It’s been remarkable to look back on the relatively short time I have been immersing myself in the landscape of happiness (just over a month now) and notice how much I’ve learned, and how different my perspective on life is.
I wanted to find a source of happiness that was less fleeting, more reliable, and less dependent on external circumstances. I wanted to be less thrown around by the events of my life – feeling great when things were great, feeling not so great when things (appeared to be) not so great. Or paradoxically, feeling not so great when things (appeared to be) great.
The connection between the events of my life and my happiness was what I wanted to disconnect.
I wasn’t sure if it could be done. I knew it was possible in theory, but had a fantasy that only those seekers on a path to enlightenment could achieve it.
It sounded like a story from an Eastern Zen teaching. “A student who has been studying enlightenment for 40 years climbs a mountain to find his Master. He finally finds him sitting at the mouth of a cave, cross-legged on a rock, reposed in complete silence…” – that kind of thing. I wasn’t sure it was possible to feel happy no matter what was going on in my life, for an ordinary person like me.
What I have discovered, and am still discovering and exploring the landscape of, is that happiness, at least in the form of feeling connected, calm and at peace, is the birthright of all of us. We are born with an innate sense of emotional wellbeing, of happiness.
And just as the ‘default’ setting of the human body is physical wellness, the ‘default’ setting of the human heart is happiness.
And even if we have temporarily lost that feeling of emotional wellbeing, of happiness, it can be rediscovered.
This is what I have discovered, and have experienced in my own life since starting this journey, this experiment with happiness.
It’s an ongoing journey, one of the most fascinating I have ever undertaken.
If any of this sparks your imagination or interest, please use what I share in my experiments with happy to inspire you to have your own experiments with happiness, and to allow yourself to be happier, more often.
I am happiest when (#6):
I am thinking happy thoughts
This is the heart of feeling happy (or feeling anything) – our thoughts.
I wanted to start the new year with sharing the essence of what I have learned about my own state of happiness, and how connected it is to my thinking.
When I truly understood the connection between my thoughts and my feelings – beyond a mere cognitive understanding of the concept – everything changed for me. In practically the blink of an eye, I was transformed.
This was a true awakening for me.
As I think, so do I feel. If I’m thinking thoughts about what’s missing from my life, what I haven’t achieved, what I’m disappointed about, what I feel I’m missing out on, who’s doing better than me (so I imagine) – then I feel all the emotions that go with that including disappointment, failure, frustration, loss, envy.
And if I’m thinking thoughts about all the wonderful and wondrous things in my life such as what I have achieved, the people I have around me, the experiences I get to enjoy, the places I’ve been, all that is surrounding me this very moment as I sit here and type this – then I feel all the emotions that go with that including gratitude, connection, hope, joy, wonder.
I also discovered that it isn’t enough to merely understand the connection between thoughts and feelings. For it to be more than an interesting idea, for it to be transformative, this connection must be embodied.
I’ve known about the connection between thoughts and feelings for some time – years. I’ve even included it in my facilitation work with corporate clients.
But I never truly got it for myself, beyond mere understanding. Really got it, at a cellular level.
And now that I have, everything has changed, although nothing is noticeably different.
It’s a form of everyday alchemy.