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Being happy isn't the answer - How to feel good about yourself

Mental health. Happy. Life Coach. Therapy

There seems to be a bit of an obsession with being happy. 

We're often told that we should do what makes us happy, be happy, happiness is ...

I could go on but, the tricky thing about happiness is that it's always dependant on something else. 

So what if we're being sold yet another consumer dream and the real key to feeling amazing is

achievable just by choosing a mindset that focuses on joy? 

When I said that happiness is dependant on something else, what I mean is that we often believe that if we achieve a particular goal, buy something, or reach some socially acceptable milestone, we'll be happy. We might well be for a little while but, then the old familiar feelings will start creeping back in and we'll need to find something else to make us happy. On it goes until we end up in a never ending cycle of discontent and searching for the thing that will bring us eternal happiness and I'm not sure that even exists. If we were always happy, how would we grow or take on new adventures?

But, what if we already have the one thing that can bring us joy?

What could that be, I hear you ask. Well of course, this is me, so I'm talking about mindfulness but stay with me. What if Mindfulness is a gateway to joy?

Mindfulness, is the practice of being present in the moment without judgement. The judgement bit is very important because it's when we are constantly rating something as good or bad that most of our suffering starts.

When we judge something,we often find it lacking and then start to want to argue with reality. We don't want something to be like this or we don't like it when someone does the thing that they do. This causes us to be angry, hurt or upset and kicks off a chain reaction of feelings and actions.

The thing is, it doesn't really matter what we feel about the "thing" because it's already happened and no matter how angry we get or how many people agree with us that it's not fair, its not going to change. After all the energy we've used up being emotional and wanting things to be different,  we still come back to the core issue, which is what we are going to do about it?

Truth be told, choosing how we are going to respond to something is really the only thing that we have any control over in life.

So when we become mindful, we shift our focus from the future to the present, and when we live in the present without all the judgement, (this doesn't happen over night, we have to work on it it, that's why it's called a practice) we can then learn to appreciate each moment for what it is. 

We can enjoy it because we have no expectation of it's outcome. We are simply grateful to be alive and curious to see what will happen, with any outcome being ok. 

The reason it's ok, is because we have let go of the responsibility of trying to control everything except how we choose to respond as I mentioned earlier. We can then choose how to respond with acceptance and appreciation for the possibilities the moment brings.

It's this, that gives us absolute power over how we live.

Mindfulness can help us to break free from the cycle of wanting and unhappiness and help us to find contentment and joy.

The Power of a Positive Mindset

A positive or growth mindset can really help here too. Instead of spending our time and energy focusing on what we don't have or what could go wrong, we switch it up to looking for what we can be grateful for. What we usually discover is that we almost always have far more than we realised. 

This shift in our way of thinking helps us to see the beauty in everyday life. When we start to focus on things that we can appreciate each day, and this can be the simplest of things such as having somewhere to live, or a pretty flower or the sun shinning. our brain chemistry starts to change and we find it easier to feel content. The more we do it, the more content we feel and it's that, that helps us to have a sense of joy bubbling away all the time. 

I know that probably sounds very trite and easy for me to say but it really works.

Look, the world can be an ugly place, I can't deny it and sometimes, I struggle to find the positive in things but and this is a huge but, I make the effort to find something that I can be grateful for.

In the case of world issues, it might be that I can donate money or my time to a charity. Or I can chose to use environmentally friendly products or I can use my vote because I realise that life is going to go on, no matter how I feel about it. 

There is so much that I can't control and I could easily live a miserable, frustrated life but, I choose not to.

This is the other powerful bit CHOICE. I choose not to get bent out of shape when things don't go to plan because I'm not God or whomever.

I can't see all of my life ahead of me, I'm just aware of what's happened right in front of me. What may seem like a disaster to me, may turn out to be a life changing blessing, I just don't know. 

How many times have you heard people say that if that awful thing hadn't happened to them, they wouldn't be the success they are today?

Another reason that I choose to live this way is because, I only have this life right now. I don't like being miserable or negative - it doesn't feel good. But when I'm mindful of my thoughts, trying to be present and accepting things without judgement, I can deal with them much quicker and easier. That doesn't mean I lay down and let life happen to me. I'm fact it could be more opposite.  It means that I use all of my energy and focus on doing something about things rather than getting wound up and off track.

Let me give you an example. Say someone speaks really rudely to you and is being a complete wotnot. Your first reaction would probably be shocked, then offended, then angry, then maybe righteous because who the hell do they think they are talking to you like that?

Those emotional reactions would probably see you talking to others about the situation and stewing on it, reliving every word said. 

You might go on like this for a while using up so much time and energy on something that is already in the past. You can't change it and you've already survived it, so when all is said and done you are still going to have to decide how to deal with it.

Why not choose to not go through that emotional rollercoaster? You can have your moment of shock, but then, try to move quickly to acceptance. It's done. It can't be changed it's more helpful to work on how are you going to calmly and compassionately deal with it.

Doesn't that seem like a much calmer and less stressful way to live?

So, how do we do this?

1.Practice Mindfulness.

We can start by using some mindfulness techniques to help us to stay focused and calm.Use something like your breath to keep yourself in the present moment and get to know yourself and what triggers you through meditation or self awareness.

Take up some activities that can help you to learn to focus your attention, such as yoga or nature walks. The brain is a muscle that needs to be trained, and then have a little fun. Start learning to observe your thoughts, then learn to let go of any judgement that you notice, then try to let your thoughts just come and go. You still notice then but they are no longer causing lots of drama. This new way of watching and accepting your thoughts gives you a lot of power over how you choose to live your life.

2.Positive Affirmations and Visualisation:

It can be really helpful to start your day by setting an intention and using positive affirmations to keep you focused. Visualise (that just means really bring to life in your mind) how you want you day to look. Imagine how joyful you will feel and how that feeling will flow through your day and have a positive effect on other people. See yourself being successful and kind.

3. Practice Gratitude

Go over in your mind, use a prayer or keep a gratitude journal to help you to regularly become aware of all the things you are thankful for.

Thank people for their help or for being in your life and spread joy. Although gratitude is helpful at any time of the day. It's especially powerful for rewiring the brain as you wake up and as you go to sleep because or ego is at it's weakest and less likely to fight the change.

4. Become a No Judgement Zone

Start paying attention to how often you make judgements. especially negative ones. Pay extra attention to how often you say you hate something or describe yourself negatively,either in your head or out loud. Then you start working on letting go of your judgement and moving towards acceptance. This doesn't mean that you let people treat you badly or give up on life. It means that you don't get bogged down with emotion and the it's not fair or this shouldn't be happening arguments.


The Role of Coaching in Finding Joy

Coaching really can help you to find joy. There are lots of different coaches for lots of different  issues.For example, I help you to use your emotions as signposts to the thoughts that aren't working for you. This means that you can then start to challenge and change your thoughts, enabling you to reframe your beliefs and free yourself from the pain and limitations that has been holding you back. Empowering you to find new ways to live a joyful and fulfilling life.

Embracing Joy: A Lifelong Practice

What I'm trying to say, is that I think happiness is a trap to keep us looking outside of ourselves for the one thing that will make us happy.

I don't think that's the key to being content, confident and fulfilled, I think joy is and joy is free and easy to find in ourselves if we make the effort to create the time and space to look for it. 

It's not a quick fix, it's a practice that involves awareness, gratitude,change and growth. But I know it's worth it, because I'm doing it.

If you are ready to find the joy in your life, please get in touch.


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