We all have times when we are feeling a bit down and we need to get ready to do something important. We want to approach the activity (or even just our day) with energy and a positive feeling of happiness and confidence. Yes, I have those days as well!
Try a little exercise with me. Right now, while reading this, think of something that makes you feel down or sad. Focus on it for a bit and really feel down. Observe carefully what it is like. Your body is slumped. Your shoulders are hunched forward and your head is hanging down. Your mouth is down-turned. You may have a tear in your eye. You don’t feel like you could do any sort of physical activity. You just have no energy.
OK! Come back gently to the here and now. Quickly throw your shoulders back, sit up straight hold your head up high and put a great big old wide smile on your face. Throw your hands up in the air and smile. Laugh out loud if this makes you laugh. While you are sitting up straight with the smile on your face, again observe! You are sitting up straight, your head is up, you feel a ton of energy. The world is suddenly a brighter place. Your shoulders feel like they can support more weight than just you. You feel vibrant.
What just happened? You have just shown yourself that it is your mind and how you act that really controls your feelings and energy levels. Things do happen to us that make us feel down. Some days we just feel down for no apparent reason. It may be a dull day (following several other dull days) and we do not think we can face another one! You have just demonstrated to yourself that you can turn it around instantly just by controlling how you act and think. It is simple (not always easy but simple). Just change your state!
When you notice that you are feeling down and you have decided that you would rather not feel that way any more right now, do something dramatic and then assume the big silly smile pose! Throw a pillow onto the floor! Crumple a piece of paper and throw it at the door! Clap your hands twice and say – ENOUGH! Then – the silly smile pose.
You CAN be happy anyway. Just do something with your own mind! Smile.
I hope you have a huge dreams list by now. I also hope you did not edit or limit the list in any way. Did you enjoy the process? If you study the list a bit I know you will see some common themes in the items on your list. So let’s organise the list a bit before we do much else.
Look for items that have commonalities. Group together those items that relate to family, social, material, finance, spirituality and any other main heading that you may want to group together. We are not limiting the list here at all. We are just putting items in an organised system. OK?
Now is where we start to really get excited and put a plan together for a life that has happiness as its central theme. Looking at the main groupings that you have identified and filled with dreams, which is the most important to you right now, at this very point in your life? This will change through the journey you take in life but one of the main headings will be the highest priority right now. Do not think about what others think it should be or what you think they expect. Focus! What do YOU think?!
Great. Now, what is number two for you right now? Three? And so on ….
I bet you can guess what comes next. Right. Do the same exercise in each heading to prioritise each dream in each heading. You have now done something that most people never do. You have built a true dreams list, organised it and made decisions about which are more important TODAY. What will you spend spare time on now?
Next time we will actually focus even more and develop plans that will very naturally lead to a happier life.
Get ready to let your true self out of the constraints of your everyday reality. Get ready to shrug off the bindings that are holding you back. Look for the kid inside of you who had no trouble at all generating huge lists of what you wanted to have or do. Permit yourself to be very selfish for a while and do something that is just for you. You don’t have to share this with anyone. It is for you and your eyes only. Be honest with yourself. We are talking about your happiness.
Take a few minutes and just think. Think about what you would like to do if you could. Don’t worry about how for now. Just think about everything. It is going to be a bit noisy in your mind because you will start to get ideas that generate other ideas and your mind will throw up resistance. Ignore the resistance and keep thinking!! Your imagination is now engaged.
Now, take out some paper and a pen. This works best if you actually write it down. There is a link that seems to form when you actually write the things down. You can type it into a computer but please don’t worry about “pretty” list that is the correct format and so on. That is for later. For now, you are just getting the elements gathered for your catalogue for living a great and happy life. This will be your dreams list.
Find somewhere that you will not be disturbed. Set a specific amount of time to write your list of desires for you and your life. I would suggest about 10 or 15 minutes for the first try at this. This is not quite as easy as it sounds. Once you have everything together, go to it!
The best way to get started is to just start writing! Don’t edit anything. Do not stop. If you are at a blank in your mind and the time is not up that you set aside for this, write anyway. Even if it is a sentence saying that you can’t think of anything to write.
Keep on doing this exercise as often as you want to. Merge your lists together so you have one large catalogue to select from. We are going to do much more with this list. For now, revel in it and enjoy the feeling that you now have some interesting ideas of what you would really love to have, experience, achieve, do and be. I hope it is large. We will help focus and prioritise a bit at a later posting. Enjoy!! Dream!!
This is one of my tools to deal with outside events that happen to me that I might not really appreciate or want at all. If you think about it at all, you will realise that there is not one thing you can do to erase what has happened that you do not want in your life. There is a great poem by Omar Khayyám (The Rubaiyat) that describes it well.
from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
Omar Khayyám was a scholar and astronomer who lived in Iran. His poetry reflects his thoughts about the deity, good and evil, spirit, matter, and destiny.
It is sort of like looking at the wake a boat leaves as it moves forward. No matter what you do, you cannot change the wake. All you can do is look forward and make plans to control where the boat is going next. I will not dwell too long on this right now because it will be a theme going forward.For now, just make yourself much more aware that you need to ask yourself better questions. Don’t just focus on “why me?”. Rather, focus on “we are where we are – now what?”.
Pretty much anything you read about happiness will lead you to the subject of gratitude at some point. All point out that we tend to focus so much on the problems in our lives that we actually become blind to the good that is there as well.
This subject is so obvious to me that I know it is to most as well. I will not dwell too long on it here. Gratitude is a habit that has to be nurtured just like any other habit. Do not worry about the research on this idea. Do not wonder if it really will work or is just more hokum that will achieve nothing at all. Just try this for the next couple of weeks without fail and without missing once. If you miss once, start the two weeks over again.
When you get up in the morning, take a minute or two and think of at least 3 or 4 things that you can be grateful for on that particular day. It could be as simple as the hot water that you have for your shower. Or, for the transportation that will take you to your job. Or, your job! Focus on thinking about a few each morning when you get up and try to make them different each day. Don’t have time? What about in the shower, or during a bathroom break? Find the time.
Then, the last thing before you go to sleep, again think of at least 3 or 4 things that you are grateful for in general. No matter how lousy the day felt to you, make the effort to identify at least 3 or 4 reasons to be grateful. The rainbow earlier on. The snow stopped finally and it looks so brilliant now and clean. Do not limit yourself to just 3 or 4 but be sure to focus on things for which you are truly grateful when you think about it.
Some of you might want to make a journal of your ideas. A Gratitude Journal. Go ahead. I have always had a file called my rainy day file. In that I keep things that bring cheer and a smile to my face. Things that just plain make me feel good when I recall them. If I find myself a bit down and can’t seem to pick myself up (yes, I too have those days), I reach for the file and randomly look through and someting always sticks out and brings that smile and sense of calm and peace back.
To day I heard of a great file that everyone can access right away if they want to. It is another blog and it has just won an award. I encourage you to just have a look at it. It reminds us that everyday things are really remarkable but we mostly don’t notice or revel in them. This fellow reminds us to sharpen our observaation skills and see the fun in things. Enjoy it.
These days there are so many things that worry us. I guess that has always been the case. We worry about loosing our job. We worry about bad health or loss of love. When we are driving, we worry about being late, being cut off by an inconsiderate lout, being involved in an accident and all sorts of those sorts of things. We worry about finding something to eat tonight. We worry and we worry. The worry bugs leave us exhausted with not much room for happiness in our lives.
Somehow, “Don’t worry, be happy” just does not seem to cut it. So, what can we do to regain balance and be happier? Let’s look at what is happening when we worry. We have a feeling that something bad will happen and will be disastrous for us. Typically, we think we have no control and bad things will happen no matter what we do. Simply put, that is not true.
Events happen! They do not happen because we deserve them or because we are either very good (and deserve lots of good things to happen to us) or we are very bad (and deserve lots of bad things to happen to us). They happen because life is going on and stuff happens. We get results or outcomes as a result of things that we do (or that others do). How we deal with the actual outcomes and results will be the subject of another posting later on. Right now, we want to understand how to deal with the unknown future events that will happen.
The reality is that about 75 percent of the things that we worry about will not happen. Twenty percent or so of the things that we worry about, we can control or affect positively. The remainder are things over which we have absolutely no control. We can only deal with the results when they occur. If we understand that most will not happen, it makes no sense to worry about them. Think clearly and logically, what is the likelihood of this happening? If very unlikely, let it go and stop worrying about it. While thinking about the likelihood, consider, is there anything I can do to reduce the bad outcome and increase the positive outcome? If yes, start doing someting about it right away and let go of the worry.
If someting that you worry about is just beyond your control after you have done what ever you can to change things to the better, it makes no sense to worry about it does it? Let it go. Think about what you have to be grateful for. Think about your list of things that bring you great joy and peace and happiness.
Remember Earl Nightingale’s Strangest Secret: You become what you think about! Focus on the good around you. Look up, not down (in the dumps). Maybe Bob Marley was right to say “Don’t worry, be happy” after all. Live well, love always and laugh out loud every day!
The idea that music can contribute to your happiness is something we probably all know intuitively. There are studies out now that conclusively prove the co-relation between listening to music and happiness which in turn contributes to much better health, especially in relation to cardio-vascular health.
I caught a news report on TV about these studies just now and decided it was a great time to bring this forward in our quest for happiness. It seems that studies show that listening to music relaxes stress and opens arteries and the like. That has the effect of reducing the impacts of negative stress. It has the effect of taking us out of ourselves and our immediate worries. It helps us to allow our subconscious to promote within us the reality that where we are right now is not permanent and all pervasive (concepts that lead us to depression often). Endorphins and that sort of thing get generated and released into our system when we listen to music.
So, … what sort of music should we listen to? Do we need to listen to classical music to get the best effects? What if we really like to listen to rock music, will that work or does it lead us to be more stressed because of the upbeat tempo? Interestingly, the studies have shown that it does not really matter that much what music we listen to as long as for us it is music that makes us feel great. If Brahms makes you feel great, listen to it (if it makes you feel bored or restless or fidgety, don’t listen to it for relaxation and diversion). If head-banging music makes you feel great, go for it! Music, apparently is like art. The beauty is in the ear of the beholder.
I will add a personal caution that just makes sense though. Always keep in mind that what we are putting into ourselves is what will come out in time of stress and challenge. If we are filling ourselves with messages of hate or violence, that is what becomes our response to situations and it will certainly not lead to happiness. Violent Rap music is weakening. Uplifting and positive Rap music is strengthening. Yes the words are important. Pay attention and listen to uplifting music and songs.
Another thing that just makes good sense to me is that the music you listen to will have an impact on your mood and relaxation levels. If you are going to be retiring to bed soon and you are listening to heavy duty rock and roll, you will likely be a bit wound up with enthusiasm and be less able to get to sleep. Rather, as you get ready to think about going to sleep, and you want to listen to some music (or even read or watch a TV show) think about making choices that will calm the spirit and put you in a better frame of mind to drift into a restorative and deep sleep. More about getting ready to sleep another time.
Music is great. Don’t inflict your choices on others unless it is desired by the others. Keep the volume within reason so you do not damage your hearing (watch the volume on your personal headphones and ear-buds!). But, by all means, plug in and listen to more music. Whatever kind you enjoy and makes you feel great and/or relaxed.
I don’t have the ability to post the video but if you can see it, it will inspire you greatly. You can see it at my facebook page or you can search for it on You Tube I think. Check out my Facebook page to view the video.