The mind is much more than the genesis of our thoughts. It is more than the logic that leads us to make connections with others versus living in isolation. Your mind, or its organism, the brain, is made up of countless neurotransmitters, chemicals, hormones and other big words that help to make the experience of happiness.
Most everybody has heard that money doesn’t make you happy, other people don’t make you happy, and that you have to make yourself happy. Very few people will tell you how. Your mind will propose that happiness has something to do with success and accomplishment in the external world.
When you think negative thoughts and feel negative emotions, the body, more often than not, will also produce a negative reaction. The same also applies to positive thoughts. Let’s take two examples: a positive and a negative one. When you are in love, you have endless energy and you get butterflies in your stomach each time you think about the object of your affection. On the other hand, when you are afraid of something, for example: public speaking, the mere thought of it might result in difficulty breathing, a headache or even shaking and sweating.
Practice noticing and appreciating the countless moments of joy and happiness that occur each day. Countless? Yes. When you practice looking for joyful, happy moments you will be surprised at how many you can potentially experience daily. Of course, it means we have to give up our pettiness and the feeling that we are hard-done by.
Some of you may be thinking, “But I can’t help what I think or how I feel”. Well, it may not be the easiest thing to do, but you actually have a great deal of influence on where your thoughts go. All it takes is a little ‘reprogramming’ of sorts. There is a quote from author and speaker Robin Sharma – “Everything is always created twice, first in the mind and then in reality”.
When you are feeling unhappy at any point in your day, notice whether this unhappiness is about others or yourself. What you will find is that almost all of your unhappiness is self-centered. To know this is to know a great secret. You are the source of your happiness and unhappiness; these feelings do not flow from the conditions in your life. Your reaction to these conditions is what keeps you unhappy, and to be unhappy in your life is to be selfish, unappreciative and incredibly self-indulgent.
There are so many things in life we can’t control. Focusing on those things is futile. Maya Angelou, one of my heroes, stated, “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” That kind of attitude change takes practice. And knowledge and practice, inspiration and application, are what this program is built on.
Resolve today to change your perspective and begin to notice and appreciate the moments of beauty, joy and happiness all around you. Look for these moments and let them nourish you deeply. Through this practice, you will cultivate and activate the ninth virtue: the virtue of joy and happiness.