What makes you happy?
When you’re happy how long does that state last? Are you able to swap low feelings for something better? Wouldn’t it be great to do that even for a short time?
Talk about forgetting what we’ve learned. Don’t know about you but I do it all the time!
Take Friday evening – Twenty odd people, including moi and three courageous ladies from the DARE TO BE YOU workshops, gathered in a room to undertake preparations for walking on a 20ft bed of burning embers as a gesture of self empowerment and to raise funds for PHASE – madness! – hadn’t we taken leave of our senses? Well I certainly thought so, there wasn’t a cell in my body that was agreeing with this decision to take part but the promise had been made to support and that was that.
How’s it done? How can that happen without a single casualty? Well, I’m sure that somewhere along the line I must have signed something akin to the Official Secrets Act so I’m not going to let you in on the whole prep thing other than to mention how a change of thinking can be subtly embedded into the psyche without much ado. With positive thinking you can do anything! Isn’t that what they say? Well maybe, but this isn’t cerebral – it’s far more powerful and subtle than that. You could use dynamic words – mind you, they would have to be your own because someone else’s could feel alien or just plain wrong. No, This is about feeeeling the feelings.
“And what does all of this have to do with happiness anyway?”
Firstly, lets put this into context and remind ourselves that we are responsible for our own thoughts and the only thing that exists is the here and NOW, this present moment – it’s impossible to think more than one thought at a time, right?
Stand up tall and square, shoulders back, head up high, nose pointing towards the sky, and put a big cheesy grin, as wide as you can make it, on your face for the count of 10 seconds. Then relax. How do you feel? Better??
When you smile it changes something, it’s like you open yourself to the possibility of embracing the challenge even though it feels kind of wacky doing it this way – makes sense, yeh?
That’s because when it comes right down to it, happiness is a lot about training.
You CAN actually train yourself to feel happy, uplifted, different from where you are in a down state in any given moment. Think of a child in fits of giggles, your pet up to silly antics, a funny, touching memory – I defy a smile not to creep onto your lips.
Celebrating what brings you joy from your heart down to the tips of your toes isn’t something we generally do. We don’t know how to tap into it. We often miss out on happiness because we chase the vision of the rosy, rich and perfect scenario but this kind of practice can change your perception.
You know how it is when you set yourself a goal, target, whatever you like to call it? You get there and you wonder what that was all about, it doesn’t feel like you thought it would, it’s like someone has moved the goal posts when you weren’t looking and you need to go further. It’s like your ego will always be focusing on the next thing, place, bright shiny object – kind of similar to walking towards the horizon – and you know what? You’re never going to get there – the line where the earth meets the sky will always be out of reach. There’s no ‘there’ and even if there was how long would it be before you were itching to move on to another place?
That’s one good reason to take lots of pictures and even videos – we did – (except that we forgot to have one taken together, can you believe?) to remind Carla, Helen and Anna of their massive accomplishment. Memories tend to fade quickly and we lose perspective, time diminishes our achievements – Like forgetting what it feels like to be happy because life events get in the way.
So just for a moment, stop reading this – stand up and try it out – go on – head up, shoulders back, hands on hips and smile a big, stretchy smile and feel how it feels when you relax and let go …. Do it again …. And again ….
Do it five times and notice the sensations in your body.
And here are a few other things you can do:
Write a daily gratitude list – right here and now – quickly jot down five things you are grateful for. Do it every day.
Make a list of everything that make you happy – not just the big things – every itsy bitsy little thing that makes you smile and feel contented. Have a special notebook – stick in pictures, photos, scribble notes, tickets, and mementos. What’s great about this is that you don’t even have to read it – when you need a lift simply holding it will be enough to raise your spirits.
Celebrate your milestones, the turning points and even the difficult decisions. Click To Tweet
Acknowledging yourself may at first feel rather uncomfortable – maybe you’ve been told not to boast or bring attention to yourself – well, I’m giving you permission, you don’t have to tell alland sundry but give it a go. Enjoy!
“I usually talk down my accomplishments as they never seem very big or interesting in comparison to others BUT not this time! I won’t let anyone dismiss what I achieved. The reversal of the first little voice that said “No, that’s not my thing” to embracing the challenge; the shelving of worry; to standing at the edge of the freshly raked burning embers. It went against every instinct to keep one’s self safe and not go near fire, and I survived. I learned about the benefit of support, to trust in myself, to face new challenges even if they are out of your comfort zone, and to delight in the cheers of family.”
~ Helen Pennington
Now, as you read this you might not feel all that excited and that’s fine. If you’re having an off day you’re going to think it’ll take more than an article to raise your spirits. However, when you do it again tomorrow and then again the next day and then again the next? Well, that ‘s going to be interesting.
That’s when you start to experience this build up of ‘happiness energy’, and you notice that your usual reactions have evolved into something much more profound. You notice that things are a changing, you’re feeling different, brighter, lighter. Which is one of the reasons why I stood there in that crowded room being taught how to walk on embers so hot they could melt aluminum.
My own personal formula for happiness is a cumulative result of large intentions, daring leaps, focused attention, thinking clearly, thanking everything, making sure I’m around positive people, and a relentless willingness to look as silly as it takes.
What’s yours? I’d love to hear about your personal Happiness Formula :0)