“The main thing is to get what little happiness there is out of life in this wartorn world,”Clare Boothe Luce advised her young daughter, “because ‘these are the good old days’ now.” And yet most of us are conditioned to escape into the past, into the future, into our to-do lists — to wander off away from the present, even as we chronicle the moment in real-time on various lifestreaming platforms.
If you’ve read any of these seven essential books on happiness or taken the sage advice of Jackson Pollock’s dad, the research findings from his Track Your Happiness project Matt Killingsworth shares in his TEDxCambridge talk will be of no surprise. Still, there’s something grounding about the unequivocal empirical evidence of something most of us intuit on some level, often with great discomfort. Read more.
meaning to life2 Today's David Duke Radio Program focuses on the “meaningful life” part of the happiness equation. It is a perfect followup to his coaching yesterday on ways to be more happy and productive.
One of the secrets to wiring our brain toward happiness is in the simple understanding that what we practice and repeat starts to become more automatic. Call it a happiness or resiliency habit and it’s something that anyone can create. We all have thoughts and behaviors in our lives that lend themselves toward unhappiness, a neutral state, or happiness. While the brain defaults toward paying attention to negative stimuli to keep us safe, we are active participants in our health and well-being and can nurture a happier and more resilient brain.
Here’s a suggestion to start with that comes from the 365 Daily Now Moments:
“One of the things we can give in life is love to ourselves. This isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary to feeling well.
Consider today, what is one way you can give love to yourself?
Maybe it’s taking a vacation from the inner-critic for a day, indulging in a treat you don’t normally give yourself the luxury of, or perhaps simply putting your hand on your heart and priming your mind for good by wishing yourself to be happy, to be safe, to be healthy and to be free from fear.”
This can seem so simple and yet it is so powerful. Learning how to give more love to ourselves is a key practice that when turned into a habit, becomes a source of happiness and resiliency.
While our brains are incredibly complex and mysterious in some ways, they’re also fairly simple in other ways. Take the process of conditioning. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to understand at this point why a dog salivates at the sound of a bell after it had been introduced numerous times with dog food. That’s the classic Pavlovian tale.
In this same vein, when we practice and repeat introducing ways to love ourselves in certain contexts, the contexts themselves become cues for that to begin happening automatically.
Take a moment to really consider this question. What would the days, weeks and months ahead look like for you if loving yourself came more naturally?
Treat this as an experiment for the next week; consider what loving yourself means to you. Then begin sprinkling that more into your day as a practice for the next week. Set your judgments aside and be curious.
Cecile Andrews has been engaged with New Dream for many years through her work on consumerism. Her first book, The Circle of Simplicity, focused on the voluntary simplicity movement. A few years later she brought together essays by leaders of the movement in Less Is More.
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