Weekly Mindful Journaling Challenge #6: On Being Happy

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As you practice mindfulness more, you’ll improve your capacity to center yourself. Creating happiness occurs when you develop your inner resources by devoting time to them. As you progress, feelings of calm and satisfaction will become a permanent part of your being. They’ll replace constant stress, frequent mind-wandering and knee-jerk reactions.
~ Jennifer Landis – The link between mindfulness and achieving happiness – March 2017

This week’s mindful journaling, and writing challenge, is designed for each one of us to explore what it means to experience real and genuine happiness in life. According to Melli Obrien, true happiness is not based on external factors. It is an empowering and motivating internal aspect of who we are as human beings. And, according to contributing writer at Huffington Post, Rosa Caiola shares these observations on what contributes to our sense of happiness and well-being:

  1. Happiness is not something that we are able to purchase
  2. Happiness has roots in our generosity and charity
  3. Happiness comes when we replace harmful and toxic mental habits with healthy and empowering mental habits
  4. Happiness is experienced when we live and grow in wisdom

One of the key observations that link mindfulness, meditation, and happiness is this: The ability to regulate and manage our emotions. It is one of the mainstay recommendations and truths I share with my patients when sitting in counsel with them. We either are learning how our emotions work so that we are adequate in managing them. Or, we are giving ourselves permissibly over to our emotions so that they manage us and our lives.

Shallow Happiness is contingent on obtaining material possessions, prestige, achievements and the accolades of family and friends.

Emotions are powerful motivators

First, we want to understand that we are emotional beings. We experience diverse emotions on any given day. These emotions vary moment-to-moment. For example, we wake up and the sun is shining and we naturally smile and take in the morning sunlight. There is a positive emotional experience in that moment. However, if we get ourselves ready and head out to enjoy the sunshine and start noticing the rain clouds and the sky becomes overcast, our emotions change to disappointment, sadness.

Second, our emotions are neither good or bad. Positive of negative. They are what they are – emotions. They occur as we respond to the external stressors of life (people, places, things, and events). This includes the emotion of happiness. When someone says a kind word, we experience that warm sensation. When someone hugs us, or helps us out, we experience happiness. On the other hand, when someone speaks to us offensively and with insult, we become angry, upset, saddened, discouraged. When someone ignores us, we may feel rejected, abandoned, and myriad of other emotions.

Third, our emotions really serve a purpose in that they generate action. Whether it is our bodies natural response – for instance, someone smiles we tend to smile back. Someone says something kind, we may typically respond with a smile and a thank you. Other actions may be things we say, or actually do.

Love versus Hate

There is a spectrum of emotions that we experience between Love and Hate. Genuine happiness is based on satisfaction and fulfillment in life. Hate is based on fear and sense of injustice. Genuine happiness is open and influential. Hate is based on ego and pride. Happiness is founded upon our sense of joy that we experience. Hate is based on the fact that we may not experience a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.

Love and Happiness

  1. Confident and Assertive
  2. Connected with Healthy Relationships
  3. Courageous despite fear
  4. Secure and Stable
  5. Strong and Resilient

Hatred and Unhappiness

  1. Lacks confidence and low-self-esteem
  2. Connected with toxic relationships
  3. Vulnerable and avoidance because of fear
  4. Insecure and unstable
  5. Vulnerable and weak-minded

When we are confident in understanding who we are, know there is meaning and purpose to our existence, and are able to reach out and serve others – that is genuine happiness. On the contrary, when we lack insight and understanding of who we are, lack insight in understanding what it means to live out a meaningful and purposeful life, and we are only about serving our own selfish desires and needs – we are unhappy.

Cultivating happiness means we are detaching ourselves from those things that we falsely believe to be contributors to our own sense of happiness.

Thus, our sense of happiness is not defined by what we are able to attain. It is defined by our attitude in how we come to enjoy life. Joy is the fundamental cornerstone of our happiness.

Joy is a powerful influence of our happiness

The question is not about what contributes to our happiness. It is about our attitude toward being happy. One thing I share is this: I may wake up and have a miserable day. Anything and everything may go wrong. I am not happy. However, that does not diminish my sense of joy. What I mean by this is:

  • My joy is not contingent upon things going right or wrong
  • My joy stems from understanding and knowing who I am as an individual
  • My joy stems from fulfilling my specific roles – regardless of how frustrating it may be sometimes
  • My sense of joy comes from knowing that my life has meaning, a sense of purpose and value
  • My joy comes from living up to and by my core values and beliefs

All of these contribute to a more genuine experience of happiness. This is based on my own personal revelation that we either are chasing after happiness, or, we are cultivating happiness within our own lives:

Chasing after happiness means we are going after external things. This false perception rests on the idea of what will “make us happy.” It enslaves us with thoughts of resentment and bitterness. Meaning, we have developed belief systems and statements about what makes us happy. Shallow Happiness is contingent on obtaining material possessions, prestige, achievements and the accolades of family and friends. Granted, nothing wrong with this. It is how we set our own identity and definition of who we are, what our purpose is and what it is we are able to give. In essence, we are chasing after happiness and never satisfied or finding fulfillment in our lives.

Yes, I am letting go of Happiness in my life

Cultivating happiness means we are detaching ourselves from those things that we falsely believe to be contributors to our own sense of happiness. It also means that we are exploring ways that we are capable of discovering who we are, what our sense of meaning and purpose is, and how we best serve others within our family, within our work space, faith-based community, and overall community. Cultivating happiness also means we are looking internally at what we are able to do for ourselves and by ourselves that bring us a sense of worth, freedom, fun, and belonging.

Exploring your own sense of happiness

  1. Be as specific as possible – To foster an understanding of who you are and what it means to live a satisfying and fulfilling life – you want to focus on the specific details.
  2. Go for depth over breadth – Dive deep into the details about the particular ways for which you are empowered to a life where you cultivate happiness instead of chasing after happiness
  3. Personalization – Focus more on what your own personal needs are and not what others may be able to do to in order to develop a greater sense of joy and genuine happiness. This will carry more weight and make a greater impact
  4. Subtract not Add – How will your life look differently when you begin to explore ways to live according what you truly value and believe in? How will this impact your relationships? What does this do to your own sense of worth and freedom?
  5. Good gifts – Change our perception and focus on how our own sense of happiness is a gift for us to grow and mature.
  6. Savor surprises – What were some of the unexpected things that you are discovering? Does this surprise you? How does this contribute to your greater sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in life?
  7. Revise if you repeat – Zero in on different aspects when you find yourself writing about the same content regarding how you are cultivating a sense of happiness and joy.

The Writing Prompt

Are you ready? Here is the writing challenge for this week:

I am happiest when…..

Remember to follow the tips. Practice mindfulness and meditation to help clear the landscape of your mind. Do not merely just write about what you are grateful for, share the thoughts, emotions, and how your body responds.

When you have completed this challenge – comment and share your thoughts on this experience.

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