Ok – so ready for the spill?
I started a new job on Monday and on Tuesday, I almost didn’t go in *hopes new employer isn’t reading this…*
I might have landed a shiny new office on the 29th floor overlooking the entire city, but with none of my old workmates to talk to, it became apparent very quickly that it sure was ‘lonely at the top’.
I felt isolated, stressed and out of my depth. I felt like a fraud that would be ‘found out’ at any moment. That my every movement was being judged, that opinions on my competence were being formed just hours into my role and that this whole gig was waaaaay beyond me.
Funny how stress can crank up your ‘crazy meter’ from mildly anguished to stone cold PARANOID in just a few hours flat…
So on Tuesday, I lay in bed far longer than usual, tossing up the pros and cons of chucking a sickie on my second day. I decided it probably wouldn’t fly. No-one comes down with a bug THAT soon after being exposed to a new corporate sanitary ecosystem. So I reconciled that yes, I probably had to go in. I lay in bed for an extra minute and thought of 10 reasons why I’d be better off going in that staying home and then, reluctantly, got up and got ready.
An hour later on the 29th floor looking out across the city to the glasshouse mountains, I came to a realisation. Yes, I could get a new job – but wherever I went, I’d take my attitude with me. The negative perspective I’d accidentally acquired because of what I was focusing on (I.e. being afraid of screwing up, looking incompetent etc.) was causing the negative feeling I was experiencing and although I’d fallen into this pit of despair quite unconsciously, I knew I had to take steps to get out.
First of all, I took comfort from a thought that popped into my head. It was a wise little voice that said, “Camilla, if you can’t be happy here, you won’t be happy anywhere.” That is the reality of ‘taking your attitude with you’, I suppose.
8 hours later and I started to feel a lot better about my new job. Not because the people got nicer. Not because the view from my office became more impressive and not because the tasks in front of me suddenly turned more exciting. I started to feel better because I changed how I felt – and I changed how I felt by changing my mind about where I was.
Why ‘Happy Here & Now’ Is The Only Happiness You Can Ever Hope For
The trite, bumper-sticker bravado of the phrase, ‘Happiness is within’, used to really annoy me. Why? Because to me it seemed to be one of those airy-fairy, nice-sounding but more or less baseless sayings that wanna-be gurus and hug-a-tree-hippies espouse to demonstrate their inner peace and contentment, (you know the kind – the type that makes your own emotional equilibrium seem hopelessly neanderthal in comparison).
How could there be any truth to it anyway? If I really DID have all this happiness tucked away inside me, how come it was possible for me to feel so rubbish?!
As far as I understood, ‘happiness’ was a feeling that occurred in response to external stimulus. It wasn’t an internal state that could exist of its own accord….
Or could it?
So, I analysed what happened when I experienced the internal state of happiness and I realised that in effect, I had a set of ‘rules’ that were the determinents of whether or not I’d allow myself to feel good.
What I mean by that is, my mind created a feedback loop whereby when X happened, I allowed myself to feel good – but when Y happened, I would feel crap. It was a neat and altogether (I’ll admit it,) LAZY little system that meant I let an external event be responsible for my inner state.
What I didn’t realise was that when I made something in the external world responsible for my happiness, it wasn’t the event that was creating the sense of happiness, the happiness was there anyway – I was just using the event as an EXCUSE to tap into it.
How To Tap Into Your Own Natural Happiness
So I started thinking of ways to tap into my stream of happiness, without having to rely on the external world. Yes, I might be feeling run down, tired, annoyed, flat, blah, meh or whatever else you want to call your state, but I learnt that by recognizing that I was feeling ‘off’ and then working with my mind to tap into my own source of happiness, I could actually turn around how I was feeling – without needing or expecting anyone else or the outside world to change for me.
We can all do this, but I think most of the time, it’s too much effort to do consciously, so instead we just accept a crappy way of feeling as being ‘just the way it is’, when actually, we have within our power, the ability to change our state of mind and our emotions.
Here are some ways I do that…
‘Mining For Happiness’ Exercises
- Recognise that you’re placing rules on your happiness – and by doing so, you’re limiting your opportunities to feel good. For example, “I won’t be happy until he says sorry”. “I wont’ be happy until I get the credit I deserve”. “I wont’ be happy until I make a million dollars”.
- DECIDE you’re going to tap into your own well-spring of happiness whenever you feel down, instead of just accepting a state of mind as being ‘the way it is’.
- Use your body better – your physiology affects your mood. Choose to do something empowering like breathing deeper when you realise you’re low. Put a big silly grin on your face and hold it there for 30 seconds. It sounds simplistic but it really does lift your mood.
photo credit: lisahumes photo credit: Tarter Time Photography photo credit: Ashley Coombs Photography photo credit: Clare & James
photo credit: kelsey_lovefusionphoto photo credit: Katrina Manaligod photo credit: The Shutterbugette
4. Remember something that made you really happy. Recounting happy memories and experiencing the subsequent positive emotions they bring, demonstrates that those happy feelings are in YOU, not in the external circumstance that happened ages ago.
5. Day dream – imagine something you want and as you imagine, pretend you have it already – how will it feel, what will you do, who will you become? Don’t imagine it and ruin the daydream by bemoaning the fact you don’t have it yet, just give yourself the positive gift of day dreaming the most fantastic version of the most incredible vision you can muster. Hold this happy memory in your mind for 2 or 3 minutes if you’re somewhere like work, or for 5 minutes if you’re at home.
These are empowering exercises to do, because when you experience even just a little bit of happiness your brain can start making a new rule – the rule that: ‘Happiness really IS in me and doesn’t rely on an external event, person or situation’.
In fact, you’ll come to realise that you DO have an endless stream of happiness that’s dying to bubble to the surface, if only you’d just relax your rules a little and make a conscious effort to reach for things that feel good and make you feel happy.
You CAN Choose To Feel Happier – You Just Have To Find Something That Feels Good To Hang On To…
It’s a good day when you realise that happiness is there inside for you to tap into whenever you want and that ultimately you’re in control of your own happiness. You don’t have to rely on someone else being a certain way for you to feel happy, you don’t need the world to shape itself to your wants and needs for you to experience it in a positive light – you can just reach in and claim happiness for yourself whenever you like. It’s up to you.
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