In my lifetime, I’ve done some reading and researching, both for formal, academic and job-related reasons and for self-help. Something I’ve learned is that when I start to read the same information in multiple sources, then I’m onto something that probably holds some sort of truth.
I come from negativity, was raised in it, and I’m sad to say I’ve had lots of internal and external strife, pain and unhappiness in my life. Over the years, I’ve tried to remedy that in part by reading how others have solved that problem for themselves — how they’ve gone from unhappy to happy.
A big part of my own healing — and I am healing — hasn’t come from reading at all, but from psychotherapy. To unearth and deal with the seeds of rot that were planted in me young by my parents who didn’t seem to have other means.
Having access to an expert who knows how to sift through my layers of dissociation and trauma to my true self has been necessary for me to find stable ground to start to think about building happiness on.
My therapist, Sara — a psychologist — has always worked with me from the premise that I had a “me” that was different from my triggered reactions to whatever happened around me. Together, she and I, have done a lot of careful digging and my me is taking form underneath the debris.
Little by little, I am stabilizing. And, little by little I’m beginning to see the shape of happy, which I think is the same shape as me.
A little more than a year ago, I started this blog inspired a lot by Stephen Cope’s book, The Great Work of Your Life. Cope’s book, which is essentially a study of the spiritual tomb the bhagavad gita, looks at people’s lives — famous and not famous — and the journeys that led them to their life purposes or, in some cases, far away from them. One of the earliest iterations of my blog was based on the premise of that book which is that in order to figure out what your life purpose is, you must first know who you are.
I have over the years read about manifesting things. I’ve looked at The Secret, and the work of Abraham Hicks and Louise Hay. I always hoped there was truth in the premise that life is vibration and that by raising our own vibrational field we would attract what we wanted. But as hard as I tried that really didn’t work very well for me. I remained stuck and in pain.
My view is changing recently as I get closer to who I am. I’m noticing it’s becoming easier to adopt a more positive attitude in my life. And I’m noticing that I’m receiving a little more ease and happiness — abundance — in my life in general.
Recently, I decided to dig a little deeper into the world of manifesting again after a long time away from those sorts of texts. I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself reading a lot of what I already knew. That happiness starts with being true to our own unique soul’s desire.
Below is a summary of ten habits of happiness that come from an internet program called Manifestation Miracle by Heather Mathews. I’m repeating them here because I think they’re helpful and because as I said, they reflect what I’ve learned to be true from other texts I’ve read. And they reflect some practices I’ve implemented that work for me.
The premise of what follows is that happiness isn’t in fact, something you seek. It’s not a matter of “I’ll be happy when….. this or that happens” or “I’d be happy if only….this or that was different.” Rather, happiness is a byproduct. It’s the result of you being you at the truest level of your soul. But not only that, it’s the result of certain practices and habits you can cultivate.
This is what happy people do:
1) Stay away from or minimize time spent with negative people and don’t engage in their drama and negativity. Maximize time spent with happy people. This will help you feel more positive.
2) Stay positive. Nurture your positivity. Find reasons to be calm and smile and find positive things to say. Make positivity a habit and an integral part of your life, 24 /7.
3) Have dreams and set goals. According to Heather Mathews and Manifestation Miracle, “Happy people are fulfilling their ultimate mission to live in tune with their destiny. Everything they do is in harmony with this mission. They’re focused on their goals and know where they’re going in life.” Your goals and dreams will help keep you moving forward in life, even though you may not know exactly how you’re going to achieve them. Heather Mathews says that “Simply keeping your focus on your goals and your life’s mission will help guide some of the steps you need to take to get there. Allow the universe to take care of the rest.”
4) Avoid focusing on what can’t be changed. Shift your focus to the things that matter and that can be changed. Mathews states that when you focus on making a change, even a small one, “there is a powerful and positive force of energy that moves… It’s a creative force that makes a very clear statement about your readiness and intention for something new and different in your life.” Do what you can, where appropriate, to change your feelings, thoughts, habits and attitudes to attract more good and positivity into your life.
5) Be flexible and adapt when life doesn’t go according to plan. Focus on the opportunities arising from changes rather than focusing on life as an inconvenience. According to Mathews, happy people have an attitude “that whatever situation that has occurred will always work out for their greater good.” (Some years ago, I read an entire book — Zen and the Art of Happiness — that focused just on this principle. I found it helpful.)
6) Be able to see the good in a person without overly focusing on their negative qualities. Everyone — you included — has both positive and negative qualities. Consider what life is like in the other person’s situation (and I would add, consider what you may not have any idea about that is going on in that person’s life and affecting their decisions and behaviours).
7) Happy people laugh easily and often. Laughter is restorative. Spend time with people who laugh and make you laugh. Challenge yourself to be more playful — children and pets are great laughter buddies! (And I would add that I’ve read about people who make it a habit to watch comedy videos every day to add to their laughter quotient!)
8) Nurture being happy with yourself. Happy people know they can’t be truly happy until they are happy with themselves, love themselves. Therapy, journalling, meditation, art are all modes to help with self-love.
9) Take time out. The happiest people live a balanced life according to their life purpose. They make sure that they take time out to spend quality time with loved ones and to rest and they balance hard work with pleasure
10) Cultivate a connection to a higher power. Happy people live in harmony with some sense of a universal spiritual energy.
Writing this blog post today has made me feel happier and more focused. I’m thinking of printing these habits — this happiness manifesto — and keeping it nearby to read every day.
As always, you have my heartfelt support on your journey.