a very early age, whatever material things I loose, it can always be replaced. So on holiday, I managed to lose a gold pear-drop pendent that I had on a chain. I looked around everywhere for it and since I had walked around a lot on that particular day; I could only go back to some of the places to look for it.

That night, I visualised finding the pendent. Then I didn’t think much about it after that and certainly did not stress about it, as I know it can be replaced if need to be.  I held it very lightly in my mind and that’s about it. The last day, as we were leaving the hotel, I was tidying up and as I looked under my daughter’s cot, there it was I had found the pendent.

This is a very small example, and some people may just describe it as a coincidence or even lucky, but for me, when it was meant to work out, it felt right, almost like swimming downstream rather than upstream. This may sound contradictory, but if I really wanted to find it and I was stressed in my search for it, then it’s very likely that negative thoughts and feelings would have kicked in. ‘What if I can’t find it? It’s lost forever.’ Chances are once the urgency for finding the pendent and the fear of losing it forever kicks in I would have attracted the pendent to be lost forever. That is the simple fact of law of attraction; whatever you think or feel the most that is what you will attract into your life. So there is a case for holding whatever you want lightly in your mind, rather than wanting it so badly you start feeling the fear of not getting what you want.

lost-and-found-2

Me, Myself and the Law of Attraction

I think it is about time that I shared my personal story and my experiences with law of attraction. Let me start by making a very optimistic statement first. I live a healthy, wealthy and happy life and I know I have a bright future ahead of me. Those around me with a critical eye may not agree, but for me this is my truth and my view of life. In the past I have been described as ‘seeing the world though rose tinted glasses’ and more often than not, I would describe myself as an optimist.  However, there have been many cross roads in my life, reflecting back, that were challenging to say the least, but the future, in my view, is always bright.

Optimism does have a role in the law of attraction. In a world where ‘like attracts like’, positive attitudes will attract positive results. If you are always expecting things to go wrong or can spot the flaws in events more readily than appreciating the merits, then chances are that there will always be more flaws in the world around you. Being an optimist doesn’t mean that you go through life oblivious to unhappiness, but you are more likely to accept the unhappiness and know that it will pass and things will get better.

Although genetics have a part in play in someone being an optimist or pessimist, large parts of being optimist is learning though life and life situations that have shaped you. Being optimistic is an attitude and like any attitude, you can change it, all it takes is a bit of work on your mind and state of being.

My beginnings…

My early childhood was spent in the midst of a civil war. Looking back, there are several points in my childhood where I was in real danger, hiding in bunkers, being caught in aerial assaults, and being exposed to death and destruction very early on. I remember one particular incident, when I was around eight years old; we were hiding in a school, in the ground floor toilets no less, as it was the most concrete covered area of a school.  That night, due to particular bought of heavy fighting and cross fire, 27 people lost their lives on the floor above us and this memory is particularly etched into my head as I had to walk past the 27 bodies the following morning to be moved to another part of the building for safety. The reason I am sharing this is that I can see in many points in my life, where things could have gone horribly wrong for me, not just in terms of physical injury, but mentally.

In the 1990s, my family moved to the UK to get away from the war and my teenage years were spent in council accommodation, with my parents working 2 more jobs at a time.  In comparison to some of those around me now, my work colleagues in the banking sector to some of my privately educated friends, my upbringing is rather modest. But for me I knew that I am living a very privilege life, from a very early age because of my experiences in childhood and this is important part of my learned optimism.

My journey and law of attraction

There have been times in my life when negativity would overcome me, lasting days and months, but the inner voice in me, always knows that ‘this too shall pass’ and eventually my life would return to normal. First few months of my marriage and when my husband and I started living together were a prime example of turbulent times in my life. When I did come across the law of attraction, a year or so after marriage, everything made sense to me. I have attracted the negativity in my life and in my relationship by the way I was thinking, feeling and acting. Knowing Law of attraction is one thing, but putting it into action can be difficult, especially when you have been conditioned to think logically though out your life. I was able to practice the law of attraction little by little and when I started seeing positive results, it reinforced my beliefs.

Over the years, my husband and I have built a strong relationship because we were able to overcome our initial differences and I often put this down to my attitude change and renewed optimism.  In the last few years, I often find that it’s my optimism towards my personal relationships that need the most work, especially when coupled with arrival of a new baby and sleepless nights. Often when you suffer from sleep deprivation, it is difficult to be optimistic, let alone having time to think about the law of attraction. But the optimist in me knew that even the sleepless nights, ‘that too shall pass’.

Now a days, even if I am fully versed in the law of attraction, I have days of negativity, often when dealing with difficult people in work place or social situations, but I snap out of it relatively quickly so that I don’t attract too many of the negative fears that were running though my head. I know that one of the basic facts of life is that you cannot change others; you can only change the way your react to others. The two pieces of thoughts that have really helped me with maintaining relationships is that (a) treat others the way you want to be treated; (b) loving yourself – filling yourself with love in order to attract more love in your life.

I know I have a lot more to learn in this journey though law of attraction and I am grateful for myself to have taken the first steps towards it.

“the only journey is the journey within” – Rainer Maria Rilke

Those who are reading this blog, thank you! I am truly grateful to share my journey with you.

early photoMexico2011 (22)