How to be happy
It is quite difficult to pin down what happiness is, but we all have a fairly clear idea about it. The last issue of The Light Connection explored “What Happiness Is.” Becoming happier involves two main processes. First, we are faced with our dark side, our unhappy side, or perhaps our depression. Those who grew up in a childhood filled with abuse or neglect have great obstacles to overcome that can take decades to fully heal. It is important to do healing work on the shadow side. However, it is more important to practice positive thinking, feeling, acting, and being, for through “practicing happiness,” the grip of the dark side is decreased. One can never attain high levels of happiness by focusing entirely on healing the pain.
In this issue, I am offering a calendar, consisting of 30 suggestions to increase your happiness. Each day, take just one suggestion and work with it all day long. I have set this up so that you can start with day 1 and go straight through day 30. Mix it up if you want. You may want to swap day 10 for day 15, for example.
The first step is to decide “if” you want to be happier. The second step is to do something about it. Here are things you can do for each day of the month.
Day 1. Upon rising, choose to be happy. Choose love over fear and anger.
Day 2. Decide to have the intensity required to be happy.
Day 3. Avoid blame, judgment, and comparisons. These mental activities strengthen the ego/mind, and weaken your connection with spirit.
Day 4. Actively look for opportunities to express gratitude. As soon as you begin the “practice of gratitude,” opportunities will present themselves in abundance. Gratitude fosters love, and prepares the ground for forgiveness, without which lasting happiness cannot be attained.
Day 5. Practice acceptance of what IS.
Day 6. Choose your thoughts. To a very large extent, you are responsible for your reality. That is the core message of “The Secret.” Our thoughts create our emotions. You can't always choose your emotions, but you can choose your thoughts. The power of attraction, the power of thoughts to bring into your life what you are thinking about, is not just about making more money. Use your thoughts consciously to create health, wealth, love, and peace.
Day 7. Take some time to quiet your mind, some down time. A peaceful mind is a happy mind.
Day 8. Exercise. What makes your body feel “happy?” A little exercise or a lot? Learn to listen to your body's needs. What food makes your body happy? If you can, include massage in your program for creating a happy body. If you are in an intimate relationship, make physical intimacy a regular part of that relationship, and keep your love life creative and evolving. Don't forget to hug a lot, hold hands, and snuggle on the couch. These forms of physical contact just naturally bring happiness.
Day 9. Identify, among family and friends, who you like to be around (and who you don't). Identify the most positive people in your life and then figure out how to spend more time with them. That does mean that, in making this choice, you may have to jettison some of the negative people in your life.
Day 10. Dare to dream your own dream and find your own passion and purpose. Don't spend your life living someone else's expectations. Develop the willingness, day-by-day, to live your own life. Develop the courage to follow your bliss regardless of what people think of you. The fact is that when you follow your own path, and start acting on what you feel in your heart is right, some people will think you're crazy. That's because many people will grow scared of your personal power as it grows. When you follow your dream, you will lose some friends, but will gain a whole new group of friends who support your vision.
Day 11. Bring home flowers. Put them in a special vase. One single flower will bring happiness into your home.
Day 12. Expect the unexpected. Be keenly aware of a person, message, or phone call that you might ordinarily ignore. Be ready to be surprised. A total stranger may be put in your path to bring happiness in a way you cannot expect or predict.
Day 13. In a challenging situation that could make you irritated or angry, ask yourself, “What is the opportunity in this?” “What can I learn? How can I grow?” “What's the lesson?” No day is picture perfect. Don't go looking for trouble, but in an imperfect world, the Universe supplies some challenging opportunity for growth every day.
Day 14. Stand barefoot on the earth for 30'– 60 minutes. The health and happiness benefits of barefoot contact are well documented. Billions of free electrons per second pour into you through your feet when you're in contact with the earth. In 30 minutes your body will fill to the max with free electrons, just like a battery becoming fully charged.
Day 15. Take 2 or 3 brief periods (5 – 15 minutes) to close your eyes and do absolutely nothing. Stop striving. Don't try to figure anything out and don't try to complete a task. When you take your mind off the endless pressure of “getting things done,” your happiness and peace of mind increase.
Day 16. Allow your body to move freely for a while. Put on music with the right beat for you and let it move your body. It's called “dancing.” This is not about being a good dancer. It's about being alive. Most of us will feel the need to do this privately, at least at first.
Day 17. Do something childlike or childish, such as: rolling in the grass, climbing a tree, boogy-boarding in the ocean, or blowing bubbles. Kids know how to have fun. Have fun today. Notice how your mind may rebel at this suggestion with thoughts like, “That's silly, stupid, or worthless.” After you've had a mental temper tantrum, think about how you can implement this suggestion.
Day 18. Eat right. Drink lots of water and eat the foods that you know make you feel good. A healthy body makes for a happy mind. Avoid the foods that you know make your body feel tired, weak, or uncomfortable.
Day 19. Smile — a lot. Smiling makes you feel better as well as the people you smile at. Your smile bring others happiness, which immediately returns to you. Instant karma! The very act of smiling raises the level of “happy neurotransmitters” in your brain.
Day 20. Slow down. Drive more slowly (the speed limit). Walk and talk more slowly, unless you already talk very slowly. Let it be okay if the checkout line at the grocery store is moving slowly. To empower “slowing down,” periodically silently say, “Usiri” (pronounced: ooh-see-ree). Usiri is a Swahili word that means, “Slow down.” Slowing down brings more peace of mind.
Day 21. Breathe. Most of us are shallow breather. Shallow breathing increases stress and decreases that amount of oxygen delivered to the tissues. Take 1 deep breath every 15 minutes. The breath is the fastest way to access the mind-body connection and the fastest way to decrease anxiety and stress.
Day 22. Laugh! Like smiling, laughter increases happy neurotransmitters. There is solid science behind laughter, well-being, and happiness. There are now 50,000 “laugh groups” around the world that gather weekly to laugh for no reason at all. 30 minutes of laughter is the “medically-recommended dose” for shifting into a happier biology. Watch a video of your favorite comedian.
Day 23. Service. When we “do service,” we think it is for the other person. It is, but it is also for us. Helping others is a way to open your heart to the exchange of love. Start small and don't perform acts of service for “show.” Find a place to serve the poor, hungry, elderly, or others in need. Find some service that appeals to you. On this, your service day, you can serve countless people by opening doors, being kind to the checkout boy or girl at the grocery store. She is stressed. You provide service to her through patience and a smile. In turn, that small act of yours, affects hundreds of other people with whom she will come in contact today.
Day 24. Explore some part of your town or city where you've never been before, or never paid any attention. You will find new museums, music, antique stores, restaurants, and more that are in your own back yard. This adventure will bring pleasant surprises and happiness. When we do the same thing every day, we fall into the rut of failing to experience “newness.” While predictability is useful, being open to new places transports our minds into other realms.
Day 25. Reconnect to family and friends… of your choice. Most of us have family and friends scattered around the country. Think of those people who make you laugh, smile, and feel happy. Today is the day to call them and reconnect. Do not call people out of a sense of guilt, duty, or obligation. Not today. You may want to reconnect by writing a letter, but e-mail won't have the same effect.
Day 26. Go to a park and watch children play. Play is a happy event. You don't have to hang by your knees on the jungle gym (although you have permission to do that!). Just soak in the joy of the children as they play.
Day 27. Watch the sunset, today and as often as possible. Notice the details. What do the clouds look like? The sky, the ocean? Watch the sunset over the ocean and eagerly await the rare “green flash.” Slow down and savor this sunset. You will never see this particular sunset again. It is God's gift. Accept the gift and marvel at it. If you're driving, park your car and watch the sun go down.
Day 28. Check the Reader Newspaper and Internet calendars for special events that would be fun or interesting for you. Make the time to attend to see new sights and sounds. Break out of the rut of every day sameness, and take time to hear a new jazz band, blues, rock, country, classical, reggae, or alternative.
Day 29. Do something creative, especially with music, drawing, painting, pottery or theatre. If you don't know where to start, go to an art or music store. Let the creative juice s start to flow. Participating in the arts is one of our greatest opportunities for happiness. By about age 10, most of us have had the creativity “humiliated out of us.” Reclaim your creative birthright. While we are not all Mozarts, all of us can experience the joy of creative expression.
Day 30. Pray for happiness for all beings, including yourself. Praying and meditating opens your connection to God, Higher Consciousness, or Spirit. There are no rules about how to pray, but pray a few times today.
Initially, there is effort involved in becoming happier, but the decision to craft out a “happiness strategy” seems like a no-brainer. No matter what you do in life, initially there is effort. After awhile, those things you put time and energy into become second nature.
This list of 30 “happy suggestions” is intended as a monthly calendar. On those months with 31 days, pick one of your favorites in this list and practice that suggestion. Please make your own list of things that make you happy and substitute your favorites for some of these 30. If you put intention into becoming happier, and take the bold leap into following these instructions for the next month, in one month you will be happier. If you want easier access to this “happy calendar,” go to www.lightconnectiononline.com, where you will be able to find this article in one place, without having to jump from page to page.
To become permanently happier, use this calendar every day and every month. Over time, as you master one technique or suggestion, you may want to practice two or three techniques every day. You may want to modify the calendar I've created and substitute some of your own ways of fostering happiness. This list of 30 is not based on Patanjali's 8-fold path, Buddha's 8-fold path, or any clever marketing concept, such as “7 Keys to Lasting Happiness.” It's not a bad potential book title, but there is a different set of beliefs behind the 30 suggestions in this article.
Happiness is an expression of expansion of the heart. Fear and unhappiness arise from contraction of the heart and “expansion of the ego-mind.” These techniques arise out my belief and experience (both personal and as a spiritual psychiatrist) that reducing the force and grip of our tiny self or ego leads to peace of mind and happiness. Deepening our connection with Spirit fosters happiness. Each day's practice is intended to help move you from “me to we,” and from “mine to thine.” Each suggestion is an opportunity to help fulfill the Native American expression “Mitakuye O'Yasin,” which means that each of us is part of an interconnected web of life.
David Gersten, M.D. practices Nutritional Medicine, Integrative Psychiatry, and Interactive Guided Imagery out of his Encinitas office and can be reached at 760-633-3063. Please feel free to access 1,000 on-line pages about holistic health, amino acids, and nutritional therapy at www.aminoacidpower.com.
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What is the correct way to do affirmations, and how many times a day is best? I'm not sure I'm doing it right!
D.S., San Dimas, CA
You cannot do affirmations “wrong.” What you can do is the “wrong affirmations.” Every thought you think and every word you say “is” an affirmation, When we talk about “doing affirmations,” we mean taking conscious control over our thoughts and words. The more times a day you can say your “positive” affirmations, the quicker you will get results.
Remember, most of us think over 60,000 thoughts a day. So make the most of the positive affirmations, and you will improve the quality of your life beyond what you can imagine. Have fun doing your affirmation, and have a good life.
I am very interested in receiving the details of the natural diet for pets that you referred to in a recent column. Thank you.
K.L., Redford, MI
Hay House published a book by Kymythy Schultze called Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats: The Ultimate Diet. In this book, Ms. Schultze writes:
“Dogs and cats are carnivores. Biologists have yet to discover any wild carnivore that cooks its food. A carnivore's body has been designed to derive its needed nutrients from raw food. Many successful zoos and other captive habitats have discovered that they cannot keep their animals healthy and able to reproduce unless they are fed raw food. Cooking actually changes the molecular structure of food. The outside appearance of our dogs and cats may have been changed by human selection, but the inside of our furry friends is still that of evolutionary design. The digestive design of your feline or canine companion is not changed simply because it's living in your condo! Your domesticated carnivore still needs species-appropriate nutrition to achieve optimum health.”
I have been feeding my dog this diet for a number of months now and has noticed elimination of body odor and breath, a healthy skin and coat, clean teeth, strong nails, healthy ears and a happy active animal!
I am at the end of my rope! I have been struggling to create peace and harmony in a relationship I've been having with a man for more than six years, and I'm also trying to trust him again. We have been to several marriage counselors, and he still continues to lie about little things—for example, he still keeps in contact with his old girlfriends. I find myself doubting him and doubting my own intuition about him. How can I get my power back? I really do love him, but six years of uncertainty can really get to a gal after a while, and this is beginning to affect my health. Help!
K.M., Dallas, TX
This is not love, my dear, it is self-hatred. Is this what you deserve? Obviously there are some hidden blocks and fears standing between you and the life you desire.
You may want to look at the relationships that surrounded you as a child. Did your parents have a loving relationship? Did they treat each other with kindness, appreciation, and love? How did they treat you? Are you holding on to any resentments?
To get your power back, you need to love yourself enough to leave this relationship now. Start to LOVE YOURSELF. Opt to use this time to really pamper yourself with small acts of kindness and appreciation. Buy yourself flowers; and surround yourself with colors, textures, and scents that please you. Life always mirrors back to us the feelings we have inside.When you are emotionally ready, the right person to share in your growing sense of self-love will be attracted to you like a magnet.
An affirmation to use is: I AM DISCOVERING HOW WHOLE AND WONDERFUL I AM. I EMBODY TRUE INNER HAPPINESS, AND I AM OPEN TO A WONDERFUL, LOVING, INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP.
Louise L. Hay is a metaphysical teacher and the bestselling author of numerous books, including You Can Heal Your Life , Empowering Women, and I Can Do It! . Subscribe to the Louise Hay Newsletter! Call for a Free Issue: (800) 654-5126. Questions for Louise? Write to: Dear Louise Column, c/o Hay House, Inc., P.O. Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100 (letters may be edited for length and clarity). Visit Louise and Hay House at: www.LouiseHay.com or www.hayhouse.com.
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