Finding Your Happy Place
Everyone has a happy place. Most of the working class get to work very hard during the week, making sacrifices along the way, only to reap the benefits of a well deserved weekend. Songs are written about it. Songs like “9 to 5” and “Working for the Weekend” epitomize what we all strive to do. Work during the week so we can find our happy places and relax during the weekend. The secret to being truly happy and relaxed, however, is to be happy during the tough times and challenging times. When you can find your happy place there, then you don’t need to wait for the weekend, or for the next vacation, or for whatever you are waiting for to make you happy.
What Makes Us Happy?
What do you think is the key to being happy? Do you think it is that sought after job that you are shooting for? Perhaps that new SUV that is just on the horizon? Maybe it’s that elusive relationship that you are craving to enter into? All these things may bring your fleeting contentment, but true happiness comes from one thing, happiness. Being happy is the key to happiness. Living 100% out of your thoughts is a great first step to happiness. Free your mind of anticipation or regret and you enter a grateful and awe fused state in the present moment. You take in things around you for what they are; nothing more, nothing less. Clearing your mind of thoughts takes practice; focus on the world around you and take in the beauty.
Your Happy Place
That’s how you find your happy place. I find mine when I Stand Up Paddle before the sun comes up. I let myself feel all the energy around me (I don’t wear headphones for this reason). I can hear the bats flying by me, hear the ospreys calling each other in the distance, hear the fish jumping around me, smell the ocean’s plethora of smells, feel the paddle encountering the resistance of the water, feel the acceleration of my board, see the sky illuminating as the sun comes up…and so on and so on. You get the picture. 2 hours feels like 20 minutes. When you lose yourself and find yourself, you know that you have entered your happy place. A place of no thought and just existence. A place of flow. Imagine a place where you go to be happy. Can you picture it in your mind? You can have multiple places, and even instances where you shared these experiences with the ones that you love. You now have the power to harness that happy place anywhere, anytime.
Your Happy Place: Anywhere, Anytime
Through the power of visualization, you can enter your happy place at anytime. During your breaks at at work, instead of mindlessly getting on your phone, go to your happy place. Visualize yourself there and you will be there, and happy. Remember that YOU are the one who creates your own happiness, not through some material possession or even another person. You become happy by being happy. It sounds like a self licking ice-cream cone but the research supports this theory. Happiness is achieved by being happy and doing active things that stimulate your brain in a mindful fashion and your body in a healthy way, not by accumulating things or friends. In that way, you can enter your happy place, through visualization, once you have figured out what makes you happy. If fishing makes you happy, then visualize yourself fishing the next time you take a break at work or have some free time between phone calls. Actually visualize yourself with your favorite fishing rod at your most productive fishing spot. You will be there and your stress levels will drop.
The Happiness Formula
H = S + C + V. Happiness = (Biological Set Point) + (Conditions) + (Voluntary Activities that induce Flow). Fairly simple formula; however, difficult to implement in today’s society because of the amount of ubiquitous stress that envelopes us (both real and self manufactured) on a daily basis. Our Set Points (S) are predetermined by our physiology. Most of us, in my opinion, have negative set points for happiness because of our evolutionary history. Being happy does not necessarily help you survive against a T-Rex (I don’t think we were around with the T-Rex, but you get the picture). Survival depends on us being wary, careful, non-trusting, etc. Conditions, C, are external situations that you have control over. These can be as simple as the noise you are exposed to, or the length of your commute. They also include the amount of control that you have in your life, the healthy relationships that are in, and the level of your self-confidence. I am a firm believer that you can change your conditions, but the last element in the formula is one of the most powerful elements that often gets neglected. Where C stands for external Conditions that we have certain affect over, V stands for the Voluntary actions that we take to invoke flow activities within ourselves. These activities, although external, bring us long lasting internal happiness. Activities such as volunteering in a soup kitchen, helping random people that we don’t know, giving to a charity anonymously, training and running in a race to help with child cancer; all these activities and more will grow your V factor and contribute to your happiness. Remember that the intention of V activities should be done without any expectation of anything in return. You should not expect or want anything in return or this detracts from the voluntary activity and becomes a selfish act. Let someone through in traffic without the expectation of a thank you. Activities such as these, if done properly, can help you to find your happy place and even reverse the effects of your set point (S).
Find your happy place this week. What is the activity that brings you the most happiness? Visualize this activity in times of stress or when you can take a break from whatever you are doing. Analyze your Happiness Formula. What is your natural set point? Why do you think you are this way? Look at your external conditions and see how you can improve them. Work on your meaningful relationships and give freely of yourself to others. Finally, look at your Voluntary activities (V). Can you improve on what you are already doing? Make a list of random acts of kindness that you wish to accomplish this week. This will add to your V and help you to achieve happiness in your life. Remember that happiness is something that we all deserve; not a sign of weakness or something you should feel guilty about.
“Lean into it!”