Stories I only tell my friends: The Power Of Belief-System

June 18, 2012

Happiness for the Practical Mind

Filed under: Uncategorized — mylittleblackpen @ 11:11 am

Creating Your Happy Life

It is possible to build a happy life, but for most of us, it’s not easy. Maybe you know someone who seemed to manifest a happy life in an instant; I don’t.

I have heard of these miraculous awakenings into happiness, and I believe them to be true. One thing I have noticed, is that most of these cases seem to have something in common; a drastic change in perspective. Most often, through some type of near death or major life changing event. But even in these cases, the individuals seem to only maintain this amazing sense of perspective for a short time. As they say, eventually life get’s in the way.

As many of us do not experience some type of amazing life changing experience, how do we go about creating a happy life? More precisely, how do we go about creating a new sense of perspective? Let’s examine the definition of perspective as it pertains to this article: the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc.

Most of our ideas are based on past experiences, which lead us to anticipate what the outcome will be from similar, or not so similar events in the future. For example, maybe in a relationship we have been left abandoned or our spouse has been unfaithful, we are more likely to anticipate these same things happening in future relationships. As a result, we may alter our actions to prevent this from happening in the future, warranted or not. There is a lot of emphasis on living in the now these days, which is precisely one of the ways to change our perspective.

Living in and for the moment releases us from all past experiences and fears of the future. However, staying in each moment the best we can is difficult. With all the things going on in our life, its hard to stay connected to the moment. We may even feel as if we’re loosing control if we’re not worrying about the future or what we can do to control it. Nonetheless, there is tremendous power in keeping our mind and soul in the current moment as best we can.

“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.”
-Oprah Winfrey

By concentrating on doing the best in the moment we’re in, we’re actually creating our future. What we’re doing right now in this moment, is putting things into motion that may or may not come to pass tomorrow. Although there is no guarantee, we certainly will not have the chance of a better future if we do nothing.

Let’s pretend that I don’t know how to swim and I happen to be driving down a coastal highway looking out at the ocean. I know, or have a good reason to believe, that if I stop the car and jump into the ocean I’ll drown. Pretty basic right? But how probable is it that I will ever learn how to swim if I never get out of the car? Not very. If I want to change my future—the chance of entering an ocean without drowning—at some point I’m going to have to stop the car and get out. As in life, there are certain actions I must take in this moment if I’m going to be in a position to have a happy life in the future. One way of putting into motion a happy life, is searching for inner happiness as it pertains to each and every moment.

When I was recovering from a deep depression in my life, I spent a lot of time around friends I had met in a support group. I remember when I felt a sense of doom and depression creeping back in, I used a simple technique. I would stop, look around myself at all the friends I had who supported me, and would remind myself that right now, in this moment, everything is OK. I realized that for most of my life, I was so concerned with how to find happiness, I was missing out on all the happy things that were happening around me. During this period I also concentrated on keeping things simple. I would journal about what I felt and experienced throughout each day; how certain activities would make me feel happy. When depressive feelings or unhappiness would start to sneak back into my mind, I would get out the journal and remind myself what I did last time I felt that way. Then I would do that. Pretty simple right?

By learning to stay in the moment as best I could, my perspective gradually changed. I begin realizing that I was making better choices in life and as a result I was creating my happy life! My perspective changed in that I realized experiences I had in the past were not necessarily going to happen again. I had to surrender to the fact that the only control I have is what I’m doing right now in this moment. By building a happy moment, I’m creating a happy life.

The key to creating your happy life is grasping several key concepts. One is learning how to lower your expectations of others and yourself. As a result, you are forced to be more present in the moment you’re in. Lower expectations result in less fear and anxiety and a life filled with more moments of happiness. Another key concept is acceptance. Learning to accept there are only certain things we can control, mainly ourselves. Moreover, we cannot control others; which we often try and fail with great frustration.

Creating your happy life starts with creating happy moments.

How To Lead A Happy Life

I often get asked “how to lead a happy life?” My response is always, live and lead yourself right and you’ll have or “lead” a happy life. Although it sounds easy, most of us aren’t sure what living right means. I wasn’t living right for years and as a result wasn’t happy. Although I wasn’t quite sure what “living right” meant, I was pretty confident I wasn’t doing it. My conscience took care of letting me know that almost every day.

A healthy happy life is created when we have balance. When our happiness is not contingent on sources outside self and we’re grateful for our life; body and soul! We’re healthy (both mentally and physically) because we care for our bodies as well as our minds. The more gratitude we have the happier we feel, it just all goes together in creating your happy life!

Of course it all sounds nice and easy written or typed out here on this page, but getting there is not so easy. That’s why I’ve created How To Find Happiness, to help others achieve true inner-peace and happiness through self-love and discovery.  I hope you’re as excited about starting your happy life as I am about living mine and sharing it with all of you.

How to Be Happy

So happiness – isn’t that the thing that all of us strive to find and keep? Nobody is happy all of the time, but some people are definitely more fulfilled than others. Studies on what makes people happy reveal that it doesn’t have much to do with material goods or high achievement; it seems to whittle down to your outlook on life, and the quality of your relationships with the people around you.

Be optimistic. In the 1970s, researchers followed people who’d won the lottery and found that a year after they’d hit the jackpot, they were no happier than the people who didn’t. They called it hedonic adaptation, which suggests that we each have a baseline level of happiness. No matter what happens, good or bad, the effect on our happiness is only temporary and we tend to rebound to our baseline level. Some people have a higher baseline happiness level than others, and that can be attributed in part to genetics, but it’s also largely influenced by how you think. So while the remainder of this article will help boost your happiness, only improving your attitude towards life will increase your happiness permanently. Here are some excellent starting points for doing that:

Follow your gut. In one study, two groups of people were asked to pick out a poster to take home. One group was asked to analyze their decision carefully, weighing the pros and cons, and the other group was told to listen to their gut. Two weeks later, the group that followed their gut was happier with their posters than the group that analyzed their decisions. Now, some of our decisions are more crucial than picking out posters, but by the time you’re poring over your choice, the options you’re weighing are probably very similar, and the difference will only temporarily affect your happiness. So next time you have a decision to make, and you’re down to two or three options, just pick the one that feels right, and go with it. Never regret the decisions you make though. Just live by the 3 C’s of life: choices chances, and changes. You need to make a choice to take a chance or your life will never change.

Make enough money to meet your basic needs: food, shelter, and clothing. In the US, that magic number is $40,000 a year. Any money you make beyond that will not necessarily make you happier. Remember the lottery winners mentioned earlier? Oodles of money didn’t make them any happier. Once you make enough money to support your basic needs, your happiness is not significantly affected by how much money you make, but by your level of optimism.

Your comfort may increase with your salary, but comfort isn’t what makes people happy. It makes people bored. That’s why it’s important to push beyond your comfort zone to fuel your growth as a person.

Stay close to friends and family: Or move to where other members are- so you can see them more. We live in a mobile society, where people follow jobs around the country and sometimes around the world. We do this because we think increases in salary will make us happier, but the fact is that our relationships with our friends and family have a far greater impact on our happiness than our jobs do. So next time you think about relocating, consider that you’d need a salary increase of over $100,000 USD to compensate for the loss of happiness you’d have from moving away from your friends and family.But if your relationships with your family and friends are unhealthy or nonexistent, and you are bent on moving, choose a location where you’ll be making about the same amount of money as everyone else; according to research, people feel more financially secure (and happier) when they’re on similar financial footing as the people around them, regardless of what that footing is.

Have deep, meaningful conversations. A study by a psychologist at the University of Arizona has shown that spending less time participating in small talk and more time having deep, meaningful conversations can lead to an increased feeling of happiness.

Find happiness in the job you have now: Many people expect the right job or the right career to dramatically change their level of happiness, but happiness research makes it clear that your level of optimism and the quality of your relationships eclipse the satisfaction you gain from your job. If you have a positive outlook, you will make the best of any job, and if you have good relationships with people, you won’t depend on your job to give your life a greater sense of meaning. You’ll find it in your interactions with the people you care about. Now that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aspire towards a job that will make you happier; it means you should understand that the capacity of your job to make you happy is quite small in comparison to your outlook on life and your relationships with people.

Smile: Science suggests that when you smile, whether you feel happy or not, your mood will be elevated.  So smile all the time! In addition, having enough money to pay the bills allows you to focus your energies on more productive aspects of your life, such a the pursuit of happiness as opposed to keeping the ‘wolves from the door’.

Forgive: In a study of college students, it was found that an attitude of forgiveness contributed to better cardiovascular health. You could say that forgiveness literally heals your heart. While it is unknown how forgiveness directly affects your heart, the study suggests that it may lower the perception of stress.

9 Tips in Life that Lead to Happiness

Are you truly happy? Do you even know what it means to be happy and what it takes to achieve happiness? These are important questions for anyone who is seeking happiness to ask themselves. I live my life to maintain my own happiness while trying my best to not cause unhappiness to anyone else. If you want to be happy you need to understand that you can be happy and that you should be happy. Many people make the mistake of believing that they don’t deserve happiness and accept their unhappy state as their destiny. The truth of the matter is that happiness, like anything else in life, needs to be nurtured. The following are a few tips that I follow to create happiness in my life.

  1. Understand what it is that will make you happy. Everyone has unique requirements for attaining happiness and what makes one person happy may be very different from what makes someone else happy. Revel in your individuality and do not worry about whether or not your desires are comparable to those of your peers.
  2. Make a plan for attaining goals that you believe will make you happy. Your mood will very likely increase as your pursue your goal because you will feel better about yourself for going after something you value.
  3. Surround yourself with happy people. It is easy to begin to think negatively when you are surrounded by people who think that way. Conversely, if you are around people who are happy their emotional state will be infectious.
  4. When something goes wrong try to figure out a solution instead of wallowing in self pity. Truly happy people don’t allow set backs to affect their mood because they know that with a little thought they can turn the circumstances back to their favor.
  5. Spend a few minutes each day thinking about the things that make you happy. These few minutes will give you the opportunity to focus on the positive things in your life and will lead you to continued happiness.
  6. It’s also important to take some time each day to do something nice for yourself. Whether you treat yourself to lunch, take a long, relaxing bath or simply spend a few extra minutes on your appearance you will be subconsciously putting yourself in a better mood.
  7. Finding the humor in situations can also lead to happiness. While there are times that require you to be serious, when it is appropriate, find a way to make light of a situation that would otherwise make you unhappy.
  8. Maintaining your health is another way to achieve happiness. Being overweight or not eating nutritious foods can have a negative effect on your mood. Additionally, exercise has been known to release endorphins that give you a feeling of happiness.
  9. Finally, it is important to understand that you deserve happiness. Those who believe that they are not worthy of happiness may subconsciously sabotage their efforts to achieve happiness. If necessary, tell yourself each day that you deserve to be happy and remind yourself what steps you will take to achieve the happiness you desire.
  10. Happiness is hard to define but most people are aware of whether they are happy or not. Many people believe that happiness is a form of luck and that some people are destined to be happy while others are destined to be unhappy. I try to incorporate the tips above into my life and have had great success in achieving happiness. The tips in this article are small but meaningful steps that you can take each day to lead you to true happiness.

20 Simple Ways to Get Happy

Happiness is ephemeral, subject to the vagaries of everything from the weather to the size of your bank account.

We’re not suggesting that you can reach a permanent state called “happiness” and remain there. But there are many ways to swerve off the path of anxiety, anger, frustration, and sadness into a state of happiness once or even several times throughout the day. Here are 20 ideas to get you started. Choose the ones that work for you. If tuning out the news or making lists will serve only to stress you further, try another approach.

1. Practice mindfulness. Be in the moment. Instead of worrying about your checkup tomorrow while you have dinner with your family, focus on the here and now — the food, the company, the conversation.

2. Laugh out loud. Just anticipating a happy, funny event can raise levels of endorphins and other pleasure-inducing hormones and lower production of stress hormones. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine, tested 16 men who all agreed they thought a certain videotape was funny. Half were told three days in advance they would watch it. They started experiencing biological changes right away. When they actually watched the video, their levels of stress hormones dropped significantly, while their endorphin levels rose 27 percent and their growth hormone levels (indicating benefit to the immune system) rose 87 percent.

3. Go to sleep. We have become a nation of sleep-deprived citizens. Taking a daily nap or getting into bed at 8 p.m. one night with a good book — and turning the light out an hour later — can do more for your mood and outlook on life than any number of bubble baths or massages.

4. Hum along. Music soothes more than the savage beast. Studies find music activates parts of the brain that produce happiness — the same parts activated by food or sex. It’s also relaxing. In one study older adults who listened to their choice of music during outpatient eye surgery had significantly lower heart rates, blood pressure, and cardiac workload (that is, their heart didn’t have to work as hard) as those who had silent surgery.

5. Declutter. It’s nearly impossible to meditate, breathe deeply, or simply relax when every surface is covered with papers and bills and magazines, your cabinets bulge, and you haven’t balanced your checkbook in six months. Plus, the repetitive nature of certain cleaning tasks — such as sweeping, wiping, and scrubbing — can be meditative in and of itself if you focus on what you’re doing.

6. Just say no. Eliminate activities that aren’t necessary and that you don’t enjoy. If there are enough people already to handle the church bazaar and you’re feeling stressed by the thought of running the committee for yet another year, step down and let someone else handle things.

7. Make a list. There’s nothing like writing down your tasks to help you organize your thoughts and calm your anxiety. Checking off each item provides a great sense of fulfillment.

8. Do one thing at a time. Edward Suarez, Ph.D., associate professor of medical psychology at Duke, found that people who multitask are more likely to have high blood pressure. Take that finding to heart. Instead of talking on the phone while you fold laundry or clean the kitchen, sit down in a comfortable chair and turn your entire attention over to the conversation. Instead of checking e-mail as you work on other projects, turn off your e-mail function until you finish the report you’re writing. This is similar to the concept of mindfulness.

9. Garden. Not only will the fresh air and exercise provide their own stress reduction and feeling of well-being, but the sense of accomplishment that comes from clearing a weedy patch, watching seeds turn into flowers, or pruning out dead wood will last for hours, if not days.

10. Tune out the news. For one week go without reading the newspaper, watching the news, or scanning the headlines online. Instead, take a vacation from the misery we’re exposed to every day via the media and use that time for a walk, a meditation session, or to write in your journal.

11. Take a dog for a walk. There are numerous studies that attest to the stress-relieving benefits of pets. In one analysis researchers evaluated the heart health of 240 couples, half of whom owned a pet. Those couples with pets had significantly lower heart rates and blood pressure levels when exposed to stressors than the couples who did not have pets. In fact, the pets worked even better at buffering stress than the spouses did.

12. Scent the air. Research finds that the benefits of aromatherapy in relieving stress are real. In one study people exposed to rosemary had lower anxiety levels, increased alertness, and performed math computations faster. Adults exposed to lavender showed an increase in the type of brain waves that suggest increased relaxation. Today you have a variety of room-scenting methods, from plug-in air fresheners to essential oil diffusers, potpourri, and scented candles.

13. Ignore the stock market. Simply getting your quarterly 401(k) statement can be enough to send your blood pressure skyrocketing. In fact, Chinese researchers found a direct link between the daily performance of the stock market and the mental health of those who closely followed it. Astute investors know that time heals most financial wounds, so give your investments time — and give yourself a break.

14. Visit a quiet place. Libraries, museums, gardens, and places of worship provide islands of peace and calm in today’s frantic world. Find a quiet place near your house and make it your secret getaway.

15. Volunteer. Helping others enables you to put your own problems into perspective and also provides social interaction. While happy people are more likely to help others, helping others increases your happiness. One study found that volunteer work enhanced all six aspects of well-being: happiness, life satisfaction, self-esteem, sense of control over life, physical health, and depression.

16. Spend time alone. Although relationships are one of the best antidotes to stress, sometimes you need time alone to recharge and reflect. Take yourself out to lunch or to a movie, or simply spend an afternoon reading, browsing in a bookstore, or antiquing.

17. Walk mindfully. You probably already know that exercise is better than tranquilizers for relieving anxiety and stress. But what you do with your mind while you’re walking can make your walk even more beneficial. In a study called the Ruth Stricker Mind/Body Study, researchers divided 135 people into five groups of walkers for 16 weeks. Group one walked briskly, group two at a slow pace, and group three at a slow pace while practicing “mindfulness,” a mental technique to bring about the relaxation response, a physiological response in which the heart rate slows and blood pressure drops. This group was asked to pay attention to their footsteps, counting one, two, one, two, and to visualize the numbers in their mind. Group four practiced a form of tai chi, and group five served as the control, changing nothing about their lives. The group practicing mindfulness showed significant declines in anxiety and had fewer negative and more positive feelings about themselves. Overall they experienced the same stress-reducing effects of the brisk walkers. Better yet, the effects were evident immediately.

18. Give priority to close relationships. One study of more than 1,300 men and women of various ages found that those who had a lot of supportive friends were much more likely to have healthier blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar metabolism, and stress hormone levels than those with two or fewer close friends. Women, and to a lesser extent men, also seemed to benefit from good relationships with their parents and spouses. Studies also find that people who feel lonely, depressed, and isolated are three to five times more likely to get sick and die prematurely than those who have feelings of love, connection, and community.

19. Take care of the soul. In study after study, actively religious people are happier and cope better with crises, according to David Myers, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. For many people faith provides a support community, a sense of life’s meaning, feelings of ultimate acceptance, a reason to focus beyond yourself, and a timeless perspective on life’s woes. Even if you’re not religious, a strong spirituality may offer similar benefits.

20. Count your blessings. People who pause each day to reflect on some positive aspect of their lives (their health, friends, family, freedom, education, etc.) experience a heightened sense of well-being.

Thanks for reading this far.

A Little Black Pen

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