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8 secrets of happy people

You weren’t born happy – that’s just how you are. Some people are born happy, but not you. Sure, you have your happy moments, typically when you get something you want, but they’re fleeting and pretty rare. It’s not like you’re really unhappy, either. You’re kind of between the two – you cycle between happy and unhappy – but spend more time in the unhappy zone.

Because you’re made like this, you’re powerless to act in any other way than the one you’re programmed with. You have little control over what goes on in your life – when things are going well, you’re lucky, when they’re not, you’re unlucky. You’re like flotsam and jetsam in the ocean – at the mercy of the forces around you. That’s what you believe, anyway.

And you couldn’t be more wrong.

It’s not that you’re choosing to be unhappy – who would? Especially when unhappy people:

  • are routinely stressed, which limits their ability to be efficient and effective and compromises their relationships
  • have a scarcity mindset – they never have enough, always want more
  • are less healthy and, if they’re also skeptics, are three times more likely to develop senile cognitive dementia than optimists
  • are emotionally flat, because they believe they need a reason to feel something

It’s that you’re NOT choosing to be happy.

You control how happy you are. You can decide to accept that this is true and do something about your level of happiness. Or you can decide to deny it and remain stuck in your unhappiness. Yes, happiness is a choice.

Happy people know this. They deliberately act in ways that enhance their happiness – and this is a very wise thing to do. Happy people:

  • are 31% more productive
  • are 300% more creative
  • earn more money for themselves and others they manage
  • manage stress better – i.e. they’re more resilient in the face of challenges
  • are healthier – happiness is as good for longevity and health as giving up smoking
  • have stronger immune systems
  • have better relationships – and these, in turn, enhance your physical and mental health
  • spread happiness to others – emotionally & physically ( via energy transference)

Surprisingly few people describe themselves as “very happy” – only 31% of people in the US do, according to a 2016 Harris Poll, down from 35% last year. It’s surprising, because you can create your own happiness.

Happiness is a habit, not an outcome. By practicing certain activities daily, you can create happiness-inducing habits.

Here are eight practices that are scientifically proven to re-wire your brain to be happier.

  1. Exercise three times at week – 20 minutes of cardio training.
  2. Express your gratitude daily. Write down three things EVERY evening that you’re grateful for from that day. You can do this on your own, or with loved ones – each person sharing his / her three things.
  3. Perform a daily random act of kindness / generosity. This can be writing emails to colleagues praising something they did, or paying something forward, or helping pick up things someone’s dropped, or giving a bigger tip after a meal.
  4. Relive a happy or meaningful experience from your past every day. You know how to do this – you do it with bad experiences all the time! Use a positive experience for this from now on.
  5. Practice forgiveness – of yourself and others – for past wrong-doings. When you hold onto grudges, your nervous system gets unconsciously triggered into stress mode EVERY TIME it recognises something familiar from a past grudge. That’s right, your stress response is triggered in the present by something that happened in your past.
  6. Strengthen your social connections. In all research, this is shown to be the single most important contributor to happiness. You may need to have your other happiness habits in place before you can get to this one as being stressed out isn’t conducive to building strong relationships.
  7. Meditate daily. This practice helps balance your brain, priming it for happiness. Research proves that regular meditation increases your alpha waves and physically changes your brain to give you more control over your response to stressful situations.
  8. Live a meaningful life. Have a life vision that reflects who you truly are and what you’re here to do and take action every day to live your vision. Remember, dreams without action remain dreams.

Choose happiness! It’ll be a decision you NEVER regret.

 

Sources: The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor; Stumbling on Happiness, Dan Gilbert; Dave Asprey Science of Happiness video.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

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How to live with greater ease

I live about 500 metres up a VERY steep hill, at the start of which is a sharp bend in the single-track road. This morning, as I was driving home, I started up the hill and thought to myself: “Ah, here’s that bend I hate! I’d better turn the steering wheel the right amount or I’ll hit the wall!!!”. The minute that thought came to me, I had to act quickly so I didn’t hit the wall.

You see, that thought itself almost caused me to hit the wall.

Over-thinking almost caused me to hit the wall.

Usually, I drive up the road with no problem. I don’t love that bend, but my instincts make sure I take it correctly. My instincts know exactly how much I have to turn the steering wheel to make that bend.

As it is in this story, so it is in life.

Over-thinking is a curse that plagues many of us.

Until recently, I was a habitual over-thinker. If there was a way I could over-think and over-complicate things, I would. It wasn’t intentional. It was a habit I learned very young from my father, who was a life-long over-thinker.

Most people believe all thinking is good and that there’s no such thing as over-thinking.

I hold a very different opinion. I believe that there’s a time and a place for thinking, that only certain, very specific tasks are suited to thinking. And I believe that the rest are suited to instinct.

Take driving. When I was learning to drive, I used my mind – thinking – to learn how a car works and the rules of the road. Now that I know these things, it’s my instincts that keep me safe. By staying fully present when I drive, I’m alert to everything that arises. If, however, I fail to stay present whilst I’m driving and start thinking – about how to stay safe or anything else at all – I put myself and others at risk. Driving is not a task for which our minds are suited.

Our minds are amazing at analysing, storing and retrieving information.

Our instincts are amazing at reading, seeing, hearing, sensing and feeling information.

When I was an over-thinker, my mind was mostly in control. It would do all my work and make all my decisions for me. It NEVER assigned any tasks to my instincts, because the mind ALWAYS thinks it knows best. So, I ended up doing a lot of bad work and making a lot of bad decisions.

These days, my instincts are mostly in control. They are very generous and share out tasks according to competence. My instincts give my mind ALL tasks that involve information analysis, storage and retrieval. And keep the rest for themselves. Since I’ve been operating this way, my life has been going much more smoothly. I still do make mistakes, of course, but less often, and I recover from them more quickly.

I made the change from mind to instincts by learning to stay present. The present is the place from which all correct actions and thoughts take place. Here’s how I learned to stay present and stop over-thinking:

  • Meditation. I’ve been meditating for at least 30-60 minutes a day for some years, and on-and-off before then. It’s my best tool for learning presence… and for staying present. I highly recommend you look into it for yourself.
  • Acceptance. Accepting things EXACTLY as they are is perhaps the most powerful thing you can do for yourself. Acceptance means not fighting or denying the existence of a reality we don’t like. For example, I don’t like that I have ulcerative colitis, but I accept that I do. Acceptance allows me to take action around it, it allows me to be highly functional with what is for many a debilitating disease.
  • Letting go. Of the past. Of decisions taken. Of actions taken. Of your baggage. Of your views on how your life is supposed to have been. Of your Inner Critics’ views on all of this. Letting go doesn’t mean that you agree with or approve of difficult situations or people. It just means that you are letting go of the control ALL of this has over you. It is not an angry notion. I like to think of letting go as releasing something / someone into a flow of love, and respectfully keeping your distance.
  • Deep focus on the matter at hand. I devote myself fully to whatever it is I’m doing. I remove all distractions and make sure I give myself regular breaks to refresh myself. For me, this means moving around – I love the Move app, which gives me exercises to do!

Take action to end your curse of over-thinking today. You won’t regret it.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

new-behaviours-http://agingdisgracefullywell.com-sarah-blick

How to use new behaviours to remove toxicity from your life

And become healthier & happier

From a very young age, I was able to sense when something wasn’t right. I didn’t necessarily know WHAT wasn’t right, just that something wasn’t right. This particular skill wasn’t valued by those around me, so I learned to override this sense as soon as it arose. After a while, I found I was able to override pretty much anything unpleasant/troubling that arose. I became very responsible, very resilient and very strong.

Because of this aura I gave off, I attracted a lot of people who were looking to offload their unpleasant/troubling things onto someone else. And I willingly obliged – after all, there was nothing I couldn’t deal with, was there? This continued for years and years. Until, one day, I got sick. I was 38 and had developed an auto-immune disease. A disease that causes your OWN body to attack itself.

The toxic I had invited into my life had done a lot of damage.

It was as if my body said to me:

“OK, dear girl, despite my sending you warnings about this, you’ve been letting everyone and everything attack you for years. I now realize that the ONLY way to get your attention is for me to attack myself, causing you such disruption that you start to wake up.”

I did start to wake up.

I took a long, hard look at how I’d been living and made some important changes, mostly around what I was putting into my body. I created new behaviours. I removed all prepared foods from my diet and made everything myself. It was a powerful expression of self-love (I am worth taking the time and care to do this) and made sure I wasn’t eating toxic things like sugar, food preservatives, food emulsifiers and the endless chemicals found in prepared foods. And I started paying more attention to my work environments.

It wasn’t enough. I continued to get sick. The toxic still had a hold on my life.

After a while, I figured out the next step. Although I’d removed the toxic from I was ingesting orally, I hadn’t yet removed it from I was absorbing externally. From people. That took longer, because I wanted to believe that either I was impervious to their toxicity, or I could help them become less toxic. Or both.

I was wrong.

Firstly, toxic energy continues to permeate our energy until we’ve done so much work on ourselves that we radiate pure love. And I certainly wasn’t in that place yet. Secondly, it’s not my responsibility to help someone else become more or less anything. I’m responsible for myself. You are responsible for yourself. Trying to ‘fix’ others is disrespectful… and futile.

These days, I’m getting much better at keeping the toxic at arms’ length.

The minute I feel uncomfortable, I stop what I’m doing and leave, if necessary and possible.

By staying tuned in to how my body reacts to people, situations and food, I’m able to recognize this moment. Here’s what helps me:

  1. Meditating daily to stay tuned into my body. This gets me out of my head and into my body so I’m able to tune in.
  2. Getting very clear on my non-negotiable values and living according to these, WITHOUT exception. This often means saying no to things I used to say yes to, often out of curiosity e.g. hanging out with people whose values are diametrically opposed to mine.
  3. Acting in ways that keep me fit and healthy. Trying to get enough sleep, minimizing stress, exercising daily, putting the best possible food into my body. This keeps my operating system in top form!

By removing the toxic from my life, I act in my own best interests, and am healthier, happier and stronger. And in a much better position to be of service to others, if I am called on.

That’s what life’s all about.

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).

 

grounded-http://agingdisgracefullywell.com-sarah-blick

How to stay grounded during times of change

I’ve been going through a lot of change of late and have been feeling a bit lost. Not because the change is unwelcome. Not because I haven’t known how to move forward.

I’ve been feeling a bit lost because I’ve not been very anchored.

Anchoring yourself is hard at the best of times. But when you’re moving a lot, like I am, it becomes much harder. I was recently talking to two dear friends of mine who are travelling around Asia right now and they confirmed this. After a couple of months on the road, they’re feeling in strong need of some anchoring.

As a concept, anchoring is hard to explain. It’s not about staying still and putting down roots – although that IS anchoring.

It’s more about finding some constancy when you’re constantly moving.

It helps if you think of a boat. It anchors to stay safe and secure when briefly stopping somewhere before moving on again. A house, on the other hand, roots itself to one place and stays put. Its rootedness also helps keep you safe and secure, but in a different way.

So, how do you anchor yourself?

Here are some possible ways:

  • By creating a routine. Routines can help you feel connected to a place, even if you’re there for a short time. My travelling friends eat in the same restaurant for most meals, that anchors them.
  • By spending time in nature. Nature is grounding, it anchors you just by being itself. I get maximum anchoring from walking barefoot on wet sand, dewy grass or forest floors.
  • By creating a ritual. No matter where I am, I start the day with a cup of mega strong, black tea. The tea reminds me that, even if everything around me is constantly changing, some things in my life remains the same.
  • By meditating. A regular meditation practice can really help keep you grounded. In itself, and as a ritual.
  • By making time to connect with loved ones. There is nothing that connecting with our loved ones can’t help resolve! Deeply, not superficially.

If you’re feeling really unanchored, you may need to do all of these. A lot. It’s worth taking time to do this, even if you’re busy. You might find that some of these work better than others at a given moment. I recently found myself creating more and more routines in response to my unanchoredness, and that started to feel too rigid. I finally realised that I’ve not been spending enough time in nature – I’ve been living in cities for the last 18 months. So I’m amping up my nature time.

We humans are community-oriented creatures at heart. So when we stray from that life, even for something exciting like exploring new places and people, we often feel a little lost. Then we feel guilty for feeling lost, for not appreciating the new experiences we’re having.

Instead of feeling lost or guilty, anchor yourself and those new experiences will again start to feel wonderful.

 

photo credit: Final Anchorage 2 via photopin (license)

 

Sarah Blick is a very tall, dog-loving, morning person. She loves to be in the great outdoors, to write, to eat well, to be active and healthy, to make her own household and personal care products, and to listen to indie music. She’s an ENFP (Myers-Briggs) and a Rockstar (Fascination Advantage).