Happiness as a habit
-- by Sonya Green
Have you ever even stopped to think about what it is that makes you happy? Has it ever dawned on you to actively pursue happiness? Most of us simply consider happiness to be a random act that catches us fleetingly and disappears all too soon.
Happiness has fascinated me my entire life, I constantly seek it and play with it. I’m getting better at prolonging it and faster at recognizing it.
When happiness comes accidentally it entices us to, “be in the moment”. Most of us are mentally in a perpetual state of being in the past or future most of the time. In happiness, we pull our attention into the present moment to fully experience this great feeling. (Pain also has this ability.) I mention this, as I know that the most essential requirement for happiness is to practise, ‘Living in the present moment’.
Happiness is a present moment experience.
We all wait for happy events to come and find us or we sometimes actively seek out things that we believe will bring us happiness. Winning money, buying a big-ticket item, getting married, having a child, a holiday, a promotion or finding a new lover are usually considered to be happy events. Many of us spend a great amount of time, effort and money actively pursuing these things.
Unfortunately these things come with a ‘Happiness expiry date’.
Ironically, we often find our happiness list reverses on us at a later date. We then hear, “I’ll be happy when my divorce comes through, when I retire, when the kids leave home.” The car you once dreamed about owning is now just a costly mode of transport. Your bride has become your witch and your home is cluttered with things you long forgot you even possess.
Happiness is not about having - Happiness is about being.
We have all heard it before but we must constantly remind our selves, ‘Happiness comes from within’.
Happiness is internally generated not externally manufactured.
Happiness is not a tonic with a recipe; I cannot give you a list of things to do to guarantee your happiness. Some people seem to never be happy, no matter what and yet other people are just filled with joy for the simplest reasons. Most of the time I am happy for no particular reason at all other than the fact that I choose to be.
There are two basic principles that I do consider to be imperative; One; Is actively pursue, maintain, expand and share happiness. Two; Is minimize, eliminate and repel unhappiness.
The most important aspect of happiness is to choose what thoughts you will entertain and which thoughts you will dismiss.
Eliminate what you hate. This is going to sound a little obvious but it’s amazing when you get down to it, just how much grief you may be hanging onto without ever giving it any serious thought at all. “How much of your time, emotion and energy are you wasting on maintaining things that make you unhappy?”
Some people spend their entire working life in jobs that are almost soul destroying. Many people stay in relationships that are physically, mentally and emotionally draining. We may have friends, colleagues, neighbours or relatives that simply, ‘drive us crazy’ and yet we maintain them. Some people hold on to addictions or habits that time and again bring about the same destructive outcome and yet they still go around and around repeating the cycle over and over. If you are serious about increasing your happiness level you must first define what makes you unhappy and take action to eliminate it.
If it brings your Grief – Make it Brief.
Where is your focus and what is your perception? Almost every terrible thing that ever happened to you only happened in your imagination. Just think back over the last year. Try and recall all the things that really had you worried, scared or upset. How many actually happened? And of the ones that did happen, how many were anywhere near as bad as you had imagined?
It’s scary! Life gives us many situations in which we lose our comfort zone long before our new life is revealed to us. We handle it badly, but a fact of life it is. In reinventing yourself you are going to have to accept that limbo is not only a high probability but you are also going to have to actively take yourself there deliberately.
I have often thought of my life pushing me up an arduous mountain and leaving me with no way of going back, I imagine fire moving swiftly behind me, threatening me and pushing me forward. When I reach the top of the mountain I realize I must jump or be engulfed by the fire. The terror of believing I will either be burned to death or smashed against the rocks at the bottom of the mountain has me completely immobilized.
Then somewhere in the back of my mind I hear a voice, “Jump, you can fly!”
If you want small, safe changes to occur in your life then the effort and risk will not be so frightening but if you really wish to “Step out and step up” You had better accept that you will need to be Bold and Brave. You will never fly if you won’t leave the ground.
Sonya Green, West Australian Author and Personal Growth workshop facilitator. Writer and producer of guided meditations and webmaster of http://www.reinventingmyself.com