Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness

“Happiness is an intentional creation of the Self universe: I am happy. Of course, the self can believe in all sorts of appropriate reasons for making itself happy or unhappy, but the bottom line is that the Self decided.” ~ Harry Palmer

Close your eyes. Imagine, for a moment, what your ideal life would look like. You are living that life. How does that make you feel? What sensations does your body experience?

beautiful Pacific-beach,-sunset

We all have dreams that we want to manifest in our lives, otherwise breathing would feel like a rather pointless activity. Our innate creativity and thirst for adventure makes life interesting and fun.

You may have everything you want and desire and are now seeking to help others. Either way, those plans bring us happiness. The fact that we might not have those desired outcomes in our lives as yet can be uncomfortable, and that in itself can drive us on. We discover why we are here, what our talents are, and where we can use them, in other words: finding our place in the world.

I love the Vedanta wisdom on the science of happiness. Swami Sarvapriyananda talks about pleasure, engagement, meaning and the Atman (sat-chit-ananda):

No doubt you have heard the saying, “It’s not the destination that matters but the journey.” It’s who we become as the result of our travels that’s the real reward. Sure, we have successes along the way, as well as setbacks and challenges; nothing is ever handed to us on a plate. Problems, failure and suffering are all the training ground of the soul.

That elusive quality called ‘happiness’ is simply a state of being, a choice to think and act a certain way. We don’t get pulled down into our story, we somehow transcend it and use the hidden treasures from our life experience and transpose that into wisdom, love and compassion.

A fascinating talk by Harvard Professor Dan Gilbert about stumbling upon happiness:

Many people believe that when they are ‘successful’ then they will be happy. Sadly, many find they climb the ladder of success only to find that it was leaning against the wrong wall. Happiness in who you are and what you do in the present moment is vital to achieve whatever success means to you. Be it financial, good health, a happy family, giving back to society, peace of mind.

Quotes-On-Happiness

Acceptance of what is, whilst doing your best to steer your life where you want it to go seems to me to be the only way to live. Otherwise you are delaying life. If you are not happy with less, you certainly won’t be happy with more – not in the long run.

Delayed gratification isn’t a philosophy to aspire to when it applies to your happiness.

Dr. Tal Ben-Shahr is teaching Positive Psychology at Harvard University. There has been much research conducted into the physiological effects of living a happy life, concluding you are more likely to live longer and have better health, therefore leading a better quality of life.

Five ways to become happier today, by author and psychologist Tal Ben-Shahar:

I’ve come to the conclusion that happiness is an inner decision we make on a daily basis, regardless of outer circumstances. In fact, if anything, outer circumstances tend to reflect what’s going on in our internal representations and how we manifest our attitudes and beliefs.

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When the going gets tough it’s hard not to slip into the ‘saboteur’ or ‘victim’ archetypes and therefore compound our misery. But once we have been there and got that T-Shirt, we develop an emotional awareness and tend not to fall into the same trap once a life lesson has been truly learnt.

“Each moment you are happy is a gift to the rest of the world.”  ~ Harry Palmer

I love that quote. Because when you are happy you are like a pebble breaking the surface of a limpid lake: your happiness causes waves to ripple outward in the form of a kind word or deed, thus your positive energy is transferred incrementally to your fellow human beings and the world.

There are days we choose not to be happy, after all, we are human. That’s okay; just don’t stay in that energy field very long. If your happiness always depends on outer circumstances then there will always be something to protect or lose, events that will happen that are out of your control.

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The only true thing we have control over is our mental outlook – our thoughts. And when life throws you a curve ball the challenge is not to get pulled down into the curve and out of our essential nature into judgement, hate, depression, blame and guilt.

“To a far great extent than common knowledge would lead anyone to believe, people’s happiness, health and success are not determined by the thoughts, ideas, and imaginings they have of themselves, but are determined by the ability to change these things. “ ~ Harry Palmer

Working on ourselves is probably the most important task we can ever undertake. This is not a selfish activity, because as we become happier and more fulfilled so we can help others to do the same.

Quotes-On-Happiness-And-Love

Our deepest fears are invisibility, being worthless, lack of importance, not being good enough, and annihilation. It helps to remember that the definition of fear is: False Evidence Appearing Real.

YOU MATTER.

This universal truth is demonstrated so artfully in Frank Capra’s 1946 classic movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, with Jimmy Stewart playing the despairing small-town businessman George Bailey, (in my humble opinion, the role he was born to play).

It’s Christmas Eve and George is on the brink of suicide, when he is visited by his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody, who shows him what the world would have been like if he had never been born.  This film is one of the most critically acclaimed films ever made, and was voted the most inspiring film of all time by the American Film Institute in 2006. This scene says it all. I’d like to be your Clarence, just for today!

One life touches many:

Just by being yourself, doing what makes you happy (as long as it’s not hurting others) and following your heart you can make a difference in the world.

“There was a time, a certain number of years ago, when a tiny blob of gelatin began to pulse with hidden potential. It was barely more than a speck of matter, about the thickness of a dollar bill, at the very threshold of human sight: any smaller and it would have been invisible to the naked eye.

Tough tiny, this insignificant little dot of matter (you could have fit about twenty of them on the head of a pin) contained chemical instructions that, if printed out, would have filled more than 500,000 pages; in fact, it was among the most organized, complex structures in the universe. Over the next nine months of slight edge compounding, this little blob of gelatin would blossom into about thirty trillion cells before being born into the open air…and letting out a wail as it took its first breath.

It would become you.”

~ Jeff Olson (The Slight Edge).

Until the next time, I wish you happiness and joy!

3 thoughts on “Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness

  1. Pingback: An Epiphany in Gratitude | rhap.so.dy in words

  2. Pingback: Shining a Spotlight on Your Awesome Character Strengths | rhap.so.dy in words

  3. Pingback: Shining a Spotlight on Your Awesome Character Strengths | Lysette Offley Newscast

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