Four Clues to Happiness
Do you ever wonder if you are really happy? I mean if you checked in with yourself right now, would you say you feel happy? Personally, right now, I feel a little anxious because I am trying to meet my deadline for this e-zine article. Sometimes, I feel nothing. I mean, there is just not much feeling to find within. Sometimes I catch myself looking at smiling people in magazines or on the street and doubt that they are really that happy. I think they are faking it. How about you? Have you ever wondered how happy people get and stay happy? And could it be possible to regain that childlike joy again?
There is a lot written about happiness. One idea that permeates most of the literature is that true happiness is a state of being, not an emotion that comes and goes depending on the circumstances of the moment. For example, you will certainly feel uplifted when someone does something nice for you. Or you will be happy if your child accomplishes something important.
But the experts who study happiness say that this joy is temporary. And the fact that it is dependent on outside circumstances leaves you vulnerable to losing it when you don’t like what is happening. Consequently, if nobody is doing anything nice for you or your child fails at something important, you are at risk of losing your happiness.
Still, experts or not, doesn’t it seem logical that good things feel good and bad things feel bad? How then can one find one’s inner joy independent of outer circumstances? Here are a few clues.
1. Check in with what you are thinking or believing that is creating the low feelings. For example, if nobody is doing anything nice for you at this time, what are you thinking about yourself or the world as a result of that? Do you think badly about yourself? Are you blaming someone for something? It appears that our feelings often follow our thoughts about a situation. So if your child fails at something important, ask yourself what that really means to you? And then ask if what you are thinking is true? If you think that your child’s failure is a bad reflection on you or that he or she will now fail in life, you have found the thoughts that are really causing your unhappiness. Question them, reframe them and you will find your way back to your good feelings.
2. Make feeling good a priority. It is amazing how often we feed off of complaining, blaming and being angry. I know I do. I can be happily driving down the street when out of the blue, some action by another driver can trigger an alien creature to erupt from within me. It’s like a little angry monster resides within and is curled up waiting to get out. Because I have made feeling good a priority, I quickly calm myself down, put the alien back and let it go. My happiness is more important to me than being “right” about that driver being so wrong.
3. Stop the war with yourself. Our self-contempt can be a tricky, subtle little thing that creates an endless flow of unhappiness. Whenever we find fault with ourselves, our behaviors, our bodies etc., we are brewing a toxic concoction of dark feelings. Expecting that we should be perfect people, mothers, physical specimens, wives and then beating ourselves up when we fail to meet those expectations is a certain happiness killer. Ouch!
4. Focus on the positive aspects of your life. Keep connected with what you love and appreciate about every area of your life, even your thighs. Okay, you don’t have to start with your thighs or your after baby belly. Just start somewhere. For example, I love the feeling of freedom I can connect with when I am driving my car on the highway. Now, sometimes the reasons I am on the highway are a drag but instead of focusing on that, I shift to enjoying the car, the comfort, the music.
Well-being abounds. It is the nature of our universe. It is our own nature. Tapping into it by choosing to be happy and making it a priority just feels good. Give it a try.
Written by Lisa Garber