I’m confused about my emotional state, my mental well being and my dearth of prudence. I, like most people want to find happiness but where can such a thing be found?
I rarely achieve a good night sleep, my body has this irritating, unofficial in-built alarm clock that likes to detonate around 3am, consistently failing to master the art of falling back to repose. I now get up and attain something useful with my gathered hours. This regularly consists of a cup of camomile tea and a docile scan through Netflix, in pursuit to view short, snappy and informative films, and thus I’m often drawn to ‘Ted Talks’. TED is a global set of conferences run by the private non-profit Sapling Foundation, under the slogan “Ideas Worth Spreading’. My choice that night was aptly named ‘Your body language shapes who you are’. The brief documentary described how success can be achieved through our non verbal attributes or body language, we can trick ourselves and therefore others in believing our stature may be more powerful than what is necessarily true by learning a few easy expressions. An example of this is a fake smile, which apparently can make you happy. Go on – try it, it works and it’s a theory I decided to undertake.
I find it difficult working in the service industry. Believe it or not, I consider myself an introvert, but this doesn’t necessarily mean I’m shy. I find social situations awkward and generally I have to be inebriated to cope in large gatherings, I can’t fathom small talk, I’m often easily drained and savour my time alone for reflection. Being surrounded by people consistently all day can be tough, although I have trained myself to adapt to my social career. What a fantastic tool I gained when learning I can fake smile and feel good in doing so. I experimented for a week and was amazed by the results. Not only did I feel more confident, worthy and generally happier, but I noticed others reaction to me was more upbeat, positive and pleasant. My haircuts were sharper, my finish was neater and I felt much more at home in my surroundings. I decide to pursue this further, I went on a pursuit of happiness. I researched the term then I asked myself and others the question ‘What can make you happy?’ Success, inner peace, relationships and personal gain seemed to be the most common and I needed to understand why?
It is scientifically proven that 50% of our personal happiness comes from our genes, a further 10% comes from external circumstance such as social status or financial gain and the last 40% benefitting from your outlook, friendships, relationships and hobbies. When I focused on these statistics I was saddened to learn that in the world we live in most people are influenced by that small 10% when trying to gain the feeling of happiness, we are all overworked, determined to obtain a certain level of success whilst missing the point that we may find the most important wealth elsewhere – in our spouses, our kids, our friends, exercise, interests and natural outburst of endorphins. There is even a word in Japanese ‘Karoshi’ which can be described as ‘death through overwork’. The majority is led to believe that their well-being depends on being passive and contented. We find ourselves becoming increasingly addicted to drugs for falling asleep, for waking up, for staying slim, for escaping boredom and depression. People seek to mimic natural highs by the consumption of narcotics such as cocaine and ecstasy, a high that can easily be achieved in a more orthodox manner – Flow.
Do you ever get lost in your work? Engrossed in a book or puzzle? Lose yourself in an activity so much so that you can be considered in a state of nothingness? Flow is the mental state of a person when they are ultimately absorbed in an activity or event, a juncture in which all of their energies are focused on one thing so that they are oblivious to the world around them. The theory of flow is that it is a means by which we can improve our lives by constantly increasing our experience of happiness. It can be felt through these six steps –
intense and focused concentration on the present moment.
merging of action and awareness.
a loss of self-consciousness.
a sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
a distortion of subjective experience of time.
experience of the activity or an autotelic experience.
I remember having such experiences when I was younger. My hobbies growing up included athletics and dance and I can remember clearly getting lost within myself during a track race, the feeling as though I was effortlessly gliding through the air, no thoughts of struggle, short breath or no suggestion of talking myself out of my current situation, completely lost in time and unaware of the crowd yelling all around me. It’s unfortunate I rarely allow myself to now seek such an exuberant mind set. I’m a thinker, emotionally sensitive and seek a meaning in life. I find it difficult to relax and little things can make me mentally switch off. The above form is crucial to keep my state of mind healthy and I must encourage myself to find my inner flow. I believe if we all made more time to go with the flow then we would be incontestably happier, less stressed, more fulfilled and actually increase our life expectancy.
Other important aides to accomplish happiness is to surround yourself with the people you love. I recently had a reconciliation with my sister Hayley, with whom I had a disagreement and didn’t talk to for over 15 weeks. The feeling of sheer ecstatic joy encompassed my entire body and the sinking feeling of a missing piece had been filled. The emptiness was replaced with the overwhelming thought that I can once again converse, have fun with and confide in the closet person I know. With only a year between us, my life with Hayley is all I’ve ever known and although we often don’t see eye to eye, we can work strongly as a team and our differences can actually be transpired unto the making of us. Hayley is my social shield with whom I’m comfortable to hide behind, to shadow and mirror. I enjoy her wit and her ability to make any situation fun and carefree, I even relish in the hold she has over me and the way she can mould and manipulate my actions into ones that suit her most. Hayley’s presence and her company makes me feel happy.
Ultimately there are many ways to touch the human soul with happiness. Kindness towards others, spirituality and religion are a few examples. Its within this time of year we should all search to find which form is right for us, and my goal for 2015 is to stretch myself, find new paths and create new friendships and relationships that can therefore guide me in the direction of infinite happiness. I may even try out some exercise to drum up and pick out those old memories of finding my flow, my rhythm and stride. Challenging ourselves and pushing personal boundaries can create an indefinite bubble of pride, ecstasy and therefore make us happy.
Long live the VEF and be HAPPY live the dream QUEEN!