5 Simple Steps To Create Lasting Happiness In Your Life
Happiness is something you are, not something you find…
My Story of Two Worlds
Billions of people in the world are seeking happiness. They are looking in the wrong place.
I stood in awe watching the sunrise over the Alps. What a glorious moment.
I had run up the side of the snow-covered mountain in the pre-dawn hope of seeing this wonder. The snow crunching under my feet, the pain in my legs, and the burn in my lungs as I gulped in the cold air were my allies. It was me against the elements, and my reward was this sunrise.
This was a moment I treasured. I stood watching the sun leak golden hope over the sleeping mountain, bringing to life that which had been asleep. Life was just waking up, and the silence was heaven.
The pain rushing from my lungs, leaving my body as steam from my mouth, reminded me that this was worth it. I am worth it.
Three years later, I was approaching the 20 mile mark in a 23.2-mile race. I had trained hard for the New York marathon, and my goal was to run under 3 hours. I could feel the uncomfortable feeling of fatigue creeping in slowly, and I tried to ignore it. It was an obstacle too far.
Running up through Central Park, I felt my goal slipping away. I pushed harder, but my body didn’t respond. I hung, in racing as hard as I could. I focused on remembering how hard I had trained and how strong I was, and I pushed harder. I hit the 23 mile mark in two hours, 59 minutes, and 56 seconds. I had 0.2 miles to run, and my time was up. I was gutted.
It was a moment I had spent six months training for. I had visualized and driven my body through pain barriers to reach this goal. And now, it was gone…
Life is a series of moments. The moments where we are being who we are meant to be, and noticing how precious our lives are—in those moments, that is where our happiness lies. We don’t need anything, we just need to be.
In the moments when we have unmet expectations, we are hard on ourselves and lack self-empathy. The pain of disappointment creates unhappiness. It’s all choice.
The more moments we create and string together that allow our being to thrive and happiness to shine, the happier we are.
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The Neuroscience of Happiness
The latest research in neuroscience, as referenced by David Rock in his book Your Brain at Work, and Matthew Liebermann in his book Social, reveals that happiness is a state of mind.
Our brain releases chemicals based on our expectations and experiences. These chemicals are the brain’s interpretation of emotions which we make sense of.
The brain releases dopamine when we have a reward and cortisol when we feel threatened or disappointed.
Reflecting on my brain’s chemical response to my moment in the Alps and my moment in missing my marathon goal, I was forced to make a choice. I could have shifted both these experiences by where I chose to place my attention.
Think about how we interpret unmet expectations. We feel disappointed and unhappy. It makes sense to lower expectations so that we don’t feel unhappy. Expectations are our picture of what a result should look like.
When we are more accepting of just being in the moment and less focused on achieving a result, this becomes easier.
If my focus had been on how tired and sore I was when I reached the top of the mountain and the fact that I still had to run down, my brain would have generated cortisol, and the moment would be lost.
In my marathon, if I’d focused on what an amazing achievement I had just made, then my brain would have generated dopamine. My focus changes my experience.
What Can I Do to Create More Happiness in my Life?
I believe happiness is a state of self-acceptance.
The more we learn to accept who we are and create moments for this person to shine and thrive, the happier we are.
Our role is to focus our attention and energy on creating these moments, starting with the thoughts we think.
1. Cultivate moments of silence in your life.
Walk in nature, practice mindfulness, and allow yourself to be free. The world is a busy place with expectations and demands placed on us daily.
People who cultivate silence in their lives are less self-critical and more able to manage stressful moments when facing them. Simply place your attention on sounds or sights for ten minutes a day and just focus on being in that moment.
Your ability to be silent will grow.
2. Give your life away at every opportunity.
Live a life of service. Be kind to people and focus on the impact you achieve with others.
Stop focusing on outcomes and focus on the moment-to-moment impact you have when you allow your heart to be free and connect with others.
3. Discover your purpose and align your gifts to this.
We all have amazing, unique talents that have been given to us.
We all have a purpose for being on this earth.
We have work to do to make the world a brighter and richer place. Living a life of mediocrity and not living on purpose denies the world the brightness and richness of your gifts.
The more you create moments that are on purpose, the more meaning and fulfillment you have in life, and the more meaning and fulfillment you bring to others.
Living on purpose brings joy, and with that, the feeling of happiness.
4. Stop waiting.
What exactly are you waiting for? Happiness is within you, and waiting for it in a relationship, an outcome, or an achieved goal is short-lived.
True happiness comes with self-acceptance, so start there.
Validate and love whom you are, and happiness will follow.
5. Be grateful.
Be accepting, not rejecting. Are you an appreciator or a depreciator?
People who walk around looking for reasons to be offended will find them.
People who seek people and things to appreciate find them. It’s a mindset you bring to your life.
The quickest way to create a life full of moments to appreciate is to be grateful for everything you are and everything you have. Practice this daily.
Happiness is not elusive, it cannot be. It is part of who you are. Your role is to unleash it and let the world feel your smile.
If this article peaks your interest, I am keen to have a conversation with you as to how I can work with you and your teams for generating results more effectively. Send me an email—details below.
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