“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ~Dalai Lama
I have recently come face to face with mortality—not my own, my friend’s. At only thirty-seven, Daniel left behind an army of people whose lives he had touched in some way, including my own.
At thirty-three I have just qualified as a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist. At the time Daniel passed away I was working as a human resources manager, a profession I had originally trained in and remained in for over ten years.
A number of factors and events led me to make the leap and set up my own practice as a psychotherapist and hypnotherapist, but the overriding reason was simply to follow my dreams.
Many of my friends told me how inspiring I was to them, others told me I was brave, and the rest gave me a look of awe that suggested I was crazy.
Words of well-meaning advice were spoken.
“Why don’t you work part time while you get the business underway?”
“It’s going to take time for you to get regular clients you know; they won’t come overnight.”
“You can always go back to human resources if it doesn’t work.”
All of this came from my nearest and dearest friends and family! I didn’t listen to any of them because I knew from the depths of my soul that this was the right thing to do, and I knew their words were only echoes of their own fears about life and striking out, not my own.
Every day we are faced with stories that remind us of our own mortality as human beings, but when you lose someone you love with all your heart, it changes something deep within you.
The everyday drama we allow into our lives falls away and suddenly seems insignificant. We find ourselves reaching out and opening our heart to let others in. We start to notice the simple pleasures.
We become acutely aware that we never really know when our time might be up, and we make a pledge to let joy into our life.
That was the pledge I made.
I can’t bring back my darling friend, but I can honor him every day by ensuring that my journey is filled with people and experiences that make my heart sing; by letting my emotions and intuition guide me toward what feels good; by choosing freedom over fear; and by remembering that I am the only thing that can stop me from making those choices.
What dreams, desires, feelings, or needs of your own have you pushed aside? And if you followed your own dreams and bliss, how would your life change for the better?
You are the driver of your own life, and as you journey through, you have choices about which paths to take. The people you pick up along the way can influence your life, but you still remain in control.
These ideas may help you start creating more joy in your life:
1. Tell a new story.
What’s your current story, and how does it make you feel? If it doesn’t make you feel good when you tell it, then stop telling it. Instead, tell a story that makes you feel inspired and positive. Maybe you haven’t found your calling yet and feel as if every day is ground hog day.
You can change that.
I stayed working in human resources for ten years, but I had always been interested in life coaching. Up until two years ago I had done nothing about that interest, until one day I decided to make a change and looked into some local evening courses.
I found one starting a few weeks later and got the last place on it. A coincidence? I think not! Spending a few hours a week learning something new, just for the pleasure of it, was exhilarating.
I changed my story from “I just work in HR” to “At the moment I work in HR, but I’m doing a course in life coaching and I’m not yet sure where that may lead me, but it sure is exciting!”
What have you always wanted to do in life but have been too afraid to attempt? What activities throughout your life have given you the greatest feeling of achievement? If you could do anything what would you do and what would bring you a step closer to that?
2. Feel the thoughts that make you feel good.
Sometimes it can feel that our thoughts are thinking us and that we have no control over them. How many of the 60,000 thoughts you have each day are anxious, critical, defensive, or frustrated?
Most of our everyday thinking is driven from the unconscious mind, which is far greater than the conscious mind. This is why it may feel an impossible task to rein your thoughts in. But as with most things, a little practice can go a long way.
Reach for the thoughts that make you feel good and then practice holding on to them. If, for example, you have had a bad day at work, don’t tell the story about it because that won’t make you feel good!
Don’t ruminate on the conversations or events of the day because that will only serve to make you tenser and may affect your ability to have a good night’s sleep. Instead, let go of the thoughts and think of something else that makes you feel good.
It may be something you have planned for the weekend. It may be a memory of time spent with your partner. Or it could just be an inner knowing that you don’t have to think this way, followed by good feelings about that.
The more you can get a hold on your thoughts, the greater control you will gain over your emotions. After all, why would you choose to feel anything but joyful, elated, on top of the world, clear-minded, creative, enthusiastic, or eager? What will it be like when you can feel like that for most of your day?
3. Spring clean your belief system.
We are powerful creators of our own reality, but so many of us don’t realize our own true potential. We are all equal; not one of us is more “special” than another.
The only difference is that there are some people who have learned to shine a beam on what they really want in life and then have the belief to make that happen.
When you believe it, you feel it right through to your very core. Many people believe they have to live with the cards they have been dealt, that life is tough, or if you want something you have to fight for it.
Yet beliefs are only thoughts that we keep thinking. No belief is set in stone.
As humans we have a great capacity for sticking to false beliefs. We once believed that the world was flat until someone convinced us otherwise. I have run two marathons in the past two years. Yet if you asked me five years ago if I could run even a half marathon, I wouldn’t have believed it.
What beliefs have you got that are holding you back? If you really challenge those beliefs you will see them start to crumble, allowing you to build new, stronger, more positive beliefs.
Ask yourself “Where has this belief come from?” “What does this belief cost me on a daily basis?” “What would happen if I let go of this old belief?”
4. Get happy now!
So many times I hear people say “I’ll be happy when I lose some weight.” “I’ll be happy when I retire.” “I’ll be happy when I get a boyfriend.” “I’ll be happy when I get a place of my own.”
What about being happy now? Happiness is an emotion. If you reach for thoughts that make you feel happy, you can be happy right now! When you focus your attention on feeling happy now, the rest falls into place, and you find yourself attracting new things into your life.
My tried and tested “happiness pill” is to think of the time I went travelling in South America. I close my eyes and imagine I am back there with no more than a backpack, feeling the sun warm against my skin, sitting outside a cafe sipping a cool drink as I soak up the sights and sounds before my eyes. It never fails to raise a smile on my lips and a glow in my heart.
5. Get into gratitude.
Be grateful for what you have in your life now. Take a few moments every day to really savor what makes you happy and give thanks for it.
It could be waking up in a warm bed, enjoying a piece of cake in a cafe while watching the world go by, walking with your dog in the fresh air, or simply being healthy.
When you create feelings of gratitude, you change the feeling in your heart. Just think what effect having a heart bursting with gratitude can have on your mind and your body!
6. Create a bliss board.
Take a large sheet of cardboard and fill it with pictures, captions, or words that you want your life to reflect. So many of us know what we don’t want, but are not clear what we do want.
Pin it to a wall in your home so that every day you are reminded of what you want in life. I found a wonderful caption in a magazine that read “educating body, mind, heart, and soul.” Every morning I see it on my bliss board and it sets my day off with the right intention.
7. Take a leap of faith.
To move forward and allow new experiences, new energy, and new people into your life you have to let go of whatever isn’t working for you.
It does take confidence and self-belief, but this is where banishing the old beliefs and replacing your old negative thoughts with positive ones comes in. If practiced regularly, this will create the self-worth and self-reliance needed to make that leap of faith.
Take a moment now to reflect on the above and on your life. Remind yourself of just how wonderful this rich tapestry of life is, that there is a sea of opportunity ripe for the taking out there, if only we would take it.
But above all, remember that no matter what is happening to any one of us, the only thing that really matters at the end of it all is that our lives were filled with joy.
Photo by nhi.dang
About Sara Maude
Sara Maude is an international Solution Focused Psychotherapist, Hypnotherapist, EFT practitioner, and Advanced Theta Healer. Having worked with hundreds of clients to help them achieve their goals, she provides 1 - 1 sessions in Edinburgh, Scotland, and worldwide over Skype. Visit her at saramaudehypnotherapy.com.