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

 

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

 

 

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?

 

 

The difference between Gratitude and Appreciation

I’ve just got back from a fabulous time at the Quest Festival in Devon. I had the absolute pleasure of running 4 workshops on Happiness, The Artist’s Way and ‘Future Self Now‘. Everyone who came to my sessions was really up for all the games and exercises that I love to throw at people. We had a fun time together!

Thinking about these past few days and how perfectly everything worked out, I’ve been feeling very moved today. I’m remembering, however, to make sure that I’m in a state of appreciation and not gratitude.

What’s the difference?

Well it’s this:

Gratitude is often a state of being pleased that something has worked out despite possible negative outcomes. E.g. “I’m grateful that my workshops worked out” (because they could have been a disaster!) or “I’m grateful that I had a smooth journey down to Devon” (because I could have got stuck in the normal jam around the M5). Gratitude, in other words, looks backwards and more often than not promotes the overcoming of something. It is has a sense of relief about it: –  “Phew I’m glad that that didn’t happen!”

Appreciation, on the other hand, is more a state of savouring a current reality. It is more firmly rooted in celebration and delight for the thing itself. Its about highlighting the positive and dwelling on the deliciousness of it.

So, what we’re talking about here is a difference in the emotional quality of the two words – not the words themselves.

Remember: What you pay attention to grows. So even though this talk of the difference between two words may seem like splitting hairs, it really does matter because Gratitude can trigger a focus on overcoming a negative in the past, whilst Appreciation lives very firmly in the savouring of the NOW.

So, new friends from Quest and old blog-buddies, I very definitely do not feel gratitude towards you (“thanks for liking me!”) – I APPRECIATE you in all your glory for who you are now and into the future!

A joyful collapse

Yes, I know, I know, dear hearts. I’ve been away for 3 months. I never forgot you. I never intended to be away for so long. But one thing I am absolutely certain about is that I must never do anything that doesn’t feel instinctively right. And for some reason this blog just suddenly ceased whispering to me. I obeyed.

Today, however, I’m back – answering the call of this sacred space. I find it odd that the blogging went quiet like that but I certainly wasn’t going to impose on you words that weren’t coming from a place of natural outflow for me.

Something that I find fascinating is that this radio silence lasted for as long as I was running my 3 different workshops – on The Artist’s Way & my Future Self Now program. Perhaps teaching  creates a entirely different energy? Not ‘wrong’ by any stretch of the imagination, just different.

It feels delicious to be in this new place. Much as I am passionate about teaching – I truly am – I must live my own life too. I must explore my own new frontiers and break down my own walls. Nikos Kazantzakis said this:

“True teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create their own.”

So this new energy – one totally aligned to this blog and to any fresh vistas that want to come my way now – is perhaps part-and-parcel of a state of joyful collapse. And I would only add that it’s not only about my students learning to create their own new pathways – it’s also about me being willing to become a beginner again. Before building a new bridge, I must wade out into my river and re-familiarise myself with its banks, it’s eddies and flows, it’s twists and turns.

 

 

Spring!

Ahhhh – how wonderful to finally feel Spring in the air. It inspired a Haiku from me tonight: sitting here, windows wide open to the warm air, the birds excitedly ushering in nightfall…

Night song on ink sky

Celebrates joyous day

Spring is here at last!

(Don’t worry, I won’t give up the day job!)

We are such primal creatures aren’t we? We think of human-kind as having mastered natural forces but we haven’t at all. Look at how our mood is affected by the changing seasons. It only makes sense of course – we are tuned into Universal flow as much as the tides are or the sun and moon. Our bodies are sensing machines and adapt to our environment on many, many different levels. I don’t know the science behind it all I just know that on the cusp of each season I can feel the pull of a different energy and it’s always a relief to finally tip well-and-truly into the season that is presenting itself.

So here is Spring at last – it felt like a long time coming – and here to celebrate are a few photos I’ve taken over the last week of nature showing off her beautiful new clothes:

 

spring flower1 spring flower2 spring flower3 spring flower4

15 powerful things happy people do differently

Here’s a great post from Purpose Fairy (www.purposefairy.com)- well worth a read:

 

What are the differences between happy people and unhappy people? Of course, it should be very obvious:happy people are happy while  unhappy people are unhappy, right? Well, that is correct.But, we want to know what happy people do differently, so I have put together a list of things that happy people do differently than unhappy people.

1. Love vs. Fear

Well, I can tell you for sure that those people who are really happy, fear less and love a lot more. They see each moment, each challenge, each person as an opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world around them.

2. Acceptance vs. Resistance 

Happy people understand that you can’t really change a situation by resisting it, but you can definitely change it by accepting that it is there and by understanding that there might be a reason for its existence.

When something unpleasant happens to them, they don’t try to fight it (they know that this will make the situation even worse), but they ask themselves questions like: What can I learn from this? How can I make this better? And then they focus on the positive, rather than on the negative. They always seem to see the glass half full, no matter what happens to them.

3. Forgiveness vs. Unforgiveness

Really happy people know that it’s not healthy to hold on to anger. They choose to forgive and forget, understanding that forgiveness is  a gift they give to themselves first and foremost.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. ~Buddha

4. Trust vs. Doubt

They trust themselves and they trust the people around them. Whether they are talking to the cleaning lady or the C.E.O. of a billion-dollar company, somehow they always seem make the person they are interacting with feel that there is something unique and special about them. They understand that beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies.

Because of that, they make sure to treat everyone with love, dignity and respect, and make no distinction between age, sex, social status, color, religion or race. These are the great men that Mark Twain was talking about: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

5. Meaning vs. Ambition

They do the things they do because of the meaning it brings into their lives and because it gives their lives a sense of purpose.  They understand that “Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life” as Wayne Dyer says.

And they care more about living a life full of meaningthan what, in our modern society we would call, living a successful life. The irony here is that most of the time they get both success and meaning because they choose to focus on doing the things they love the most and they always pursue their heart‘s desires. They are not motivated by money; they want to make a difference in the lives of those around them and in the world.

6. Praising vs. Criticizing

Happy people would probably agree with Carl’s Jung theory on resistance: “What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.”  They don’t criticize the absence of the behavior they want to reinforce, ratherthey know by praising the person and the behavior they wish to reinforce (even if it’s not often), they will actually encourage the positive behavior.

When a parent wants to make sure their 7 year old boy will learn to always put the toys back in the box after he’s done playing with them, they make sure not to focus on the many times the child didn’t do it, criticizing him and his behavior, but every time the little boy does put the toys back, the parent praises him and his behavior and that is exactly how they reinforce the positive behavior, and in the end get the wanted results.

7. Challenges vs. Problems

Happy people will see problems as challenges, as opportunities to explore new ways of doing things, expressing their gratitude for them, understanding that underneath them all lay many opportunities that will allow them to expand and to grow.

8. Selflessness vs, Selfishness

They do what they do not for themselves, but for the good of others, making sure that they bring meaning, empowerment and happiness to the lives of many. They look for ways to give and to share the best of themselves with the world and to make other people happy.

Before giving, the mind of the giver is happy; while giving, the mind of the giver is made peaceful; and having given, the mind of the giver is uplifted. ~Buddha

9. Abundance vs. Lack/ Poverty 

They have an abundant mindset, living a balanced life, achieving abundance in all areas of life.

10. Dreaming Big vs. Being Realistic 

These people don’t really care about being realistic. They love and dare to dream big, they always listen to their heart and intuition and the greatness of their accomplishments scares many of us.

Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men. ~Goethe

11. Kindness vs. Cruelty

They are kind to themselves and others and they understand the power of self-love, self-forgiveness and self-acceptance.

12. Gratitude vs. Ingratitude

No matter where they look, no matter where they are or who they are with, they have the capacity to see beauty where most of us would only see ugliness, opportunities where most of us would only see struggles, abundance where most of us would only see lack and they express their gratitude for all of it.

13. Presence/ Engagement vs. Disengagement 

They know how to live in the present moment, appreciating what they have and where they are, while still dreaming big dreams about the future.

When you are present, you can allow the mind to be as it is without getting entangled in it. The mind in itself is a wonderful tool. Dysfunction sets in when you seek yourself in it and mistake it for who you are. ~Eckhart Tolle

14. Positivity vs. Negativity

No matter what happens to them, they always keep a positive perspective on everything and by doing so, they tend irritate a lot of negative and “realistic” people.

15. Taking Responsibility vs. Blaming 

They take full ownership over their lives and they rarely use excuses. Happy people understand that the moment you choose to blame some outside force for whatever is happening to you, you are in fact giving all your power away. They choose to keep their power and take responsibility for everything that happens to them.

How many of these things are you doing in order to become a happier person? Share your insights by commenting below or by leaving your feedback on the PurposeFairy Facebook Page.

 

With all my love,