Take The Test What Makes Your Heart sing whilst in lockdown
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received during COVID has been this, lockdown is a gift from the universe to work on yourself! Sounds a little strange I know but what if these strange and almost apocalyptic times could be perceived as an opportunity for personal growth?
Sure we might be home-schooling our kids, all whilst working remotely. But guess what?
All things are difficult until we try them, modify and make it easy.
You’ve currently got time right now because you aren’t absorbed into your normal routine. You aren’t doing all the normal crazy stuff of running here and there, fitting in all the sport and socialisation. You’ve essentially been gifted a time out from the universe to reboot, reset, rejuvenate and regenerate.
And before you give me every excuse under the sun, I can see how much time you’ve got based on the amount you’ve been posting on social media. I’m an ex-detective, I pay attention to shit like that. In fact, you’ve probably been Netflix binging as well. But what if I were to suggest spending half an hour exercising, working on your side hustle or passion? It would require effort and for you to apply yourself. And for some reason, this sounds difficult or like hard work.
So make it count! Now is the exact time to ask yourself “what might you have to do in order to change?”
None of us wants to settle for an average life which is discoloured by our inability to make our deepest wishes come true. But prior to COVID-19, is that what you were doing? Were you a mouse on the wheel simply going through the motions? Tony Robbins advocates the first step is goal setting and creating the invisible to visible.
But do you know how to follow through from goal setting to implementation instead of giving up early and not achieving? Goals when planted deep within our subconscious, should prompt our motivation into stimulated action. Goals should get you out of bed early in the morning and hungry to achieve the small steps to move forward.
But where do we get the drive to get and remain motivated? Dopamine is a brain neurotransmitter and is often considered a pleasure molecule. It is so much more. Dopamine makes us desire things and drives us out of the lounge chair, away from the TV and to our projects which give us rewards. Scientific research on rates, whereby pleasure centres of the brain were stimulated, demonstrated that dopamine drives brain developmental neural pathways, hence repeating patterns to achieve pleasure or reward.
Here’s the trick with goal implementation. Do a task associated with a pleasurable reward. Your brain will release dopamine because it is anticipating you will feel good. This is why drugs are so addictive.
What if your daily pursuit of happiness triggered similar effects to taking drugs? You’d do it, right? Well in actual fact when you’re scrolling through social media news feed, playing video games etc you are flooding your brain with dopamine and giving yourself a false hit, feeling let down when the high doesn’t arrive — so you do it more often and for longer to achieve success.
Just with this example alone, can you see how COVID could actually be a gift to disconnect from this fast lifestyle and reset how you seek happiness in your life?
Other than the obvious, ie social distancing, what do you need to detach from
or connect with in order to realise happiness in life? Do you actually know
what makes you feel happy without involving a handheld device? And yes,
we could be talking masturbation with toys here as well.
I’m asking you right here, right now. What makes you happy?
“The main difference (other than genetics) between happy and unhappy people are habits. Happy people engage in more happiness-boosting habits while unhappy people engage in more misery-inducing habits. It’s as simple as that.” — Develop Good Habits.
See how many of the following habits you can tick off the list!
1. Experience Flow Often —being fully immersed and involved in the present moment.
2. Exercise Regularly for both physical and mentally beneficial outcomes.
3. Stop And Smell The Roses — do you savour the moment and appreciate the positive experience?
4. Practice Mindfulness – the art of being fully present and aware of what we are experiencing.
5. Meditate — rewires the brain for happiness through complete relaxation.
6. Spend Time Outside — because you can but more importantly because it’s a mood accelerator.
7. Pursue Meaningful Goals – because it gives you a reason to get out of bed and be motivated every single day.
8. Spend Time With Friends And Family — investing in compassion and nurture within your social circle improves your listening, empathy and communication skills, which you can later apply to yourself.
9. Celebrate Other’s Success – respond with and share their enthusiasm from the other person, sharing the experience and their happiness as they bask in their success.
10. Engage In Deep Conversation – sharing the stuff that matters deepens our connections and allows us to be vulnerable, raw and speak our truth of what really matters. The happiness here comes from the sharing of dialogue.
11. Let Go Of Materialism — Instead of focussing on stuff, place your happiness meter against your experiences, friendships, passions, and hobbies, in order to determine what brings joy to your life
“A mountain of research has shown that materialism depletes happiness, threatens satisfaction with our relationships, harms the environment, renders us less friendly, likable, and empathetic, and makes us less likely to help others and contribute to our communities.” — Sonja Lyubomirsky.
12. Give Freely — “True happiness consists of making others happy,” says an ancient Hindu proverb. Helping others through being kind, generous and willing to lend a hand is a pillar stone to happiness.
13. Practice Gratitude — According to Develop Good Habits, “the emotion of gratitude has consistently been one of the strongest happiness boosters known in scientific literature”.
You hear me say this again and again, your thoughts become your actions. So it makes sense that the more you are actively practising gratitude, the more you will have to be grateful for and will be provided with more things to be grateful for. It becomes a never-ending abundance cycle.
14. Practice Forgiveness — probably my favourite quote of all time is that of Buddha who once said:
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the
one getting burned.”
Forgiveness is never for the other party but a gift to ourselves to lighten the emotional burden of our response. Our inability to forgive harms ourselves more than anybody else, including our wrong-doers.
15. Have Hope And Optimism For The Future — This is pretty challenging right now with COVID and the unknown date for the lifting of lockdown. Here’s the thing, when we have an intention to be hopeful and are open for future opportunities, we feel excited, enthusiastic, motivated, and happy. We feel light. However when we overthink, go external to ourself and worry about the scenarios, we can feel anxious, depressed, and devoid of meaning.
16. Comfort Yourself In Hard Times — how do you treat yourself in tough times. Are you self critical, blaming, or put yourself down? Or are you reflective, positive and seeking opportunities for self-improvement?
17. Use Character Strengths Often — are you courageous, confident, compassionate, loyal, optimistic towards yourself on a daily basis?
18. See Your Job As A Calling — you gain more satisfaction from the worker for the greater good which contributes to something larger than yourself? Or is your work just a job where you make money?
19. Have Things To Look Forward To — Happy people tend to live active and somewhat busy lives, and the activities in the calendar provide anticipation of the happiness to come.
20. Spend Money On Experiences — I’ve long been a fan of experiences over gifts. It’s what life is all about, not the stuff we can buy. A wise mentor once reminded me that when you’re on your deathbed, you remember all the good old times with your friends and family, not the good old times with your hot red car or your stuff you’ve bought over the years.
21. Limit Your News Consumption — external media is paid to create sensationalism, to involve an emotional reaction. Guess what, you’ll react more intensely and for longer if the news is bad, rather than good. Additionally, only one viewpoint is ever broadcast on the news and it’s generally what the government of the day approves.
22. Aim For Good Enough — did you know that research indicates when we have a myriad of opportunities or possibilities to choose from we get stuck in making choice based on regret, social comparison, inability to adapt and concern about status. If you’re a maximiser, you’re always striving for the best of everything. However, if you’re a satisficer, you’re happy when something is good enough. You can change to become a satisficer when you move the perception from perfection to realisation.
23. Don’t Overthink Shit — you bottom out your happiness account with overthinking. Because each lap a negative thought does inside your head adds luggage to the cargo. You start to second guess yourself. You begin to doubt yourself. You create fears inside your head that didn’t previously exist – what if I’m not good enough? If you find yourself stuck wallowing, mindfulness is going to be an exceptionally useful tool for you to unwind the pattern.
24. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others — the minute you take your attention off yourself and place it on another you’ve lost control and cease investing in implementing your goals. Stick with remaining mindful or grateful for all that you have achieved. Measure your success off you.
25. Pursue Intrinsic Goals — the extrinsic goal is all about making it. The intrinsic goal is all about enjoying the process and links with our values and deeply held beliefs whereby our human needs are fulfilled.
26. Spend Time With Furry Friends — I’ve recently added two lab pups to my household. There’s something about having a wet nose greets you when you’re feeling challenged, and petting the soft hair. There are no narky discussions, just acceptance as love is exchanged. Animals are a happiness magnet and seem to soak up all your Negative nancy with a single pat!
Happiness isn’t something you purchase, it’s something you achieve internally through repeated action which becomes habits. The habit naturally drives us to strive to continually fill the happiness bucket!
Do what makes you happy
Be with you makes you smile
Laugh as mich as you breathe
Love as long as you live