Halbert L. Dunn is an American statistician who is considered the father of the Wellness Movement. In addition to the proper functioning of the body, wellness involves the mind, the emotions and the ability to opt for various ways of self-realization. We can learn how to balance our physical, mental and spiritual spheres to be more happy.
Am I happy? I feel myself fulfilled? If life give me a second chance, what would I change? Montse Hidalgo is an expert in Neuroscience, Emotional Intelligence, Coaching and Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) and propose us to ask ourselves this questions. One of the keys of happiness is the emotional intelligence, out ability to recognize emotions and manage them to achieve what we want. We should accept the things that we cannot change and work hard to modify the things that we don’t like and we can change.
A very important lead to start learning to be happy is to control the way we process the facts. When we face one event or situation, the human being can process it, think about it, explain it and react in many different ways. For example, if it rains I can think it’s a great opportunity to sign in for a new on line course that I am interested in. Or I can react complaining about the rain that ruined my previous plan and feel depressed and angry with the weather. If I have no couple at the moment, I can choose feeling sad, lonely, bad with myself and depressed or I can choose to value that opportunity to do the food that I like, organize the trip that I’ve always wanted, read my favorite book, listen my music and dance without giving any explanations to anyone. Your happiness don’t depend on any external facts, you can make yourself happy if you train in to focus in the good things and thinking positive.
M. Hidalgo afirm that 40% of happiness is configured by the genetic and educational predisposition that helps or don’t help us to be happy, according to our childhood experiences. Family experiences of suffering associated with certain aspects make us unconsciously predisposed to act in the same way when we are adults. For example if in your family the work is experienced as a condemn and associated with suffering, you probably have the predisposition to feel and react with the same perspective. You just simply follow the thinking structure that you have seen in all your life. The good news is that those patterns, that we learn from our parents, family and significant persons when we were children, can be detected and modified.
Our mind works with belief systems, such as programs in a computer, conditioning perspectives that we learn. It’s interesting to be able to question them if these programs and this way of thinking is not working in our life. In neuroscience this is called neuro reprogramming. For example, when you was a child maybe you wanted to be perfect and do everything your parents expect from you to be loved. This program was incorporated at the age of 6. Now, when you are so exigent with yourself that you are never satisfied, you should question this believe that is making you unhappy “I want to be perfect to be loved”. But who told you that people will love you if you are perfect? Normally is the opposite, people will feel close to you for your human side, not for your perfection, that could even cause rejection.
What happened with your mind? A certain thought generates certain associated emotions, which generate physical responses in the body. For example, if you think your boss don’t like you and wants to fire you, cortisol increases, your stomach hurts, your back hurts, you feel bad. Our thoughts are responsible of our body reaction, we become chemically intoxicated. And depending on how we feel, we act accordingly. Feeling like that, probably you don’t answer properly the questions of your boss, you are not being yourself in his presence, you act nervous and avoiding any contact. And as a consequence, this behavior will determine the results in your life, with this actions your boss won’t trust you, probably will not select you for a better position and even maybe, he will replace you for someone with a better atitude. This phenomenon is called self-fulfilling prophecy: a hypothesis causes certain acts as a reaction and consequently the hypothesis became a reality. In other words, the quality of our life will depend on our internal dialogue, everything ever created first arised as a thought.
It is hard to think differently because the brain is like a jungle with marked paths. It is easier to always travel the same paths, but if you want other results in your life and reach a different destination, you have to take the machete and open another path. It takes a hard work on yourself, you have to question the preconceptions and do what neuroscience called mental gymnastics.
At he same time, the brain does not differentiate between past, present or future, the emotions provoked in consequence of our thoughts are the same. You get depressed now when you focus on the past and you remember something sad, your brain don’t make any difference if this reality is not longer in your life. You get stressed when you focus on the future and think about bad things that could happen. To be happy you need to focus on the present with a vision of the future. The vision of future gives you direction but you need to live with intensity the present that is the only moment that you really have.
Many of our thoughts are about the past, repeated and negative. That’s because when we were children, for every nine negative things they told us something positive. Don’t run, don’t yell, don’t get out of the bathtub, don’t eat more ice cream, don’t touch that, don’t jump in the couch. In a storm of negative messages we hear sometimes a positive input: good job! So we are programmed to think in negative.
According to M. Hidalgo, only 10% of happiness is given for the material well-being. Once we have our basic needs covered, we are not happier because we have more things. So if you focus in getting more material things thinking, you are walking in the wrong direction. Often you think “when I have my new car, my motorbike, my yacht I will be happy” and that’s not true, that’s what the consumption society wants you to believe, probably when you buy this new object you feel pleased for a couple of days but that doesn’t makes you really complete.
Finally, the remaining 50% of happiness is given by voluntary activities. What you decide to do with your time every day? This voluntary activities that you choose to do because you enjoy them, because they makes you vibrate, that activities will fullfill you.
It’s very interesting to mention a phenomenon that M. Hidalgo highlights, the postponed happiness syndrome: I’ll be happy when I get a new job, when I move to another house, when I go on holidays… When you look for happiness outside, you will always fail because it is not outside that you will find it.
The welfare state is the active process of making conscious decisions to lead a healthy, happy and fulfilled life. It is a process of change, a decision to growth, to heal your mind, your emotions and your body. It’s on us to go for it!