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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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

 

 

 

Mirror Mirror on the wall…

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Are you generally positive about your appearance or do you think ‘only if I was slimmer, prettier, little bit more toner etc’ or all together ‘I wish I was someone else?!’ I would be lying if I hadn’t felt the latter lot of the times in when I look in the mirror. Our insecurities, all the things that are wrong with our face, body, the way we act or something we said wrong, all seem to be somehow exaggerated when we look in the mirror. In the modern world that we live in, comparing ourselves and judging ourselves against others is often too easy. This goes deeper than just appearances; often our self-worth is based on what we see in the mirror, rightly or wrongly.

How you feel about yourself, and you can catch a glimpse of that when you look in the mirror, is the key your relationships and everything about you. In the personal development, self-improvement arena, there is more and more focus on using mirror as one of the tools to build self-esteem. One of the techniques I came across is by Robert Holden, who advocates standing in front of a mirror and using positive affirmations to overcome your ego and reach self-acceptance.

Over the years, I have come to the realisation that loving yourself, not just your appearance, but loving truly who you are one of the main keys to eternal happiness. This means forgiving yourself when you make a mistake, being kind to yourself when you look in the mirror and generally treating yourself like how you would treat the person who hold close to your heart. After does it not make sense to fill yourself with love before loving others?!

So starting today, why don’t you try being a little bit kinder to yourself when you see yourself in the mirror. Start with little acknowledgments; little things you like about yourself and perhaps an affirmation or two; ‘I am loved’ or ‘I am enough’. Being kind to yourself in the mirror does not take too long or need much effort, but results can actually be quite surprising.

Have a Laugh! Yes, Seriously, have a Laugh!

‘Success is about a happy life; happy life is just a string of happy moments; most people don’t allow happy moments because they are so busy getting a happy life.’ Ester & Jerry Hicks

I have a confession to make; since I have been writing, reading and attending online courses on all things happiness and law of attraction, I have come to the realisation that I have taken the pursuit of law of attraction a bit too seriously. Sometimes I forget to enjoy the little moments, like when my daughter comes running to me or my cats want a little stroke or even just going out and enjoying the sunshine in the garden. Sometimes I am too absorbed in my self-improvement, too goal orientated, too attached to my smart phone or thinking of what my next life goals should be that I am not really paying attention to little moments of happiness right in front of me.

So I have decided to have a ‘joyous week’ where I focus my attention on enjoying the little things in life; enjoying time I spend with family, listening to my favorite music, playing with my cats, even reading a trashy magazine or two and watching some quality TV that I really enjoy.

Day 1-2

The pursuit of happiness can really be very stressful and more that, what I have realised is that, it is very thought consuming. By focusing on joyous week, I have realised the amount of time I spend thinking about what I can do next to be happy; rather than just BE happy. My starting point is being mindful of my thoughts where I remind myself to enjoy the moment, whatever it may bring.  No one better to bring this message home to me than my 2 year old daughter, who constantly lives in the moment. She laughs when she is happy; plays when she wants to; she cries when she is sad; and genuinely cheers up the next moment if the circumstances warrant it. So the first few days, I focused on trying to live like my 2 year old; laugh when something is funny, even it is it silly in adult terms and learn the art of playing. The highlight of one of the days was definitely painting with water colours, paint brushes, sponges and hands, messy but loads of fun.

Day 3-5

Relaxing came a bit more naturally as the week went on, but I was having to ask myself hard questions such as is my weekly meditation practice taking life too seriously or can I incorporate it into my joyous week?! After some thought, I decided to carry on with my meditation, but goal of my meditation has been to purely relax, rather than visualise my future goals.

Day 4-7

I had few days of work stress and once I left work, physically walked out the building, I was trying very hard to leave my work thoughts behind and even if I couldn’t think of something cheerful, I tried to be calm and think of something else other than work! One thing that has helped me with taking my mind off work was my music and listening to it on my way home on the commute really helped me to do this.

Some of the highlights of the last few days of my joyous week included watching my favourite episodes of the Mindy Project and the Big Bang Theory and let myself have a laugh out loud laughs. I also had the pleasure of going shopping which used to be one of my old time favourite past time, but often ridden with guilt for buying one too many purchases, but difference now is that I try and do this mindfully; I only buy things which I need or really really like, not just because something is on sale or I could use next summer (given its autumn now!).

My final day in my focus week was a Sunday and I had the pleasure of spending more time with my husband, daughter,  my parents and of course my cats. It has been really nice to actually sit around the home and do virtually nothing. I cannot think of one productive thing we did together, but being together, having conversations, eating some food and just generally spending time together was the perfect end to joyous week.

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