Underneath the worries about money, career, family and status, there is a pleasant feeling of well being that anyone can access. Yet, most were never taught how to access this innate happiness within. In fact, you were probably taught to live in a way that reduces happiness and increases stress. According to Thomas H. Holmes and Richard H. Rahe, from the University of Washington, life is getting more stressful with each decade that passes.
Think about it like this. You were born a blank slate. Sure you had tendencies that made you unique, but your beliefs and habits were programed into you by greater cultural forces. We call this programing, learning. You learned who you are, what to do and how the world works from your family group, religion, school and media exposure, etc.
These cultural forces innocently programed you for fear, frustration, worry and struggle. You weren’t taught how to be happy. For example; It is assumed by ALL well meaning people, that if you avoid the dangers of life, then someday, in the future, you will find happiness. There is some wisdom in that thought process. It keeps you from sticking a fork in the electrical socket. It will keep you alive longer. In fact, in Tom W. Smith’s research at the University of Chicago, he showed that biologically older people are happier than younger people. The question is, “Are you willing to wait until you are older to be happy?” If you were attracted to this article, then the answer is probably, “No!”
Happiness is a skill that anyone can learn. With the development of any new skill, there is both adopting new behaviors and releasing ineffective ones that stand in your way. This article is focused on releasing the habits that do not serve you and, make you unhappy.
1. Trusting what your mind tells you. I call the mind (all that talking in your head) The Drunk Monkey. The Drunk Monkey in your head is not your friend and doesn’t care about your happiness or well being. Really listen to it today. Notice that it is focused on what’s wrong, what needs to be avoided, what needs to be fixed and what negative events might happen in the future. The talking in your head is not on your side and according to research done at Harvard University by psychologist Dan Gilbert when the mind wanders it defaults to thoughts that make you unhappy. Happy people try not to pay too much attention to their minds.
2. Puffing yourself up like a prickly pufferfish (Self Importance). The Drunk Monkey tries to make you important so that you can be more attractive, climb the ladder of success or even get a mate. The Drunk Monkey tells you that if you are important, then people will love and respect you. Unfortunately, the need to demonstrate your importance is motivated by an underlying awareness that you don’t feel important or valued. Underneath the show, is the nagging feeling that your self importance is a con, which diminishes your feeling of well being. Even worse, when you blow yourself up like a pufferfish, your prickly spines keep people away and you feel lonely. Social relationships are the number one source of happiness according to research done by www.saplo.com. Happy people practice being humble and find reasons to validate others, instead of themselves.
3. Protecting yourself from a world that is not dangerous. The genetic roots of your thinking are prehistoric. Back then, you needed to react to danger with intense feelings that mobilized the body away from danger. Today, life is very different. Someone rejecting you is not dangerous and yet, your mind floods your body full of the same prehistoric notions of fight or flight. When you are stressed, freaked out, upset, mad or being reactive, you don’t have the capacity for happiness in that moment. Happy people practice noticing everything that is going right in a situation.
4. Not keeping your promises. A Swedish study showed social bonds are one of the most important aspects of happiness. Social bonds are based on trust. Trust is built on reliability. When you are unreliable, you naturally get down on yourself, lose faith in your personal power and so do others. This leads to isolation and shallow relationships. Keeping promises makes you feel worthwhile. If you make promises and then don’t keep them, then you have a nagging feeling that something is wrong. Happy people make less promises and work to keep them.
You might experience happiness temporarily by changing the conditions in your life. Yet long term happiness occurs when you examine whether your thoughts, beliefs and actions actually bring you happiness or not.