World Happiness Report

Have you heard of the World Happiness Report? This report ranks over 150 countries in terms of people’s self-reported perception of their happiness. I read a blurb about the report. Fascinated, I then clicked on the link to read the actual report. Yea, I’m a bit of a geek. I figure I should put my data and analysis day job skills to use on something that actually interests me.

What I found interesting in the report was that Americans’ happiness has significantly decreased since 2012. What happened in 2012? This was the first year that most of Americans owned a smartphone. This especially caught my attention because 2012 is the year that I first had a smartphone!

There are many theories on what’s behind the correlation. It’s not so much the 24/7 access that the smartphone has to, well, pretty much everything you can dream up that causes the unhappiness. Most researchers say it’s what the smartphone is taking the place of, primarily in-person social connectedness.

That makes sense since social connectedness is a major factor in determining happiness. Just as I wrote in the post, Joy in Connecting with People, joy from connecting to others goes all the way back to our cave person days when we literally needed others for survival. Happiness from uniting with others is in our DNA!

In present day, as well, researchers have found that we greatly benefit from connections to others—we are physically healthier, less aggressive, more helpful, and we recover from stress easier. Just generally, we are happier when we interact with other people.

I’m not writing a scientific research paper here so I can just blurt out my opinion from my own personal information. For me, my smartphone has increased my happiness because nearly everyday I find myself being grateful that I have it so I can connect with my friends and family so easily—most of which don’t live nearby. I also use my smartphone to stay connected to my husband throughout the day. Some days we don’t actually text or email each other. But just knowing that we can, increases my feeling of connection to him.

So use your smartphone in smart ways. Don’t let it disconnect you from people, but rather use it to increase your bond to others. Talk, text, or email people significant in your life. You can even use it to simply set up when and where you are going to physically meet up with your friends or family. Remembering to be grateful that you have the device to easily keep in touch across distances near and far will ensure that you don’t fall into the statistic of the decreasing rate of American happiness.

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My Book: Trail to My True Self

It has been quite a while since I published a new blog post. It’s not because I have just been “sitting around”. Ha! For many months, I wasn’t quite sure how to follow the two previous posts about the traumatic period for my husband and me. So, I didn’t post anything.

But, I did write.

For several years, I had been working on a self-help type of book. Loving the process; then hating it. Picking up where I left off; and then abandoning it. A back and forth pattern that drove me crazy. But recently, things lined up to bring me the help, motivation, and inspiration I needed to get the book completed!

Since Don’s heart surgery, I’ve gotten a new perspective on life. It made me see past experiences in a new light and understand them on a different level.

So, I changed the genre of my book from self-help to memoir. That means my nitty-gritty personal stuff is in there! I recount the whole story of how a cute guy helped me to discover my self-worth issue while hiking in the Grand Canyon. The realization that my dad’s early death contributed to the denial of my true self. And how not valuing and loving myself played out in everyday life—fearing my first kiss as a teenager; being an imposter with my husband; and suffering at work, to name a few.

My hope is that this book leads you to strengthen the value and love you always deserved from your true self.

Check back soon for the upcoming release of Trail to My True Self: My Journey to Self-Love and Happiness!

 

Good Things from Traumatic Experience, Part 2: The Kindness of Others

We live in a fear-filled, finger-pointing, antagonistic, mixed-up world right now.  So says the news.  But another good thing I got out of this traumatic experience (click here for Part 1), is that even though people strongly disagree with each other and it seems there is so much hate in the world, there also is so much love and kindness out there.

 Family and friends’ help was elemental in me not going completely bonkers during this traumatic event.  Of their kindness I was already aware; I’m extremely blessed, especially with family (including in-laws!).  But what warms my heart to no end and what I didn’t expect are the many people -barely even acquaintances- that showed up, gave gifts, offered to do whatever we needed, or sent their good blessings.  In addition, (most of) the nurses and hospital staff blew me away with their generosity of spirit.  I found that I cried more tears from touching acts of kindness than from the trauma itself.

For instance, one nurse gave me a hug at the exact right moment and said precisely the right words that made me know we would get through this.  Don wasn’t even in the room at that moment so that was definitely not part of her job duties.  It was simply her being exceptionally kind.

Another instance was when I went back to work.  I had found that a project that I had left in mid-session was picked up without me uttering any request for help.  No, it was not in a steal-my-job kind of way or with a looming deadline.  It was simply him being exceptionally thoughtful by helping me out.

Other kind acts: My neighbors walking our dog and letting her hang out at their house because she seemed “lonely”; Acquaintances somehow getting my email or phone number to say they are thinking of us; Hospital waiting room staff suggesting to me to keep my (many and heavy) personal items behind their desk so I don’t have to lug them around the hospital all day.

These things all seem very small and, possibly, inconsequential.  Especially in light of the major corrupt and immoral things we hear about and sometimes experience firsthand.  But, don’t let the ego trick you!  These seemingly small things can have great effects.

I know for me the small acts of kindness made me feel loved.  They also gave me motivation to be more kind and helpful myself.  And the effects need not be for one person; the ripple effects cannot be measured.  Heard of “Paying it forward?”  Urban Dictionary defines it as, “When someone does a good deed for you, instead of paying them back, pay it forward by doing a good deed for someone else.”  You experience a kind act, and therefore, are inspired to do a kind act for someone else and then they do a kind act and so on and so on.  A few small kind acts can easily be turned into –well, not to sound too corny but- changing the world.

Of course, there are cruel and ruthless actions all around the world.  But no matter what I read or see in the news and on social media, I know, without a doubt, that there are more kind and loving people in this world than not.  Don’t wait for a traumatic event to notice them and be one of them!

Focus on the Many Things You Like (Not the One Thing You Don’t!)

The title of this post really says it all and is self-explanatory.  But, this concept was made crystal clear to me when I found myself focusing on one gift I received this holiday season that I didn’t like.  I had received so many wonderful gifts from various people and yet I was focusing on one “bad” gift.  This was only for a brief moment but it caught my attention.  Because this gift instance is a straight forward example, I was able to see the utter ridiculousness of putting our attention on what we don’t like or want.  Literally, surrounded by all these wonderful gifts and directing my attention at the one I didn’t like!

I realized how, as with the gifts, we have the choice to focus on one, or maybe even a few things, we don’t especially like or appreciate the multitude of other things we do like.  We can be (are!) surrounded by tons of good things – at times, they may seem like insignificant things, but they are good nonetheless – and miss them because we choose to emphasize the bad thing.

It’s pretty simple, so let’s not complicate it.  Do we want to dwell on the bad or good gifts?  What we put our attention and thoughts on determines how we feel.  The choice is ours.  (And remember, looking at the bad stuff won’t make it magically go away or improve.  See Law of Attraction and Joy)

What great gifts are all around you?

Be Happy When We Don’t Get What We Want!

I was feeling downright crappy when I didn’t get something that I really wanted.  After wallowing briefly, but intensely, I realized there must be some point to this.  With that non-judgmental thought, I opened to an insight.

It’s easy to be happy-go-lucky when we get everything we want and when things go our way.  As I mentioned in the last blog, during my Gratitude Experiment I realized I had to also be grateful when things didn’t go how I wanted.  This was one of those times – I had to be grateful –and also happy– despite not getting what I wanted.

Why?

Why be happy when we don’t get what we want?  Because things aren’t always going to go how we prefer.  Shit happens.  (Yes, even when we envision, go with the flow, pray, meditate, and connect to God.)  Being happy regardless of what we get or don’t get is the only way we can be in charge of our happiness; it’s the only way to not be victims of other people’s actions.  It’s the only way we can be free from having our feelings dictated by other people and circumstances.  They are our feelings.

If we are only happy when a specific outcome occurs, then we’re stuck; we’re dependent, we’re not free; we’re in emotional jail dependent on others to let us out.

Another reason is if we get stuck in a bad mood we won’t notice or appreciate when something good enters our lives, like a new opportunity or rendezvous with a helpful person or even merely the beauty that already surrounds us.  We won’t see these things because we’re too busy being dark, sad, pitiful, blaming others, going around saying how bad life is.  We can’t see the good stuff when we’re in ‘life sucks’ mode.

How?

How can we be happy when we don’t get what we want?  Let’s not pussyfoot around.  This can be difficult.  It can be excruciatingly painful when we don’t get what we want.  Everything inside us feels like we want to throw a 2 year old temper tantrum!  But, don’t do that.  Or rather, throw a momentary tantrum, get it all out and really let loose!  And then, accept things and get to the business of getting happy despite the circumstances.  Here’s some ideas:

  • Turn our focus on things we do like.
    • Say things like, ‘Even though I didn’t get x, I already have y which I enjoy.’
    • List random things that we like and appreciate.
    • Recognize that not getting this particular thing, didn’t take away all our other good stuff.
  • Deliberately look at what good came –or can come– from not getting this thing. This was highlighted in a previous post.  But, in a nutshell, when we know and see what we don’t want, we more clearly know what we do want. Also, we can see it as an opportunity for personal growth.  ‘What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’ can be a corny adage, but it’s exceedingly true!  We can also learn what not to do or how to do something better from our or others’ mistakes or flaws.
  • Be aware that we can’t see the full picture. God may have bigger, better vision and objectives for us.  This “mishap” may lead to that.  We’ve got to remain open-minded, and not think we know the one and only thing or path that is best for us.  I love this parable on this subject:
This farmer had only one horse, and one day the horse ran away. The neighbors came to console him over his terrible loss. The farmer said, “What makes you think it is so terrible?”
A month later, the horse came home–this time bringing with her two beautiful wild horses. The neighbors became excited at the farmer’s good fortune. Such lovely strong horses! The farmer said, “What makes you think this is good fortune?”
The farmer’s son was thrown from one of the wild horses and broke his leg. All the neighbors were very distressed. Such bad luck! The farmer said, “What makes you think it is bad?”
A war came, and every able-bodied man was conscripted and sent into battle. Only the farmer’s son, because he had a broken leg, remained. The neighbors congratulated the farmer. “What makes you think this is good?” said the farmer.

 

So, let’s not get fixated on what we think we “know for sure” will make us happy.  Allow some space in there for the Universe to work its magnificence.

Then, every time that crappy feeling comes back about not having what we want – and it probably will- do the above again and feel grateful for the opportunity given to feel true freedom.

Manifest Our Desires (aka, Get Things We Want)

Of course we can be joyful without any material object or relationship.  The ultimate goal is to be happy regardless of any external thing.  But…we want things!  And that is perfectly normal and natural.  We are in this world of physicality.  Let’s embrace and enjoy material things, always mindful that we don’t need them to be happy.  But that it is more than okay to have fun with and enjoy things.

So how do we get things we want?  A lot of hard work and physical effort?  Wrong!  But it seems that is what most people believe.  From the Puritan Work Ethic, conservative religion, governments, etc. trying to control the masses, whatever the origin, this is what has been ingrained in most people’s minds in our society.  But it simply is not true.

The work hard motto has definitely been ingrained in my mind.  But by playing around with, testing out and doing some experiments for fun, I’ve seen, first-hand, what can be manifested by not putting in that 110% physical effort.  At least not in the typical way.  It all has to do with focusing our thoughts.  Manifesting physical things all begins with what we think and how we feel emotionally.

The way we feel is the indicator of what we are thinking and what vibration we are.  Feeling good means we are thinking good thoughts (joy, happiness, appreciation, fun, enthusiasm, love) and indicates we are at a high vibration.  Feeling bad means we’ve mostly had negative thoughts going on (worry, sad, angry, jealous, bored, guilt, confused, fear) and means we are at a low vibration.

Whoa.  What the heck is vibration?  This is where the science comes in.  Yep, that’s right…science.

I’m definitely not a scientist nor completely understand science.  (And please pardon me if I have some slight errors in explaining the science.)  But I think it is worth it to take some time to ponder the quantum world.  Not just for the sake of expanding our minds, but to fully realize that we shape our reality whether we are aware of it or not.

Science proves the existence of vibration.  Quantum physics has shown that everything is made up of energy.  And all energy is moving, or, in other words, vibrating.  Everything is made up of millions of subatomic particles that are vibrating.  Everything vibrates at different rates or frequencies.  Including us.  (Also including our thoughts. But, we’ll get to that in a minute.) Envision everything as masses of vibrating energy, rather than as what we can see and touch.  This is not just theory but proven scientific discoveries by esteemed scientists like, Albert Einstein, Niels Bohr, and Max Planck (names to google, if you desire).

Einstein’s famous equation, which most of us have at least heard of, from the 1920s, E=MC2, states that matter (physical objects) and energy can be converted into each other and thus are essentially the same!  Energy – something we cannot see – and matter – that which we can see – are the same things in different forms.  He theorized, through mathematical equations, that everything is made of atoms and that all atoms consist of sub-atomic particles which consist of pure energy at their most basic level.  Even things that appear to be very different.  At their basic level, everything is made up of this same energy.

It was just Einstein’s theory; for there was no way to prove it at the time.  But it has now been proven over and over again by highly regarded scientists.  In other words, it is not just some out of the blue, airy-fairy idea.  (Although this is where I do not fully understand the science behind it and cannot seem to wrap my head around these experiments!  This is where I trust the scientists and move beyond to where this fact can actually benefit my life.)

Then came the Copenhagen Interpretation by Niels Bohr, also from the 1920s.  This says that a particle doesn’t exist in one state or another (energy or physical) but in all possible states simultaneously.  It’s not until we observe it that it chooses its state.  Quantum physics has proven that the same atom can be a solid physical particle or a non-physical wave of energy depending on what the observer is expecting.

So what this means in practical terms is that our thoughts create physical things!  Everything that was created was a thought first.  Again, this is not a self-help or new age-y idea.  This is scientifically proven and accepted as fact in the professional scientific community for almost one hundred years.

The idea of Quantum Entanglement began in the 1930s in a paper by scientists Einstein, Podolsky, and Rosen, which was later proven in multiple experiments.  In these experiments (which continue through the modern day), subatomic particles of energy were split in half.  It was found that each half affected the other half regardless of how physically far apart they were and the effect was received instantly.  It did not matter if the halves were close to each other or across the globe.  Regardless of physical distance, interacting with one half always had a simultaneous effect on the other half.  Because the effect was instantaneous – did not take time to travel through space – this means each half is still connected with the other.  If the Big Bang theory is correct (note that Einstein’s theories, and many other esteemed scientists of the time, could not be proven at the time until technology advanced to provide ways to test the theories), then everything in the world was “entangled” at the start, so that means everything has an effect on everything else.

Our Thoughts are Energy

How do we know our thoughts are made of this same energy?  It seems like thoughts could be an exception (says the ego).  But consider this: Our brains generate an electrical field which these days can be measured by ordinary medical equipment, such as, electroencephalogram (EEG).  An EEG works by measuring the fluctuations in voltage within the brain.  Voltage is defined on dictionary.com as electromotive force.  In other words, energy!  So that is confirmed – our thoughts are energy.  The same energy that Einstein stated made up everything.

So that then means the same principles that are proven for quantum physics (above) also apply to our thoughts:  Matter and energy can be converted into each other; All possibilities exist simultaneously and our observation or expectation determines state; Everything has an effect on everything else regardless of distance.

These “strange” phenomena happen not only in lab experiments with particles, but in our everyday lives!

The difference between our thoughts and particles is that we have free will over our thoughts.  We can think whatever we choose.  (See previous post.) We can direct and focus our thoughts and thus affect our environment and everything in it.  In other words, we can get things we want by thinking about them.

If the case is still not made that our thoughts create reality (my ego is very stubborn!), perhaps some more science will settle it.  Experiments starting in the 1970s at Princeton University showed that thoughts affected a random event generator (REG).  A random event generator is a device that produces completely random and unpredictable series of numbers.  When a person intentionally tried to direct the numbers, the sequences shifted and were significantly proven to not be by chance.  They also did experiments in various field settings (outside the lab) with activities comprised of large groups of people.  They found that the output generated by the REGs shifted based on events such as touchdowns in football games and peak moments in performances.  Thus, unintentional, as well as intentional, thoughts both affected the REGs.  This is a really neat experiment that shows the effect of our thoughts.

In Hidden Messages in Water, scientist Masaru Emoto wrote about the effects of words and thoughts on water.  When water is frozen, crystals form.  He found again and again that positive thoughts and words made the ice form beautiful crystals; negative ones made deformed crystals or no crystals at all.  (Check out the Water Crystal Photo Gallery for some fascinating pictures: masaru-emoto.net/english/water-crystal.html).  Not only does this support our case about our thoughts affecting our reality, but it also shows that thoughts affect our bodies because our bodies are 70% water!

Try some experiments for yourself to really seal the deal to your doubting ego.  I love the book, E-squared, by Pam Grout.  She’s got nine DIY energy/thought experiments that are not only convincing but fun!

How fascinating are quantum physics and these experiments!  In a nutshell, science says that our thoughts create material things and everything is possible.  The quantum physicist Niels Bohr said, “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”  Even the genius Einstein deemed quantum entanglement theory as “spooky”.

Please share your ideas and comments about quantum science and creating your reality.  Or even better, examples of what you intentionally created with your thoughts!  Next post, we’ll talk specifically about our thoughts in terms of visualization and imagery.

Law of Attraction and Joy

I haven’t written much in the Keys to Joy blog about the Law of Attraction.  Possibly because it may rub some people the wrong way.  But I’m okay with that now; to each their own.  Also, because it was quite pervasive for awhile.  It seemed like everywhere you turned, the buzz phrase, “Law of Attraction”, was written or said.  I think it got “old” fast and not fully understood.  Regardless, Law of Attraction is a very important part of my life and belief system.  Although it is only recently that I fully realized the high level of its importance.

Firstly, the definition of Law of Attraction is “like attracts like”.  We attract things into our lives with our thoughts and feelings, whatever is a match comes to us.  This is an oversimplified definition as there are many factors to consider such as, ego (limited perspective), intentions, past lives, everything is energy, the overall (rather than specific) vibration (energy) of things, etc.  Please read anything by Esther and Jerry Hicks (Abraham) for very in-depth information.  But this definition will suffice for what I’d like to get across in this post.

I was in a slump.  Thing after thing was bad and getting worse.  It started with being slightly annoyed with someone.  Rather than work through this by figuring out what it was reflecting in myself or focusing on something else, I let it bring me down emotionally.  My annoyance turned to anger.  From there, I fumed and fumed.  Thoughts about all things I didn’t like in my life seemed to percolate in my mind. Then I felt hopeless and full of despair.  Then the “real” evidence began to appear.  I got swamped with work I did not like, co-workers were not respecting me, my body had new aches and pains.  Fortunately, I had been doing inner work long enough to stop and ask what was going on with me, rather than simply blaming others and circumstances.  I used the affirmation – Only good will come from this.  And then asked, what was the good?

That’s when I realized the good was seeing how the Law of Attraction works in a real life example.  It also helped me to fully understand that the crap I was experiencing wasn’t because I was bad or unworthy of good.  It’s simply the Law of Attraction.  Abraham (Esther Hicks) says Law of Attraction is a very fair friend.  It always gives you exactly what you are a vibrational match to.  This can be a harsh point to face when our lives aren’t as we want them to be. But, Law of Attraction is responding to our feelings and energy, not what we say we want.

If we say we want a million dollars but most of the time we complain about not having enough money or wonder how we are going to pay a bill or be bitter or jealous towards those with a lot of money, the Law of Attraction is “hearing” our overall feeling of complaining, jealousy and distrust.  Those feelings are not a match to abundance.  We may be saying or even thinking we want a million dollars but then we feel otherwise.  And those feelings are much stronger than our words.  Consider this, we may be saying one thing, but deep down we are actually feeling the opposite.  And remember Law of Attraction is responding to what underlies our words, not the words themselves.

Fortunately, we have the ability to focus our attention.  It is absolutely, 100% our decision what we focus our thoughts on (it may seem difficult, especially in certain situations, but it is just one of those things where practice is key).  The Universe “hears” whatever we are focused on.  Even if we say we do not want something.  In our negation, we are focused on it and so it comes to us.  Just like an internet search – suppose you type in, “not polar bears”.  What that search will yield is tons of information about polar bears.  It’s not going to bring up everything not about polar bears.  And so it is with your thoughts and the universe. If you’re saying not polar bears, you actually are thinking about polar bears even though you don’t want them in your life, and polar bears is what you will get.

But how do we not think about what we don’t want?  It is very difficult, if not impossible, to make ourselves full-on stop thinking about something we are already thinking.  But by giving more attention to what we do want, we naturally flood out those unwanted thoughts.

We can also commit to paying more attention to what we are thinking. When we become more aware of our thoughts rather than just letting them fly haphazardly, we have the control to divert their direction.  To get started, put a reminder note – What am I thinking? – somewhere that you see often, or ask a friend to remind you every day, or ask the question during a routine activity so you link it to that daily activity, like showering, brushing your teeth, or eating dinner.

We can designate a specific time of day or activity where we focus on something specific we want.  First thing when we open our eyes, at noon, driving to work, waiting in line, during (muted) tv commercials are all opportunistic times to deliberately focus our minds on what we desire.

It has also been shown that those who practice meditation have an easier time focusing their thoughts.  Research has shown that the more we practice thinking a certain way, our neural pathways actually change.  So meditating will actually help us later to focus on what we want.  A couple of deep breaths with our attention on the breath is a type of meditation.  So no ego-excuses about not being able nor having time to meditate!

Remember to keep it fun! Or at least not a chore.  If focusing on what we want becomes chore-like, then our root feeling is negative which then cancels the entire focused thought process.

What fun, creative ways have you discovered that help you to keep focused on what you want?

Next post we’ll talk more about manifesting specific desires and the science behind it!