How to find the hap­pi­ness within

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Bush Banter - DENNIS J HOIBERG The Re­silience Whis­perer

“I WILL be happy when...”

Fin­ish off that sen­tence for your­self. What about: “When I win the lotto.” or “When the chil­dren are grown up and leave home.” or “When my part­ner...”

You know, the most dam­ag­ing word in that first sen­tence is “when”. So many of us put the re­spon­si­bil­ity of our feel­ings and well-be­ing in the hands of other peo­ple or cir­cum­stances. The se­cret to hap­pi­ness is to live now, to take per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity. The se­cret is in our­selves. We all have a resid­ual level of joy in us – I call it our base­line of joy. For some it is very high, for some, very low.

Re­gard­less of what hap­pens to us in our lives, re­search has proven that af­ter a while (some­times even af­ter a very short pe­riod), we will re­turn to this base­line.

Win­ning the lot­tery will in­crease our hap­pi­ness – for a while. Fall­ing in love and start­ing a new re­la­tion­ship, hav­ing chil­dren, mov­ing into a new house, hav­ing a suc­cess­ful crop­ping sea­son, get­ting a new car; all these life events will in­crease our level of hap­pi­ness in the short term, but even­tu­ally we will re­turn to our base­line of joy.

That’s great news if your base­line is high; you will be joy­ful and happy re­gard­less of your life events.

What hap­pens if your base­line of joy is low?

Per­haps af­ter ev­ery life event you re­turn to feel­ings of empti­ness, wait­ing for the next big thing to come along and off you go again.

Un­for­tu­nately, we may do dumb things in search of that next big event that could de­stroy any chance of hap­pi­ness.

Can we in­crease our base­line? I would like to think so, but it takes con­tin­u­ous ef­fort. Take re­spon­si­bil­ity for look­ing af­ter your­self.

Let me give you four words to struc­ture your strat­egy around to in­crease your base­line – ap­pre­ci­a­tion, grat­i­tude, va­ri­ety and love.

Ap­pre­ci­ate what you have, don’t grieve for what you don’t have. I think this is one the great lessons of travel. The sim­ple act of turn­ing on a tap to have some drink­ing wa­ter is a gift de­nied to a ma­jor­ity of peo­ple in this world. Yet we do it with­out think­ing. What other things do you ap­pre­ci­ate?

What are you grate­ful for in your world and how do you express that grat­i­tude – through words or ac­tion?

Stop right now and list the things in your world that you are grate­ful for and cel­e­brate it. Do you share this grat­i­tude? Life’s about giv­ing – not tak­ing.

In­clude va­ri­ety in your life as part of your plan to in­crease your base­line of joy.

We all have our rou­tines around favourite meals, cof­fee haunts, venues to visit which is all well and good. Just don’t let those rou­tines get you into a “rut”. Ruts cre­ate bore­dom and bore­dom is a threat to joy.

And love – un­con­di­tional love – the se­cret in­gre­di­ent to it all. Love your part­ner, your fam­ily, your com­mu­nity and your world. Most im­por­tantly, love your­self un­con­di­tion­ally – re­gard­less of your faults, fears and mis­giv­ings.

These four words through ac­tion will keep your base­line of joy high. And what a joy­ous thing that would be.

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