(Highlights from the PBS documentary, Happy for No Reason, with brief commentaries by Michelle Chua)
Our common human goal of happiness is a choice we make through daily habits. The following are seven habits of happiness evidenced through research by experts in psychology, spirituality and neuroscience in the PBS documentary, Happy for No Reason. I've added a personal elaboration of each. See what resonates with you.
1. Take responsibility for your own happiness.
Let go of myths that make your happiness contingent on something or someone else, as exemplified by the self-talk , “I’ll be happy when/if…
2. Practice forgiveness.
In forgiveness, you release yourself from the anger, resentment and holding to allow peace of mind.
3. Focus on gratitude.
Genuinely feel appreciation as a state of being. Transcend feeling grateful because you have this or that or because your life situation isn’t “as bad as” the other. Without condition, feel the beauty of your existence.
4. Don’t believe everything you think.
Remember that you are the one who thinks, and thus, are not your thoughts, as much as the ego may want to identify itself as the mind, in all its worries, fears and fluctuating tendencies. When we think about a possible situation, whether it’s joyful or petrifying, our bodies feel it as reality, affecting our heart rate, breath quality and sensations. We can empower ourselves by dis-identifying ourselves with thoughts that do harm, and choose those that are of service to our highest good.
5. Practice meditation and mindfulness.
Meditation enables us to connect with ourselves as witness to the mind and have control over it. Scientific studies of the brain during compassion meditation have shown activation of the insula, the deep center of the brain connected to emotions and attributed to linking body and mind. Through mindfulness, our whole being rests peacefully in the moment, savoring it without anxiety of multi-tasking, worrying about the future or feeling stuck in the past. In this practice, we free ourselves from judgmental thoughts.
6. Live a life inspired by purpose.
Believing in something greater than ourselves that we are an essential part of empowers us to unwrap our unique personal gifts to this world, knowing that our existence is of great value.
7. Cultivate nourishing relationships.
We take on the habits and mindset of those we are frequently near, so choose which environment and levels of vibration you want to affect you. Honoring your values, engage in relationships that support your living in alignment with your truth.
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