How to create more happiness in the world around you
20 March 2019 | beando_admin
Being happy is something we wholeheartedly support at beanddo, in fact, it’s one of the cornerstones of our business. Every day we work to try and help create a little bit of happiness in the world. It’s work that we all need to undertake — urgently!
You are happy
In my new book Making Happy Work, I talk about happiness, where it comes from, how it can be cultivated and then applied in what you do in the world. I often start my modern meditation training sessions with this observation: “you are happy; you might not feel like it but you are.” It stimulates different reactions, some know, some smile or laugh while others say, “no Mick, I’m not happy, that’s why I’m here in your session.“
It’s an opening statement that is designed to be slightly provocative but it’s also a serious point. We tend to think happiness is a destination, something to be achieved at some point in the future when other parts of our external life fall into line, such as that new job, car, partner, smartphone, look, holiday etc.
Keeping your attention focused on a continuous ‘what if’ mode is exhausting and ultimately an anxious and disappointing mindset to have. It’s ironic that the pursuit of happiness in this way is what actually makes us unhappy. We forget that happiness exists in the here and now, not in the imaginary future, and it ultimately can be found only within first. Happiness is an attitude, a mindset that we rediscover and learn how to sustain with the help of meditation.
We all know the expression ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ – that is talking about meditation and happiness! Once you clear your mental glasses from unhealthy habitual thoughts and emotions, you will be able to see the reality as it is. The reality can be beautiful and satisfying without needing to change anything outside.
Being happy first
There are lots of good reasons why we should learn to cultivate our inner happiness first. Not in a narcissistic or selfish way, but in a way that empowers you to make significant changes in your life and in the lives of others.
For us, happiness is everything. Being happy underpins and shapes the world around you. Happiness has the ability to change the world around you. As the great English poet William Blake said:
The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity, and by these I shall not regulate my proportions; and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself. As a man is, so he sees.
In other words, change the way you see the world and what you see changes. Meditation builds a capacity to see things as they really are, not what we think they are. It enables us to see the present situation as it is in this moment and to respond accordingly, instead of with reactionary thoughts, emotions and behaviours triggered by prior habit, conditioning and experience.
And guess what? The moment right here, right now for you is fine.
YOU = Happiness
The point is you can’t become happy, you can only be happy. Ultimately to be happy is to be YOU, the real YOU. Not the you that you think you have to be or have been told to be. You’ll know it when you get there. It’s your biggest and best adventure:
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Happy = healthy
More and more scientific research is telling us that one’s ability to be happy is directly linked to health. In the past it may have been assumed that if one was healthy then one could be happy. Researchers are now pointing towards the reverse of that. To access one’s inbuilt happiness means to empower one’s own wellbeing. This is what we mean by making happy work.
Here is a little exercise for you to practice during International Happiness Day:
Just stop for a moment. Pause and be still. You’ll probably notice that right now you are happy. Don’t examine what is happening, don’t try to plan or understand. Just sit and be in wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, and in particular in whatever you’re feeling. Learning to be present with what is rather than striving for what if will bring you moments of stillness peace and contentment. In fact you can use ‘what is not what if’ as a little helpful mantra during the day. When you catch yourself falling out of the present moment for you (which will be often), just repeat the mantra internally until you notice any change in your mindset.
This is an experience you can learn to cultivate and nurture with modern meditation. This is authentic happiness which comes from the inside-out. It’s not that pleasurable, but fleeting, experience we sometimes get say from eating a bag of Minstrels, but a sustained sense of wellbeing and long-term satisfaction with the way things are for you. As we often say during our beanddo training courses, this is not switching off, this is switching on. And with that shift of realisation comes a lightness, an openness and energy, a sense of momentum and potential that encourages you to thrive in the world. This is why creativity and happiness are interlinked. When we are happy, we feel the joy of simply doing, which is its own reward.
Another useful exercise highly advised by beanddo team is a practice of gratitude. Take a pen and write down just three things you are grateful for today. Dive into the details, remember those people, moments or things. Notice how you feel. Calm, grateful, fulfilled, happy? And you see, nothing in the outside world changed.
This simple exercise is very powerful. On the physiological level it wires new connections between the brain cells, creating and straightening the habit of gratitude. In our world of psychology, it changes the focus of attention from what we want to what we already have. A simple shift of perspective that brings completely different state of mind – happy and content.
Sign-up to the International Day Of Happiness pledge:
“I will try to create more happiness in the world around me”
How to make that happen
Let’s start with the basics: rest when you need to rest and eat when you need to eat.
- Happy body = happy mind
- Focus on being in a good place to begin with. You will never resolve all problems, so decide what is in your control and when is the time to let go
- Create a daily ritual that puts you in a good place – call a friend, have a cup of tea, go for a walk etc.
- Put your thoughts down on paper to release mental clutter and develop perspective
- Set yourself a small daily goal and celebrate the achievement. Really celebrate it!
- Make some time for yourself. What have you wanted to do for a long time but have kept postponing? Whatever it is, do it!
- Make someone happy. Good energy is contagious
- All of the above becomes very easy when you learn to just be. So our advice? Meditate!