This is a sequel to an article in the last edition of which outlined qualities discernable in happy people. In that article I outlined that happiness can be taught, it can be grown inside of you like building a muscle. You can raise your happiness set-point, that residual place you always fall back to, by building habits of happiness.
Perhaps one of the greatest gifts we human beings have is the power of choice. Many people feel like they do not have much choice about a whole range of things and this keeps them feeling stuck. In fact when I talk with clients we often discover they have a whole lot more choice than they recognized.
For instance in any given moment we can cultivate the skill of choosing peace. No matter what is going on outside we can consciously decide to feel peaceful. In fact the ability to remain calm and to be peaceful no matter what is happening, can give rise to something more lasting than happiness which is experienced as a profound joy. This is a learnable skill and not just something people are born with. It is possible to develop an attitude and a perspective that allows one to do this despite external stress. The ability to choose peace is available to all of us. It is helpful to be clear about what you can change and what you cannot. An example of this is in our relationships. We cannot change another human being. We cannot force another person be it a sibling, parent, or partner to conform to our wishes. To attempt to control others in this way merely sets us up for frustration. Far better to put our energy into what we can change which always leads us back to ourselves. It is a delightful and simple irony that when we clean up our own act, change the tone with which we speak, change our own attitude to another person and refuse to blame or criticize another, we suddenly find he/she is more willing to co-operate or more receptive to our requests.
Don’t take my word for it. Set yourself a challenge. Pick one difficult relationship in your life and refrain from being critical with this person for one week. Choose to listen to them and honestly put aside your own perspective, just for one week. Choose to really try and see their point of view without justifying your own. Notice how hard it is and keep on going.
But a caution: this is not to say that we should tolerate bad behaviour. In fact we recognize that we have a choice and we clearly state what we will tolerate and what is unacceptable for us. As you find your voice to set boundaries, as you take responsibility for your own behaviour and your own life, as you choose the power of peace in any given moment, the experience of your life changes. You build your happiness muscle step by step. You lay down new neural pathways in your brain and you build for yourself a meaningful and happy life.
© Margie Ulbrick
If you would like some support with your relationships or creating greater happiness in your life, please contact me on 0403 814 477 for a free 10-minute consultation to discuss your needs.