Happiness is hard work, but then so is everything else
HAVE you ever been told that you worry too much? Struggle to maintain joy and happiness or seem to get derailed just when things are moving to a good place?
If energy flows where attention goes then depending on how we've conditioned ourselves to think (either toward the positive or toward the negative) then we'll get the outcome we've anticipated.
Neurons that fire together wire together. It's that simple and that profound. As soon as we harbour doubt and fear in our thinking we give licence for that to activate our perception and influence the outcome.
We are wired for a negative bias designed by the brain in evolution to protect us. It's potentially five times stronger than our positive bias depending on who you read on the subject. What that means is that if you want to be happy you've got to work at it. It's not outside of us.
Happiness is a conscious approach which requires energy to be directed toward it rather than waiting for it to happen. It takes work and that is something that the brain really doesn't like to do because the brain is essentially lazy - it gets comfortable with the habits we've created.
Now that may be a little unfair given that we have around a quarter of a million processes operating in our body and mind at any one time. These processes are all driven by the autonomic nervous system which operates below the surface of thought and usually unconsciously.
You might think of it as our "operating system" maintaining temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, cleaning, digesting and much much more. Wouldn't you be feeling a little put out if you had to add a few more things to think about?
So consider the impact if what we are thinking is anchored more in the negative than the positive. What pressure does that put on you and importantly on your physical system?
It would be like driving your car continuously without respecting that it needs to be serviced and then getting upset when it breaks down - and breakdown is what happens when we've been caught up in that downward spiral.
So now for the simple bit: you can train your brain so you wire your thinking towards happiness. Sure, it takes effort initially to make a habit out of finding the joy in the day, the opportunity in the event, the gratitude in the lesson and the love in your daily life.
Pretty much everything you've done in your life has taken effort and persistence to learn, so why not this - happiness?
Nick Bennett is a facilitator, performance coach and partner of Minds Aligned.