Ever looked at someone and thought “how are they so darn happy?!”
Well, it’s all in context, and if you aren’t feeling too good in yourself but wishing you were, you’re more likely to notice it around you. Kind of like when you think about buying a certain car, and next minute you seem to notice them on the road a lot more.
That’s your mind actively searching for something that was always there, but now you’re more consciously aware of it. It was right under your nose all the time – just like that smile that you deserve!
In fact, that last line may have even made you smile… and in turn, made you feel a little happier. But if it didn’t, don’t worry, because you can fool your mind.
It loves patterns, and one of the many strong patterns you’ve taught it accidentally via repetition, is that when you smile, you feel happy. You can literally force a smile on your face, your mind connects it with feeling happy, so gives you that nice rush of feel-good chemicals.
Go on, try it now. And if you’ve forgotten how to give yourself a good old fashioned goofy smile, simply hold a pen between your teeth. That action activates the necessary smile muscles (this particular version can also make things feel funnier too!).
There’s been a lot of studies into this over the years, so in 2019, a team of psychologists from the University of Tennessee, combined data from 138 studies conducted over 50 years, testing more than 11,000 participants, and found that yep, facial expressions do impact our feelings. I’ll assume they were ecstatic – with or without pens held between their teeth. Whatever works hey!
Earlier I mentioned patterns, and if you want to hack more happiness, it’s important to understand what’s going on up top in that grey blob. Pretty much all your behaviours, habits and skills are the result of teaching your mind and / or body to react a certain way. Basically, when you repeatedly do something, eventually your subconscious mind takes over and metaphorically says “sweet, I got this mate, you don’t have to worry about it, I’ll take over. I’ll run that pattern without you having to even think about it.”
A great example of this is driving – at first when you learnt to drive, you had to focus on every little thing. You were consciously aware of how much pressure to put on the accelerator or brake, when to change gears or check the mirrors etc. But the more you did it, the less you had to think about it – so somewhere between learning and now, your subconscious mind jumped in and said “sweet, I got this mate! You don’t even have to think about it – I’ll run that pattern for you.” That’s why you can do the complex task of driving, whilst singing along with the radio, chatting on Bluetooth, or thinking about what’s going on at work. Sometimes to the point that you get to your destination, and suddenly think “how the hell did I get here safely, I don’t really remember the full journey!”.
Now these patterns can be good or bad, accidental or on purpose, but just realise your mind will get used to them anyway, and run them for you.
Leveraging this, you can force more happiness into your life regularly, and with that repetition, allow it to become another automatic habit.
Often, we’re so busy and caught up in life that we don’t go out of our way to do something that we know will make us feel great.
Simply start small. Whether it’s just a five-minute window each day where you read a chapter of a book, a 15-minute stop at your favourite café, a phone call to a friend or relative each day, a session on the Playstation. Add it to your schedule, make it a part of your lifestyle – get your mind used to feeling happy. Happiness can be just another really good habit.
Or, just pop another pen between your teeth, sit back and feel fantastic!
Get in with a chance to WIN a copy of Mindhacking Happiness. Good Luck!