We all want to be happy — or happier. Feeling happy changes the way we see ourselves and our lives… it feels good and we want more of it, and for it to last.
People come to therapy because they feel unhappy. They feel confused, miserable, angry, lonely, tense, afraid, withdrawn, frustrated and exhausted.
They pay money to a stranger in the hope that they will feel happiness in return.
Ultimately, you are as happy as your inner child is. If they are sad then you are sad.
For many clients their inner child has been deeply wounded in childhood, and they doubt that they’ll ever feel happy again. It takes a lot of courage to trust someone with your deepest vulnerability and fear.
The most important thing about happiness is that it lives inside you — even though you may have mislaid it. It may have been hidden under piles of worries, fears, traumatic memories, lost hope and despair… but it’s still there. It’s waiting for you to find it again.
It may need to be helped out from under the weight of your life experiences, and given a good dusting down and polish.
We know from recent research into positive psychology (particularly the work of Martin Selligman and Sonia Lyubomirsky) that we have a base-line set-point for our level of happiness — which comes from our past history, the sense we made of it and the decisions we’ve reached about ourselves and what we believe we ‘deserve’ to have and to feel.
This base-line accounts for about 50% of our happiness at any one time. It can be topped up by a further 10% when we have the ‘good fortune’ and gratification of external mood-enhancing things like the new car, face-lift or lottery win.
However, these top-ups can be short lived sources of happiness because of a process called ‘Hedonic Adaptation’ — which means that we get used to new things and they don’t have the same appeal or impact upon us any more. They become devalued through familiarity — and the lottery winner often reverts back to their pre-win state — their familiar 50% level of happiness.
We might then seek more of that transient 10% — more stuff, more money, a new relationship…but it all goes the same way…back to the base-line.
The good news it that there are scientifically validated ways to enhance and sustain the remaining 40% up in our happiness tank.
We all have the power to feel happier in spite of our past.
These things all equate to the ways in which we take care of our inner child — and treat ourselves as we would treat a child whom we loved.
How do we do that?
By building and maintaining good relationships, and connecting with people at a deeper level of sharing.
Setting and achieving attainable goals.
Focusing upon optimism and hope.
Taking care of our physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Being grateful for what we have.
Not comparing ourselves negatively with others.
Not over-thinking things.
Learning to cope with life’s inevitable challenges with resilience, tenacity and determination.
Developing self-awareness, self-responsibility and self-control — and calming our mind and soothing our own troubled emotions.
Releasing our creativity, and making new things from our wonderful imagination.
(I have a free e-booklet for you which goes into more depth about how to release your happiness — you can find a link for it below).
17 tips to feel happier
They need to be real smiles which reach up to your eyes.
E.g. Why did I feel……… when that happened?
This gives us the ability to find the source of the emotional pain and what we felt was missing for us at that time. With such clarity comes the choice about how to make up for and put right what was missing.
So to quote Abraham Lincoln — “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Show yourself the best self care — as you would to a child you loved. Remember it is the child who still lives inside you who needs your care the most and this will in turn equip you with the resources to then care for others.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)MIND HEALER & MENTOR
www.maxineharley.com — Where you will find an e-booklet called:-
7 Keys To Unlock Your Happiness — how to release your happiness and find peace of mind. See http://maxineharley.com/7-keys-to-unlock-your-happiness/
To get your FREE copy please use the code FREE7KEYS at the checkout.
You will also find a page of FREE RESOURCES for you and your inner child to help you on your path to awareness, healing, recovery and growth…and a happier life free from your past traumas and conditioning
www.maxineharleymentoring.com — I help women to FEEL better so they can BE, DO and HAVE better…I help them to understand and manage their emotions, boundaries and behaviours.
www.the-ripple-effect.co.uk — for an inexpensive self-help workshop called How To Be Happier
Originally published at lifelabs.psychologies.co.uk on August 19, 2015.