By Tara Ballard
So, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Happiness lately. It all started with a trip I took recently to attend a personal development seminar. During the week-long event, we did various exercises and practices to bring forth our true, authentic selves, as well as other exercises to get us laughing and feeling joyful. It was truly a life-changing experience.
It was during this seminar that I met my new friend, Jen Newman. Jen absolutely radiates light, joy and happiness. She is one of those people whose smile lights up a room, and you feel drawn to her. Jen calls herself a “Happiness Practitioner” – how cool is that? When I asked her how she began her Happiness journey, she pointed me to the book, Happy For No Reason by Marci Shimoff. In it, the author describes three types of happiness:
- Happy for Bad Reason
- Happy for Good Reason
- Happy for No Reason
Happy for Bad Reason would be doing something that causes a sense of temporary elation or false sense of happiness, like using food for comfort, retail “therapy” (guilty as charged!) and alcohol/drug abuse. Happy for Good Reason would be things like getting a job promotion, getting married, etc. Finally, Happy for No Reason involves feeling a vibration of joy and happiness at your very core…in other words, it comes from within, NOT from external sources.
This all sounds great, right? Feeling happy all the time, no matter what the heck is going on, good or bad?? In the book, Marci interviewed what she calls the Happy Hundred – people who wake up each day Happy for No Reason, no matter what Life throws at them. These folks came from all walks of life. Some were very wealthy, some not. Race, income and gender did not matter.
There were three things the Happy Hundred all said contributes to their outlook, Marci calls these The Guiding Three:
- What Expands You Makes You Happier: Think about a time when you felt true joy…something that just made you want to burst because your heart was expanded so much, and you felt light as air. Happy people choose thoughts, feelings and behaviors that expand them, rather than ones than contract them.
- The Universe is Out to Support You: Happy people truly believe that the Universe has their back. Even when seemingly bad things happen, Happy people look for the lesson or blessing. Oh my gosh, my grandfather absolutely LIVED this. I have never met a more positive, glass-half-full person. He ALWAYS believed there was a blessing in everything that happened, good or bad.
- What You Appreciate, Appreciates: This concept is based on the Law of Attraction, or “like attracts like”. Ever have a day when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Then, you spill coffee on yourself, get stuck in traffic, are late for work, etc.? That’s the Law of Attraction, baby. I will admit that I used to think this was all very woo-woo, but I have seen it in action over the past few months in my own life. Whatever you think, feel, say and act on, you draw to yourself like a magnet. Happy people focus on being and feeling happy NOW, no matter what is going on in their life. They set their thoughts and frequency on happiness.
So, now we have our Guiding Three principles to being Happy for No Reason. Using the principles, we can start to implement Happiness Practices. Here are some things to get you started:
- Focus on SOLUTIONS, not problems: what if instead of using all your energy focusing on and complaining about a particular problem, you put that energy toward finding a solution? Using your creativity and imagination to solve problems has a way of expanding you and energizing you…so much better than throwing a big pity party for yourself!!
- Always look for the lesson or gift: I really only just experienced this in full-effect recently. When Dad died, of course I was sad and heartbroken and even a little angry…but what a gift it has been to get closer to my stepmom and her family. Sometimes it’s so hard to find a lesson or gift, but the alternative is playing the blame game and becoming the Big V (Victim). The next time you find yourself falling into this mindset, instead of asking yourself “Who’s to blame?”, ask yourself “What can I learn from this?”.
- Cut yourself some slack: in other words, make peace with yourself. We ALL have things that we’ve done that we aren’t so proud of. In order to move into true happiness, we must acknowledge these things, and most importantly give ourselves permission to feel the emotions, but to also let go of them. For a long time, I carried a lot of guilt about my failed marriage, and I think I prevented myself from truly being happy because I was constantly beating myself up about it. I have since learned to forgive myself for what I previously felt was my failure, and am working on living in the present moment and not letting my past dictate my future.
- Practice Gratitude: Ah, here we are back at Gratitude. Happiness begins and ends with Gratitude – period.
- Practice feeling LOVE: practice feeling love for EVERYTHING and EVERYONE, especially yourself. I learned this practice awhile back: every morning, stand in front of your bathroom mirror each morning, look yourself in the eye and name three things you are proud of about yourself. Once you feel true self-love, love radiates from you to those around you. You can walk down the street and feel love for total strangers. I often find myself saying little prayers for people I encounter when I’m out…I will smile outwardly at them, and say a little prayer for them inwardly. I feel so expanded when I do this!
- Connect with a Higher Power: whether it’s God, the Universe, whatever…finding time to sit in silence or meditation or prayer to connect with your Higher Power can fill you to the brim with peace and joy. I can sit and watch the birds at my feeders for hours – this is my meditation. It calms and centers me – I could do it for hours.
- Find your passion: what brings you true happiness and makes your heart sing? For so many, we go through life hanging on to the status quo, and not really exploring what lights us up. I think I would really enjoy dancing and public speaking, but have held myself back from exploring those things because of FEAR (see below). Not anymore – hello Zumba classes and Toastmasters :)
- Serve others: volunteering at a local homeless shelter, dog-walking at the Humane Society, going on a mission trip, or even just offering to carry someone’s groceries….serving others in ways big or small fills your very soul with gladness. I recently found a really cool website: www.moreloveletters.com. Check it out for small ways you can brighten the days of strangers.
- Appreciate your supportive relationships: why is it that we often hurt the ones we love? Probably because we know they will love us no matter what, right? The Happy Hundred cultivate and nurture their supportive relationships, appreciating and loving them always.
- Stop being afraid: how many times have you not done something because of fear? Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of judgment, or maybe even fear of success?? Oh my…this was like my theme song!! I have learned, however, that stepping outside our comfy, cozy zone into the unknown can be wildly exhilarating and fulfilling. It can also bring forth a passion for something you didn’t know existed within. Fear can be a huge Happiness robber! You don’t have to go out and do something crazy…you can start very small. How about ordering something different on the menu at your favorite restaurant? Or taking a different route to work? Or trying a new workout? Taking small steps outside your comfort zone until it feels comfortable – and do it again and again with new things. Eventually, the things you thought you would NEVER do are no biggie!
- Take care of your temple, aka your body: I think this is pretty self-explanatory, but we all know the connection between mind-body and what a huge role in plays in our well-being. When we are good to our bodies by giving it good nourishment and adequate activity, there is a sense of expansion within. I will confess that I indulged quite a bit over the holidays, and BOTH my mind and body rebelled – ha. I am so much more in flow with things when my nutrition and activity are in sync.
I do not claim to have this stuff mastered! But, as with most things, time and consistency in is our friend in practicing Happiness!
My wish for you all is to have a Very Happy (for no reason) 2013!
Related: 5 Steps To Turn Around Your Bad Mood