A brain researcher’s findings on happiness

This is a great article from a brain researcher on happiness. Read it here: A brain researcher’s findings on happiness

Here’s what he says in summary:

  • Ask “What am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter. Just searching helps.
  • Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.
  • Decide. Go for “good enough” instead of ‘best decision ever made on Earth.”
  • Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text — touch.010

 

Theresa Sansome’s ‘My Happiness Experiment’ blog has moved!

Dear reader

I just posted a new blog post (it’s been a while I know!) but just so you’re not confused, this is me – Theresa Sansome (www.futureselfnow.com) – she of the blog that was ‘My Happiness Experiment’! Same kind of posts but just a different URL – which gives this blog more flexibility and resources.

‘Speak’ to you soon!

Theresa

Is lowering our expectations the answer?

The Daily Telegraph reported a year ago* that keeping expectations low may be the key to happiness – according to researchers at University College London.

“It is often said that you will be happier if your expectations are lower,” said lead author, Dr Robb Rutledge. “We find that there is some truth to this: lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness.”

But the team also found that positive expectations can influence happiness before the outcome.

“If you have plans to meet a friend at your favourite restaurant, those positive expectations may increase your happiness as soon as you make the plan,” said Dr Rutledge. But the team found that visiting a favourite restaurant could actually make people unhappy because their expectations are so high that it would not take much for them to be disappointed.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

They researched that! Nothing new here surely?

Are they saying you’re happier having your low expectations proven wrong or when you enjoy the anticipation of a looked-forward-to event? Surely all they ‘discovered’ is that both are true.

eeyoreThe problem with low expectations is that all sounds a bit like scarcity thinking to me. Remember Eeyore from the Winnie the Poo stories? His is not a joyful life! If your predilection is to ‘thinking the worst’ then you’re wasting valuable moments of your life sitting under a rain cloud when the odds are equally stacked that the outcome will be a good one.

In a 50-50 chance of good or bad outcome surely the enjoyment of the anticipation of something far outweighs any temporary disappointment that might occur?

AND ANYWAY…..remember Law of Attraction? What you pay attention to grows.

Think something will go wrong? It probably will!

Enjoy the anticipation of a great result? Bottom dollar you’ll get that too.

What do you choose?

 

* http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11010871/Lowering-expectations-is-key-to-happiness.html

 

“Fake it til you make it”

The mainstay of my program, Future Self Now, and indeed all Law of Attraction thinking is the idea of feeling yourself in your Now as the best self that you fundamentally know you are.

Some know this as ‘Fake it til you make it’. Although this is still good advice it needs to be clear that this confident person who you are ‘faking’ is still very much you. In your essence you ARE confident. You ARE lighthearted and courageous, beautiful and powerful. It’s just you’ve allowed other people’s stuff to cloud your knowledge of your greatness (we all do it). So it’s not faking it so much as transcending the rubbish that clouds the truth about ourselves.

Future Self by TreeA really good question I ask myself always is “What would my Future Self (or Best Self) do now?”

I loved this article from The Guardian’s Mariella Frostrup where she shares her strategy for attracting what she desires for the year by speaking as if she already has those desires. In other words she talks from the point of view of her Future Self.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/28/im-33-and-not-in-a-relationship-is-it-too-late

 

The 16 Habits of Exuberant Human Beings, by Kate Bratskeir

Greetings Happy Experimenters!

Thought you might like to see this great article about exuberance – well worth a read:

The 16 Habits of Exuberant Human Beings, by Kate Bratskeir.

And if you want to know what the ’16 habits’ are in a nutshell, here they are. (Except there’s actually 21, but we won’t quibble!)

  1. Surround yourself with other happy people
  2. Smile when you mean it
  3. Cultivate resilience
  4. Try to be happy
  5. Be mindful of the good
  6. Appreciate simple pleasures
  7. Devote some time to giving
  8. Let yourself lose track of time
  9. Nix small talk for deeper conversations
  10. Spend money on others
  11. Make a point to listen
  12. Uphold in-person connections
  13. Look on the bright side
  14. Value a good mix-tape!
  15. Unplug
  16. Get spiritual
  17. Make exercise a priority
  18. Go outside
  19. Spend some time on the pillow (or sofa)
  20. LOL (laugh out loud)
  21. Walk confidently

 

 

How to wake up happy (aka How to do a ‘Ruthie’)

OK, so I’ve now discovered a fail-safe way of waking up happy. All we’ve got to do is to emulate my niece’s 3 year old daughter – Ruth (better known as Ruthie).

Anna – that’s my niece – went to wake up her son Harry (5 years old) the other day and in order to do so she had to pass through Ruthie’s bedroom. To let Ruthie wake up in her own time, Anna simply opened Ruthie’s curtains and moved into Harry’s room. Whilst she was dealing with Harry she heard a yawn from the next door room. Ruthie was clearly waking up. There was a slight pause and then Ruthie exclaimed:

“Hooray!” 

 

Now that’s the way to wake up in the morning!

Ever since then we Sansomes have talked about ‘doing a Ruthie’ – in other words, waking up in the morning and saying “Hooray!” I’ve been doing it every day and you know it works. My days seem a lot brighter right from the get go.

Try the Ruthie every morning – it’s guaranteed to have you get up on the right side of the bed!

Holding Infinity in the palm of your hand and Eternity in an hour

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand 
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, 
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 
And Eternity in an hour.” 
― William BlakeAuguries of Innocence

 

It is often a waking dream of mine to imagine what might be happening around the world in this current, precise moment: 7 billion people all up to something. 37% of those people live in India and China alone. 33% are Christians, 22% are Islamist. 70% of the earth’s surface is water.

On the site Worldometers you can see a rather freaky count of what’s going on in the earth today – how many deaths, how many births, the net population growth. (So far today (it’s 11am) there have been 172,000 births and 71,000 deaths apparently). You can also see how many mobiles are being sold by the second, how much CO2 we are emitting and on and on. And the clocks for all of these turn at a very rapid pace before your eyes.

Butterfly on flowerIn a split second around the world so much happens: smiles, tears, anger, depression, joy, transition, transformation, boredom, concentration, rebellion. The list is, of course, infinite. The water continues to fall down Victoria Falls in Africa, the minute hand clicks to another minute on Big Ben, a father reads to his son, a child dies of starvation, a student is late for class, another car rolls off the production line, a richly-dressed couple step onto their luxury yacht, bees swarm, trees grow, whales drift serenely by. It is enormous, beautiful, scary and mind-boggling.

All in a split second.

When I’m feeling stuck or low, I often contemplate the vastness and infinite variety of our life on earth. I imagine myself hovering miles above the planet and looking down at it all. I see myself in my house – a tiny speck amongst all this complexity.

Another minute goes by.

All is really very, very well in my minuscule corner of the world at this precise moment – and I am enormously grateful.

 

Related resources:

Check out this wonderful film:     Life in a Day

 

 

Our inner granny

 

Today I am 49; next week I will tip into my fifties.

It doesn’t worry me – in fact I’m looking forward to my fifties – but it all seems so theoretical. In my heart I’m 36. But I like the idea of my fifties because I’ve long thought that, from this time on, it would be ‘My Time’. I would be fully in my skin and unapologetic about my path.

Actually that instinct is largely correct. I do feel more ‘in my skin’ than I’ve every felt. I’m not saying I’ve got it all figured out (much as I would have liked to believe that at times!) – of course I haven’t. It’s more that I am more willing than I’ve ever been to see myself as imperfect and to gain confidence with that thought.

I am perfectly imperfect!

Think of our image of an ideal granny. Even when we may be feeling bruised by life she only sees our greatness and gives us unending compassion. “It’s normal to bungle, to fail, to trip up,” she says. “Be patient, be kind, take very good care of the precious human being that you are.”

In my Future Self Now program we use our inner wisdom to help guide us forward – to inspire us with a joyful anticipation of what is to come and, at the same time, LOVE where we’re at right now. Our Future Selves, in other words, are like our inner grannies or grandpas.

I’ve just started a new 8 week course and if you’d like to be a fly-on-the-wall and follow some of the teachings yourself then simply ‘Like’ the Future Self Now Facebook page and you will receive updates on some of the tools and insights that we are experiencing.

Here’s a simple tip to leave you with: Your inner granny or grandpa is always wise and compassionate, so ask yourselves, whenever you need to,

“What would my inner granny/grandpa say to me now?”

 

 

Letter to my past self

Dear me from 10 years ago,

This is your Future Self speaking. You are about 3 months away from making a very big decision. One that will significantly alter your life.

How should I describe you? Baffled? Searching? Hopeful yet exasperated? Your children are 2 and 4 years old. The participants in your workshops are enthusiastic. You are desperate to have your children’s book ‘The Teasers’ published. You have secured a great agent but no publishers are biting. You wish you had more time to write. You wish your husband was less stressed and around more – physically and emotionally. You’re proud that you’ve been a non-smoker now for 4 years. You are keenly aware (did your past self tell you, I wonder?) that you should enjoy every last minute with your children at this precious stage of their lives – and so you do (mostly). You cannot believe your luck that the Universe shut one door (having your own children) and opened this massive, bejewelled  door to a hitherto unseen magical kingdom (adopting Julia and Sasha). You sense there’s more – much more –  to come but you don’t know what it is.

Dear past me from 10 years ago. I felt you today. As if you came into my skin and looked around our life now. You cried. I cried. We both cried. How wonderful this place we’ve come to is! You hardly dare believe it. I can hear you in my head saying:

“You mean you’re living in this beautiful place in the Cotswolds with all it’s hills, valleys and gorgeous villages? You mean the children are thriving at a school they adore with friends and teachers who equally adore them? You mean that you’re all bouncing with excitement at the prospect of spending a whole month together in Singapore, New Zealand and Australia in December? You mean you’ve taken a break from the writing and you’re utterly OK about that – in fact you’re thrilled with your current path? You mean you’ve developed your own program and it’s going from strength to strength? You mean Guy is calling the shots more at work and is master of his time again? Is it true that 6 years ago you dreamed of owning a Lexus hybrid SUV and next weekend you’re going to buy it! Do those kind of things happen? And I can’t believe how grounded, content and excited-by-life you feel! Is that possible?”

Dear past me from 10 years ago. Yes it’s possible.

You are about to make a momentus decision – to move from a great life in Canada back to England. And why? Only because “it feels right”. You have no other defense when your concerned Canadian friends ask you for an explanation.

Did you perhaps feel me calling you?