I’ve been hearing a lot about happiness lately; books and reports on the ‘science of happiness’.
I come from a scientific background as a health-care practitioner (dentist, hypnotist). As a Westerner, I understand our country’s infatuation with the ‘left brain': the linear, logical, statistical and ‘scientific’ ways of thinking. As a society, we like facts and figures and to see proof.
As a mind/body practitioner (hypnotist, life coach, dentist), I know that there is a place for facts and figures and another place for intuition, creativity and Spirit (maybe even the same place).
Happiness and contentment are two subjects that insist that we are aware of and utilize both the left and right sides of our brain, as well as our heart, 5 senses and ‘gut’ (6th sense; intuition).
On television, the internet and all around us, we tend to equate happiness with what we have, what we are able to acquire; in other words, our sense of pleasure (as opposed to pain).
My personal ideas about happiness are a bit broader. I have come to realize, after decades of personal unhappiness, that happiness is a choice. This is not as simple as it appears and yet it is this simple.
If you are depressed or have other disorders: anxiety, trauma, etc., it is worthwhile to seek professional help. Even so, you can use these techniques in conjunction with the therapy, medication, coaching, etc.
I come from a WWII survivor family, where we ‘learned’ that suffering, worry and fear are the norm. I still find it necessary to be very conscious of my automatic, negative thoughts, perceptions and beliefs that the worse can and is bound to, happen; always waiting for ‘the other shoe to drop.’
I’m a late bloomer, perhaps a bit of a slow learner when it comes to these subjects. I have finally realized that my attitude and habit of unhappiness causes my unhappiness. Really, it’s just what thoughts I am thinking. So, with a lot of help, unconscious (therapy, hypnosis and more) and conscious (coaching, courses, reading, constant self-awareness), I am working, moment-to-moment, on changing my thoughts and subsequently, my attitudes and behaviors, to one of happiness, or rather, contentment. I am sure that if I can do it, so can you.
Happiness and Contentment:
Aristotle put it beautifully; “Happiness is self-contentedness.”
When we speak about being ‘happy,’ we speak about a momentary, temporary state, one of pleasure. And that’s all good, but it’s fleeting.
Contentment or contentedness is a state of acceptance; accepting where you are in your life, who you are right now and what you are doing. It is more of an internal state of being.
Lao Tzu wrote; “Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
Contentment does not mean that you stagnate. You can go forward with your intentions and your goals. You just do it using the power of your subconscious mind and conscious awareness.
I don’t always get there. Often, I want certain areas of my life to change or at least, be different than they are. I am starting to understand that while we can reach for more and/or different, we can also accept the way things are, right now and be thankful for what we have.
In the end, we don’t need much to be happy; a sunset, a flower, a good meal, a good book, a conversation with a friend, hugging a child. These small joys all add up to happiness. Contentment is appreciating and enjoying the work-in-progress that we are!
Ways to Happiness and Contentment:
1) Appreciate the small joys and the simple things in life; look and smell a flower; smile at someone; enjoy a good night’s sleep.
2)Say thank you—–continually. Have gratitude for all that you have, even if it’s just your breath. You are breathing. You are here and meant to be here!
3)Have an open mind. You may have been raised in a certain way, within a particular society. This doesn’t mean that you can’t open to new, delightful and exciting new choices. Go for it. Your thoughts will change and so will your life.
4)Laugh, even when you don’t feel like it. As a dentist, I know that, not only is this good exercise for your facial muscles but it is great exercise for your heart, soul and immune system. When you smile and laugh, even a few minutes/day, you have no choice but to feel better.
5)Stop and consider; are you saying what you really want to express? Are you trying to change someone? Just accept them as they are——-and yourself!
Do you really want the new car, clothing, TV or are you trying to ‘fill’ something?
Stop. Take a week or a month, then see if you still want what you thought you did.
6)Show people you appreciate them. Everyone wants to know they count and you care.
7)Breathe, breathe, breathe! Slow down and become aware of the gorgeous gift of your breath. It keeps you here and allows you to express the gifts that you’ve been put here to fulfill.
8)Make the choice to be happy!
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”