The Marci Shimoff way
summary of her book, part 2
(ch. 2 summary of her book, Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out)
Her personality profile of someone who is HNR
-radiating energy, like small suns (points of light, HW Bush would say)
-optimists, not only half-full; rather, carrying a pitcher of water, and for others' glasses as well
-quiet presence of peace/contentment, centers of calm in the chaos
-love to spend time with; raises your spirits (even on grumpiest of days)
-excited every morning to be on the adventure called life
-advice for life to her: Be Happy!
Thomas Jefferson's pursuit of happiness doesn't mean chasing after,
but rather to practice, do regularly, make a habit
Psychologists say at least 90% of all behavior is habitual. Some say you can just make up your mind to be happy, and that's it, you will be. It takes practice, like becoming a piano virtuoso, she says. It doesn't happen overnite. Habitual thoughts and behaviors are like wiring in your brain, and you need to carve out new grooves or neural pathways, the habits of happy people, to become like them.
Regarding the brain, it's been found out recently that adult brains have neuroplasticity. In other words, habits can change, they are not set in stone, and we can think of things like compassion and happiness as skills that can be learned like tennis or a new musical instrument. (wow, huh?)
First, identify what (factors) leads to happiness, and what leads to suffering; then cultivate and eliminate. That is the way, according to the dalai. (what if you're a demon?)
2 Myths widely cause suffering, she points out:
the myth of more, and the myth of I'll be happy when
more, more, more! The M.O.M. is what the television bombards us with, on a constant basis. It's a deep-seated belief in the power of money, and all the things it can buy, to make us happy. However, nearly 40% of the Forbes wealthiest Americans are unhappy. And get this: Once personal wealth exceeds 12,000 dollars, more money produces virtually no increase in happiness. One story about the set-point is that people who win the lottery eventually return to their happiness set-point. Also, American's average level of happiness has remained the same, despite a two and a half times growth in personal income. Commercials are repetitive ad nauseum, and I will always loathe them, as long as they are interrupting something I would rather see, and especially if they advertise something I will never buy. I want my ideal society and I want it now. Waaa. Make a just-commercial channel, for Christ's sake (or Pete's).
The myth of I'll be happy when
Postponing happiness is like running like a hamster in a wheel. The time to be happy is, and will always be, NOW. Two other points: we're not very good at judging what will make us happy in the future, and anyway, the thrill diminishes with use of whatever was supposed to make us happy forever, through habituation.
Three factors toward happiness, to cultivate:
1)what expands you makes you happier
2)The universe is out to support you
3)What you appreciate, appreciates
1)what expands you makes you happier (this makes me think of santa eating his venison or whatever) (The fat santa -ho!ho!ho! reminds me of the big bellied laughing buddha). She's not talking about gaining weight (I think), but is talking about what the book The Lost Steps referred to as throwing out links to everything, which I have taken to heart as one of the last remaining jedis or something. I'm on the web. Maybe I'm Spidey. I saw a kid dressed up as the webshooting hero with his mom walking down the sidewalk in Calistoga a little while back. It's a small world, after all.
she thinks of it like this:
-everything in the universe is composed of energy, including you- so doing things like yoga or taichi, (actually, her directions are: sitting straight, bringing your shoulders back, opening your arms wide, take a deep breath, smile, and close your eyes)...are expansive, i guess, gets you into the state with oxygen absorption, dilation of blood vessels, muscle relaxation, smooth heart rhthms, and "increased integration" of your brain's functioning. It's described as free, open, joyful, with a feeling of expansion, lightness, and space.
She's really into expansive as good, and contracting as bad, for some reason. I don't really get it.
If you do the opposite, with hunched shoulders, fists, short quick breaths, and a frown- you'll feel anxious, tight, agitated, with a feeling of heaviness (which she calls contraction). I take it to mean she's on a mission, and wants to go global, to give her life meaning. I get that.
I just think of expansion as getting fatter, like a balloon about to pop, and contractions as part of the birthing process (which aren't known to be the happiest of motherly moments). But whatever.
But anyway, after you feel contraction, a physiologist could tell that anger, fear, sadness, jealousy contract us and "literally constricts the flow of our life energy" by monitoring muscle tightening, shallow breathing, and hampered circulation.
To me, this sounds like she's trying to make the fight or flight response a matter of contraction of chi or something. It's not sitting that well with me. I can't say that I've ever felt either contracted or expanded. The metaphor is just some words for me. I know she speaks and writes for women.... She says contraction is the feeling of unhappiness, fear, pessimism, constriction, resistance, low energy, disease, malaise, separation, and feeling bad.
Expansion, on the other hand (or in the other column, as it were) involves happiness, love, optimism, flow, acceptance, vitality, ease, well-being, connection, and feeling good. Well who doesn't want that?? Maybe people are trying to be a global telepath, like I might be -spreading the joy like butter on my breakfast toast. What's that rhyme bout bitter batter?
So how do you feel? contracted or Expanded? Let expansion guide you on your way, young paduwan. By using the force (expansion vs. contraction), you will have your own guidance system, like a GPS or the children's game of "getting warmer, getting colder". She says we should make a list of things in our life under both columns, and then work on "course correction."
Everything that expands you makes you happier, she says. (was she hungry when she wrote this? Maybe she wants a little Shimoff (open, joyful, expansion, light, space...).
2) The Universe is Out to Support You
There are 3 ways to think about the universe: a)out to get you b)indifferent, c)out to support you. What she says we should believe is the idea that there are no mistakes and we should accept what is, so we can get to work on what needs to be dealt with effectively NOW. Also, people who believe in The Universe/God/whatever, think that whatever difficulties come their way happen for their own good, and they look for the blessings in them. It engenders a trusting and relaxed attitude toward life. Medically, a study on HIV patients showed that those who believed in a loving higher power lived longer than those who believe in a punishing One. She admits that war, suffering, cruelty, pain, famine, etc. can really test this belief, but she submits to the wisdom of "all the wise men and women who have ever lived...who all share this belief" and allows for the possibility of their more enlightened and clearer vision (which just happen to validate her thesis). In other word, you might die earlier, and in misery to boot, if you don't join the religious sheeple. Come on! Just do it! God is good! (She recommends that you just try it for a week or two, and see if it (assuming the universe is on your side) makes you any happier).
3) What you appreciate, appreciates
It's based on the Law of Attraction (like attracts like). What you think, feel, say, and do draws like toward you like a magnet. (well, maybe not, since a positive side attracts a negative side of another magnet). ANyway, if you appreciate Happiness, badabing badaboom you got it! She makes an interesting side note: People try and use the law to attract things to make them happy, but that's backwards -being happy attracts whatever makes you happy. So set your thoughts and frequency on happiness, because as you think, so shall ye find manifests. Her particular angle on this is that "it's fine to manifest your ideal car, home, or job, but the key to happiness in life isn't manipulating the world to give us what we want. It's the goal that underlies all goals, which is becoming Happy for No Reason. It works for material gain, but it also works on the spiritual level, such as focusing on gratitude during heartbreak, or appreciating progress, however small.
She has a catchy way of summarizing her own personal "secret formula" for using the law of attraction: Intention, Attention, and No Tension. (in a no).
-Intention is clearly visualizing what you want -in this case, happiness.
-Attention is letting the seed grow constantly from subconscious and conscious thought processes. Use the Happiness Habits, and feed and water your mind's emphasis.
-No Tension is just to sit back, relax, and let the law work it's magic. Well, no. Actually, it's just trusting that you are removing the blocks to experiencing greater happiness.
The Happiness Habits, I assume, are:
focus on the solution, look for the lesson and the gift, make peace with yourself
question your thoughts, go beyond the mind and let go, incline your mind toward joy
focus on gratitude, practice forgiveness, spread lovingkindness
nourish your body, energize your body, tune into your body's wisdom
invite connection to your higher power, listen to your inner voice, trust life's unfolding
find your passion, follow the inspiration of the moment, contribute to something greater than yourself.
tend to your relationships, surround yourself with support, see the world as your family.
(No Reason at all kind of translates into 21 reasons (the happiness habits)...but once you've internalized them, then you'll just be happy from the inside out, I assume she means)
That's the book!
1 year ago