It’s positively depressing how much has been written about happiness. In fact, many feel sad during the spring season because nature’s beauty and seasonal fashion pressure you to be ecstatically happy. By now you know your specific triggers, what makes you unhappy and how you need to grapple with losses. Both written and verbal advice communicate the same comforting message: “It will get better.” However, if you have ordinary HDD - Happiness Deficit Disorder –here are two practical and profound approaches to not only generating happiness, but sustaining it. Your life will never be the same again.
Wake up every day with a:
• Beginner’s mind
• Beginner’s heart
In Zen philosophy even if you are highly educated to the point of mastery, when you fall down into sadness and confusion or stumble over obstacles, you are advised to re-explore the world with a beginner’s mind. This means getting back to basics, the ABC of things. For example, if you have been doing yoga or weight lifting and your execution is sloppy, you break it down move by move to reeducate your body and mind to get out of a bad habit, paying attention to all the rudimentary details like body alignment and focus. Or if seedlings and plants are not thriving in your garden, you return to your garden books to study the rudiments from ground level up.
With a beginner’s mind:
• You eagerly start your day to learn rather than teach others a lesson. You perceive the world with fresh eyes and listen attentively; after all you are a beginner.
• You have the humility of a student which minimizes arrogance and that sense of entitlement which expects others to be mind-readers or do your bidding. No more disappointment when they don’t.
• You aspire to learn a concept thoroughly – a thing and its opposite. You question accepted beliefs if you don’t understand them because you need to know why which keeps motivation high.
• You are not afraid to be your authentic self and make mistakes because as a beginner you learn from failure to triumphantly accomplish. When you are bad at first, this means that you are not afraid to try something new, learn a different skill and expand who you are.
While the beginner’s mind has become a popular concept, not too many people know about a beginner’s heart. By opening your heart freely like a young heart without bias, cynicism, or scarring, you can feel love and the lightness of being all over again like the first time you fell in love with a pet, person, or purpose. You approach others with compassion and understanding – the kind of understanding which gives others some slack.
With a beginner’s heart:
• You are aware of toxicity and cruelty; consequently, you are not naive. However, you choose innocence over negativity. You are able to consciously redirect your attention to what is right with the world.
• You realize that darkness and light are just arbitrary terms and might vary in different cultures and become fluid in various ambiguous situations. Therefore you let your heart lead with its own labels and categories.
• You are free and childlike in appreciating and expressing joy, humor and spontaneity, but you are not childish.
• You forgive yourself and others readily because you embrace your humanity – no one is perfect or right all the time.
• You believe that everyone gets a chance to shine which gives you the patience to wait for your turn. If you feel jealous, you are spurred on to achieve too and might even ask the object of your jealousy to mentor you.
• You are happier with less as you see into the heart of the matter.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-management specialist, and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com.