The habit of happiness

Do you want to be, or stay, happy?  I know I do.  Being happy is a habit.  Why not get some of it for yourself?

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I’m a fan of Richard Branson, his outlook on life, personal growth and business.  His blog posts are always rewarding.  I read today his post where he attributes his business success to choosing (yes, choosing) to be happy; ‘I am successful, wealthy and connected because I am happy.’

Branson’s view resonates deeply with me and I know I won’t be alone in that.  We all too often rush to that unresourceful state of ‘unhappy’ (or worse) and can dwell there all too long.  This state of unhappiness will be serving a purpose: you might derive a sense of love and connection through the sympathy of others, for instance, but all this is low quality ‘attention’.  Choosing a state of happiness will get you high quality attention.  Personal and work relationships will improve; they will choose to be around you, a happier state of mind and body also brings with it incredible health benefits, as well as the ability to do so much more with the clearer mind that comes from this place.

Our language leads our unconscious minds to determine that there is nothing we can do about our emotions.  Changing how we think about our state of minds, in the moment, could be all it takes to make the difference.  It isn’t that you are unhappy, you are doing unhappiness; let me explain.

What do you do when you are unhappy?  How does your body feel? Where in your body are you breathing from, how do you hold yourself and where do you focus your vision and your thoughts? What do you say to yourself?

Now, consider the same questions for when you are or have been absolutely ecstatic? What are the differences? We all ‘do’ our emotions, and changing state is a mere habit change.

Give it a try, the next time you feel an unresourceful emotion creeping in, change your whole state.  Hold yourself in the way you know you do when you are happy, change your breathing, shift your focus and notice how, in the blink of an eye, you can truly chose to be happy.

Just imagine what you could do now in the future if you choose to be happy! Give it a go, consider all that you have to gain! Commit to a week; when you feel yourself dwelling on an unhappy thought, know that there is a different choice to be made and focus your attention on a happy thought instead.  Choose something memorable. Something from your past that made you absolutely utterly happy, where you were laughing out loud – hold that memory as your go to place in your head, then, once you’ve done it for a week, push it two, a month, two months. 

How different would your life be?

Let me know how you get on.

p.s. Know that it’s ok to remember happy thoughts from your past, even if they include people who are no longer in your life.  Don’t strip yourself of the happiness, the only person you punish, by doing that is you. 

Ten Step Meditation Process

The benefit of following a routine practice of meditation is known to most of us however there still seems to be a great deal of myth and misunderstanding about the ‘how to’ of best practice.   

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My experience is there is no right or wrong way.  If you are taking time out of your head, however you chose to do that, then it can only benefit your life.

Below is a simple ten step guide which I follow with clients who are interested in getting started.  By no means the be all and end all, following this process will however get you on your way and comfortable with taking time out, for you.

1.      Before you start

  • Firstly, make the decision to be kind to yourself.
  • A personal commitment to meditate every day for 90 days, for a minimum of 10 minutes is an ideal starting point.
  • Choose your space.  Somewhere that you can settle comfortably, undisturbed.  This could be as simple as the corner of your favourite room in the house.
  • Decide on a time of day that works best for you.

2.      Settle

  • Sit yourself comfortably with your hands resting wherever suits you.
  • Ensure your head and neck are relaxed and not resting - This will stop you falling asleep.
  • Start your timer for your desired amount of time - Ensure to make it as easy as possible for yourself - At first even just 10 minutes can feel like an eternity - we are simply not used to sitting still without some sort of distraction - Setting a timer allows you to forget about the time and fully immerse yourself in your time with yourself - Commit to your chosen amount of time, even if it feels difficult.  You can always choose to shorten it next time.

3.      Consider your why

  • What is it you most want to accomplish from your meditation today?
  • What is it you most want to accomplish from a continued meditation practice?

4.      Breathe

  • Slowly start to close your eyes - Don’t force. Gently allow your lids to relax.
  • Relax your mouth.  Not open or closed, in that in between place where your jaw, teeth, tongue and lips are relaxed.
  • Take a long slow in breath through your nose - Count the in-breath if you wish, or simply allow it to flow in slowly and deeply. - Take the breath down the back of your throat, in to your chest and lungs and then deeper down in to your belly - Imagine your breath filling every part of your body, in to your limbs and right out to your fingers and toes.
  • Exhale long and slow -If you counted the in breath, count the same for your out breath - Bring the breath from all of your extremities, through and up out of your belly, empty your lungs and free it from your mouth.
  • Repeat this pattern.

5.      Check in

  • Take a moment to observe your senses - What can you feel through your body?  The floor beneath your feet, the cushion, seat, sofa or bed that you are sitting on, where the skin of your hands touches whatever they are resting not.  Note the texture and temperature of those things - What can you see with your closed eyes?  Are there patterns or colours?  Do you see images or shapes? - Are there any smells within the room?  Your perfume, the scent of a candle, a meal being cooked within the house or elsewhere - Can you taste anything? - What can you hear?  Is there any music playing? Is there a ticking clock? Can you hear the birds or any animals outside?  Is there traffic going by?

6.      Scan your body

  • Slowly take a mental note of how each part of your body feels - Begin at the very top of your head and working your way down your body to the tips of your toes, notice any tension, tight spots, sore spots, aches or pains - Give any uncomfortable areas your full attention as your come across them and focus your breath in to those areas for two or three cycles.

7.      Keep breathing

  • Return your thoughts back to your breath.
  • Focus again on in haling deeply through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
  • Continue to follow your breath like the waves of the ocean.

8.      Allow….. (for as long as wish to meditate for)

  • Let the thoughts come to you and through you - Like clouds across the sky.  Notice them, give them a moment and let them pass on by - Whether seemingly good, bad or indifferent.  They are just thoughts.  Treat them as such.

9.      Wiggle

  • As your practice comes to a close, allow your mind and body to come to the present.
  • Wiggle your fingers and toes; slowly rotate your shoulders and ankles, breath life in to your neck, your pelvis and your back.
  • Stretch - Really stretch, upwards and outward from your feet to the tips of your fingers.  Energising every cell in your body.

10.  Take note

  • Take a moment to notice how you feel without judgment - Allow what has taken place in you practice to sit with you - Be comfortable with all any or all of the feelings.
  • Consider keeping a notebook or diary of your practices.

Our Six Human Needs

Why is it that we do the things we do? What makes one person motivated to serve and protect with little to no thought of their own preservation, while another will take the life of a stranger? 

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What within us creates the likes of a Mother Theresa or conversely a Fred or Rose West?  What is it that drives us all and creates the desires inside of us to do the things that we do, forms our emotions, produces our actions, and ultimately establishes our personalities?

Though we are ultimately unique, our nervous systems function in the same way and we have six identifiable, principle needs in common towards which we constantly strive towards meeting, to one degree or another.

A brief outline of The Six Human Needs

1. Certainty (comfort): A need to feel secure, safe and comfortable now, and with an assurance of these things in the future also.  Avoidance of pain and painful situations is very important and a lack of certainty can bring about severe anxiety.

2. Uncertainty (Variety): Happiness is derived from having different experiences and challenges of emotional, intellectual and physical intensities.  Suspense, surprise and excitement are consistently sought after.

3. Significance: A desire to feel important and respected.  To be considered unique and special is consistently required and the need to be looked up to even feared is craved.

4. Connection (Love): Worthiness here comes from the need to give and receive love. There is an underlying belief that there must be meaningful connections with all and that if love is not received, it cannot be given.

5. Growth: Constantly developing new skills, learning new things and improving at what is already known.  It is a desire to develop not only physically and intellectually but on a spiritual level also.

6. Contribution: A desire to give back to others and leave a mark on the world.  Life is incomplete without a sense of making a contribution to others or to a cause.  It is a need to go above and beyond one’s own requirements and give to others.

The meaning of the Six Human Needs

We each generally prioritise two of the six human needs above all others; Certainty & Connection or Uncertainty & Significance, for example.  These individual blends of needs create the cornerstone of our actions and behaviours, consciously and subconsciously.

There are boundless ways in which people meet the six human needs.  The fulfillment of the human need for variety; the need for the unknown, and for change; for one person could mean taking a break from the office to go for a walk in the fresh air, while another person might partake in various extreme sports to fulfill their desires.

The need for significance could be fulfilled by competing with others, by destroying those around them emotional or financially, or it might be gained through attaining the greatest emotional connection with others.

We are all driven by an underlying desire for fulfillment, a need to experience a life of meaning.  Though we can all achieve the sense of attaining the first four needs – even through the illusion of ourselves of from others, without the attainment of need 5. Growth and need 6. Contribution, the last two needs, true fulfillment cannot be attained, nor can we pretend to ourselves that we have achieved them.

To continually grow and contribute beyond ourselves in a significant manor is the key to true fulfillment. Dysfunctional behaviours arise from failing to consistently meet these needs.  Without the attainment of Growth and Contribution we can find ourselves instead reaching for the realisation of the other needs, Comfort for example on a disproportionate scale, or we may find ourselves unwittingly accepting our needs being met on a disempowering level.

Understanding the six human needs, recognising our own unique needs pattern and replacing any disempowering ways of meeting our needs, with things that inspire and support both ourselves and others alike, we can help to create new patterns which in turn can lead to change and true lasting fulfillment.

The Five Stages of Building Trust in a Relationship

Intimate relationships can give us extreme joy but also the greatest pain.  The most important component of a fulfilling intimate relationship is trust.  Creating and building trust can transform every relationship, and learning how to face our deepest fears, tap in to our inner strengths, and bring to our partners what they most need is where the building of trust begins.

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Trust is forged not during the easy times but in the stressful, difficult moments, when our priorities, commitments and loyalties come in to question.  When you can form trust in these moments, your relationship will unite and grow.

Following this five stage process, each layer building on the last, will build trust and create a relationship stronger and more fulfilling than you may ever have imagined possible.

The basis of trust is your commitment to put your partner’s needs first.  Focusing on you and putting your needs first will break down both trust and respect, and thinking you can create trust once you’ve got what you want first will stop the creation of trust before it has even begun. 

Stage One, Commit and Declare:

You must start from the very beginning by proclaiming your absolute commitment to your partner.

You might say: I don’t want to hurt us.  I love you and I will take care of you no matter what.  I love you too much to argue with you.  I am hurting inside so I can only imagine how much you must be hurting too.

Stage Two, Create Heartfelt Emotion:

Bringing forth emotions that are heartfelt will bring with them healing and love.  Committing intellectually, from the head, is not enough. You must produce the emotions that will bring about reconciliation and those emotions can come only from the heart.  Get out of your head and into your heart.  This is where the magic happens and will create the powerful antidote to anger and sadness.

Stage Three, Share, Listen, Learn:

Share the truth about your fears with your partner, without blame, and listen to theirs, from your heart space, without trying to immediately fix anything.  Allow your partner to give honest feedback, which is a sign of how successfully you have met your partner’s needs.  There may be expressions of doubt, regret, disappointment but don’t beat yourself up, instead, show your loving determination to put your partner first and to honor their need for love, their way.

Stage Four, Align Vision:

Find a place of mutual understanding, hear your partner’s needs and give them a loving response.  It is important to repeat your declaration and align your interests in a shared vision, a compelling future for you both.

Trust is built by repeating and reinforcing the first four levels, starting with commitment to generating loving emotion, to sharing and listening and giving a loving response before aligning for a common future.

Stage Five, Act of Love:

It is important to end any difficult conversation with an act of love.  If you can’t end on a loving note, you have not succeeded in creating and building trust.  You don’t fully understand your partner, or your partner may not feel fully understood.

Go back to stages one, two and three until you have heartfelt understanding and are truly putting your partner’s needs first.

 

Creating goals you can't help but stick to

How aligning your goals to your values is the difference, that makes the difference, to a successful New Year Resolution

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If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself making a New Year resolution on December 31 only to find you’ve broken it before the end of January.  Determined every year, that this year will be different, and yet still not being able to stick to the plan.

What is the reason so many well-intentioned resolutions fail?  The answer is simple, if your goal is not aligned to your values, the probability of success is dismal.

Our values or our needs in life are what drives us, creates the desires, forms our emotions, produces our actions and ultimately establishes our personalities. 

Though we are ultimately unique, our nervous systems function in the same way and we have six identifiable, principle needs in common, towards which we constantly strive.

These needs are; Certainty/Comfort, Uncertainty/Variety, Significance, Connection/Love, Growth, and Contribution.

1. Certainty (Comfort): A need to feel secure, safe and comfortable now, and with an assurance of these things in the future also.  Avoidance of pain and painful situations is very important and a lack of certainty can bring about severe anxiety.

2. Uncertainty (Variety): Happiness is derived from having different experiences and challenges of emotional, intellectual and physical intensities.  Suspense, surprise and excitement are consistently sought after.

3. Significance: A desire to feel important and respected.  To be considered unique and special is consistently required and the need to be looked up to even feared is craved.

4. Connection (Love): Worthiness here comes from the need to give and receive love. There is an underlying belief that there must be meaningful connections with all and that if love is not received, it cannot be given.

5. Growth: Constantly developing new skills, learning new things and improving at what is already known.  It is a desire to develop not only physically and intellectually but on a spiritual level also.

6. Contribution: A desire to give back to others and leave a mark on the world.  Life is incomplete without a sense of making a contribution to others or to a cause.  It is a need to go above and beyond one’s own requirements and give to others.

Depending on how well our goals fit our most valued need, will determine how likely we are to succeed at our goal.

We have many ways of being able to achieve all of the six needs in our life, and we all value our needs in different orders and levels of intensity.  The first four needs can be met superficially, while genuinely meeting the last two needs, Growth and Contribution, will result in true fulfillment.

Our needs can be met positively, with great effect to others, or they can be met with damaging or harmful effect on others.

We each generally prioritise two of the six human needs above all others; Certainty & Connection or Uncertainty & Significance, for example. These individual blends of needs create the cornerstone of our actions and behaviours, consciously and subconsciously.  There are boundless ways in which people meet the six human needs.  The fulfilment of the human need for variety; the need for the unknown, and for change; for one person could mean taking a break from the office to go for a walk in the fresh air, while another person might partake in various extreme sports to fulfil their desires.

The need for significance could be fulfilled by competing with others, by destroying those around them emotional or financially, or it might be gained through attaining the greatest emotional connection with another person.

We are all driven by an underlying desire for fulfilment, a need to experience a life of meaning.  Though the first four needs can be met, even by illusion, without the attainment of needs of both Growth and Contribution, true fulfilment cannot be achieved.

To continually grow and contribute beyond ourselves in a significant manor is the key to true fulfilment. Dysfunctional behaviours arise from failing to consistently meet these needs.  Without the attainment of Growth and Contribution we can find ourselves instead reaching for the realisation of the other needs, Comfort for example on a disproportionate scale, or we may find ourselves unwittingly accepting our needs being met on a disempowering level. By understanding the six human needs, recognising our own unique needs pattern and replacing any disempowering ways of meeting our needs, with things that inspire and support both ourselves and others, we can help to create new patterns which in turn can lead to change and true lasting fulfilment.

Work out what’s important to you.  What makes you tick, brings a smile to your face, makes you feel whole inside?  What motivates you, makes you stand up and be noticed, enables you to go over and above the expected?  Conversely, what makes you mad, upsets you, stresses you out?

Make a list of everything that comes to mind with these questions and add as many more as you feel appropriate.  Then, consider which of the of the six needs are playing the leading roles in your life.

What has to change to make the difference for you?  What can you do differently to positively meet your needs?  Will changing the order of the needs you live your life by make the difference?

Then, by combining the knowledge of the needs which mean the most to you, with the breaking down your goal and understanding what it is about the goal that meets those needs, you will gain the success you have been striving for. 

Happy New Year.