I’ve spent my life studying ‘the mechanics’ of happiness. Such has been a deep dive into spirituality, philosophy, linguistics, behavioral sciences, food & nutrition, psychology, and design. In a nutshell, we’ve made happiness—or mental and emotional health—way more complicated than it is. It’s a choice. It’s not inaccessible or hard to achieve. We know the ‘secrets’, we just don’t do them. Happiness requires a mental resilience that nothing to do with the physical body or circumstances. You must willingly go to the mental gym and lift weights. You will not acquire the ability to stabilize without these mental muscles.
We say body-mind-soul. We do not say mind-soul-body, or soul-body-mind. Why is this? Body-mind-soul is a linguistic and metaphorical formula, or map. The body contains the mind which contains the soul. Yet, the soul is bigger than the mind and the mind is bigger than the body. Also, notice that the mind sits in the middle, or between, the body and soul. I have found this to be true. The mind is a gate, or a bridge. The body and soul are severed, without the mind.
We all want to harvest the power of the mind. We articulate and experience lots of ways to do that. For me it’s quite simple: if my mind, thus my thoughts, are disastrous or toxic or horrible, I feel horrible. There is no way to be happy with such a mind. If my mind is peaceful, positive, productive—free of toxic thinking—I am happy. As it is said, happiness is a state of mind.
Once you get happy, does your mind free of clutter?
Or do you have to de-clutter your mind to feel happy?
If I am not happy, the first thing I do is figure out what my mind is telling me. If my thoughts are a cacophony of hate and negativity, I must stop. All the hateful things I’m saying about so-and-so, which may be true, I have to stop. Anything NOT from God must go: fear, worry, anexiety, my own scheming, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness…all of these clutter and encumber the mind. If your mind, or your eye, which is the “lamp of the body” (said biblically and similarly in most of the religions I have studied) is in darkness, your body too, will be in darkness. You must get your mind’s eye right, and you do that by focusing on the light, focusing on “that which is good…” You cannot focus on darkness and expect your mind to be in the light. And if your mind is in darkness, your body will follow. You cannot think dark thoughts and be in the light or hear the light.
The second thing I do to elevate my happiness, if needed, is cleanse my physical body. Toxins, fat, allergens, sugar, alcohol, seed oils…all of us, intentionally or unintentionally consume non-perfect foods. Small segue, a ‘perfect’ food (for you) is a food that works for your body. I’ve known people who are allergic to vitamin C or broccoli…so you must know and respect your own physicality. When we cleanse our physical bodies, which means to eliminate the items that bog it down, our physical systems, right down to the cellular level, increase or improve in their capacity. A cell full of fat and or toxins cannot receive, bend, flex, perceive, lift or listen as well as a clean, healthy cell.
What does all this have to do with happiness? Everything. Happiness is a choice and you cannot or will not make that choice is you’re all gunked up. In the book JOY the Dalai Lama, a Buddhist, and his dear friend Desmond Tutu, a Christian, discuss the principles of happiness from their perspectives, including their philosophical similarities and dissimilarities. In sum, they agree: happiness is a choice.
I also agree that happiness is a choice. As a life coach, I am exposed to the inner workings of many, many lives. From this I have learned that no one’s life is any better, or worse, than mine. Sure, we have undulating experiences, some of us get a lot of this, others of us get more of that. When faced with the unequivocal fact that there is no such thing as the perfect life, we all slowly learn—or not—to accept what we have been given. From this space we learn that in order to like what we have, we must choose to like it, and to see the good in what is.
“But I don’t like my life” you say. Well, then you are going to have to make some changes. But hating yourself and your circumstances (etc.) is not going to put your mind in the chemical mental state necessary to do that. The state I refer to above as ‘atmosphere.’
Four and Five years ago I started ‘forcing’ myself to love every aspect of every day, as is, or was, at the time. Not an easy task and I was miserable at it at first. A scripture that I loved is “this is the day that the Lord has made I will rejoice in it.” I got up every morning and forced myself to feel joy. I considered it a command: you have to feel joy today! That’s your response-ability. That became my everyday goal and I had to drop a lot of things to achieve it. But I did it, and it worked. It’s now an auto-response. And on the rare times that it’s not, I repeat steps one and two above, as necessary.
Acceptance of one’s life—right here right now in this day—does not imply stagnancy. Well, I guess I accept that I’ll always feel bad… (said with an Eeyore accent). When you accept life, as it is today, you increase and ensure your ability to grow. You are literally not the same person tomorrow that you are today. Unless you repeatedly work to stay stuck.
Let me know what you think about happiness and share any discoveries you have made along the way.