Most mornings when I take my walk, I listen to taped talks and lectures I find online. A particular favorite is Abraham-Hicks and their discussion of Law Of Attraction. One thing I’ve always appreciated about them is the constant reminder to us all to recognize how we are feeling at any given moment, and from there to choose a more beneficial thought. On a particular morning last week I heard Abraham say to a deeply unhappy woman, “Just pick a slightly better thought, and slowly lean toward happiness.” That reminded me that while it’s nearly impossible to be happy 100% of the time, most of us have the ability to lean in that direction no matter what. From there, I came up with seven simple things all of us can do to make the leaning easier.
#1 Allow yourself to feel and then train yourself to redirect those feelings. Abraham-Hicks encourage us all to feel our feelings. In fact, they believe that our feelings are the best indicator we have when we are aligned with our true nature. When we are feeling good and in flow with our essential nature, that tells us we are aligned. If we feel negative or unhappy, that is a powerful indicator that something is amiss in our body, mind or souls.
The good news is that once we are aware that something is out of whack, we can then take steps to change it. No that doesn’t mean that if you’re unhappy or in pain that you can “just think happy thoughts and it all goes away.” Abraham-Hicks clearly outlines an emotional scale that can take us from the bottom of despair to gradually increasing our wellbeing. Slowly but surely, when we lean toward happiness, we can shift our feelings to better and better states of being. Having that emotional flexibility is crucial to happiness.
#2 Recognize your time is more valuable than money. Six new studies done at the University of British Columbia asked participants questions like, “If you could choose between a high salary with long hours and a longer commute—or, a job that is close to home with flexible hours and an average salary, which would you pick? “ Another question: “Would you prefer an expensive apartment with a longer commute or a more modest apartment with a short commute?” Repeatedly, more than half questioned said that extra time had more value. Of particular note was that the older the age, the more likely the participant picked the extra time. Repeat after me, “My time is more valuable than money!”
#3 Stay curious and open to adventure. Authors Robert Biswas-Diener and Todd Kashan said it brilliantly with, “Truly happy people seem to have an intuitive grasp of the fact that sustained happiness is not just about doing things that you like. It also requires growth and adventuring beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. Happy people are, simply put, curious.” A study done at Colorado State by psychologist Michael Steger discovered that those who felt curious about things on a daily basis felt the most satisfaction with their lives. While all-out adventure can be unsettling and stressful, a balance of curious and open is an essential ingredient to a happy life.
#4 Go with the flow and practice Wu-Wei when possible. I previously did a post on Wu-Wei so I won’t repeat it here, but it in case you’ve forgotten it is a wonderful approach to happiness. Abraham-Hicks calls it “going downstream” rather constantly struggling to row your boat upstream. Unfortunately, most of us are taught the opposite with things like: Work hard. Try to be the best. Stay productive. Get yours or someone else will get it before you. All of those rules imply that life is supposed to be a struggle and that we should put our nose to the grindstone and put up with it.
Instead, Abraham-Hicks teaches that once we are in alignment with our true nature, things will flow for us. By learning to accept the “is-ness” of some situations, and relax our tight rules on everything related to behavior, expectations and conditions, we can learn to enjoy the journey of life with peace and wellbeing.
#5 Focus on the meaning in your life rather than what you own, what you look like, or what others think about you. Law of Attraction is often criticized by many for being materialistic and selfish. But if you listen and read it enough you’ll find that its primary focus is finding and resting in a place of a person’s true nature. In fact, a favorite saying of Abraham-Hicks is something like, “Everything anyone says they want, or everything they do, is because they think the feeling of having it will make them happier.” So it’s not about getting, it’s about embracing and becoming the feeling and then allowing the action to flow out of that understanding.
#6 Hang out with upbeat and happy people. One of my favorite topics to write about is positive aging. But a recent conversation with a friend uncovered a significant reason that she, and I’ll bet many others, prefer to hang out with younger people. Far too often seniors start talking about declining health and medical issues and then don’t know when to stop. It’s true. Bring up a medical condition or certain symptoms when surrounded by baby boomers, and it’s difficult to even imagine a healthy or happy future.
In contrast, last night Thom and I invited over a handful of friends for dinner. We were laughing and talking so much about so many topics there was barely time to take a breath. Not only did we spend the entire night discussing possibilities and coming events in our lives, but I think everyone left feeling more energized than when they arrived. As Dr. Nicholas Christakies of Harvard Medical School reports, “Individuals who associate themselves with cheerful people have a happier demeanor and consequently a better sense of wellbeing.”
#7 Balance your pleasure with your purpose. When most people think of seeking happiness, they think of pleasure. But truthfully, happiness is a balance between experiences that bring pleasure and actions that provide purpose. Chances are good that without a good mix of both, the satisfaction and wellbeing you crave will elude you. Making advances toward the achievement of our goals, even when they are challenging, usually helps us achieve that balance according to Richard Davidson from University of Wisconsin at Madison. That activity not only makes us feel more engaged, it also help us accept the difficulties and negative feelings that can come from the journey. For example, writing can be challenging work, but the outcome is normally filled with meaning.
Some people like to believe that the pursuit of happiness is all about self-gratification. That’s why I particularly like it when Abraham-Hicks reminds us that the only people who don’t want us to be happy or don’t think any of us deserve it, are likely attempting to control or manipulate us for their own happiness, agenda or needs. Plus, Abraham-Hicks repeatedly teaches that it is only truly unhappy people who do harm to others or the planet. Rather, the most aligned and content people share their good with everyone and the Earth where we dwell. Let’s remember that happy people aren’t always 100% happy, but those that are SMART know they can always lean slightly in that direction until things start looking more bright.