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The 5 Elements of The Art of Happiness

Art of Happiness
Happiness – it’s good for your mind and good for your body.
There’s plenty of research out there which shows that happy people are healthier people. They sleep better, enjoy more fulfilling relationships and actually live longer than their glass half empty cousins.
So how is it that some are just better at ‘happy’ than others? They seem to have a real sense of purpose and direction, solid self esteem and are more ‘buoyant’. When things go wrong, their ‘victim’ to ‘survivor’ turn-around is speedy and they tend to view a crisis as just another opportunity for some post-trauma growth.
So what are they doing that others aren’t? Do they simply have positive brain wiring or were they born into the kind of happy families you see in the adverts?

The Art of Happiness

Brain wiring and good parenting are certainly a significant part of the picture but, the great news is that, whatever your genetics, your background or life experience, you can learn the rart of happiness by ‘rewriting’ your internal programming.
There is a saying which goes;
Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions.
Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits.
Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character.
Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny.
More and more evidence is showing us that the art of happiness is actually a ‘habit’ that we can get into by acquiring the tools, and learning the skills, of being happy.
By ‘uploading’ new mental software, you can make real and lasting changes to your internal program, shift your mindset and genuinely increase your capacity for optimism.
Here are some ways to make a start:

1. Get Grateful

It’s better to focus on what you have rather than what you don’t have. It’s so easy to miss the positives and take them for granted. You don’t notice your back until you put a disk out.
You don’t appreciate the peace and quiet of your back yard until a road drill starts up outside and, as they say, you don’t miss your mother ’til she’s gone!
So, at the end of each day it’s a good idea to write down at least three things for which you are grateful, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. In this way you will build up a longer and longer list of all the positives in your life.
And that’s a document that will make great reading in the future!

2. Let it go

If you want to replace daily irritation and anxiety with Zen-like calm, you need to learn to ‘go with the flow’ and take time to respond rather than react to life’s triggers. Remember, no one and nothing can make you feel bad without your permission. A key skill of the art of happiness is learning to be selective about your battles.
As the book by Richard Carlson says ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff!’
That driver that cuts you up on the motorway may have his own problems. He may be rushing to the hospital to see a sick relative. The friend who ignores you on the other side of the road may be preoccupied or may just have left their glasses at home.
Exchange black-and-white thinking for a more balanced outlook on life and notice the benefit. Your endocrine system will thank you.

3. Accept change

There’s an old story about a golden ring worn by King Solomon that was engraved with some wise  words which brought him a profound peace of mind. The engraving simply read ‘this too shall pass.’
In good times or in bad, it’s important to remember that life is a journey and we travel onward. When things gets tough we need to remind ourselves that we are survivors. We’ve got through problems and in the past and are still here to tell the tale.
German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, ‘That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.’
We can learn from life’s challenges and grow wiser as a result. That strength and wisdom builds the kind of resilience which will carry us through the inevitable challenges of the future.

4. Radiators and drains

Choose your friends wisely.
If you’re hanging out with a negative group of people, chances are you’ll feel negative and down too. We tend to develop a kind of pessimistic ‘group-think’ which can be insidious and eat its way into other parts of our lives.
Try to limit exposure to negative folk if you can. Rather seek out, and spend time with, upbeat people who radiate positive energy.
Happy people have got into the habit of having an optimistic outlook on life by looking for the silver lining. They reframe problems as ‘challenges’ and ‘opportunities for growth’.

5. Use visualisation

The secret to fast change lies in the subconscious mind.
That’s where we store our internal maps which direct and guide us. We use these internal maps to navigate the world around us and they have a profound influence on our emotions, thoughts and behaviours.
Large parts of the maps are made up from our early experiences and the feedback we received from those around us at that time. They formed our core beliefs about ourselves and about others.
The trouble is those beliefs can be full of negatives which affect our happiness ‘default setting’. They are probably really inaccurate and out of date…..and they need changing!

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.