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We recently asked 100 people to list the top 5 things that they wanted more of in their life and discovered an overwhelming trend within those results.
“Happiness” made the list for 97 of the 100 people surveyed and was a response shared by more people in the survey than any other response.
What is interesting is that when some of those people were probed farther on the issue of happiness, they found it very difficult to articulate exactly WHAT happiness is to them and HOW it would appear in their life. This poses a serious dilemma and may be the reason that happiness seems to be eluding those in the survey and, according to survey results, many of you.
There seems to be a collective consciousness or belief system in our society that we should be happy all of the time. Without clarification of exactly what happiness is, this goal is nearly impossible to achieve and people can make themselves miserable in its pursuit.
The first misconception about happiness is that it can be secured from the “outside”, meaning that it can come from money, material possessions or even from other people. When we believe that our feelings of happiness come from circumstances “outside” of us, it puts our emotional well-being in a constant state of turmoil. In the back of our minds, there is a nagging and ever-present fear surrounding this kind of thinking. The fear of what will happen if we don’t have or achieve those outside things or if, for some reason, we have those things and we suddenly lose them or they are taken from us.
When the fear of achieving or losing our happiness is present, is that considered real happiness? Can true happiness exist in those conditions?
To be truly happy, one must be impervious to the storms that can rage on the “outside”. One must be able to stand strong in the best and worst of circumstances and not fear the extremes of those circumstances or anything in between. Happiness is an emotional state that can only exist and is only truly fed from within.
In your lifetime you have, no doubt, dealt with situations that were both horrible and difficult and situations that were also exciting and joyful. Those experiences have caused you to feel positive emotional extremes like joy and bliss and negative emotional extremes such as depression and anxiety.
Whether you knew it or not, all of these experiences were wonderful catalysts for your emotional and spiritual growth and have assisted you in actually finding your emotional center. The emotional center is the “sweet spot” that is unique to each individual and exists in the very center of your emotional scale. To create a visual example of it in your mind, think of the eye of a hurricane. Ferocious winds and rain swirl in intense patterns within the hurricane but inside the eye of the hurricane, the very center, there is peace and calm and even sunshine!
Without having experienced the range of positive and negative events and emotions that are experienced throughout our lives, we would not recognize our strength and where true happiness lives within us. It is through these circumstances that we develop a better sense of who we are, what we can do and what makes our soul “happy”.
But is it accurate to call what we seek happiness? Perhaps another reason that happiness is so elusive is because it is not happiness we seek at all. Perhaps what we are really seeking is: contentment.
When you are content, you are at your center. Not leaning too much one way or the other, unaffected by outside occurrences and at peace with yourself, your environment and your circumstances. Isn’t that a pretty accurate description of happiness?
Perhaps they are one and the same.
So how do you achieve this state of internal happiness or contentment? It’s easier than you might think.
Below are some powerful tools for getting you on the fast track to finding your center and achieving a state of happiness and contentment.
Step #1: Is realizing that you have already achieved contentment at one time or another in your life. Anything that has been achieved once, is twice as easy to achieve again and even easier after that. It can be achieved and simply recognizing that fact increases your momentum toward achieving it.
#2: Learn to breathe! The way that we breathe has a significant effect on our nervous systems. Deep breathing can take your body from a stress-filled fight or flight state to a calm and relaxed condition in less than one minute. This is an easy and powerful tool that can shift your thinking right NOW and create a healthier emotional and physical environment.
#3: Meditation. Learning how to meditate and, more importantly, determining the most effective type of meditation for you, is a skill and a tool that you will use the rest of your life very willingly. Once you experience it, you will wonder how you ever lived without it. There are many, many health benefits to meditation that have been proven by scientific study dozens of times and I encourage you to research that topic further. In the quest to finding happiness and contentment, nothing will point you in that direction faster than mediation.
#4: Gratitude: Becoming aware of exactly what you value most in your life, on a daily basis, can be an enlightening experience all by itself but is invaluable in lighting the way to your core, where contentment resides. Get yourself a journal or a voice recorder and finish each day by expressing what you are grateful for. This focuses your subconscious mind on the positive, meaningful details of your life and will help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
#5: Movement: Get your blood, your creative juices, your mind and oxygen flowing in your body! Go for a walk every day, workout if you can, dance, swim or bike. Do whatever it takes to participate in at least 30 minutes of non-stop movement each day. This plants the seed of strength, virility and endurance in your subconscious mind and clears the clutter from your conscious mind for greater focus and emotional balance. Burning a few calories is just a bonus!
#6: Hobbies or Interests: Everyone has something they like to do that makes them feel good about themselves or just take pleasure in doing. Our busy lifestyles can sometimes cause us to put those things on the backburner until we can find the time or energy to pick them back up again. Big mistake! Ever see the movie, The Shining? Take a lesson from Jack and know that all work and no play makes YOU a dull boy, or girl.
Cut yourself some slack! You’ve done a fantastic thing. You have discovered an activity or interest that captures your attention, opens your mind or feeds your soul. Why would you want to make that a last priority?
Make time every day (at least 30 minutes) to focus on the activity, hobby or interests that you love. No excuses and no exceptions, even if it’s just reading articles about it or surfing websites that contain information and content. This step is vastly important in your quest for emotional health and happiness, so as long as your hobby or interest doesn’t hurt anyone else, go ahead; DO your thing!
Try these suggestions for two weeks. Commit to it and you will notice your happiness level rising fast! At the end of two weeks, send me an email and let me know how it went for you. I love to hear your feedback in the comments!
Lisa Arbuckle CCHt., RMT