Imagine learning to ski by reading a book. Or learning arithmetic by going out on day trips. Or learning culture by sitting in front of a television. Or learning joy by reading academic papers. It’s not going to happen.
So what about learning happiness?
This is an interesting one. My personal view is that we don’t need to learn happiness. For years I trained with a teacher who said, “You weren’t born happy. You don’t know how to be happy. You have to learn happiness.”
So I tried to learn. Being generally a good student I tried really hard. But whilst I learned a lot of other things, I eventually realised that I wasn’t getting any happier.
One day, some years after I left that teacher, I was standing at a bus stop and I remembered being happy when I was a child, lying on the grass surrounded by daffodils in my garden.
It suddenly dawned on me that no one had taught me to be happy then and yet it was easy. In fact it was totally natural and spontaneous. And that was when I realised where to find happiness – inside me, just as all the great teachers say. And it really is already here. You don’t need to go looking for it somewhere else.
But there’s an interesting twist to this story. The day before, I’d listened to an interview with an amazing coach called Michael Neill. Something he said caught my attention, and he pointed me in the right direction to find my own happiness. I’m sure it wouldn’t have happened that very next day if I hadn’t listened to him the day before.
After that I knew, without any doubt whatsoever, that happiness was always available to me and that I could find it inside me. I knew it had nothing to do with my circumstances or what I’d achieved. But did that mean I was always happy? No, strangely enough, it didn’t. It seems like the old wiring that told me I wasn’t a happy person persisted for a while longer – almost two years.
I remember when I realised for the first time that I’m a happy person. Even that doesn’t mean I’m happy all the time. But for the first time in my life, I felt sincere in calling myself happy. It became part of my identity, which it had never been before, even as a child.
That marked a much bigger change for me. It’s been a stable sense since then. I can have hard days, like other people, but they don’t change my sense of who I am. I’m just a happy person having a hard day. That’s very different from how I was before.
So how do you grow your happiness (or any other positive feeling)?
These are some keys I’ve found. You don’t need all of them, but they’re all helpful.
- You have a genuine desire to be happy.
- You’re patient.
- You connect with happy people.
- You take time every day to relax deeply and let go of stress, worry and negativity.
- You remind yourself frequently that you can choose to be happy.
- You appreciate your life (or parts of it).
- You explore how to love yourself more.
It’s quite remarkable how life changes when you admit to yourself that you really want to be happy. Many people believe they don’t deserve it and never give themselves the chance.
What I’ve found is that the willingness to use these keys has brought to me the right teachers and other resources at the right time, to deal with the bits that get in the way.
I didn’t find my happiness all on my own. I’ve had a lot of help along the way. But not everyone needs exactly the same help so you need to put yourself in a position where the right help for you shows up in your life.
That’s what these keys will help you with. They make it more likely that you’ll receive the help and pointers you need to find what you want. This will work for any inner state you want to experience more of, including inner peace, joy, happiness, freedom and lightheartedness. It’s the way we’re wired.
If you want to learn how to relax and let go of stress, anxiety or nervousness, the best place to start is the 30 Day Energy Challenge. Here’s what one person said about it recently: