How to Develop a “Happiness Habit” in Your Relationship
by Susan Mayginnes.
As you may have noticed, happiness is not the mind’s priority. It is far more interested in survival and creating familiarity than it is in happiness.
Happiness is something that we have to decide to experience and then learn what are the internal levers that act to become our personal happiness generators.
Happiness is an inside job. Period. End of story. It is truly a state of mind, and it is our responsibility as adults to finally get this then learn how to create states of mind that generate more happiness.
One of our tendencies as human beings is to look for (and often create) problems that we then try to solve. If there are no real problems, then we invent them. I was talking to a friend recently who said, “Everything is going so well, I’m worried about when something bad will happen!”
The mind generates problems even when there aren’t any. A mountain out of a molehill? You bet! And have you ever wondered why that mountain is virtually always a mountain of crap. Rarely, if ever, a mountain of love, joy, peace and abundance. Nooooo! Why is that?
The reason is our mind is programs to stay alert to a threat; it tends to keep our attention on what we don’t want rather than on what we do want. Years ago when I was an Expressive Movement teacher, I mentored with Gabrielle Roth, the famous movement teacher and creator of the Five Rhythms method. I remember as we moved and whirled around in a large crowded roomful of about 60 people she said, “Look for the space in between people and keep moving into it!” As I did, I “saw” not people to run into but space to move through – lots and lots of space in what could have been perceived as a crowded room. (I have since used this when walking down crowded streets in big cities like New York and Chicago and it works great!)
So what happens if we intentionally shift our attention from where it just tends to want to go (toward the negative and finding problems) and really begin to notice the space (solution) that exists in between the “problems”? In other words, what is going on when you aren’t focused on what is wrong and instead focused on where what is right exists within the situation?
What is it like? What are you doing instead? For example, how are you looking at life and at other people? What is the first thing you notice about them? What do you notice about yourself? What does the voice in your head say? Notice the whole body experience of the space in between problems.
Start to notice what is good and right in yourself, your partner, and your relationship (and your life while you’re at it!!). And what are the things that you do that make you happy? Even the little things, like a cup of tea, a phone call with a friend, noticing the way the sunlight comes through your windows.
As we begin to bring our attention to these things we will generate an awareness of a perspective and the way we can look at things that has us feeling good or happy or content. We can then begin to intentionally, rather than accidentally, utilize this valuable information. As we intentionally do the things internally and externally that make us happier, we begin to generate a habit of happiness.
What are your Happiness Habits in your relationship? How do you think and act when you are most happy? What happens if you lead with your attention on the good rather than waiting for good to somehow find you? Put your attention on the space in between your complaints and you will become a student of your own happiness process and have access to greater joy and bigger spaces in between problems. This doesn’t mean to ignore real problems when they arise, but it does mean to give equal or more time to the “non-problem” part of life.
According to Rick Hanson, author of Buddha’s Brain, the brain takes it shape from whatever the mind rests upon. Research in the field of neuroscience and neuroplasticity shows you can make structural changes in the brain from how you use your mind. Since it tends to rest upon negativity, it gets very good at learning from bad experiences and not so good at learning from good experiences.
Busy regions of the brain get more blood flow and build new connections. So what kind of brain are you building yourself? A brain that think in a forwarding, productive and inspiring way? Or a brain that complains, stresses and generates fear? Which kind of a brain do you want? The plasticity of the brain invites us to bring our intention and attention to the way we think and how we focus our attention.
Another one of my favorite mentors and friend Dr. Bruce Lipton says in his research in the field of epigenetics, what we believe and what we think about effect the ways our genes express themselves through our biology. This means that your health, your well-being, your energy, your vitality organizes around your beliefs and your thinking. That’s powerful stuff!
Thank you Susan for giving us permission to publish this article