– I would like to move out of here – Vivian said hesitantly – find new job, meet new people, and have someone I could spend my life with.
– What’s wrong with your man? – Angela asked.
– Nothing – Vivian laughed nervously – I don’t know – she lowered her voice – what if there is someone better than him?
– I think your partner is someone better than anyone else – Angela stressed each word – He is the nicest man on this planet. He sincerely cares for you and does his best to make you happy.
– I know, I just.. – Vivian stopped for a moment – I do not feel passion anymore. He doesn’t make me happy as he used to.
Angela turned her head back toward the sun and took a deep breath, exhaling loudly.
– Why would you like to change the job and move somewhere else? – she asked.
– I know every corner of this city and nothing excites me anymore – Vivian replied – I like my job, but I no longer feel good there.
She looked up at the sky; the sun made her eyes squint.
– I do not feel satisfied with what I do, with people and this place, I feel lifeless. I was wondering how great it would be to start fresh – she added.
A couple of ducks flew above their heads and landed on the lake nearby. Both women stared at the ducks for a longer while. The sun hid behind the clouds and Vivian covered her arms with a scarf.
– You know Viv – Angela interrupted the silence- you take yourself with you everywhere you go.
– What do you mean? – Vivian asked raising her head, confusion in her voice.
– It doesn’t matter who you are with, he will not be able to succeed in making you happy – Angela took a deep slow breath – New job or new house in a different city will not bring you happiness either, because you do not know how to appreciate what you have.
Vivian rested her head on her right hand and stared at her friend.
-You wait for someone or something to bring you happiness. – Angela said further – but happiness comes from within; no one else can give it to you.
Vivian looked confused, and Angela continued.
– There is so much beauty in your life to appreciate, and all you do is look for what is not working. What would happen if you’d start to feel happy with what you have now and appreciate every object, every experience and every person that is present in your life as they are? – Angela asked rhetorically.
– Sometimes I wonder if you are my friend – Vivian said after a longer pause, smiling softly.
– I am your best friend! – Angela shouted enthusiastically.
Both women laughed.
Before you read further, I would like to invite you to stop for a few seconds and finish the sentence below, either in your mind or – preferably – on paper.
To me, happiness is…
And once more, happiness is…
What happiness is, really?
I believe there are as many answers as there are people living in this planet. For some of you happiness is feeling good and sharing time with loved ones. For others it may be achieving the goal or getting that dream job. Your friend may think that she will be truly happy when she will get married and have kids she’s always wanted; while other friend may believe he will be happy if he will buy that new car and move in to a big house with a pool and big garage for his car collection.
We all just want to be happy
There are no rights and wrongs in wanting different things, and it is absolutely natural to want more and look for new ways to feel good, to feel happier. What I believe is important to point out, though, is that as humans we tend to believe that whatever it is that we want will bring us happiness. The cars, the houses, the jobs, marriages and achieved goals are great to have and appreciate, but true happiness can come only from within.
You want this relationship, coz you believe it will make you happy. You say: “If I could get that new job, I would feel happy” or “Oh how happy I would be if only I’d have that first million in my bank account” – no matter what the object or the person you think you want, what you really seek for is the feeling of happiness.
Isn’t it interesting how often you seek for happiness in others, in objects, experiences?
You make other people responsible for how you feel in the moment. When they say something kind and do what you expect them to do, you feel good. When they, however, are too busy to see you or do something that you do not approve, you end up feeling disappointed or even angry.
That new car or new handbag brings you excitement, probably also some prestige and comfort, but in a month or a year you look for a new car, new phone, new handbag, because excitement wears off quickly, and you need another dose of happiness from the outside in order to feel better.
Have you even thought how would it feel, if you were happy from the inside out? How would it feel if you were happy without the necessity of bringing people or objects into your experience? Imagine feeling good because you want to feel good and because you choose to feel good. If you were living your life from there, how do you think your daily life would feel like?
Find your Why (exercise, part 1)
Split your page in your journal into two columns. In the first one (1/3 width of the page) write all that you want – all the objects, all the people you want to have in your life, all your dreams and needs. Do not judge whether it is possible to achieve them or not; simply list them one after another. Write as many as you wish, aiming for at least 10-15.
In the second column (2/3 width of the page) write all the reasons why you want each of those objects or experiences. How will you feel when you will get them? How will you treat yourself? Who will you become? What this particular person / object / experience will bring you? What emotions do you want to feel when you have them?
When you have written all the reasons for each and every of your dreams and goals, read the ‘why’ column once again and at the bottom of the page write all the feelings and emotions that came up more than twice and underline those, that came up more than 4 times.
It all starts with you..
.. so why not take care of yourself first and become a little bit selfish? How would you feel if you could look within and just feel good, without any particular reason? How would it feel if you’d start looking for what makes you feel good in your daily life, in yourself, in your surroundings, and do more of it? How great would it be if you’d stop expecting others to make you happy and choose that from now on you are the only one responsible for your own happiness? You cannot make anyone else happy, and nobody else can make you happy. It all starts with you, because true happiness comes from within.
I would like to encourage you to have a look around and notice one by one all the things and people that are there in your life and how they make you feel without judging those feelings. If you find something that is not pleasing, notice it and simply move to another object or person. If you find something that is pleasing, notice it and allow that good feeling to flood your body, and then move to another object or person. Just be wherever you are, noticing the space around you and all the objects and persons that are there. By being present in the moment you will feel more satisfied with who you are.
I am oneness
I do not encourage you to become someone who thinks only positive thoughts and pretends that sadness, disappointment and anger aren’t there. Quite the opposite, really. Feel whatever it is you are feeling in the given moment and accept that you feel it. Accept all the so called good feelings, and those that do not feel good. I purposely do not use the term ‘negative feelings’, as I believe there isn’t any feeling that is truly negative; each of them is just an indication of what is going on in your mind.
I do believe that noticing what is working and what you like is as important as being aware of what is not working and what you do not like. However, there is a difference between noticing what is not working, thinking about it, talking about it, writing about it and complaining about it, and noticing what is not working and choosing to search for something more pleasing or something that is working in order to focus on that.
Whatever you focus on you attract, whether object of your attention is something wanted or unwanted, you will attract more of it. And whatever sensation you have in your body shows you what kinds of thoughts are trending in your mind.
You are one. You are complete as you are. You have dark and bright sides. Everyone does. Beating yourself up for not being perfect or pretending the darkness isn’t there doesn’t lead you anywhere near a happy place. Accept the wholeness of you. The more you avoid some parts of you, the more often they come back to the surface and ask for your attention; your body, your soul, your mind, your inner child – they ask you for your love, acceptance and appreciation. The more you approve all of you, the more aligned you are, and the happier you become.
Find your Why (exercise, part 2)
In the first part of this exercise you have written your goals in the left hand side, and in the right column all the reasons why you want them and how achieving them will make you feel. Then, at the bottom of the page, you listed the emotions that came up more than twice and underlined those that came up even more often.
I would like to invite you to, again, split your page in two columns (1/3 and 2/3 width of the page) and in the left one write down all the emotions you underlined earlier; if you feel like it, you could write them in the descending order starting with those that came up most often.
Those underlined emotions and feelings represent what you are really looking for in whatever it is that you want. People tend to desire freedom, choices, stability / safety, love, joy, happiness, peace, connection, and the feelings or worthiness and enoughness, as well as success and some kind of prestige.
In the right column, list the ways of how you experience those feelings in your current life. Have fun and allow yourself to be playful. If you say that you do not have choices in life, I would like to remind you that you have a choice right now – you could continue reading this article or stop reading it; you could do the writing exercise or not. You feel there is no stability in your life? The chair or sofa you sit at, is it stable? The floor that you stand on, does it give you the sense of stability? You get the drift, right?
The last part is to write down new ways of how you could experience even more of those feelings and emotions in your daily life with the resources you have right now. What is interesting is that this exercise helps you to refocus from the lack of a particular feeling to understanding that this emotion is already present in your life and it is your choice to experience more of it. Because the more you focus on what you want, the more of it you attract.
You take yourself with you everywhere you go
When you look in the mirror, do you like what you see? How do you feel about that person the mirror reflects back to you? Do you judge yourself for your looks? Do you beat yourself up for past mistakes? Are you able to look yourself deep into your eyes and feel self love and self compassion?
You see, it all lies within you; the love and joy you seek for, the happiness and excitement you want to experience, the freedom of choices and stability you want to attract, the respect and appreciation you desire. You must tap into whatever it is you want, look for it, accept that it is there and allow yourself to see it in you and flow through you.
The more you criticize yourself, the more you feel criticized by others, and the more things and characteristics you notice in others to criticize. Therefore no matter where you are, you are the same person that is unable to smile to you in the mirror – the same criticizing, judging, complaining and looking-for-what’s-wrong person. The unhappy you.
Changing a job or a partner will not make you happier. It may seem beneficial for a while, especially at the beginning when everything is new and you are excited about it. Yet, if you are naturally conditioned to search for what’s wrong, then sooner rather than later you will find it in every person you interact with, in every company you work for, and every object that you once dreamed of.
You may think that new equals better. Nevertheless, you take yourself with you everywhere you go, so if you have a tendency to criticize, you will criticize and judge no matter the place, the person or the situation. If you have victim consciousness, you will find a way to deny personal responsibility for the things that occur in your life and you will blame others for making you a target of their hurtful behaviours. You will have the same unhappy life, even if you move to another city or country.
I guess you do know somebody, who always seem comfortable and joyful, don’t you? They like their job and when they decide to change it, they accommodate smoothly and tend to find many positive aspects of their new workplace. They have great circle of friends and no matter where they go, they seem to be accepted and make friends easily. They experience challenges in their lives, yet solutions seems to come to them effortlessly. If we’d have a look into their lives, there is a big chance they feel good most of the time and they are kind with themselves when no one is looking. No matter where they go, they take their happy selves with them.
How would it feel if you’d allow yourself to be that person too?
Idea of a happy future
When you look into your future, what do you see? How do you feel about your future? How do you see yourself there? Are you successful? Are you having all that you want to have? When you look into your future, are you happy in there?
Perhaps you are one of those who feel powerless and worry for what the future will bring, so you avoid making plans and you fear of what may come? You may not have a vision for yourself and you may feel paralysed because you do not feel in control and so you cannot envision a happy life. You may feel lost and simply survive each day instead of living it fully.
Or perhaps you belong to that group of people, who have already planned each and every day for the next 10 years of their lives, and now are fixated on achieving all the goals? You may be so focused on completing the daily tasks and accomplishing one outcome after another, that you forget to enjoy yourself along the way. You may feel stressed and overwhelmed and keep fighting day after day instead of enjoying the journey. Coz you believe that happiness awaits at the end of that journey, so you must reach your destination in order to find it. But even then, you do not feel fulfilled.
The fear of the future makes you react with a flight or flight response, which doesn’t serve you in a day to day life. The other concept, on the other hand, turns you into a control freak, who must accomplish all the items on to-do-list, and any delay or any mistake cost you nerves and make you feel like a failure.
I have experienced both throughout my life. There were times, when I was so scared to dream and I had no idea what I wanted, thus I avoided making plans and I was moving from one day to another like a ghost. Other times I’ve implemented the opposite approach – I planned each and every hour of my life, and if someone would asked me ‘who do you want to be in 5 years’, I was able to answer exactly who, how and what. I had everything under control; at least I thought I did.
I have learned the hard way that neither approach supports the happy and joyful lifestyle I really wanted to experience. When I, however, got clear about what I desire the most, it was easier to embrace that the purpose of life is to feel joy and be happy. Nothing else matters, really. I allowed myself to team up with my Inner Being and listened to my intuition. I have started introducing thoughts such as ‘Life is fun’, ‘People are here to share joyful moments with me’, ‘Everything is always working out for me’ and ‘I expect only the best to happen to me’, and after practising them for a while, they became my belief about life, that led to a mindful lifestyle I enjoy fully.
When you follow your heart’s calling, you get inspired to take action in the direction that makes you feel even better, and you witness the path unfolding in front of you. You keep the vision of your happy self, and focus on feeling as much joy as possible while being inspired to take the next logical step on your journey.
Vision of a happy life (exercise)
I’d like to invite you to take a short break now in order to do a few minutes breathing exercise of your choice. When you feel at peace in your mind, take a pen and paper and start writing what it is that you really want. No details needed, be as general as you can while feeling comfortable. Listen to your Inner Self and write how you want to feel in your future.
- Which feelings you want to experience the most?
- What kind of person you want to be?
- What truly matters to you?
- How do you imagine happiness?
- How will you know that you are satisfied with your life?
Look with positive expectations toward your future. Open yourself up for receiving all that you want, for attracting people and opportunities that serve your life’s purpose. Look for what feels good, and expect to feel more of it. Practice the feeling of positive expectation daily.
Being present in the Now
There is something magical in being present especially when in the state of gratitude. You ponder over yourself with no need to judge, criticize or look for what’s broken. Those moments when you just sit down and allow yourself to feel your body are powerful. They bring instant release of resistance and help to ease the painful emotions, and in a long term they can shift one’s life to a more satisfied level.
As most people do, you too may be living either in the past or in the future most of the time forgetting that the more time you spend there, the less time is left to live in the present moment.
So you live in the past. You bring back the memories of what was beautiful and although you want to be that person again or feel what you once felt, you know it is gone forever and you feel sad and pessimistic. You recall painful past experiences, justifying why you are the way you are and hoping you will not encounter similar incidents ever again. The situation happened 5, 10 or 20 years ago, but as you re-live it every day, you feel that pain and despair and fear in the now.
As often as in the past, you tend to live in the future. You imagine what could happen and how your life could be, yet you rarely do it with a positive expectation and trust that what’s unfolding is the best for you. Instead, you gravitate to sustain same emotions you experience daily, and so your visualisation of your future is rather dark and horrifying. You think of your future through the perspective of your past, projecting your fears and insecurities and creating even more anxiety for yourself. The situation you imagine hasn’t happened yet, but you already feel the pain it will cause you. And, if you remember that we attract what we think of, the more you focus on those painful thoughts, the more of them you will attract.
It is neither easy to stop thinking about the past nor to abandon dark scenarios of the future. It may seem challenging to live in the moment and really be present, especially at start. Nevertheless, putting a little effort every day to deliberately choose to be engaged with the present moment is the most fulfilling gift you can offer yourself.
If you’d like to experience the presence within, sit down and allow yourself to feel your body. Do not judge whether you are ‘too’ or ‘not enough’, simply allow yourself to feel your body from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Close your mind and breathe, recognize the fresh air filling up your lungs. Notice your heartbeat slowing down. Allow your mind to drift without putting attention to any of the thoughts that are approaching; let them come and go. Just be.
Your happy ‘to-do-list’ (exercise)
It may be challenging to find a better feeling and be present in the moment, especially if you feel insecure, powerless or disappointed. If you need some support from the outside at the beginning of your joyous journey, prepare a list of things you could do in order to shift your mood. Sometimes the best way to stop thinking about the unwanted is to distract yourself or simply taking a nap.
There are many things in your life that make you feel good. It may be a song that makes you move and groove, or playing with your dog that makes you laugh. I believe there are some people in your life who feel like sunshine and talking with them uplifts you instantly.
In the moments of doubt or numbness, a ‘happy to-do-list’ may be a perfect tool to readjust. Be it a special happy playlist with your favourite songs or a list of names of few friends or family members who you could call. Perhaps a vase with fresh flowers or perfumes on would create magic? Well arranged desk and clean space at home might work too. If you are acquainted with breathing techniques or meditation, choose your favourites and use them as often as you want in order to uplift your mood.
Practice Happiness – questions for self reflection
Below you will find some questions for self reflection that are designed to help you understand yourself better in terms of how you perceive the positive aspects of your life. They are extremely helpful when you find yourself drifting away from feeling good in your current moment and you would like to feel more satisfied with yourself and your surroundings.
Make it your habit to check in with yourself often in order to maintain the joy in the moment to moment as long as possible. As at start it may require a little more effort from you, after a while of practice you will find it easier and more natural to look for what’s best for you, expect what’s best and feel good in the moments of everyday life.
Questions for self reflection:
- Is there anything that makes me happy now? If not, what could make me happy?
- What decision could I make to feel better? What choices could I make to feel better now?
- What is the best feeling thought that I can find right now?
- What is working in my life? What am I good at?
- What am I grateful for?
- What do I appreciate the most in my day today?
- What do I remember that felt good in the last few days?
- What has worked out so far in my life? What makes me feel successful?
- What is happening right now that feels exciting?
- Do I focus on what makes me happy, or do I focus on what makes me feel unhappy?
- Do I talk about what makes me feel good, or what makes me feel bad?
- What can I do right now to feel better?
Happy moments do not just happen to you; you create them. Joyful satisfaction doesn’t magically appear in your life nor is given to you; you must first practice it and allow yourself to feel it in order to establish a wellness lifestyle, where you thrive in your everyday life rather than just survive. There is no person or situation that will make you happy, because true happiness comes from within. Enjoy each and every step of your journey. You deserve to be happy.
With love and in abundance,
Ela – Grand Cru Experience