Happiness is something we are all pursuing. We all want to be happy, or just be happier. As we begin our lives as young adults, we find material things bring us ephemeral happiness that doesn’t last. When we get older, we find intangible things bring us a deeper happiness, such as a good laugh with friends, or visiting a place that brings us peace and contentment. But again, that happiness is fleeting. How do we maintain the state of happiness?
Psychologists, by trade, study the process of how we think and through their work therapists have been trained to help others to lead mentally happier lives. You would expect them to have the answers to happiness in life, but this isn’t always the case.
In a brief interview with some psychotherapists on happiness, those seeking happiness for themselves found that using the traditional therapy methods fell short for them personally. For some, in their pursuit of happiness, they turned to spirituality, which seemed to offer alternative solutions that worked.
One clinical psychologist said she came to spirituality after she had lost her son and was seeking a way to deal with her grief. She said she tried psychotherapy and when it didn’t help, she turned to the traditional roots of her family's religion, but again, that didn't give her what she felt she needed. She felt she needed something more, and so she started looking at some Eastern practices, like Yoga, Buddhism and Qi Gong. It was through these spiritual practices that she began to find what she was looking for even though, she says, she is still seeking and learning.
Seeking and reaching for more depth in life, helps us build the tools for life's happenings so we can be happier and more fulfilled, and in some cases prepares us for what comes our way whether it's good or bad. Perhaps that is why we seek more spirituality.
Another psychotherapist, during our interview, had questions on spirituality. She too was seeking more personal happiness through spirituality while at the same time trying to make it fit with her views from the psychoanalytical world. She asked, "Do you believe life is just suffering like the Buddhists do?" Buddhists don’t believe that life is just suffering or that "life is a bummer and then we die", but rather that life does have it’s ups and downs that we can’t avoid. Those downs feel like suffering, and as a result, we need to find a way to live life so that we can move through it with more ease.
One psychiatrist took the view that life will always have it’s ups and downs and that seeking happiness is futile because there will always be the down cycles She felt that we want our moods to maintain the average level of contentment and not let that level go too far downward. But, why does that average have to be fixed? Why can’t the average move upward? Our moods are certainly going to fluctuate, but while we can prevent our average state of mind to not slip downward, we can also move it upward, and have a happier state overall!
Ultimately, this may translate into more moments of happiness. That is one way to attain more happiness, little by little.
In a book called “The Happiness Project,” the author described her year quest to find more happiness in her life, and in doing so she realized that she was an "underbuyer", meaning that she always bought the least amount of whatever she needed including toilet paper. She thought, why buy a pack when two rolls are enough? As one can imagine, her frugality resulted in panic when she ran out of toilet paper. Her solution was to buy a larger amount and go to the store less frequently. Less stress meant more happiness. It is kind of an odd discovery about herself, after all, isn't it obvious that no one wants to run out of toilet paper when you need it? But, perhaps it's more that she was seeking what would make her happier and in doing so, she found a small thing was really a big thing that she could change to bring more happiness.
Good news on the scientific research front, they say that only 10% of our happiness is determined by genetics, and as much as 40% is determined by our own choices and actions. This means that even people who tend to be more down hearted or have difficult life circumstances can be happier with self effort. In fact, you can change your overall happiness level in general!
So what areas in our life should we look at to find that happiness? What are the things that we should seek? Probably the best place to start is to start with the little things. There may be small things that are based in some every day spirituality practice, such as remembering positive gratitude, or it might be in changing every day habits, such as practicing seeing the good in things and events. It might even be taking a step or two towards being physically healthier, like walking a little more on your way to work or the grocery store. You can take the long way through the parking lot!
One little step is to let things go past. It is not letting go, that implies that we are letting go of something we want to keep. It is letting those things go by that don't really bring us happiness or even may bring us negative feelings like anger or sadness, and then, being okay with it! An example might be, getting all riled up over some political issue that came up on the television; your side is right, and they're wrong! Before you had watched the television, this issue wasn’t even on your mind, and now you're angry, you're indignant. Wow, what changed? Nothing changed, it was just that someone or something made you aware of a situation that you dislike, albeit, intensely. It's okay to feel the anger and indignation, but then let it go by. Don't hang on to it. Let it go by.
It may take a while to let those feelings go without thinking more thoughts about it. Mulling it over may just make you feel more angry. This requires practice to let those moments go by faster. The more often you do this, the quicker the feelings will pass and the less angry you will feel. You’ll find you may be happier over all! Don't let those other thoughts take you for a ride and drum up more bad feelings. Let it go by and you may find yourself finding attaining more overall happiness!
Lisa K. is highly sought after intuitive counselor and teacher of every day spirituality. As a spiritual teacher and author of several blogs and online teaching media, Lisa shows people how to expand their awareness of spirit, and connect to the divinity within them. Lisa K. has helped thousands of people around the world through personal intuitive coaching sessions, online and in person classes, workshops, angel readings and her popular radio show, “Between Heaven and Earth” which presents a variety of topics on Every Day Spirituality. Learn more about Lisa K., visit her official site athttp://www.LMK88.com
copyright © 2012 Lisa K.