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February 20, 2017, 12:58 pm

If you look at what you have in life, you'll always have more. If you look at what you don't have in life, you'll never have enough.

Oprah Winfrey

Life Coaching


Building Focus, Energy & Courage - to Make a Better Life for You

Happiness Now
- It's all around you if you look

by

Happiness Is All

I always ask my clients what they want for their new lives. They usually tell me that they want a new job, a new partner, a nicer house, to be more confident, to write that book, and so on. That's perfectly valid. I call it "happiness of the first kind". But it's important to recognise that these things are not what we really want. What we really want is to be happy - and we think we'll be more happy when we have these things. And we may well be correct. But there is another kind of happiness - "happiness of the second kind" - which is easier to acquire if you can just bring yourself to duck some of that "common sense" you've been taught over the years.

Pick Your Pleasure
Pick Your Pleasure

Happiness of the first kind is about
changing the circumstances of your life

Happiness of the second kind is about
changing your attitude to your circumstances

Coaching can work on both levels, and so can you. This article is about your attitude, and more specifically about controlling the focus of your mind. I have personally found this technique to be a very rich source of happiness in my life, and I hope you can too.

Start by recognising that - as I mentioned before - life is a sea of moments. So - if all of the moments in your life are sad - then you are sad - your life is a sad life. Similarly, if all of your moments are happy - then you are happy and you lead a happy life. Now the key:

If more of
your moments
are happy moments,
then you are living
a happier life.

Hmmm, kind of obvious - so what's powerful about that?

Well, think about children. One of the reasons they can be so appealing is that they have access to great happiness. Their joy is wonderful to see. How can they do that - and why did we forget how to do that when we grew up?

The answer is that young children live in the moment. Their awareness of a broader context is far less developed. They don't worry about careers, or finding a life purpose or a life partner, or growing old or becoming ill or dying. They look at what is in front of their eyes, and that is their current experience. They live purely and fully in the moment. Soap bubbles, chocolate, spinning around, music, squeezing clay, painting, fluffy toys - all fill their senses. They drink in sensation and find uncomplicated joy in the process.

Your life - right now - is brim full of opportunities to experience joy in this way. All you have to do is to let them into your mind. You have to change your focus. Simple - but not necessarily easy.

The easiest opportunities are to focus on - and revel in - sensory input - to take sensory pleasure.

A shower is an astonishingly sensual and pleasant experience, if you take the time to switch off your worries, deny your hurries, and fully experience it. The warmth of the water is a sheer joy. Feel the heat seep into all of the parts of your body. Feel how the water hits different parts of your body - pounding your head, trickling here and there. Listen to the water - the airy roar from above, and the trickling and gurgling below. Stretch and feel the sense of your own body. Tilt your head up and let the water massage your face and tickle your ears. Let your head fall forwards and fully relax. Spend 30 seconds like that. (Time it! It will seem like an age if you are not fully involved). When you wash, think of it as massage. When you dry, it's another kind of massage.

There are other less obvious examples where "pleasure cherries" are there for the plucking.

Take 30 seconds to look at clouds, and be fully involved in the looking. You were made to enjoy these things - all you have to do is allow it to happen. Drink in pleasure from the experience. Turn off your thinking mind and your life pressures for a while.

Do the same for the moon and stars, trees, rivers, hills and flowers. Marvel at the colours in soap bubbles as you wash up. Or even the piercing sparkle of sunshine on a fork. Take refuge in these moments. Bask in sensory input.

Once you get used to drinking in pure sensory pleasure, you can start work on "cognitive pleasure". Children provide a natural stepping stone from sensory to cognitive pleasure because they provide both.

We are made to find children beautiful. You can revel in their beauty - that's sensory pleasure. Now recognise that there is a cognitive beauty going on too. As well as the shape of their bodies, you are noticing the way they move. Their joy, their communication style, their priorities, their limitations, what the scope of their awareness might be like. You can look back at your childhood and empathise. You can begin to see the arc of a lifetime and the blossoming of a new human being. This can all be pure pleasure and it's free.

Next exercise - as you walk through a busy street, see an adult stranger, and listen to your mind's knee-jerk reaction. Ugly? Old? Silly Hat? Be aware of all your stuff - your beliefs and experiences and what they tell you about that person. Now ditch it all. See the person as a baby. See the person as a child holding mum's hand. Imagine the person's first day at school, their fears and triumphs, their hidden dreams. Thinking along these lines will help you to recognise then dump all of the preconceptions which adults acquire. They can be sources of misery and obstacles to pleasure. When you let them go, you will find you like people much more. You open life's doors and enjoy life more. (by the way, you can do this for difficult work colleagues - it can work miracles!).

It's all about recognising that - whilst you you may consider your life to be full of misery, the world is full of sources of pleasure - and you live in that world. If you choose, you can move your focus for a while - onto things that will bring you joy. You're not denying reality at all - both the bad and the good are real - you're just deciding to focus for some time on things that bring you joy.

 

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