Today I choose happiness

View from the ground

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“Happiness does not depend on what you have or who you are. It solely relies on what you think.” – Buddha.

Welcome to a new day and to the latest View From The Ground blog.

Today’s thoughts have sprung to mind as a bit of a curve ball. I had set out some thoughts for a different blog, but then I read an article (yes, sorry, I’ve been reading again!) and it changed my thinking. Primarily, because of the way I’ve been thinking.

I don’t know about you but this last week has been a real struggle. Feelings of real despondency, nothing is good enough. Feelings of a lack of self worth have been abundant and days of worry, worry, worry. I’m sure I am not on my own, and I guess I am reaching out to others who may be feeling the same. In the main, to say that we know we can do something about it and that we need to move out of this state of mind. We have the power. We ARE the power to stop this and today is the day.

So, it was with interest that I came across this article this morning – at time when I was reflecting on things.

Bearing in mind I have focussed a lot of my recent blogs on living in the present and on the overall concept around mindfulness, why have I been fed up with yesterday (not literally, as yesterday was a day in the sun! My idea of bliss); worrying about tomorrow: so not really celebrating life today.

Bearing in mind over the last week, I have had some good times meeting friends for a catch up and there’s been some enjoyable family time, what’s the problem?

And then, when I was doing a ‘wide awake’ meditation, it came to me. Happiness!

Happiness? Yes, HAPPINESS!

Of course, I am a happy man. I am grateful and therefore I am happy. But, and here’s the big but (note, no picture included of a big butt for comedic effect). I have forgotten how to think happiness, to show happiness, and to share happiness. Am I on my own?

I look in the mirror and I see grumpy. I’m grateful, therefore I’m happy, but I look grumpy. How does that effect others? The answer is obvious. How many others are the same?

So, to see this article today has been a gift. I was hooked by the words ‘How to be happy’.

In reality, what I read and what I want to share is not rocket science. Nothing in life is. It’s about belief and application. It’s about not allowing that belief to be polluted by those whose interests are better served by you being in a state of lacking of self worth and self belief.

The key to happiness, latest research tells us, is knowing where to look. As it rightly reflects, from a young age it is programmed into us to aim high and to seek happiness in a better job, new achievement and further success. Think about it. How this programming occurs. What we read, what we see on TV, what we are told by ‘greater minds’.

But, these goals are more likely to make us miserable. Being driven may hold us back, says Dr Raj Raghunathan at the University of Texas.

The doctor’s research shows that supposedly successful and “intelligent” people don’t make life choices that lead to happiness. He saw that after a reunion with his PhD class, the more visible the achievements – be that success at work promotions, pay rises, fancy holidays and bigger homes – the more unfulfilled and distracted the group seemed overall.

Through his research, Dr Raj Raghunathan identified five key areas that can have a huge effect on our wellbeing – all of which are within our control. And, as I’ve said above, that’s the thing. We can control that state of mind.

So, let’s look at these areas and see how we can learn.

Don’t pursue happiness – the advice is to prioritise rather than chase happiness. An interesting balance here because a lot of well meaning advice is that we must pursue happiness, almost at all cost. But there is a big difference. Many of us believe, in theory, that to chase happiness – whatever it actually is – is important and place it above being intelligent and making money, and yet in reality we sacrifice happiness for other things.

We should therefore take steps to increase the chances of FEELING happy rather than obsessing about whether or not you feel happy. We should take steps to prioritise by recognising what makes us happy – going to the pub with friends, countryside walks, holidays, time with the family etc, and then build around those things.

Make a list, prioritise that list, and take action.

I hope that makes sense.

Take responsibility for your happiness – don’t blame others for your unhappiness. Tell yourself it’s in your own hands, whatever the outcome – because it is.

I definitely find this so relevant because, when I’m unhappy, I have a tendency to blame others or circumstances created by others. But, don’t most of us do that?

But, we do have the power and ability to control our own thoughts and feelings, regardless of what is happening to us externally. Feeling in control internally is highly liberating and will make you feel happier.

As is recommended in the article, an easier way to take some control is to look at our lifestyle. Now,here’s where I add my own spin on things as I am the last one to preach about what to eat and drink. As those that know me would confirm, I love a glass of wine and am partial to a regular Indian take away.

However, I also love a long walk, I enjoy fruit and veg and, of late, have sought to increase my intake. Little changes like that can make a difference..

Don’t compare – in the words of the late, great Prince ‘nothing compares to you’ so why place any importance whatsoever to feeling superior to others, you’ll end up being frustrated a lot of the time.

Even if you think you’re doing better than your peers, sooner or later someone will overtake you. And, why is it important? Why can we not just be happy being who we are, what we are, and how we are?

For some comparisons can be tempting – they are used as a way to try to motivate ourselves.

We can strive to be the best at what we do – but surely that should be to DO the best at what we do? If we do the best and that in turn is THE best – in the world, in the Company, in the team – great! But, as long as we do our best at anything that we do, surely that should give us the happiness that we deserve. The less you compare, the happier you will be.

Follow the flow – for some of us the starting point is to get on the flow. But once we are in the flow, we need to follow it and just go with it. Most of us have experienced it, maybe not even realising it, where we experience something where we get lost in what we are doing and time just doesn’t matter. For me, that is when I am writing. Once I get started, I could write for what feels like 30 minutes but 3 hours later I wonder where has that time gone.

Personally, apart from time with family and friends, I am at my truest state of happiness when I am writing. Now, I accept, I am not a trained writer. I have got a qualification in relation to writing. But, do you know what? I don’t care! I love writing. I haven’t got a qualification in the consumption of Indian food but that doesn’t stop me eating it.

So, here’s the challenge for you. Think about what you truly love; what makes you come alive; where you lose track of time. Hopefully, there’s a few things. But make a list, prioritise and get in the flow. Imagine how magnificent you will feel.

Trust strangers – now, this is a really interesting one and it’s the one where I raised an eyebrow of suspicion. But, I read on so please bear with me because the theory present is quite simple in hat the more we perceive we can trust people we don’t know, the happier we’ll be.

Dr Raj Raghunathan has written that the happiest countries and communities are those that feel they can trust the citizens around them. Simply put, if you can’t trust your taxi driver to give you the right change, or the bank clerk to count out the right money, you’ll lose sleep and you won’t be happy. It’s one thing to trust friends and family, but having faith in strangers is an indication of how much you’ll trust life in general.

So, here’s another challenge – and this is definitely one for me as well – try being more open; talk to one stranger each day – in a shop, at work. Focus on the positive aspect of talking to people you don’t know; not the fear that you can’t trust them. Try it, and tell me how you get on. Email address: jonlduke@icloud.com.

It’s quite simple. But, from a personal perspective, this will be one day at a time. I definitely choose happiness and I am so grateful hat I have identified what is causing my state of mind. I be happy is one this, but to FEEL happy is another.

It’s up to me, no one else. In the words of Michael Jackson, “I’m gonna make a change, for once in my life. It’s gonna feel real good. Gonna make a difference. Gonna make it right.” – Man In The Mirror.

Thank you for letting me share this ‘awakening’ with you. If it’s helped you in any way, I feel blessed to have achieved that.

Take care. Happiness is beautiful. Until the next time.
Jon

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