What is happiness? What does it take to be happy? We all want to feel happy. Do we know how?
It seems we were born knowing how. Babies show their feelings — and happiness is definitely among them.
Sometimes we fall out of the state of happiness and want to find ways to get back there. Various aspects of these Happy Holidays can be stressful, including basic things like bad weather, traffic, or too much to do.
Well-known NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming) author and trainer Suzi Smith spoke about happiness on a webinar this week. Happiness has been shown to increase longevity, and has health benefits, in addition to being desirable in itself.
She reminded us of several basic NLP techniques for returning to a happy state of mind. One was to become conscious of the content of our thoughts. If they are negative, change to positive content. For instance, when you make a mistake, look for solutions and learning rather than beating yourself up. The important thing is to become conscious of those negative thoughts.
Suzi told some good stories and used NLP anchoring to give us the choice of waking up to a happy day when our feet first hit the floor in the morning. Thanks, Suzi, for that holiday gift!
There is so much in NLP, and in Suzi’s wisdom, that she was able to go over many useful strategies even in a short session.
One of the interesting things that came up was a participant, I think from Germany, saying that his clients ask, “But what about all the things I have to do?” I think how we handle that question is the key to maintaining a happy state of mind.
Thinking about what I have to do has several drawbacks. One is that it can take me out of my body and the immediate present. Another is that it can invoke worry about future actions. I can start feeling stressed and under time pressure. The feeling of being rushed and having too much to do gets in the way of my feeling happy.
The positive intention behind thinking about what I have to do, i.e., getting me to do it, is worthwhile. I do want to be motivated to take care of my responsibilities and accomplish my dreams.
This intention can be accomplished with joy. I find it easier to do it with joy if I connect with my real motivation – the reason I have to do whatever it is.
In most cases, what I have to do is to keep myself and my loved ones happy and well. That is a joyful prospect and I am glad to do it. I appreciate the reminders that bring me back to that awareness.
Yesterday at a meeting of the South Bay OD Network, speaker Karen Colligan brought up happiness in the context of work. She had us think about a time we loved what we were doing. It’s great to be able to have that kind of feeling while earning a living.
If it turns out that your job is not what you totally love doing, you have the choice of focusing on the things it allows you to do that you do love.
My work has some parts I don’t love doing. It helps me to be happy doing them when I step into the feeling I’ll have when they are done. And then remember to savor it when it really is done. I just love that cleared-off desk!
OK, you probably have much bigger things to be happy about than clearing your desk. Focus on those!
Happiness is contagious. Research on social networks* has shown that we are 15% more likely to be happy if someone we are directly connected with is happy, and 10% if a friend of a friend is happy. We are even 6% more likely to say we are happy if our friend’s friend’s friend is happy. Even if we haven’t met them. The researchers conclude that “having more friends is not enough–having more happy friends is the key to our own emotional well-being.”
So let this note be a reminder to be conscious of your thoughts, choose happiness, and be sure to spread it around.
*From the book Connected by Nicholas A. Christakis, MD, PhD, and James H. Fowler, PhD. 2009.