We all want to be happy, or excited, or feel a level of ecstasy, but we tend to forget that happiness is in-fact a creation within us by the way we act, do and be. First, this starts with a smile. You see, it takes 17 facial muscles for you to smile and more than twice that amount to frown, however, what is more important is once you smile it transmits a signal to the part of your mind that triggers a reaction, the neuronal signals travels to your brain which in turn triggers happiness or a state of awe, excitement, contentment. What is even more prevalent is not the science, it’s what society views when they see you smiling. It sends a butterfly effect of happiness which can cause a chain reaction.
Some of you might be thinking, oh not this BS, let’s ‘get real’, we are on the ‘pursuit of happiness’. I completely disagree, and here’s why. There is no pursuit. Happiness happens in a moment, a moment where you did something that made you happy. In your life, you’ve had multiple times where you were happy, pick a time and ponder over that happiness and feel just an ounce of it. Guess what, that moment only happened once, so why are you happy again?
For example, think about your favourite song; if you just think about it, you’ll smile and maybe dance, reminisce, you get into a particular state. Now that may not be happiness, this applies to all emotions, that’s the beauty of it, it’s all about triggering a memory. So how do you become happier? Simply decide or remember a moment you were really happy. Yes it’s that simple.
I’ve created a step by step process for you to become happy when you want. Before I give you the process, let’s think about the last time it was your friend’s birthday. They planned their party well in advance and when the day arrived, you were ecstatic for it. Why is it that on that day, you choose to be happy/ecstatic? Yes it was your friend’s birthday, but the day itself is still a normal day. It’s still the same 24 hours, the stars didn’t suddenly align, the weather did its usual thing, the economy was doing its thing, so how did you become ecstatic?
This goes back to the previous point. It was your choice to because you associated your friend’s birthday with happiness, love, connection, fun, party, and dance. You switched on that emotion within you. Let’s say you were having a bad week and the day of the birthday arrived and you decided to suck it up, get dressed up and show up. You may have noticed everyone enjoying their time so you decided to put on a smile and you know what, you jumped in the dance floor with you friends. Suddenly your favourite song comes on and that bad week is forgotten in that moment you let go. You let loose and you felt joy, excitement, freedom!
If you dissect both stories, you’ll notice one main trigger that stands out. It is deciding. It always starts with a decision even when your day is going terribly and nothing is going your way. Let us begin by dissecting how to get in to the state of happiness/excitement so that you can switch it on when you want
Step 1: Breathe. Deep!
There are many yoga and meditation practices that talk about breathing. This is not a new age revelation. In eastern culture, breathing has been mentioned for thousands of years and it is one of the quickest ways to alter your feelings. Why did cigarettes become so popular? Because it’s a form of stress relief because when you smoke, you are in fact breathing deep, the cigarette is just a tool. Breathe deep into your stomach through your nose, and slowly out of your mouth. Do 3 of those breaths now.
Step 2: Get your blood moving.
We are born with the best anti-depressant available and that is exercise. Now you don’t have to go to the gym and go for a run, however move your body in some way that is different to how you are sitting now. As an example, you can do 10 jumps. You can also stretch your legs, arms and do some kicks. One of the reasons we turn to alcohol or sugar is because it quickly creates a bio-chemical change within us which can alter our emotions – so does exercise. However, each action has a consequence and we all know the difference between alcohol/sugar & exercise/movement.
Step 3: Put a big silly grin on your face or watch your favourite comedian.
Psychology professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University found that self-imposed laughter and smiling can alter your mood in under 60 seconds. You can choose to focus on how bad things are or you can focus on watching something that will enhance your emotion. As quickly as you can get to a sad state, you can just as quickly put on your favourite comedian on YouTube – that’s the beauty of technology!
Step 4: Pose as if you’ve just won the 100m race in the Olympics!
How does an athlete appear when they’ve just won at their sport? What would you do now if you have won the 100m race, in the Olympics in front of millions of people? Your posture is everything, this is directly tied with step 2. I watched a TEDx Talk recommended by the editor of Siren Empire, the talk is by Amy Cuddy on body language and how that can instantly change your state of mind and mood. I suggest you watch it.
Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4 three times a day.
Life is about growth and in the world we live in. We are constantly tempted to do things that may not match with our values and life style. Challenging as it is trying to run a business/career, taking care of your body and making time for your relationships, we must train our bodies to get in to this state of mind, we can’t expect it to happen automatically. It’s just like an athlete, they didn’t wake up and were number one, they had to put the work in daily, and I suggest you do too. If you are ever feeling down, re-do the 4 steps, it can take up to 10 minutes to do!
After reading this, you have a choice. No one is stopping you right now, you can decide to try something different and watch your gradual growth in the area of emotional change. I use to be shy, socially anxious and in my own bubble. It took me a while to get out of that shell; it was not an overnight experience, it was gradual. I practiced those 4 steps up there and continue to this day because I decided to make it about choice rather than be at the whim of my environment.
I appreciate you may be going through a tough time, and things aren’t looking good. However, from this point of you, can you come up with solutions? Usually we can’t, as we are enthralled in our emotions, however what you can do is step 1, breathe, deep.
It’s one step at a time, a house doesn’t get built over night, a doctor doesn’t become a doctor in moment and your emotions won’t change unless you take the first step. Take the first step, just like you did by reading this whole article!
I’m here for you if you have any queries, comment below and we can be in touch!