“All appears to change when we change.” ~Henri-Frédéric Amiel
We often start from the outside to try to make change on the inside. Scratch that. We pretty much always start from the outside, thinking it will make changes on the inside.
I am the retired queen of looking externally for internal satisfaction. I spent my most high-stress decade driven by a tantalizing dream. I wanted to be a magazine editor-in-chief, with an all-white office complete with a leather sofa, my name on a parking spot, and legions of underlings at my beckon call.
Pretty deep, hey?
And when I was 25, I was nearly there. I had edited the high school yearbook and newspaper, completed a university degree in communications with a major in magazine editing, worked at three unpaid internships, and then, eight months after I got hired at a magazine, was promoted to assistant editor.
Thankfully, the universe is always conspiring for our highest good, and the highest good of all. So although I had made it, I was miserable. I couldn’t sleep properly or digest properly, and my stress was through the roof. I promptly had a quarter life crisis.
All hail the power of our bodies to tell us when we’re off course. Our bodies can’t lie. And mine wasn’t willing to pretend that this was the place for me.
When I quit my job my official reason for leaving was “to help people live healthier, happier lives.” I’d felt the immeasurable power and peace that came from listening to the part of me that could guide me to my happiest, most fulfilling life, and I wasn’t willing to let her down anymore.
I wanted to be of service, to make a difference in people’s lives, and to make a difference in the world. So I spent the next six years doing communications work and copy writing for health and wellness-related companies.
Today, I teach other people how to live their own liberated lives—deeply and uniquely happy, being who they want to be and living the lives they want to live.
Life is more beautiful, more exciting, more fulfilling, and beyond anything I ever dreamed. I get to make a difference in people’s lives and a difference in the world. And I am happier than I ever imagined.
Here are seven things I’ve learned about being happy from the inside out:
1. Don’t listen to everyone.
They don’t know what’s best for you—they know what their own fears, past experiences, and imaginings are dictating about the future. Your future can be completely different than everyone else’s.
2. Notice when you’re imagining.
We spend a lot of time imagining the worst—or if not the worst, then something we don’t want. Call it worry, call it stress, call it temporary insanity. What it comes down to is something that isn’t real. Nothing we think about happening in the future is real—it’s just in our heads. So when you catch yourself imagining the terrible, don’t.
3. Remember that reality’s a good place to hang out.
Right here, right now, whatever we’ve imagined the worst about isn’t actually happening. Ahh. Big exhale. Take a look around. See those windows, that person you like, the sun shining, or the rain falling? It’s good here. This is real.
4. Change the channel.
Your mind is the TV, and you’ve got the remote. Just like CNN headlines scrolling across the bottom of your TV screen, your mind scrolls out dramatized thoughts. Don’t like what you’re seeing? Change the channel, and pick one that lifts you up. Remembering good times or past successes is better than imagining bad times or failures.
5. Go beyond your mind.
The non-verbal part of our brain processes about 40 bits of information per second. Pretty impressive. The verbal part of our brain processes about 8 to 11 million bits of information per second. So when your thoughts are telling you things are bad, check in with your body. It’s communicating to you a bigger picture.
6. Ask yourself, “Does it feel like freedom?”
If you’re body feels tight, tense, stressed, or just plain shackled down, it’s giving you some very strong “no” signals. When you’re doing what’s right for you, it feels in your body like freedom.
7. Prioritize your happiness.
It’s not selfish. It’s your destiny, your dharma, and your purpose for being on this planet. It’s the greatest gift you can give to the world.
Photo by Antara
About Lindsey Lewis
As a successful magazine editor, Lindsey Lewis realized her whole life didn’t fit her. She promptly had a quarter life crisis and blew up her entire life. You can read her story in her book From Darkness to Light. Find her at imlindseylewis.com, on Facebook and Twitter @lindsey_lewis.