Happiness: a Worthwhile Mission
How happy do you feel most days? And what defines happiness for you?
Imagine taking control of your happiness and not leaving it to chance, to the weather or what other people say and do, what kind of mood your boss is in. Imagine most moments of the day, days of the week and weeks of the year, your happiness was an 8 or above on a 10 point scale. Maybe it already is. That’s wonderful because those around you are benefiting along with you.
The happiest 10 countries in the world, cited in the annual World Happiness Report, produced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions, may not surprise you. They are Australia (10), Sweden (9), New Zealand (8), Canada (7), Netherlands (6), Switzerland (5), Iceland (4), Denmark (3), Norway (2) and the #1 spot goes to Norway.
The US came in 18th place. That’s down 4 positions from last year. While the US got richer, it got a bit more unhappy. Go figure.
Yet, do not despair if you don’t live in one of the happiest places in the world. Most of us do not. You can still be one of the happiest people for miles around.
I’ve learned that happiness is less an outside job and more an inside one. People with far less than I have ever had, have been happier than I have been at times in my life. I see smiles on faces of people who are quite poor, yet radiate joy. I’ve watched people with life threatening illness demonstrate extraordinary appreciation and generosity as they go through their most difficult days.
I’ve come to learn as a HeartMath® Coach for over 15 years that we can feel happiness more than we feel unhappiness, regardless of our circumstances or events of the day.
Your happiness truly is an amazing game changer as it relates to your wellbeing and overall quality of life. Many will scoff it off and say yeah right, you don’t have my job or my bills or my children.
Got it and please stay open a bit longer before you check out entirely on my ‘happiness, regardless notion.’
Try this right now. Three steps. Move your attention from your head down to your heart area. Now take some nice slow deep breaths in and out of your heart. Yes, take each breath as if it is coming in through the heart and out of the heart. You might notice already you have slowed things down inside, the chatter is gone and you’re feeling calmer and more peaceful.
Now as you continue to breathe this way (in and out of the heart), feel appreciation for someone, something or someplace that you hold dear. Continue feeling appreciation as you breathe in and out of the heart for a few minutes.
Now notice how you feel physically? More relaxed, shoulders down perhaps, less tension in your neck, gut, chest or back? How about mentally? Is it quieter up there? Perhaps you notice your mind is a bit clearer or it’s totally quiet. Maybe like a blank slate. And emotionally, what emotion are you feeling? Peace, joy, love, compassion? Happiness perhaps?
Compare that to just a few minutes ago when you were doing that life sucks thing or my boss is a pain in the ass or my kids are driving me crazy or I don’t know how I’m going to pay for college conversation. All that still remains-the job may suck, the boss might too and you might still not know where college funds are going to come from. Yet you were able to shift your feelings to positive ones, in just seconds to a few minutes.
In other words, the events in your life have little to do with your response. That is unless you say it does, which means you’ve probably been responding a certain way for years, wiring your brain to swoosh, go there, time and time again. The brain is a pattern-matching machine. The good news is it shifts as you shake up the pattern.
So, while circumstances might seem daunting right now, that doesn’t mean you have to feel a certain way about them. Hope knows know particular circumstances. Peace is always there for those who choose it. A kind response to an angry one is always an option.
The resulting physiology and years to come actually depend largely upon the emotional responses we make to life, moment by moment. So if changing your life, getting healthier, making better choices, being a better person are on your list of goals, one of the first best steps you can possibly take is to change the way you are responding to your current circumstances.
Just like adding more salads vs cheeseburgers to your week, water vs soda and an apple vs. a candy bar, you will feel and see results rather quickly in your health, relationships, productivity and life. How we choose to fuel our bodies, nutritionally and emotionally, is a choice.
The very good news is the body craves what you give it. So once you start drinking more water, you crave it and it gets much easier to get 64 oz in each day. Once you choose vegetables over the pizza, you want less of the pizza and more of the vegetables. Again, the body craves what you give it. Give it the good stuff and that’s what it will crave.
Once you start your day feeling appreciative and hopeful (use the 3 step process above if you like), along with that bowl of oatmeal and berries, you will have the energy to not only face the day. You’ll have the energy to create the kind of day that makes you happy.