Tips for the True Happiness Journey

1. Get committed and take action  

 

If I had to summarise the key to discovering true happiness I would have to say it is this:

 

committed daily action.

 

Many people who come to me for advice have good intentions and are excited at the prospect of changing their health, happiness and quality of life. However, within a few weeks (in some cases a few days), their motivation starts to waver and the action we agreed upon comes to a grinding stop. They then find themselves back where they started – only now they feel guilty, too. If this sounds familiar to you, try to focus on what you need to do today. When you catch your mind worrying about tomorrow or the future, bring it back to what needs to be done today.

 

I also have a lot of clients who don’t experience this – or if they do, they take action to correct it. So, what’s their secret? It’s committed daily action. The challenge, of course, is that making changes to your life and the way you live and relate to it requires considerable effort, motivation, patience and perseverance – initially. You are essentially creating a new way of being, and to do this you need to be consistent in your new practices, skills and habits. There will be plenty of times when you will let things slip – it happens to all of us; the key, however, is to recommit to the journey when you notice this, and to re-instigate actions that will move you towards true happiness. The good news is that eventually, usually in just a few weeks or months, what was once hard-going (exercise, for example, or making time for intimate relationships) becomes much easier.

 

How to be and stay committed      

 

Here are a few things that helped me, and subsequently my clients, to get and stay committed: 

 

  • Make a list of all of the benefits and positive consequences that will result from transforming your health and happiness. Add to your list over a period of days and even weeks. Look at your list at the start of each day and allow yourself to experience the feelings of excitement and empowerment that arise as you imagine yourself living this new life.
  • Announce – to friends, family, partner, colleagues – your commitment to your plan, if doing so will be helpful. Enlist all the support you can get.
  • Make a list of all of the potential barriers to implementing the suggestions in this personal development course. Some common ones are not having enough time, low energy levels, being too busy, getting distracted easily, scepticism, tendency to self-sabotage and so on. Then, with a trusted friend (or life coach/therapist) write next to each one exactly what you can do to address it. For example, reduce amount of TV watched, get a personal trainer or rearrange your schedule.
  • Prior to going to bed each night, spend a couple of minutes mentally rehearsing the day ahead. Imagine yourself going through the day with a high level of happiness. The more accustomed your mind is to the idea of being this way, the easier it becomes.
  • If the tasks and activities I recommend become a chore, find creative ways to revitalise them. For example, if you’ve been running on a treadmill at the gym but have started to get bored, consider enlisting the help of a personal trainer or varying your workout. The more flexible, creative and adaptable you are to your life, the easier it will become.

 

2. Have some emotional emergency tools to hand          

 

Before my clients leave my clinic to start implementing their programme I teach them two emotional emergency tools that can be applied any time they feel overwhelmed or stressed. You’ll find these very useful and if you consistently use either of them, I can guarantee that you will notice a reduction in your stress levels within a couple of days.

 

4/7 breathing           

This is probably the simplest, yet one of the most effective, emotional emergency techniques.

  • When you feel stressed, overwhelmed or tense, take a breath in to the count of four, then breathe out to the count of seven.
  • Repeat this at least five times and notice how much better you feel.

 

Breathing for a longer period of time on the out breath helps to calm the mind and increase the degree to which you relax. Try it out now.

 

Soften your gaze       

Next time you are stressed about something, notice how narrow your focus of attention becomes. For example, you could be walking down a street and literally notice nothing around you. Now try this. Look slightly upwards, then, while continuing to look forward, soften your gaze so that you start to notice whatever is in the periphery of your vision – this defocusing instantly de-stresses both body and mind.

 

3. Identify and address any addictions

Be aware that if you have any untreated addictions you will not be able to fully benefit from the advice in this personal development course. It is therefore essential that you address any addictions; otherwise they will sabotage your success in using this programme. Any recurring pattern of behaviour that is rooted in denial, dishonesty and/or secrecy and removes you from reality, responsibilities or relationships may indicate an underlying addiction. The most common addictions I see with my clients are addictions to work, busyness, alcohol, drugs, nicotine, prescribed medications, food, sex, relationships, gambling, shopping and misery. I recommend completing the questionnaire at http://www.s-p-q.com/ which measures some of these addictive tendencies. If the result is positive, please let me know and I can support you in addressing them.

 

4. Take a balanced approach to life             

I call this taking the middle way. It’s involves taking an honest look at how you live your life and making choices that will bring greater balance between being and doing, rest/relaxation and activity, and between quiet, personal time and social time. Living in the extreme keeps you out of balance and prevents you from moving forward. Regularly ask yourself the question, ‘How I can simplify things and bring more balance into my life?’

 

5. Live with HEART

While each pillar involves undertaking specific actions, what underpins the success of my approach are the guiding principles represented by the acronym HEART. They are the threads that will guide you to true happiness. If you ever get overwhelmed, confused or stuck, remind yourself of the principles of HEART:

 

H = Honesty, E = Emotional Awareness, A = Authenticity, R =Responsibility, T = Trust

 

Honesty

Honesty is first and foremost about having an honest relationship to reality, to ‘what is’. It’s about seeing through denial and acknowledging the reality about yourself, your life situation and your behaviour, past and present. Honesty is not for the faint-hearted. It requires great courage and humility. Of course it will bring up all sorts of emotions – but once you have completed module three you will know how to manage and welcome these emotions. Another important aspect of honesty – and very challenging one – is to be honest to our self about the intentions behind what we say and do. Are our words and actions motivated by truth, respect and love or lies, manipulation or control? Speaking only when your words and actions are motivated by truth, respect and love will rapidly accelerate your journey towards true happiness. A high level of honest sharing and expression is also a prerequisite for trust and intimacy in relationships.

Emotional Awareness

Emotional awareness is the ability to be aware of, welcome and feel what you are feeling moment to moment. It’s pretty challenging of course, but, like any skill, the more you practise it (module three shows you how), the easier it gets. Whenever you are stuck or unsure how to proceed with anything, turn your attention to what you are feeling and welcome it. This dissipates the suffering we experience when we deny and resist what we are feeling.

Authenticity

To be authentic is to be free from pretence and living in alignment with what I call your true self. It’s about being aware of who you truly are, as opposed to who you think you are supposed to be. This is central to emotional health and happiness (we look at this in more detail in module seven). The more you trust the intuitive guidance of your true self, the quicker you will move towards true happiness.

Responsibility

This is about taking personal responsibility for the state of consciousness now. It requires you to acknowledge the fact that other people, events and experiences have had a significant influence on you in the past, but essentially you are now responsible for addressing the consequences of events and experiences – past and present. Taking 100 per cent responsibility for your feelings, needs and actions leads to a psychologically mature, blame-free way of living.

Trust

To trust is to let go of expectations and attachment to a specific outcome once you have done everything you can to make that outcome happen. Implicit in this is the truth that holding onto fixed expectations and outcomes is a sure way to increase your level of tension and suffering. If you have a tendency to be controlling, I’m sure you already know this. Trust is about finding a balance between taking action and letting go. If you want to throw a tennis ball to a friend, you have to pick it up in your hand, throw it and let go. If you don’t do the letting go part, you and your friend are going to get very frustrated! And so it is with true happiness. You need to take the actions outlined in this personal development course but, having taken those actions, let go of expectations. Trust, and focus on the process, not the goal.

 



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