”For The Moment Of Happiness”

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“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” 
― Dr Seuss

What do you need to be happy? All too often, we list the things we want: a bigger house, a cooler car, a trip around the world, money for retirement, a new friend or lover.

While striving for more is one of the things that makes us great, it’s never wise to make your happiness dependent on it. All too often, it’s hard to bring the things we want into our lives.

But one thing you do have the power to do is let go of things you don’t want or need. Whether out of habit or because of peer pressure or family pressure, we often cling to poisonous thoughts, feelings, and individuals.

Our unrealistic expectations set us up for failure, and our addiction to toxic people and activities brings us down. And then we wonder why it’s so hard to be happy.

Well, this year is going fine, and I can say: It did. I made myself happier. And along the way, I learned a lot about how to be happier. Here are those lessons.

1. Don’t start with profundities. When I began my Happiness Project, I realized pretty quickly that, rather than jumping in with lengthy daily meditation or answering deep questions of self-identity, I should start with the basics, like going to sleep at a decent hour and not letting myself get too hungry. Science backs this up; these two factors have a big impact on happiness.

2. Do let the sun go down on anger. I had always scrupulously aired every irritation as soon as possible, to make sure I vented all bad feelings before bedtime. Studies show, however, that the notion of anger catharsis is poppycock. Expressing anger related to minor, fleeting annoyances just amplifies bad feelings, while not expressing anger often allows it to dissipate.

3. Fake it till you feel it. Feelings follow actions. If I’m feeling low, I deliberately act cheery, and I find myself actually feeling happier. If I’m feeling angry at someone, I do something thoughtful for her and my feelings toward her soften. This strategy is uncannily effective.

4. Realize that anything worth doing is worth doing badly. Challenge and novelty are key elements of happiness. The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction. People who do new things―learn a game, travel to unfamiliar places―are happier than people who stick to familiar activities that they already do well. I often remind myself to “Enjoy the fun of failure” and tackle some daunting goal.

5. Don’t treat the blues with a “treat.” Often the things I choose as “treats” aren’t good for me. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt and loss of control and other negative consequences deepen the lousiness of the day. While it’s easy to think, I’ll feel good after I have a few glasses of wine…a pint of ice cream…a cigarette…a new pair of jeans, it’s worth pausing to ask whether this will truly make things better.

6. Buy some happiness. Our basic psychological needs include feeling loved, secure, and good at what we do. You also want to have a sense of control. Money doesn’t automatically fill these requirements, but it sure can help. I’ve learned to look for ways to spend money to stay in closer contact with my family and friends; to promote my health; to work more efficiently; to eliminate sources of irritation and marital conflict; to support important causes, and to have enlarging experiences. For example, when my sister got married, I splurged on a better digital camera. It was expensive, but it gave me a lot of happiness.

7. Don’t insist on the best. There are two types of decision makers. Satisficers (yes, satisficers) make a decision once their criteria are met. When they find the hotel or the pasta sauce that has the qualities they want, they’re satisfied. Maximizers want to make the best possible decision. Even if they see a bicycle or a backpack that meets their requirements, they can’t make a decision until they’ve examined every option. Satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers expend more time and energy reaching decisions, and they’re often anxious about their choices. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

8. Exercise to boost energy. I knew, intellectually, that this worked, but how often have I told myself, “I’m just too tired to go to the gym”? Exercise is one of the most dependable mood-boosters. Even a 10-minute walk can brighten my outlook.

9. Stop nagging. I knew my nagging wasn’t working particularly well, but I figured that if I stopped, my husband would never do a thing around the house. Wrong. If anything, more work got done. Plus, I got a surprisingly big happiness boost from quitting nagging. I hadn’t realized how shrewish and angry I had felt as a result of speaking like that. I replaced nagging with the following persuasive tools: wordless hints (for example, leaving a new lightbulb on the counter); using just one word (saying “Milk!” instead of talking on and on); not insisting that something be done on my schedule; and, most effective of all, doing a task myself. Why did I get to set the assignments?

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10. Take action. Some people assume happiness is mostly a matter of inborn temperament: You’re born an Eeyore or a Tigger, and that’s that. Although it’s true that genetics play a big role, about 40 per cent of your happiness level is within your control. Taking time to reflect, and making conscious steps to make your life happier, really does work. So use these tips to start your own Happiness Project. I promise it won’t take you a whole year.

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”When You Finally Decide to Live Your Dreams”

“Our eyes only see and our ears only hear what our brain is looking for.

You’ve been thinking about this for a long time, haven’t you?

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You’ve revelled in shallow friendships, numbed yourself in trivial distractions and justified low-living for long enough. You’ve tried convincing yourself—to no avail—that you’re not the person you can’t seem to escape.

Over time, you’ve disconnected with your environment and relationships. You’ve started, little by little, to be more authentic with yourself and the world around you.

What took years to hide only took a moment of honesty to recover. And now, here you find yourself, on what feels like the edge of a cliff.

Looking out.

You’re terrified of what might happen if you allow yourself to go there. Will everything fall apart?

You’re tempted to turn around and go back to the lie you’ve been living. Where it’s easy, convenient and less demanding. You’ve done it so many times before.

So why is this time different?

This time is different because you’ve caught on to the fact that there’s really nothing behind you. It’s all nonsense. At this point, going back would be more painful than the unknown before you—no matter what that might be.

So actually, you can’t go back. How you see yourself has fundamentally changed, and that’s why this time you will succeed.

How To Conquer The Fear Of Failure

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Living In Constant Worry, Doubt And Fear Makes Your Life Miserable And It Takes Away All Your Joy, Fun And Happiness.

It seems like, worry, doubt and fear is a very widespread “illness” in our society. Almost everyone seems to worry that this and that may happen. A lot of people are worried about their future, their financial situation, that their husband or wife may leave them, that they may get ill, have a terrible accident… and there are surely hundreds of other worries and fears.

Are you one of them? Do you worry too much as well?

How much of it did actually come true? Probably very little. On the other hand, things may have happened you didn’t even imagine or think about.

So, why spending weeks, months and even years worrying about something that probably never happens? It just doesn’t make any sense to torture yourself because of something that only exists in your mind and has nothing to do with your current reality.

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Let’s say, because of certain events and circumstances your logic tells you “things don’t look good…” and you start worrying. Here is what happens: 

  • Because of your worries and fears, you will start feeling worse and worse.
  • Whenever there is an event you would normally enjoy, those nagging fears will take away most of the joy.
  • Staying for a long time in the emotion of worry and fear will not only make you tired, but it will also make you more prone to illness.
  • As within, so without. If you spend most of your time in worry and fear, you will also create unpleasant events and circumstances in your life that correspond with the energy of fear. In other words, there is a good chance that you will actually manifest what you are so afraid of – just because you constantly think and worry about it.

In other words, there is absolutely nothing good that can come from spending only even 1 second in worry, doubt or fear.

If I Could See At Least 1 Tiny Advantage You Could Get Out Of Worrying, I Would Say: “Yes, Every Now And Then Worry For A Few Minutes, Because It Is Good For…” But, There Is Absolutely Nothing Positive About Those Negative Emotions And That’s Why I Suggest You Simply Banish Worry, Doubt And Fear From Your Life.

That’s right, you no longer need those emotions, you are done with them, so, just let go of them.

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But, bad things happen to people every day…

Of course, unpleasant things happen to all of us. BUT,  to constantly worry about what could happen won’t prevent unpleasant things from happening. Quite the contrary, that’s actually a very efficient way to attract more unpleasant things into your life.

Yes, unpleasant things happen. But when they happen, we simply deal with them, we find a solution and we grow through them. We become bigger, wiser, better…

And believe me, tackling those challenging situations is far easier from a positive mindset than from a mindset that’s entrenched in worry, doubt and fear.

Also, you may have already realized that being in the middle of a storm and dealing with a challenging situation actually feels better than the state of dense fear that only exists in your imagination and is created out of the constant worry that something bad MIGHT happen sometime in the future.

So, I think we can agree that spending even a minute in doubt and fear won’t add anything positive to your life.

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But, the big question is how can you get rid of your worries and fears?

You say, those emotions just overtake your life and it isn’t much you can do about it. That’s wrong because those worries and fears are simply the results of unhealthy thoughts and beliefs you engaged in over and over again – thousands of times.

The Exact Same Way You Created Those Fears, You Can Also Get Rid Of Them And Replace Them With Much Better Feeling Emotions. All You Need To Do Is To Change Those Core Beliefs That Lead To Negative Thoughts, Which In Turn Create Your Worries And Fears.

You may smile about the child who is afraid of the green monster in the closet, but most of the worries and fears of us adults are not any more real.

Just think about some of your fears – right now, they are only a product of your imagination. Once something unpleasant happens, you are no longer afraid of it, because it already happened and you have to deal with it. But then you may be afraid of what could happen next. And again, at that stage, “what could happen next” will only exist in your imagination.

”Let Your Guilt Be Washed”

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”With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing so you will have no guilt.”

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You did something bad. And now you feel terrible. But the feeling won’t go away. It gnaws at you. Even worse, it makes you feel like you’re a bad person.

Nobody tells us how to deal with this, we all feel a wide range of emotions from time to time, but some feelings just don’t deserve to stick around — guilt being one of them. Unless you’ve done something terrible, you shouldn’t feel bad for your actions, and there are certain things you should never feel guilty doing, especially when they don’t hurt anyone. It’s easy to get caught up in pleasing others, but sometimes there are things we just need to do for ourselves without feeling bad about it.

A lot of the things I used to be upset about just don’t bother me anymore.  But one thing that does still bother me is the thought of people around the world suffering so much, and I feel guilty sometimes being so well-off when they’re not. How do we deal with that?

 

You should feel guilty only if you’re living in excess of what an individual life needs.  You need not to be guilty of your wellbeing.  It’s like, “I’m healthy, so I feel guilty because somebody is sick.”  No, I’m happy.  “I’m guilty because somebody is miserable.”  No.  If there are a lot of miserable people, the best thing you can do is at least you’re joyful.  That is the way the world happens.  “Everybody is miserable, so let me also become miserable” is not a solution, you’re adding to the problem.

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”Misery is not the solution”

So this is the choice that we have with every aspect of our life: either to be a part of the problem or a part of the solution.  If you want to be a part of the solution, there’s a lot of misery on the planet.  A lot of misery is caused by one human being to another.  Naturally, there are a few things that happen, but most of it is caused by people – one set of people to another set of people.

So this is a simple example that, with very little, one can live joyfully.  Physical nourishment is needed – unfortunately, a lot of people don’t even have that.  They don’t have enough nourishment that is needed for human life to survive and flourish.  If that much is there, you’re alive, there’s no room for misery, you know?  The rest is only a game: how far you go.  How far you go or you do not go is just a game – all your four limbs intact and you’re alive.  And stomach is full!  Finished.

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What’s Your Problem?

In southern India, if you go to the villages when people meet each other – like here, you say how are they — “Saptingala,” that means, “Have you eaten?”  Because if you’ve eaten, what is the problem?   You can’t get that, you can eat and worry yourself to death.  No, no.  If you’ve eaten, what more problem can you have?  There’s really no other problem in life.  If you still have a problem…You don’t know where it begins, where it ends, you don’t know how the planet is spinning, you don’t know where it is floating, you don’t know how the universe happens – without knowing any of these things, you are enjoying the bounty of life.  If you cannot be grateful for that, I don’t know.  Something seriously wrong with you.

It’s a serious psychological ailment.  Because a lot of people have joined your club – or an asylum, whatever you want to call it – you think it’s normal to be miserable.  No.  Don’t feel guilty of your wellbeing.  Do the best that you can do with your life.  You are alive, you have youth on your side. What are you hesitating, man?  There are things to do!  If you don’t know what to do, ask me, I’ll tell you a thousand things I want to do.  I’ll set you up on one of those things.  My problem is time and energy, okay?  So if you have the time and energy, I’ll give you many things to do.  Please do it.  Let your guilt be washed.

”Awareness Is The First Step In Healing”

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” Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

Progress is progress. This has to be one of my favourite mottos ever, and as we start another new year, I thought it was important to remind everyone.

No matter your current circumstance, no matter your destination, a step forward is a step forward. It doesn’t matter how small because it’s still a step. You are closer to your goal.

Situations in which this rule can help you will vary. It could be something as simple as exercising. If you ran out of time for a half-hour run, do a five-minute one. Every single time your legs move, you still progress further. A more difficult situation can be overcoming an illness, whether it’s cancer or anxiety, but every time you smile or feel better just for an instant, you’re improving.

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Do NOT get caught up in making massive steps. If you’re trying to lose weight, it usually takes a while. If you start dropping off heaps of weight quickly, that can be very unhealthy, especially if you’re starving yourself to make it happen. Take it slow and have fun doing it. Exercise when you have time and eat right when you want to. There’s no rule that says you absolutely have to weigh sixty kilos before February. Take it easy. You’re the only one who will be disappointed if you don’t get there, and you can forgive yourself in a split second.

Appreciate the steps, too. Finish the day and say to yourself: “I have gained from today. I am proud.”

A quote that goes hand in hand is: “Sooner begun is sooner done.” This encourages us to just get started. You don’t need regular commitment. Just whenever you can, spot the small things you can do to benefit yourself, and do it. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to keep it up. One step here and there is still going to affect you in the most subtle way. You’ll be much better off and not even know it.

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Another thing: You don’t need a beginning of a year to make resolutions. You can be sitting in your bed on a Tuesday morning in August and think, “I’m going to follow that dream,” or, “I want to improve myself,” and you can jump straight on that. This whole “New Year, New Me” thing is unnecessary. It’s not the last day on Earth; it’s a day like any other. So why wait? And why rush?

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To summarize, this year, take your resolutions with a pinch of salt. If you want to work hard toward them, do it. But remember: If you slack off, it’s okay. Every bit of effort toward your goals is a step in the right direction. Take it easy. Be kind to yourself. You are doing great. Keep it up.

”Floating Imagination”

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“A man who has no imagination has no wings.”

Imagine an apple floating in front of you. Now see if you can rotate it around in your mind. Look at it from the top, bottom – does it have any blemishes? How clearly can you see it?

Some people see the apple perfectly, like watching a movie, while others have a very poor wavering image. Although it might be hard to believe, a small proportion of otherwise healthy people report having no visual experience at all. In other words, their minds are completely blind – no matter how hard they try they don’t seem to see the apple.

In fact, such individuals are often startled to find that people are not speaking in metaphors when they say, “I picture it in my mind’s eye.” This phenomenon of mind blindness has only recently been given a proper name – congenital aphantasia.

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One of the creators of the Firefox internet browser, Blake Ross, realised his experience of visual imagery was vastly different from most people when he read about a man who lost his ability to imagine after surgery. In a Facebook post, Ross said:

What do you mean ‘lost’ his ability? […] Shouldn’t we be amazed he ever had that ability?

We’ve heard from many people who have experienced a similar epiphany to Ross. They too were astonished to discover that their complete lack of ability to picture visual imagery was different from the norm.

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Visual imagery is involved in many everyday tasks, such as remembering the past, navigation and facial recognition, to name a few. Anecdotal reports from our aphantasic participants indicate that while they are able to remember things from their past, they don’t experience these memories in the same way as someone with strong imagery. They often describe them as a conceptual list of things that occurred rather than a movie reel playing in their mind.


As Ross describes it, he can ruminate on the “concept” of a beach. He knows there are sand and water and other facts about beaches. But he can’t conjure up beaches he’s visited in his mind, nor does he have any capacity to create a mental image of a beach.

Some people have no ability to visually imagine. The idea some people are born wholly unable to imagine is not new. In the late 1800s, British scientist Sir Francis Galton conducted research asking colleagues and the general population to describe the quality of their internal imagery. These studies, however, relied on self-reports, which are subjective in nature. They depend on a person’s ability to assess their own mental processes – called introspection.

But how can I know that what you see in your mind is different to what I see? Perhaps we see the same thing but describe it differently. Perhaps we see different things but describe them the same.

Some researchers have suggested aphantasia may actually be a case of poor introspection; that aphantasics are in fact creating the same images in their mind as perhaps you and I, but it is their description of them that differs. Another idea is that aphantasics create internal images just like everyone else, but are not conscious of them. This means it’s not that their minds are blind, but they lack an internal consciousness of such images.

In a recent study we set out to investigate whether aphantasics are really “blind in the mind” or if they have difficulty introspecting reliably.

Binocular rivalry

To assess visual imagery objectively, without having to rely on someone’s ability to describe what they imagine, we used a technique known as a binocular rivalry – where perception alternates between different images presented one to each eye. To induce this, participants wear 3D red-green glasses, where one eye sees a red image and the other eye a green one. When images are superimposed onto the glasses, we can’t see both images at once, so our brain is constantly switching from the green to the red image.

When people are presented with two completely different superimposed images, a person will be able to see only a red or blue image when wearing 3D glasses – not both at the same time.

But we can influence which of the coloured images someone will see in the binocular rivalry display. One way is by getting them to imagine one of the two images beforehand. For example, if I asked you to imagine a green image, you will be more likely to see the green image once you’ve put on 3D glasses. And the stronger your imagery is the more frequently you will see the image you imagine.

We use how often a person sees the image they imagine as a measure of objective visual imagery. Because we’re not relying on the participant rating the vividness of the image in their mind, but on what they physically see in the binocular rivalry display, it removes the need for subjective introspection.

In our study, we asked self-described aphantasics to imagine either a red circle with horizontal lines or a green circle with vertical lines for six seconds before being presented with a binocular rivalry display while wearing the glasses. They then indicated which image they saw. They repeated this for close to 100 trials.

We found that when the aphantasics tried to form a mental image, their attempted imagined picture had no effect on what they saw in the binocular rivalry illusion. This suggests they don’t have a problem with introspection, but appear to have no visual imagery.

Why some people are mind blind

Research in the general population shows that visual imagery involves a network of brain activity spanning from the frontal cortex all the way to the visual areas at the back of the brain.

 Some people can’t see, but still think they can: here’s how the brain controls our vision


Current theories propose that when we imagine something, we try to reactivate the same pattern of activity in our brain as when we saw the image before. And the better we are able to do this, the stronger our visual imagery is. It might be that aphantasic individuals are not able to reactivate these traces enough to experience visual imagery, or that they use a completely different network when they try to complete tasks that involve visual imagery.

It’s thought when we imagine something we try to reactivate the same brain activity as when we saw that thing previously.

But there may be a silver lining to not being able to imagine visually. Overactive visual imagery is thought to play a role in addiction and cravings, as well as the development of anxiety disorders such as PTSD. It may be that the inability to visualise might anchor people in the present and allow them to live more fully in the moment.

Understanding why some people are unable to create these images in mind might allow us to increase their ability to imagine, and also possibly help us to tone down imagery in those for whom it has become overactive.

”Don’t Ever Let Fear Turn You Against Your Playful Heart.”

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“ Stay focused on whatever you want to do and don’t doubt yourself.”

“I wish I could get back into writing. I haven’t written in so long.”

Just to give you a little background to this story, we’re old friends who first bonded over our mutual love for writing.

My friend tells me that she wants to get back into writing, but the stress that comes with her Job and the lack of time really gets to her. She doesn’t think she can get back into it after not writing for so long.

This post is for any writer who hasn’t written in a long time and wants to get back into it.

As you may already know, I’ve been writing for over a year. This doesn’t mean that I’ve been writing every single day.

I honestly don’t want to tell this story – a story where I’m painting the picture of the writer who’s had more failures than successes.

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In fact, I once went a year without writing because the stress of workload combined with a job was taking a toll on me, forcing me to stop writing.

But if this helps even one person, especially my friend, to get back to writing, I’ll continue to write this even if I don’t want to.

Last year, I had been writing every day – continuously for three months and had even achieved more than I’d set out to accomplish.

I then decided to take a break to work on a side project and go on vacation.

This break from writing was supposed to last three weeks but it ended up lasting 6 weeks.

Why?

Because when I tried to return to the habit of writing, I was failing.

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I’m sure it’s the same feeling you might’ve experienced at one point – where you sit in your chair, your fingers poised in the air as you try to get the ink to form the words in your head and onto the paper.

But you can’t. You just can’t get back into Writing.

There was a fear stopping me, just like I’m sure there’s a fear stopping you.

The fear the no matter what I wrote, it would somehow be the worst thing ever written.

That my writing would be worse than I was writing before I took that break.

The fear that no matter how much I write, I’ll never be published.

I would, in fact, sit down at my table every single day for three weeks, only to come away with no words written down.

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”Don’t Ever Let Fear Turn You Against Your Playful Heart.”

Each one of us has something to contribute. That’s the truth. But many times we don’t feel that way. We are told we are not enough, that we’re not ready, and that we lack what is needed, by others. And even by ourselves. The lies we are told can hold us back from the gifts we were made to give.

At younger ages, it can easier to be faithful to our creativity and our dreaming than to our security. That seems to flip as we get older. But it doesn’t have to. There are steps each of us can take today to use those inspired parts of ourselves and use them. It could be singing, teaching, serving or learning, what is it that you long to contribute? Don’t let fear turn you against your playful heart. Let yourself be inspired again. You might be surprised at the impact it has–on you, and on those around you.