It’s true that we are all in the pursuit of happiness but how do you personally define ‘happiness’?

Research often defines a happy person as someone who regularly experiences positive emotional feelings (joyfulness and enthusiasm being very common) as opposed to regular feelings of anxiety, resentment and sadness.

Guillaume Apollinaire graciously reminds us:

“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”

Appreciation in it’s simplest form is also said to be a repetitive feeling experienced in a happy person.

Let’s be clear however that those successful in the pursuit of happiness do also experience those more negative human feelings of despair at times. Nobody’s immune to the stressors of life. The significant difference however between those who frequently enjoy moments of happiness and those who don’t, might be that they process negative emotions quite differently.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony”.  ~  Mahatma Gandhi

Today we would like to share with you ‘a powerful exercise’ that will help you in your own pursuit of happiness.

This exercise, whenever practiced, will show you how to make choices based on love instead of fear.

Here goes:

  • Think back to a time when you felt very angry. So angry, that you felt consumed by the emotion itself.

Really take yourself back to the intense feelings evoked within your body.  As you remember those feelings of anger, don’t give in to the desire to rehash the past. Just allow yourself the experience of your physical reaction to the memory.

  • Now think back to a time when you felt very sad.

Again, don’t let yourself dig too deeply into your memories; just allow yourself the experience of the feelings of sadness felt in the body.

Did you know that these feelings felt are actually electrochemical reactions to the thoughts you think and every emotion is expressed with a different chemical cocktail.

a cocktail of emotions can be found in the pursuit of happinessSome of those chemicals motivate you to action, like the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol. Others signal a “rest and digest” period of tranquility.

Every single chemical reaction is valuable. The problem however are the stress hormones: these are meant to prepare you for physical action (fight or run away) and if they are not released through physical exercise or other means, they build up in the system and cause BIG problems.

What’s worse, the brain simply cannot distinguish between an emotional danger (“she’s going to leave me!” or “I’m going to go bankrupt!”) and a physical danger.

Either way, the same chemical cocktail is released, with the intent of helping you outrun or outfight your problem – except that in the case of emotional problems, you can’t run or fight.

The chemical cocktail released when you’re depressed is also a self-preservation mechanism. You need to heal from emotional trauma just as you would from physical trauma, so depression causes you to slow down and become far less active, so that you can heal.

However, here again, if those chemicals build up in the system, whether you like it or not, they change the balance of your brain chemistry and make it difficult to come out of depression.

The only neurochemicals you really can’t get enough of and should encourage whenever and wherever possible are the ones associated with happiness: oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins and dopamine. Practicing mindfulness or indeed any chosen meditation technique (whether mantra, focus of the breath etc) regularly is the very best promoter of these happy hormones. It’s natural, successful and highly addictive!

Also, when you think, happy, positive and loving thoughts, your brain releases these chemicals into your system.

And what happens? You feel as light as air; energized; motivated; strong; confident; exuberant; joyful; gregarious; generous; and your perseverance and motivation are through the roof.

Swap Negativity for Happiness

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You might have noticed that when you’re angry, your instinctive reaction is to lash out and fight back (verbally or otherwise).

Or when you’ve felt depressed, you just wanted to curl up in a ball and hide away or simply sleep the day away.

But happy?

Wow, happy… you feel like you can take on the world.

Challenges seem smaller, you feel more confident in your abilities, everything – even work – feels like fun, and you are much more positive and assertive in your interactions with others.

relax and flow with life in the pursuit of happiness

In the pursuit of happiness, here are 7 highly effective habits to increase the levels of those “happiness chemicals” in your body?

1. Exercise. Exercise releases those essential endorphins and gives you that burst of energy long after you thought you had nothing left.

2. Meditate. Those happiness chemicals are released during meditation or indeed during moments of mindfulness, when your brain is in a relaxed-yet-focused flow state. (Try our free 8 minute deep meditation for yourself now – Click Here)

3. Do what you love! Most of us don’t think we have the time or means to do more of what we love. The truth is, these are just excuses. We can make time, and truly, when the passion is high and you can’t think about anything else, somehow things always seem to conspire in your favor. So just do what you love, more than yesterday.

4. Help others. One of the best ways to feel better yourself, is to make others feel better and what better time of the year than Christmas time.

5. Play! Adults are so good at “adulting” that we sometimes forget to be silly and childlike. That’s no fun. You can find a great balance between your responsibilities and the activities that make you giggle with joy. Make the commitment – to you!

6. Redirect. Whenever you find yourself becoming angry or sad, and you can’t seem to snap out of it, give thanks. Redirect your thoughts to what is good and right and let your mind come up with a way to make the better feeling your “new normal.”

7. Smile. Holding a smile signals to your brain that everything is okay and that it’s safe to let go and have some fun. Even if things are going badly, a smile will help lift your mood in just 2 minutes as the brain releases those feel-good neurochemicals.

“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” ~ Unknown

When you’ve got the happiness chemicals coursing through your body, you feel vitally alive.

The world looks like a better place, and this new outlook powerfully impacts the people you interact with too.

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Project Meditation
Project Meditation

Our mission is to help millions of people globally to learn to improve their mental, physical and spiritual well-being through our 21st Century meditation programs. You can find out more here.