Lie: When I am / have “X” I will be happy
Truth: Your definition of success sucks!
We have been taught to follow the formula: if you work harder, you will be more successful, and then you will be happy.
This formula is however scientifically backward. The misconception is that success precedes happiness. “Once I get a promotion, I’ll be happy,” or, “Once I lose weight, I’ll feel great.” But because success is a moving target, as soon as we hit that target, we raise it again—the happiness that results from success is fleeting. The truth is Happiness fuels success, not the other way around. Happiness equals Appreciation. In my experience both are what happens as a result of being aware, having aspiration, accepting with appropriate judgement, taking action, being accountable, and taking the time to acknowledge. Doing these things means that you are switched on, engaged and in your element.
Living in this way is a choice, an attitude, an adventure an experience.
Life is short, precious, and can be as meaningful and as deliberate as you choose to make it.
- Appreciation can be cultivated.
“90% of your happiness is not predicted by your external world, but by how your brain processes the world.”
People who cultivate a positive mind-set perform better in the face of challenge. In fact the research shows that our brains, in positive, perform 31% better than they do in negative, neutral or stressed. Dopamine is released when we are happy in the present. Dopamine not only makes you happier, but it turns on all the learning centres in your brain, allowing you to adapt to the world in a different way. Much of the current research on neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to change even in adulthood – reveals that as you develop new habits, you rewire the brain. Just like exercising muscles at the gym, we can build strong neural pathways, and create an environment of positivity in our brains.
Engaging in one brief positive exercise every day for as little as three weeks can have a lasting impact:
Choose one or more – do them everyday for 21 days in a row
Journal: write down 3 new things each day that you are grateful for.
Journaling the positive experience, relives the experience, lighting up your neurology and activating the new desired pathways.
Move your body: There are so many benefits to having a physical practice.
I don’t care if you run, dance, yoga, lift, swim or do star jumps. Exercise teaches your brain that your behaviour matters. It also releases dopamine. It pulls you out of your head, and back into your body. It enables you to see physical progress. There are SO many reasons why you need to have some kind of physical practice.
Meditation: Whatever this means for you.
I don’t recommend anything more, than sitting quietly, without any distractions and allowing your thoughts to wash over you, without trying to push them aside, or stop them. I am a particularly visual person, so I like to think of my thoughts as clouds in a vast blue sky; as they enter my mind I let them cross the sky and leave again. The cultural ADHD we have created by doing multiple things at once is alleviated as we practice focusing on one thing at a time.
Random acts of kindness: Say one kind thing to someone every day.
Or pay for someone’s parking. Or send someone a note to say that you appreciate them. Whatever takes your fancy. Random acts of kindness are conscious acts of kindness. By practicing kindness you not only bring someone joy, but in so doing you elevate your own levels of joy and by practicing these expressions ourselves we learn to recognise them and open our hearts to the receipt of them ourselves.
Try it for yourself, and let me know how you get on!
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