Wednesday, 2nd March 2011
Creating happiness in hard times
Does happiness come from external factors like money, a contented home and family life, a comfortable environment and a secure future? Or is happiness something that we create from within ourselves? Is it simply our body's constitution that means some people are happier than others? To what extent do negative circumstances make us unhappy? How - and how much - do stress levels affect our happiness? How often do we – should we – feel happy? What stops us from feeling happy? Why can't we always accept ourselves, and if we did, would it make us happier? Why do we sometimes blame others for our own unhappiness and not take responsibility for ourselves? So many questions!
Being happy is one of the best – if not the best – feelings we can ever experience. When we think of the moments of the greatest joy in our lives – the day we fell in love, when a baby is born, when our team scores a winning goal, a romantic walk along a beach hand in hand, when we are with old friends and someone recalls a funny incident – these are all times we feel the exhilarating thrill of happiness. Even the memory of such times can bring a smile to our faces. But in the bleak, harsh reality of 2011 in Ireland, with cutbacks, redundancies, hardships, bail-outs and uncertainty - it can be difficult to be positive.
In the current climate, many of us have forgotten how to laugh, how to be happy and how to be positive. Yet if we see problems as life lessons, we begin to realise that far from being a hindrance, they can actually help guide us to a place of greater contentment. By accepting our life lessons with an awareness that "life is just as it is," and without taking things too personally, we can allow ourselves to feel more of the joy that resides naturally within ourselves. The fact is, we all have a choice. We can choose to be bitter, we can focus on the doom and gloom, we can blame the bankers, the politicians, the developers, the regulators, anyone we like ... or we can choose to let go of our negative emotions, and take responsibility for our own happiness.
In a strange way, the recession has also brought about many positive benefits. With the Celtic Tiger, we had plenty of money but no time ... now the opposite is true. People are going back to growing their own vegetables and eating more healthily. Families are rallying around and helping one another. More and more communities are taking greater responsibility for what goes on in their neighbourhood, making things happen rather than waiting for local authorities to do something. And people are simplifying their lives, realising that happiness comes from within, and not from how many possessions they have.
There is another compelling reason to choose happiness over gloom. In my experience, there is a direct link between our happiness and our health. People might believe that they have a legitimate right to be angry, but if they understood the harmful effects of their negative feelings on their health, they might find it easier to forgive and to face the future more positively. Health is not just simply an absence of disease ... it is also a feeling of joyfulness and a happy feeling that you create from within. Research is starting to prove that happy people tend to be healthier people!
Everyone wants happiness, and everyone would like to be happier – and most people are aware that we often choose to limit our own happiness! I believe that first and foremost, happiness is about accepting yourself. Nobody's perfect, but you can start by being kind and loving yourself. My latest positive living workshop "Creating Happiness in Hard Times" will show you how to be more positive and feel happier in the current challenging circumstances. Full of practical advice and fun exercises, the workshop agenda also includes the following topics:
• The crucial role of happiness for our health and well-being.
• Beliefs, thoughts and feelings: positive steps we can take to attract what we want into our lives.
• Happiness from within compared to happiness from external factors, circumstances and people.
• Laughter truly is the best medicine!
• The importance of acceptance of self and of life itself, and the physical effects on the heart if we are not comfortable in our own skins.
• Understanding what anxiety and worry can do to us ... and the hugely positive impact of happy emotions.
• Letting go, trusting, and moving with the changes.
• Natural remedies to help our bodies shift!
"Creating Happiness in Hard Times" takes place on Saturday 12th March in Seville Lodge, Callan Rd, Kilkenny from 10.00 am to 1.00 pm. The cost is €40.00 / €20.00 unwaged. To reserve your place, or for more information, please call me on 087 2025753 or see my website www.bredagardner.com.
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