How we can get into the 'habit' of happiness in our everyday lives
A study released last week was very troubling. In a comparison of children in 15 different countries, English kids were found to be among the most unhappy. Bullying and dissatisfaction with their bodies were the main causes of their unhappiness.
Of course, there are legitimate reasons to be depressed. Bad things happen. This kind of depression is called extrinsic depression because the cause is external and knowable. Bullying is an extrinsic reason to be depressed and as such, it’s one that schools must tackle.
Intrinsic depression doesn’t have an apparent cause. When a 10-year-old is unhappy about her looks, it indicates that our society is fundamentally screwed up. The pressures put on children to be attractive are extrinsic factors. However, there is clearly an intrinsic component to this kind of unhappiness. In other words, children and adults can learn to think differently.
Happiness is a habit that can be conditioned through practice. Cynics argue that hypnosis is only effective on the “weak-willed”. The unspoken implication is that the “strong-willed” must remain powerless to control their thinking, at the mercy of mass media and social demands. The truth is that anyone can acquire new skills, including the skill of being happier. You can practice focusing on what you want.
In a nutshell, here’s the change process that all forms of psychotherapy use: access the bad feelings; interrupt them; access a resource; use that resource to improve the bad feelings, and notice the difference.
In practice, here’s how you can use this formula: first, give yourself permission to think of something that’s makes you feel bad. As you concentrate on these feelings in your body, notice that they seem to move. Next, mentally reverse the flow of movement by using your imagination. If it starts in your chest and flows to your stomach, imagine reversing this spin. After enjoying this novelty for a moment, stop and notice the degree to which you feel different about the “problem”. Repeat it until the new way of feeling becomes automatic. To supplement this article, I’ve compiled my own Happiness Report which I’ll send free to anyone who wants it.
- Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and conducts workshops in hypnosis with PowerTrance. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at https://www.facebook.com/Belfast Hypnosis/?ref=hl/?ref=hl