How To Be Happy – Be Thankful!
Happiness is an option
How to be happy? There are 2 types of happiness. There is the happiness we feel in response to an external event or circumstance. An obvious example of this would be our reaction to winning the lottery!
Then there is the happiness that is cultivated internally. This is the energy that emerges as a conscious choice rather than the most fleeting reaction to good news.
In this article we will focus on happiness as an option.
How to be happy and how things are
We all struggle and live to achieve health, wealth, and personal happiness. However, these three big areas: our health, our wealth, and our relationships are where we all run dry, sooner or later.
It is as if there is a built-in design flaw that ensures that we all suffer at some point, in one way or another.
In the Buddhist perspective, “see things as they are” (Sanskrit yatha-bhutam darshanam) basically means to see that the entire human experience is marked by three characteristics:
* Impermanence (anitya)
* No-me (anatman)
* Suffering (duhkha)
So are the things.
As we become aware of these characteristics, our point of focus moves away from the content of our experiences and toward our response to them.
As of writing in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown, this is a very relevant point!
However, as Thich Nhat Hanh writes in “Be peace”:
“… life is full of suffering, but it is also full of many wonders, such as the blue sky, the sunlight, the eyes of a baby.
Suffering is not enough. We must also be in touch with the wonders of life. They are within us and around us, everywhere, at any time. “
Zen master Alan Senauke offers the following tips to keep your mind happy when fear and suffering threaten you:
“Joy is an active principle, not a swamp of passivity. No one can steal it … We have options, although they are often hard to see. “
How to be happy: choose to be happy
In the Bible (Philippians 4: 4 NKJV), the psalmist writes: “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it”
He don’t say “yesterday was a good day so let’s give thanks for that” gold “Tomorrow will be a good day, so I’ll get through today and hold out until tomorrow”
It says that today … now … this present moment … we choose to give thanks for this day.
When we complain, we often focus on ourselves, our current experiences, and what we want or don’t want.
Happiness is a choice and it reaches out to those who look beyond themselves to something greater than their own immediate personal happiness based on their circumstances.
The apostle Paul was frequently imprisoned and, on one occasion, when he was imprisoned with no prospect of release, he wrote: “Rejoice in the Lord always … always be joyful …”
Her joy was based on her focus and was not a reflection of her circumstances.
How to be happy: a view from the end
In 2015, award-winning journalist John Leland (on an assignment from “The New York Times”) spent time with various older people with the initial expectation of learning how they cope with the effects of aging in terms of physical and mental health. and quality of life in general.
However, what he found was quite extraordinary, despite their circumstances, these people lived positive and happy lives. He captured and expressed his experiences in Happiness Is a Choice You Make: One Year’s Lessons Among the Seniors:
“Older people consistently reported as many positive emotions as younger participants, but they had fewer negatives. They also had more mixed emotions, meaning they didn’t let frustration or anxiety stop them from saying they were happy.
Consciously or unconsciously, they were making the decision to be happy even when there were reasons to feel otherwise …
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, the researchers found that the emotional processing center of older people’s brains, the amygdala, fired more actively when they looked at positive than negative images; younger brains reacted to both equally.
In this, older brains resemble the brains of people who meditate. “
Leland offers a compelling explanation from psychologist Laura L. Carstensen, founding director of the Stanford Center on Longevity:
“His hypothesis, to which he gave the unstable name of ‘socio-emotional selectivity’, is that older people, knowing that they face limited time in front of them, focus their energies on things that give them pleasure in the moment, while Young people, with long horizons, look for new experiences or knowledge that may or may not bear fruit in the future.
Our default position is that we would be “happy if only” all the bad were gone. Whereas, these older people accepted that there are always challenges in life and they choose to be “happy despite”.
How to be happy: the cognitive approach
In A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, William B. Irvine shares the wisdom of Stoic philosophy and reveals how his ideas and advice are refreshingly relevant today.
In summary, here are 3 key takeaways:
1. “What’s the worst that could happen?” – This is what the Stoics refer to as “premeditation”, which means that it is very valuable to think carefully and consciously about the worst that could happen. In most situations, your thought process will show that your anxiety about those situations is disproportionate or exaggerated.
2. “Pretend to do it” – Irvine refers to Seneca, who says that when we are angry we must take steps to “turn all indications (of anger) into their opposites.” We must force ourselves to relax our faces, soften our voices and slow down our steps. If we do this, our internal state will soon come to resemble our external state, and our anger, Seneca says, will have dissipated.
3. “Make it a gift“- The Stoics understood that denying yourself something makes you appreciate what you would otherwise take for granted, and they regularly performed quite strict self-denial exercises and for long periods of time.
We have left the best and most powerful key of how to be happy to last.
The practice of gratitude really makes us happy.
Not only does gratitude make us happy, there is considerable research showing that there are many physical, emotional and spiritual benefits that we can enjoy from this practice.
To start being happy, all it takes is a change in perspective.
You can feel it right now if you want to.
“Joy doesn’t just happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” (Henri Nouwen)
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