Over the last week I had the opportunity to hear many great thought leaders speak on the topic of happiness at the Happiness and Its Causes Conference 2017. Some of my takeaways are below. As are some of my challenges to anyone reading this.
1. We need a critical mass of people (probably those who have achieved personal change) if we want to change the world. The challenge – what are you doing to make the world a slightly kinder place? Perhaps simply a wave in acknowledgement when someone lets you in when driving? Or be that person who lets someone in (and gets the appreciative wave). Or be the person who ‘does the right thing’; be considerate of others – for instance when you park – make sure you leave enough space for others. You get the drift.
2. Even broken things can be beautiful (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kintsugi). Even in a dark day there can be a ‘best moment’ of that day.
The challenge – simply recognise your ‘best moment’ of the day – irrespective of the day you are having. On one of my darkest days I was astounded by the kindest of a stranger. I was at a hospital admitting someone close to me. This stranger simply touched my shoulder and told me that it was okay to cry. That was my ‘best moment’ that day – being the recipient of a simple act of kindness.
3. The art and importance of forgiveness. Not forgetting. Not endorsing the behaviour or action, simply forgiving so that the negative impact on you is reduced.
The challenge – start small and extend warm, positive thoughts toward someone. Offer forgiveness – possibly just in your own thoughts / mind. There are guided meditations for this if you are not sure where to start. Forgiveness has positive health benefits for you too– it can impact chronic pain, and even mood disorders.
4. Stop. Be.
The challenge – choose a time when you will simply ‘be’ and focus your attention on what you are doing. For me it’s walking my dogs – no mobile phone, just me and the dogs and nature. Doing this has meant that I notice things more – a beautiful tree, kids playing and laughing and having fun.
5. People who favour intrinsic goals are happier and tend to have better physical and mental health.
The challenge – think about your consumption – are you guilty of rampant consumerism? Being guided by extrinsic things like a bigger fancier car, a bigger boat. Are they making you happy?
6. The importance of treating yourself as well as you treat your mobile telephone (now that one’s a surprise isn’t it!). When our phone is running out of charge, or battery is getting depleted, we recharge. Yet with ourselves we ignore the early warning signs, rely on non-renewable sources of energy (my choice is coffee), and disregard our limitations.
The challenge – look after yourself and charge your own batteries with as much or more care as you do with your phone.
7. The importance of addressing resistance within ourselves.
The challenge – next time you fin
d yourself resisting something – a change, something new etc, simply notice it. Accept the circumstances and emotions, and breathe through it.
8. The danger of our limiting beliefs – of the importance that we attach to our busyness; that we have a thought system that means that we believe that doing nothing is a waste of time; that more is better.
The challenge – stop. See if you can sit and simply daydream. Our brains actually need that. While you eat your lunch (away from your desk), simply stare into space. No phone, no email. Just ‘strategic slacking’ to allow new thoughts to emerge.
And those few days focusing on Happiness and Its Causes reminded me of an amazing online course, courtesy of the fabulous people at the Greater Good Science Center – The Science of Happiness -https://www.edx.org/course/science-happiness-uc-berkeleyx-gg101x-5