Teaspoon of HappyHappy-MindedSarah May Bates

Happiness is a state of mind that takes effort and commitment. We all have fleeting bursts of happiness at great news or successes, but sustained happiness as the resting state of your personality is achievable too. It’s not something that happens overnight, but if you decide you want to be happy, declare it to yourself, write it down so you know it’s true and then commit to it, it can be so.

You ultimately have the power to decide how you feel about something, and if you know you are attached to a feeling that you don’t want or need to have, you can work on letting it go. If you feel your brain is getting in the way of your enjoyment of life, tell it to stop. Decide to let go of that pain and change that habit. Being plagued by that “one bad thing” takes you out of the moment and robs you of your enjoyment of your life, which is not fair, especially when life’s pretty good. I’m the type of person (but working on it) that will be happy until one little thing goes wrong, then I decide that it’s all gone to hell. I let that commitment to my happiness fly out the window in a heartbeat and suddenly fixate on that one thing that is wrong or bad. It has to be fixed, eradicated and removed because it is the cause of my unhappiness. I decide this problem, no matter how small, is a true and valid source of worry, though I know in my rational mind that it is inconsequential and not the end of the world. The hard part is to get the rest of me to feel that way and to make it stop bothering me.

Something I’ve started to do in the face of things like this is to write a letter to myself or to no one in particular, spelling out that I would like for this thing to not bother me, and that I know it does not matter compared to the rest of what is good, and that I wish to let it go and be happy. I would like to let it float away in the wind, and for it not to hurt me. I would like to be able to enjoy the things that are good about my life, and to focus on those things and not the one bad thing. To show myself my true intentions in writing is somewhat to teach them to the muscle-memory of my brain. As soon as that thought comes up again, I remind my brain, “Let it go.” It cannot bother me anymore, it is out of my control and I want to be present and enjoy my life.  Sometimes I have to get a bit sterner with my brain and literally say, “Shut up”, which with practice has worked.

If something is particularly upsetting or distracting, sometimes some breathing exercises are in order, the deep inhales and exhales that you listen to with all of your attention. Close your eyes, deep inhale in through the nose, deep exhale out through the nose, in calm and measured breaths. I recently accepted an assignment from a friend: to do this every morning for five minutes as a personal meditation of sorts, combined with a yoga pose or without. What she said this would do was relieve the disconnectedness of the day, when you can’t quite figure out how you’re feeling and your emotions are sometimes opposite.

It’s a simple enough assignment that it’s more than worth a try. I invite you all to do the same – to be relieved of caring about the things that you really don’t care about, the scratches that happen in life that seem to get so under your skin that they cancel out your sound, balanced, rational thought. Or even to let go of your own critical thoughts of something that you should for all reasons be happy about. Why it’s not really that good or why you shouldn’t feel that special. It’s possible and it’s worth it, it just takes a bit of work. Your happiness is your decision. Just don’t give up on it because you deserve it. Commit to it as a goal for yourself, keep it in sight and ask of yourself for it to be true.

Happy Sunday and much love to you all, xox Sarah

Featured image AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Greyhawk68 on Flickr

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  1. I used to practice Buddhism and even though I’m not nearly as much in touch with any religion, the one thing I kept from Buddhism is the breathing and relaxing exercises, they work wonders even if you do them for 5 minutes (sometimes it feels like more to me). I wasn’t feeling specially happy today, so this post gave me the strength to remind myself of my goals and that to truly be happy and achieve, you have to let go of the bad things and thoughts and concentrate on the happy. Let Buddha (or God, or Allah or the Universe, or whoever you believe in) take care of the bad, and you yourself take care of the good and focus on that.

    Thanks for such a fantastic post. All the best ♥

    • Awe thanks MJ, hope you have a happier night. Maybe think of it this way – you wouldn’t know what happiness was without knowing the opposite. You’ve got depth girl. oxxo

  2. Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience— Its a must read:)
    Happy Monday friends:)

    • OOh! I love this!! I have so many books on my reading list from these comments! thanks Megan, can’t wait to check it out! xo

  3. This goes right along with the theme of my blog. Changing my way of thinking, to a happier way, literally saved my life. I was close to suicide at one point. There is always hope, everyone! NEVER give up!

    http://couragehopestrength.tumblr.com

  4. Thanks for another great article, Sarah. I have this problem, too. I started practicing yoga in December and I’m loving it. I find that one or two sun salutations in the morning helps me connect with myself and my breathing. I have such a hard time letting go of things or freaking out if everything’s not “perfect.” I’m working on that, too. My brain never listens when I tell it to shut up, so that’s when I breathe;) I’m working very hard on being in the moment.

    • I hear you Elisabeth – we are very similar! I keep yelling at my brain and then I do breathing if it won’t listen, but it’s very much a project that requires constant maintenance. I try to never take it for granted when I am feeling great – which actually can help me to stay closer to my middle: a much smarter place to be most of the time ;) Thanks for your comment xoxo

  5. i think its so true that when you put out good vibes or are striving for something the universe does everything to help you get it. and recently this week i had something very disappointing happen that got the best of me and I am working very hard on not making that happen again even though it occasionally swoops into my thoughts and tries to take over and just like how you said, if just one thing happens it becomes the main focus. and last night i took time to myself, put my phone on silent, spent a night in by myself and watched a movie. it was some of the best therapy ive had in awhile. and i really needed to read this, this morning to work on controlling my thoughts and my feelings. its like you read my mind sarah haha :) have a good sunday too! <33

    • That’s an awesome story!! :) I’m totally in agreement with you on all of that. So glad to hear the universe is responding to your efforts !! xoxo

    • so basically the universe is doing everything right now to help make me happy and i am more than grateful for that.

  6. I looove these posts! I’m going to start doing breathing exercises right now!

    http://www.bunnysunday.wordpress.com

  7. I just got done reading the book Spontaneous Happiness by Andrew Weil, and he has a great breathing exercise that has worked really well for me:

    4-7-8 Breath (this is taken directly from his book, which is a very good read!)

    1. Place the tip of the tongue against the ridge behind and above the front teeth. Keep it there through the whole exercise.

    2. Exhale completely through the mouth (and puckered lips), making a whoosh sound

    3. Close the mouth and inhale deeply and quietly through the nose to a (silent) count of 4

    4. Hold the breath for a count of 7

    5. Exhale through the mouth to a count of 8, making the same sound

    6. Repeat steps 3, 4, and 5 for a total of four breaths

    -do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice but do the exercise as much as you wish
    -after a month, if you are comfortable with it, increase to eight breaths each time and gradually slow your counts down. The minimum practice is then eight breaths twice a day, every day

    Just thought I’d share! Great piece, as usual =]

    • WOW that’s awesome! I just tried it reading along but I will keep it in my back pocket to try in the mornings. Thanks Rachel ! xo

  8. “Happiness is a matter of attittude”
    I read that somewhere and I think it’s spot-on. It’s on my notice board ;)
    I’m totally up for the assignment, it sounds pretty good! New morning routine! :D #excited
    xxx :)
    PS. Sorry for the Anonymous above, don’t know how that happened!

  9. “Happiness is a matter of attittude”
    I read that somewhere and I think it’s spot-on. It’s on my notice board ;)
    I’m totally up for the assignment, it sounds pretty good! New morning routine! :D #excited
    xxx :)

    Anonymous | 2/05/2012 09:02 am
  10. It’s great reading your posts each week. I have been working through The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris, where mindfulness and being present within your life is of great importance. Feeling sad, anxious, etc, are all normal feelings, but we can all learn to deal with them better and not ‘fuse’ with them. I wondered if you had come across this book too! Happy Sunday right back atcha :)