Happiness: A Question of Focus

10 February, 2013

Could true inner-happiness really just be a question of focus? Since I decided I didn't have any problems to speak of, life certainly has been increasingly more joyful. Here's how I've been doing it:

I read a blog just before Christmas by Tony Schwartz called A Simple Way To Increase Your Joy. He talks about making a very small mind-shift, which resulted in a very big increase in a positive feeling called joy. This followed Hurricane Sandy, having been both personally affected and having witnessed the devastation of other's loss. This led to the determination to not take any thing for granted ever again, and to instead sit in a place called gratitude - on a daily basis.

He says he does this by asking himself a radical question, multiple times on a daily basis. Simply: What's right in my life? And in even more detail: What's right about the people in my life?

I was inspired by Tony's article, having been experiencing some personal difficulty transitioning back into the workplace after so many years of being my own boss, as talked about in previous blogs. I set myself up a little book, called the What's Right In My Life Book. I thought I would write in it every day, and turns out I don't need to do it daily. I probably do it once a week, or a little more if I feel myself feeling a bit down and I want to instantly change my state of mind.

I was also equally determined to continue with that "holiday feeling" that I blogged about in January; experimenting with ways in which I could relaxed and remain in-balance while returning to the demands of a full time job.

I am happy to report that things have been going rather well! Of course I get tired having to awaken at 6am every day, but I think that's pretty normal. And yes, the commute is a bit of a pain, but it's not that bad. And of course it's still summer here, where after-work swims in the sea and walks on the beach or in the reserve certainly help to elongate my day. But even taking into account all of these things, both negative and positive, I really have come to believe that focus may just be pretty much everything.

I was stuck in a pattern before of focusing on what didn't feel right, what was causing discomfort, the relationships I was finding hard and wanted to improve, the problems I had to solve in order to "feel better" or get to a better place. In essence, life had become a problem that needed to be solved, as Tara Brach would say.

By having a regular discipline, as Tony shares, to focus on what's right in my life, there's been an evolution in my thinking, and a definite perceptible shift in my perception, and, well, a shift in just how I feel. I wouldn't say I experience elation, as Tony states that he does; certainly happiness and sometimes, joy.

By deciding that I really don't have any problems to solve, that I have everything I need, that I am an exceptionally lucky individual, and by focusing on all of this on a daily basis and generating a feeling of gratitude, I feel I have freed up space and energy to simply take things as they are in the moment, be kind to myself, and get on with just enjoying experience, whatever it might be. The result is much more resilience and happiness.

If this has inspired you to experiment with shifting your focus, deliberately and regularly, here are the questions I ask myself (and write down) and a weekly - if not more - basis:

  1. What's right in my life?
  2. What's right about the people in my life?
  3. What are the experiences that I had today teaching me?
  4. What can I feel happy about having achieved today?
  5. What are any positive progressions (changes) that I noticed today?
  6. How did I support myself and my energy today?

As always, am curious about your thoughts and experiences. Do share below, and let's have a little chin-wag!

Charlotte.

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