So what is happiness?
Have you ever stopped to consider what happiness means to you? You hear people saying, “I just want to be Happy” without really knowing what it is they are wishing for. This is important, because how will you know you have it, if you are not clear on what you are wishing for. Perhaps now is a good time for us all to pause for some reflection – what really is happiness for you? It’s more than being on the beach on a sunny day. Is it a way of being? Can you be happy without a reason to be happy at all? Can you find happiness every day? Is it an outlook? Is it an intention you need to set to feel it? Is it a feeling of well-being? A feeling of contentment? Is it something you feel when your needs are met? Is it when you see someone or do something?
Once you’ve done that it’s often useful to consider where the definition you’ve just come up with came from. Is it something you picked up as a child that you’ve simply not paused to re-evaluate, perhaps it’s based on what those closest to you think, or perhaps you just don’t know where it came from. There is lots written about the connection between our values and the link to happiness (I’ve written about values in other articles), but today, consider how helpful your current definition of happiness is for you as you are today? – you can decide to change if it you’d like to … in fact that in itself might make your quest for happiness easier …
Your Thoughts directly relate to your feeling of happiness ….
Happiness is a feeling. NLP’ers talk a lot about how we can control our emotional state (our feelings) through our thoughts and physiology (what we’re doing with our body). The link between feelings and physiology has been well researched and written about extensively (for example, Amy Cuddy is a Harvard University Researcher who says standing in a particular position raises your feelings of power – watch her TedTalk here). There is also lots of research that shows how your thoughts link to your feelings – so what you’re focusing on with your thoughts either positively or negatively effects how you are feeling in any given moment.
An exercise to show how your thoughts and body link to your feelings …
Have you ever noticed how your thoughts lead to you feeling a certain way? – your feelings will often follow your thoughts. Perhaps you start thinking about doing something you’re uncertain about doing, maybe a presentation and before you know it your feelings in that moment change – maybe you get nervous. My guess is that if you had taken a snap shot of your physiology before that thought and again afterwards, you’d spot the differences. Try this little exercise and notice it yourself – stand up and go back through your memory bank and think of something that you feel really really happy and content about for 30 seconds or so – notice your physiology as you’re doing that. Then as a second exercise think of something in the past that concerns you or you felt unsure of – notice the changes in your body and feelings. Thinking of a time in the past that has lots of the emotion in it that you want to feel in a given moment is a useful life hack. Give it a go when you want to boost of a particular emotion.
You can of course change your emotional state (your feelings) simply by changing how you think and what you’re focusing on – that’s what you did just then in that exercise. Want to feel more confident, you can also change your physiology in order to feel more confident (getting your physiology and body working together to change your feelings is partially powerful) – e.g. standing taller, rolling your shoulders back, sticking your chin out, and walking with an air of authority … its all helps.
5 tips to help you become happier …
- From the exercise above we know we can change how we feel by changing our thoughts or physiology – use the tips above to help you change how you feel in any given moment.
- Stop looking for ‘something’ or ‘someone’ to make you happy. Some people think that they’ll be happy when they have all the money, time, wealth, person in their life etc. Research shows that material success does not necessarily mean happiness, yet people often catch themselves saying ‘I’ll feel happy when …..’. In addition, by focusing on factors outside of themselves for their happiness, people are making their happiness dependant on things they can’t necessarily control.
- Stop comparing yourself to others – to me that’s the quickest way to quash happiness – people who strive to live up to other people’s models of what success and happiness means to those other people. If for example people around you believe happiness is something you must feel all the time, you may pick that expectation up, or perhaps they believe happiness is a destination, and so if you adopt this you may forget to enjoy things along the way. Empower yourself you define what happiness means to you.
- Create happy habits! – habitual ‘thought journeys’ (as I call them) – e.g. something that triggers a well trodden thought journey/path – and before you know it you’re back in unhelpful thinking – that is unlikely to lead to happiness – we can change these habits with NLP too. So if you get yourself into unhelpful thinking then, empower yourself to hit the pause button momentarily and re-evlauate – change tact. Ask yourself, can I stop this and do something else? Can I change how I’m looking at this (flipping a negative into a positive – which would be reframing in NLP terms)? Here’s a challenge for you – set your intention to see happiness in everything you do today – start focusing on what you want to feel more of and see if you feel more of it 🙂
- We absolutely love the group Action for Happiness – click this link for their web page. Follow them on social media and each month they put out a calendar of things you can do each day to increase your happiness and wellbeing. They share some great tweets and posts too.
Happiness is a state of being. You can choose to feel happy. Focus on being happy and see if you can feel it. If you can make happiness an inside job, you can empower yourself be happy any time you like!
NLP could help you …
If you’d like to get rid of stuff from the past that’s holding you back, change thought journeys to enable to to think differently, or perhaps you’d like the tools to better manage yourself day-to-day and become more resourceful you might want to consider coming on one of our courses. All our courses offer superb personal development for all our delegates and many people go onto doing more than just 1 course with us.
Our NLP Practitioner course is often the first course people complete with us and includes pre-course study, and 7 days of live training – it gives people the skills to make changes and develop themselves during the program, as well as equipping them to help others with the same techniques they have benefited from themselves on the course. Many of our delegates that are serious about helping others also go onto the the 4 day NLP Coach course, which includes Time Line Therapy Practitioner and Hypnosis Practitioner qualifications – which helps take them to take stride in their own development and equips them with a really comprehensive tool kit to help others.