Happiness Takes Training And Practice

Think of happiness as a muscle – a muscle that needs to be trained with a specific set of exercises done properly so you get the desired result. And in order to do it properly you need…practice!

Think of happiness as a muscle – a muscle that needs to be trained with a specific set of exercises done properly so you get the desired result. And in order to do it properly you need…practice!

Yep, you’re getting the idea now… Just like lunges and squats, good technique takes practice and with repetition comes that desired result.

Let’s Talk Training…

In the aim of keeping this short, sweet and simple let’s stick with the ‘happiness is a muscle’ metaphor.

We’ve gone through some tasks and daily checklists in previous posts, so you know what you need to do. You have your notebooks, you understand your triggers, you’ve got your coping strategies in place… you’ve got the tools now you need to use them and use them correctly.

Motivation + Technique + Repetition = Positive Result

What ensures you use them correctly???… Intent!

Intent is an important motivational force and intent is what will make you WANT to keep exercising that happy muscle.

Technique is knowing how to do what you need to do (We’ve covered those in previous posts).

Repetition comes from discipline – don’t faff about, don’t procrastinate, don’t aim to be perfect and start tomorrow when you have everything just right… just do it!

Having the right intent before you begin is crucial to success.

Quick task: Sit down for a few minutes and really focus inward – determine what is YOUR intention for taking this path to being happier.

It could be a number of things, you could want to have more invitations to parties, have a better relationship with family/friends/colleagues/neighbours/neighbour’s dog, it could be that you’re trying to attract the attention of a certain someone or vying for a promotion…these are no good, you need to scrap it and get back to the drawing board!

Just like everything else in life if you do it for someone or something other than yourself, it flops. So put your thinking cap on, dig deep and figure out what is it that YOU want.

My motivation is: I want to be happier each day because I want to feel really and truly ALIVE in all my senses and I want to live every day to the fullest…no regrets, no what if’s no if only’s.

Find something that resonates with you and write it down – by writing it down you are committing to it and this serves as a great reminder when you’re having those iffy moments. Maybe you have a song or a movie that brings this feeling to life – if you do keep it handy for days you need inspiration and a boost.

Set up little notes to self, these can be words, pictures, music playlists, movies, cartoon clips, post it notes…………. anything! The trick is that it MUST resonate with YOU and YOUR intent.

So now you have the what and you have the how – now go train that happiness muscle… you can do it!!!

It would be great to hear from you!

Get in touch…

Happiness Requires Effort

The effort you put into becoming happy will equate to the end result which is of course, a happier you!

What is effort? Effort is defined as: to do one’s best, exert oneself, labour, work, toil, apply oneself!

So effort is WORK and the effort you put into becoming happy will equate to the end result which is of course, a happier you!

Now I hear what you’re thinking…’Why do I need to work at being happy, isn’t it just supposed to happen?’ Well the answer is yes and no. As I mentioned in my last post, we all have a happiness set point – this is the automatic base line measure of our happiness. What we are looking to do is to be happier, more bubbly and positive people so of course we want to challenge this set point– hence the effort.

Here is a short list you can jot down in your diary or create a check list on your phone – this allows for momentum to develop and as you get the hang of it you can add more to your list.

Happy Day Checklist:

Morning Thank You – When you open your eyes and before you get out of bed quickly think of three things you’re thankful for and smile LOTS – even if it’s a forced, fake smile – your facial muscles don’t know any different and your brain responds by releasing endorphins which makes you feel happy. If you need to set the alarm five minutes earlier – do it and SMILE!

Perfume! – Spritz away…use your favourite scent to lift your mood and make you happy. There is science in this too I promise. When you inhale your favourite fragrance, you trigger smell receptors in your nose, the chemicals in the scent (whether its natural or synthetic doesn’t matter) enter your lungs and move into your bloodstream, the part of your brain that manages emotions is then stimulated and the body responds by releasing serotonin and norepinephrine – result = happy!!!

Eat Healthy – I’m sure you are more than aware of the countless benefits of eating healthy so I’m keeping this one short. Eating clean = feeling good for making good choices = easy digestion = release of serotonin = Happy You! Need I say more?

Exercise – Whether it’s getting off the bus one stop early, a quick walk during your lunch break, taking the stairs or walking home the long way – a little bit goes a long way! Your body moves, your brain releases dopamine – your stress/depression levels go down – you feel happy!

Breathe! – Another spot of science for you, aim to take a few sets of ten deep breaths a day, start slow and build up over time – even if it means escaping somewhere outside for a few minutes. Deep breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation – when you’re relaxed you’re more calm and able to handle whatever comes your way.

Random Act of Kindness – Do something nice for someone – just because! Hold open a door, say thank you to the bus driver, smile and say thank you to the barista as you get your coffee…. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture – even making a colleague a cup of tea without being asked is great.

Be Nice – Don’t react, be mindful and nice – find your magic word/phrase (see my previous post). In the beginning pick one task that you will CHOOSE not to react to – something you know happens daily and that can be a trigger for you. For me, it used to be people who get on a bus or are stood in line to get in at the tube station then start digging for their oyster when it’s their turn – not before, but right there holding everyone up – I now play a game called Find Something I Like where I look at people around me and find something I like – maybe a bag, cute earrings, nice smile, cool shades…anything really!

And last but not least – End your day with another quick list of thank yous and smile – yep even a fake one – the bigger the better!

It would be great to hear from you!

Get in touch…

Happiness Can Be Learnt

Happiness is not just an emotion it is also a skill and just like any other skill it can be learnt and with practice it can be perfected to the point where it becomes quite effortless.

Happiness is not just an emotion it is also a skill and just like any other skill it can be learnt and with practice it can be perfected to the point where it becomes quite effortless.  

In psychology research there is a theory that suggests that each one of us has a happiness ‘set-point’ this is like a base line. When positive life events occur our happy meters go up and with negative events our happy meter goes down but given time we will always return to our base line….like a happiness ‘comfort zone’!

In practice however, this set-point can actually be reset by learning new skills which is fantastic news because who doesn’t want to be happier right?!

So since Happiness can be learnt what are the tasks we need to set ourselves in the short term to raise our set point for the long term?

Be Thankful – If you’re reading this post its because you care about how you feel and I’m sure you’ve heard it countless times but gratitude really is the key to happiness not as a short term measure but as a total transformation with which you experience life as a whole.

The art of gratefulness takes practice but once you start you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.

Start by ending your day thinking of 3 things you’re grateful for, if it helps you can write them down in a journal – even if they are the same three things every day for the first few days it’s OK. I remember when I started this exercise I would repeat the same things over and over until I learnt to actually appreciate things for what they were and then it became easier. I’ve now worked myself up to 10 things I go over before bed but I still rough have days where I can’t think of anything, then I resort to my basics.

Challenge yourself, try looking for new things each day and you’ll see how going to bed smiling is the best way to plan for a positive day ahead!

It Is What It Is – If you’re anything like me, when something negative happens or someone says something hurtful you already have 10 (if not more) different thoughts going through your mind, with them come ‘what if’s’, ‘if only’s’ and ‘but why’s’.

Since I’ve committed to becoming the most positive version of myself I have a new word I say in my head when this situation presents itself – it comes with a mental shoulder shrug…this word is ‘meh’. For me, this word means ‘Oh well, it is what it is!’.

I don’t think of it anymore, it’s almost instinctive now – some of my friends find it strange how something can happen and I just carry on seemingly oblivious but that’s not what it is.

Every day I am constantly making the conscious choice NOT to entertain that voice in my head that just has me feeling anxious and unsettled and sometimes even fearful. I have a client who hums a certain Disney tune about ‘letting go’ every time she catches herself starting the negative dialogue in her head. Find something that works for you and do it – don’t think about it, just find a word, tune, phrase or quote that works for you, jump in and start now!

Practice Mindfulness – Now before you go and search the internet for videos, links and audios – the mindfulness I’m talking of here is simply being aware of where you are, what you’re doing, how you’re feeling and the thoughts in your mind without a need to act or react, just to be aware.

Take time when eating your lunch to actually eat your lunch, not multi task by doing the online grocery shop between mouthfuls while filling out a form and replying to an email while checking Facebook updates. By doing too many things at one you divide your energy and divide the actual joy of each experience – yes there is joy in filling out forms, someone somewhere needs the information only you can provide so they can, in return, provide you with information/services/items meant specifically for you!

There really is nothing more beautiful than really living and experiencing each moment fully…give it a go!

Take Care of Yourself – Here is another one you’ve heard of countless times but it really is worth mentioning again. It’s so easy to put other people’s needs before our own, to prioritise career or housework before ourselves. But think of it this way – how can you be the best at work/home/play if you’re not feeling like the best you? Take little time outs for yourself to feed your soul, to refuel and recharge your inner power source. Maybe watch a quick music video you like, go for a walk, call a friend or family member – nurture your relationships with loved ones and yourself. Eat healthy, fit in some exercise, be playful!

Have fun…you’ll be better for it…and happier!

Pay It Forward – Doing nice things for others makes you happier – this is a scientific fact!

Acts of kindness release serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a substance that has amazing health benefits including the ability to make us feel happier. Doing something for someone just for the sake of it is a great way to feel good inside.

A random act of kindness is good for you, great for the person receiving it and if someone just happens to see it then it becomes a motivation for someone to do something good too – a wonderful win win chain reaction – everyone is happy!

Keep a Checklist – Yes, it works!

You have a to do list and organiser for every aspect of your work and social life, why not one for your happiness?

I have a little notebook that goes with me EVERYWHERE! Anything I come across that looks fun or sparks joy in me I write it down either as a to do at some point or commit to a date and then I can cross it off.

On my way into work today I was sitting next to a man on the bus doing a Sudoku puzzle – I realised I actually miss doing those and they make me so happy so I made a note to check online for a Sudoku app.

Lunchtime puzzle for me…yay!!!

So, there you go! A few suggestions on how to move that set point higher. Remember slow and steady wins the race – a little push against our boundaries is good, too much and you’ll just end up where you started but disheartened and feeling like the task is too mighty.

It would be great to hear from you!

Get in touch…

Happiness Is A Choice

Doesn’t matter what life throws at you, you ultimately decide how it affects you – choose happiness!

In my last post we looked at what it takes to STAY happy.

In the essence of getting it right, we’ll be looking at different aspects of how to stay happy and explore them a little.

Today we’ll look at happiness being a choice that we can make.

Let’s face it, positive people are great to be around! Try thinking of your closest friends and who you most enjoy being around and spending time with – 9 out of 10 times that person is positive, upbeat, fun, motivating and happy…am I right?

Being around happy people makes us happy, I know it makes me happy and I find that more and more I choose to spend more time with positive people and just cut out the negatives.

I work a full time job, I study, I network, I visit clients at the weekend, I host workshops, I blog…My ‘free’ time in hours does not amount to much and around my current commitments I like to choose spending the precious free moments I have with people that make me smile. More than that, I want to become one of those positive people too!

So how is it that some people are just so happy? Is it because they have more money, more time, a life partner, a great job or do they have a perfect body and a great social life?

Actually its none of those things, those blessings are in fact a side effect of choosing to be a happy and positive person despite the hurdles and challenges life throws in your path!

Don’t shake your head just yet – stick with me and let’s look at this.

Choosing happiness is a choice someone makes, not once in a lifetime or once a week but every moment of every day. That’s not saying happy people don’t have difficult, trying and testing moments but it’s in the way that they handle those moments that keeps them in the positive.

It’s not what happens to you but HOW you deal with it that counts.

Let’s take an example almost everyone has had happen to them at some point in their life – you’re happy standing in line at the supermarket/bank/concert and someone rudely cuts in.

Even the thought of it is annoying huh?!

So now you’re with me, let’s look at two separate scenarios:

Someone cuts in….

  1. You could show your annoyance and express your displeasure at their lack of consideration, if you’re lucky and they agree they’re in the wrong they’ll move to the back of the line or as is most cases they’ll find a way to annoy you more and get into an argument – either way, your moment/morning/day is now ruined! Your mood is now negative, you get to the front of the line and instead of completing your task with the feeling of fulfilment as you go on about your day that negative argumentative energy bleeds into the next moment and the next and the next….until you catch yourself and turn it off.
  1. Alternatively, you could decide and think to yourself ‘Ok this person has cut in, now what?’ In a positive and non-confrontational way you ask if they’re aware of the line and more often than not, (because people hate to be made to look guilty in public) they’ll move to the back of the line, they smile, you smile. You continue to check your phone/read your book/listen to music and get to the front of the line, complete your task and go on about your day as normal.

So what’s the difference here?

In the second example you make a choice in that moment to approach the situation you are faced with in a positive way and because of that, someone cutting in line has no impact on the next moment of your day.

Choosing how you handle a situation can mean the difference between a calm experience and an awful day.

Nobody chooses to be unhappy, down or angry. Situations we are presented with spark a split second decision in our minds that will determine how we handle the situation and this decision determines the result of our mood.

Yes, it takes time. It takes effort and it takes practice but it’s worth it!

Why not try it next time a situation presents itself – catch yourself before you react and see how it plays out.

I’d love to hear about your experiments and I am confident the more you do it and the better you will feel because with every decision you will consciously be choosing happiness!

Get in touch…

Staying Happy Takes Work

Let’s start at the beginning…

What is happiness?

The dictionary defines it as the state of being happy.

definition of happiness

OK, that’s great, but what is happy? Happy is the feeling we get when feeling pleasure, joy, delight, satisfied, blessed….so in essence ‘good’ feelings!

Things that make us happy can vary, a cup of tea, a cool breeze on a hot summer’s day, a parking spot opening up just as you pull into a parking lot, a phone call from a friend out of the blue, a stranger smiling as you get on an elevator, someone getting up and leaving you a seat just as you get onto the tube, a surprise vacation or winning a competition. Whether big or little, happy moments do bring joy but that happy feeling doesn’t stay very long. Life happens, a heel gets scuffed, you miss a train, a deal you’re working really hard on falls through, your date doesn’t show up or you break a nail. Life happens and the joy falls away giving room to sadness, anger, frustration or maybe feelings of rejection and self-doubt.

Life happens to all of us all the time – I’ve yet to see, meet or speak to someone who has EVERYthing going their way but I do have the honour and pleasure of knowing some pretty amazing people who are the most upbeat and positive I have come across. In watching them, learning from them and the conversations we share, it has helped me to become a more positive and upbeat person and although I still have my moments of panic and anxiety or pure disappointment, I can now see that I am a lot happier now that I consciously choose to face each challenge with a smile.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had the opportunity in July to spend a lot of time with some of my most amazing friends and over our dinners, barbeques, lunches, drinks and coffee chats I realised that staying happy, upbeat and positive is actually a full time job that allows everyone and everything in your life to just be better, feel better and look better.

In the spirit of giving back and paying it forward I thought I’d share what I’ve learnt about living life in a happy and positive way:

  • Happiness is a choice
  • Happiness can be learnt
  • Happiness requires effort
  • Happiness takes training and practice
  • Staying happy takes continuous work

In the next few posts we’ll dig deeper and look into these points a bit more in detail but in the meantime, here’s something you can use right now to bring you a little burst of happiness. Close your eyes and think of the last thing/person that made you smile and re live that moment – I bet you’re smiling again!

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