Choosing Happiness (Part 4)

It’s been awhile since I’ve written! Fall and winter was filled with new beginnings, time off to recharge, holiday festivities, AND plenty of extra time to explore what really creates happiness.

How has your adventures in happiness been? What did you discover about what it means to be happy and your relationship to joy?

For those just tuning in or those that welcome a reminder, in my last few blog posts we explored the meaning of happiness. We discovered that happiness is an individual interpretation – an idea that if a certain something happens to us we will feel good and avoid feeling bad (eg. if we are in a relationship we feel love and avoid feeling alone).

We figured that the more we changed or controlled the things that happen to us, the more we can recreate feeling good (eg. stay in or pursue a relationship even though it may not ultimately serve us).

As a result, happiness becomes fleeting. Why? Because there are always things beyond our control that happens. And what happens outside of us actually has no correlation to what we can feel inside of us (eg. happiness is actually not dependent on being in a relationship. There are plenty of very happy and fulfilled single people out there).

After discovering this, we challenged ourselves to divert our attention from what’s going on outside of us and focus on what’s within us. If there really is no correlation between what happens to us and what we can feel within us, then that means that there’s another way to create happiness, and maybe just maybe it could lead to a deeper sense of joy that isn’t fleeting.

When I tried this on, I noticed that when I was both happy and unhappy and on nearly 100% of the occasions, I felt hungry. Normally I would reach for a treat or my next snack or meal, and more often than I want to admit… it wasn’t always the healthiest food. When I did this I’d feel guilty and heavy afterwards and then try to make myself feel better by rewarding myself with something I didn’t need – something from one of my favourite stores, or maybe an extra hour off from work. This would lead to less money to save, a larger pile of work, and even more unhealthy food to deal with the additional stress – an endless cycle of trying to make myself happy to avoid feeling unhappy! Does this sound familiar to you?

One day, mid-afternoon, I sat in my home office feeling unhappy. I had worked for more than a week straight and I hadn’t been getting enough sleep. My immediate thought was to indulge in my favourite treats. But this time I didn’t want to go down that rabbit hole. I was committed to taking a moment to stop myself to just notice this reaction. And when I did I closed my eyes and asked myself what I was actually feeling physically. I worked my way down from the top of my head to my feet and just listed all of my sensations. A deep pulsation in my forehead, shoulders a little heavy, chest open, stomach a little dense, legs feeling normal, feet falling asleep…. And then it hit me. I’m not actually hungry. My stomach wasn’t growling. I didn’t feel thirsty or empty at all. I was just feeling a set of bodily sensations I misinterpreted as hungry. And there I was about to reach for food that wasn’t nourishing for me, food I didn’t even need!

“So what now?,” I asked myself. Well if I’m not hungry, what am I? I’m just experiencing these physical sensations. Nothing more or less. And I get the opportunity to chose how I want to respond. So how do I want to respond? Well, I can chose anything. What would I like to do?


And therein the revelation lies…. in the moment of being still and observing myself I broke through a pattern, something else that had control over me. And I granted myself the space to be free to chose. And that actually made me feel powerful and confident.

You can apply this exercise to any area of your life where you want to experience happiness, or even peace and fulfillment. Start with picking an area of your life thats important to you and write down why it is important to you. Then commit yourself to noticing when you feel you are unhappy or happy and take a few moments to simply observe your sensations long enough to see them as separate from you, and long enough for you to feel a level of peace without any emotional charge and where you can choose how you want to respond.

If you’re looking to attract your soulmate, ask yourself why. Is it companionship you desire? Is it support and friendship? Then notice in your life where you desire to have someone creates a negative or positive feeling. Observe that feeling and come to that place of stillness and inquire as to what it is that would truly fulfill you <— this is what there is to take action on – creating happiness starting from within.

This takes practice, and there’s lots of resources and exercises that can help you with this. Meditation like Vipassana, a Buddhist form of meditation, focuses a lot on observing the breath and body. Mindful movement classes like Tai Chi and Yoga are also useful in practicing presence with your own body so you can identify how you’re feeling more easily.

Try it out and write me! Tell me what you’re discovering and/or where you need a little more guidance. My hope is that you discover an experience beyond the illusion of happiness – an experience that originates from within you, a place of abundant peace and a source of guidance in living not just a life that makes you feel good, but a life that is truly fulfilling.

With love and light,