You’ve made a choice. You’ve put a stake in the ground, a line in the sand and you’ve held your hand against your heart. You’ve decided that, whatever it takes to get there, happiness is your ambition.
So what’s next in Laurie’s Deadboss Guide To Being Happy – 7 Steps To Sustainable Smiles?
Well it’s not to go charging ahead with tick lists and action plans and it’s not to quit your job, sell your house or run away from everything you know. It’s much more simple than that.
All you really have to do is stop, look and listen.
Step Two: The Happiness Review
In business, once an ambition or vision is established, the CEO doesn’t send out a memo to everybody instructing them to go ahead and bulldoze their way through the challenges without a plan of action in some sort of vague hope of reaching the company goals.
Instead, teams will review their processes, their people and their technology.
They’ll zoom into the details of how things work and immediately start to understand what’s going well and what isn’t.
They’ll seek out the biggest areas for improvement and the biggest opportunities. They’ll assess whether or not what they’re doing today is aligned to where they want to be tomorrow.
And that exact same approach can be applied to achieving happiness.
The Happiness Review is divided into two separate methods, both of which have been inspired by business and shaped by Buddhism.
The first is Listening To Your Body and the second is Watching Your Thoughts.
Both of these techniques are known as introspection; an inward facing quest for knowledge and search for truth.
We’ve evolved as a species of instinct and our way of reacting to our surroundings is fight or flight. Our bodies know what to do before our brains have even had time to compute what’s going on.
But the thing is, we only seem to notice our instincts when the feelings are overwhelming and extreme; when we’re petrified or wary or nauseous from fear.
Very rarely do we pay attention to the signs and signals our body is showing us on a day to day basis.
Listening To Your Body is something I’ve been working on for years and something I learned to master while spending 10 days at a vipassana retreat in Mandalay last Christmas.
All you need to do to is start applying critical awareness to how you feel, noticing the sensations and becoming aware of the emotions they create.
It takes practice and it takes patience, but over time you start to see the results.
You begin to notice that even the tiniest microscopic details of your day have an impact and that, at least on the surface level, you can trace your emotions back to things, people, situations and environments.
You start to realise that pressing that snooze button actually did more harm than it did good. Maybe that coffee makes you feel more anxious than it does alert. That a Netflix binge might feel comforting at the time but when it’s over you’re consumed with regret for your wasted time.
And when you dig a little deeper, you begin to realise that it’s more than things and people and situations and environments; that every single thing you feel is connected to a thought inside your head.
Watching Your Thoughts is another technique I’ve been working on for several years with guidance from Buddhism and also more recently, the words of Eckhart Toll. And its something that I know is best achieved through meditation.
It’s only when you’re focused on trying to silence your monkey brain that you realise just how polluted your mind actually is. You almost float up outside of your body and observe your thoughts from above.
You start to notice the patterns and you see very clearly how one thought, whether positive or negative, can replicate itself at rapid speed in various forms.
You close the loop on your thoughts and feelings and with complete clarity, begin to form a deeper understanding of what makes you happy and what makes you sad.
Introspection takes you to a place where wisdom hides and where theory and intellect bear no use. It’s a place where you’ll find every single answer you could ever be looking for.
Your own lasting happiness hides behind a locked door and only you hold the key.