Originally written: http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com
How can we find happiness? Is there a tangible path to happiness or is it some illusive feeling that comes and goes according to what happens around us? According to the Dalai Lama, happiness can be cultivated like all other things. The structure of the human brain is optimally designed to allow us to affect our behaviors, personality and patterns. Ultimately giving us the power to lead either unhappy or unfulfilled lives or to live inspired, happy full lives. The choice is ours.
These basic sets of instructions are encoded in countless innate nerve cell activation patterns, specific combinations of brain cells fire in response to a given event experience or thought. But the wiring in our brains is not static, not irrevocably fixed. Our brains are also adaptable. Neuroscientists have documented the fact that the brain can design new patterns, new combinations of nerve cells and neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit messages between nerve cells) in response to new input. In fact, our brains are malleable, ever changing, reconfiguring their wiring according to new thoughts and experiences. And as a result of learning the function of individual neurons themselves change, allowing electrical signals to travel along them more readily. Scientists call the brain’s inherent capacity to change “plasticity.”
Simply put we may not be able to alter existing neuropath ways, but we can develop new patterns or neuropath ways that are stronger and therefore become the dominant pattern.
“This is known as the practice of “Dharma.” This is the constant battle within of replacing previous negative conditioning or habituation with new positive conditioning.”
No matter what activity or practice we are perusing there is not anything that isn’t made easier through constant familiarity and training. Through training, we can change; we can transform ourselves.”
So I guess the saying practice makes perfect is true? So, what do you practice to cultivate happiness?
1. “Make a Conscious Choice To Be Happy”
Most things in life require that we make a conscious, deliberate choice to pursue them or they remain only an allusive dream just outside of our reach. Acknowledge you are not happy with your current self, be honest with yourself and others. Commit from this day forward to live a happy, fulfilled life.
Foster friendships; we are here to experience all the joy the world has to offer and, without other people to share the experience with, we would not have the fulfillment and joy that we all desire. Let people in to your core to share in your vulnerability and your growth.
Forgiveness is not always easy but the more we say the words “I am sorry” the easier and more natural they become. It does not take away from who we are as a person, to forgive it is what makes us complete.
4. “Cultivate Gratitude”
Be grateful for every moment you have: the good, the bad and the boring. Each moment is precious and provides us with a path to wholeness. Embrace each experience and say thanks at the end of each day for all that you have, all that you experienced and all the opportunities you will create.
5. “Counteract Negative Thoughts and Feelings”
This requires a conscious effort on your part to acknowledge negative thoughts and to replace them with positive feelings. To build positive neuropath ways that will dominate your thinking requires constant practice. If you have a tendency to be negative, it simply means you have focused on negative feelings or have practiced being negative more than positive. It is that simple! Practice positive feelings!
6. “Shift your Focus”
Focus only on YOU. Accept the fact that you cannot change another human being. And in fact, that is not your job or your place. You can only change yourself. Shift your focus to what it is you are doing and feeling. You may be surprised that you are in fact doing some of the same things that you are criticizing others for doing.
7. “Engage in Meaningful Activities”
If your life is filled with mundane, unsatisfying activities, attaining happiness will be an uphill battle. Are you living an inspired life? Are you engaging in activities that you desire, that make you happy? Engaging in activities that have meaning to your true, authentic self brings you tremendous joy. Find out what is meaningful to you and pursue those activities.
8. “Cultivate physical, Mental and Spiritual Health”
We are physical beings living in a physical world. We need to tend to our bodies, our minds as well as our spirits. Eating right, exercising and practicing our spiritual beliefs on a daily basis with help cultivate the seeds of happiness.
9. “Pursue Pleasure”
Do things that bring you total JOY. Things that inspire you, please you, and provide you with a boundless sense of love and joy. We all know that feeling, we just need to make it a
priority to pursue pleasure!
7 Steps to Happiness
We are human and we require structure and repetition to alter our behaviors and ultimately alter our lives. Having steps to support your goals is essential.
1. Meditation or Prayer
Find a meditation that works for you and practice it everyday! It is that simple. Give yourself the time to release everything, to be in the moment change your life.
No matter what your situation or condition you must move your body! We are human and our bodies are required to be fluid to function properly. This functioning is not limited to the physical self it also influences your mental health and spiritual health. Remember we are a whole being.
Proper sleep is essential for our physical and mental well-being. It is our time to regenerate and recover from the experiences of the day. Without the proper sleep your body will be running on a constant deficit and will always be compromised. Thus making it all that more difficult to obtain happiness and wellbeing.
4. Proper Nutrition
As with exercise, we must acknowledge we are human beings with basic needs to function properly. Eating right will provide you with the optimum resources necessary to attain your physical, mental and spiritual goals.
Simple enough but most of us do not breathe deeply enough to engage our bodies and provide our cells with all the necessary nutrients to function properly. Practice deep breathing throughout the day whenever you remember.
Humor ultimately is the best medicine. From a physical perspective it releases endorphins in our body, which makes us feel better, and it releases pent up emotions that if not released become toxic to our body. The more we can laugh at ourselves the healthier and happier we will be.
7. Practice, Practice, Practice
The excerpts above are from one of my favorite books The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler MD.
Funny enough, it really doesn’t matter what your situation is, the rules are the same read Tools for Dealing with a Chronic Illness to learn more about the tools and techniques you can use to live a happy and fulfilled life.
Take the conscious road to authentic power!!!