Every test in our life makes us bitter or better.
Every problem comes to make us or break us.
The choice is ours whether we become victim or victor
- Alexander Alvarez
Happiness is no doubt an art. If we think of all the happiness artists we know who are able to be happy, they all have something in common. They have some drive that others, who are depressed, do not have.
Our body is a sophisticated machine of chemicals that are working together in a very brilliant way. Even if some parts of the machine are not functioning well, the body can fix itself by sending help. The molecules and the cells function with a drive to go somewhere, to do something. If the parts of the machine stop moving for some reasons, we get sick and eventually die.
Emotionally, people are much the same - they are born with a drive that goes through inhibition. If you do not use some of your emotional functions, you lose them.
Think of babies, fascinated by life. Everything is new to them and they are in the best mindset they will ever be - they are born explorers. What we see on the outside as checking the world around them translates in their brain to many connections and the biggest physical growth of their life. They do it without understanding, without skills and without money - exploring happiness.
Babies find things that make them happy and do them over and over again. They can watch the same movie many times and laugh again and again when Mom makes the same silly sounds.
I remember when Tsoof was a baby and experienced water slides, he would slide with a horrified look on his face, yet when he reached our outstretched hands at the bottom of the water slide, he would say, even before regaining his breath, "Again".
Kids are very driven to find happiness and use it as an internal compass that directs them forward. Adults, on the other hand, after not using this compass for a while, stop believing it exists.
Life coach as a tour guide
When I ask my clients, "What do you want?" they are often a little shocked, because they do not know what they want. They have a clear understanding of where they are not going, but as their "tour guide", I cannot use this to help them design their exploration journey. If they want me to help them get to their destination, I must know where that is. If you want to find happiness, look for it and decide where your happiness resides.
When no port in mind, no wind is favorable
One of the challenges people have in their search is believing that happiness resides in one place, where everyone can find refuge and peace, success and joy, friends and love. Another challenge is believing that you need to deserve getting there.
Babies, on the other hand, do not search for such a place and believe they deserve every second of their joy. Happiness is a birthright. Being alive means you deserve it. There is nothing you need to do, say or have to be happy. You only need to BE happy.
We live this life as explorers moving forward towards this place when we can live in peace with the world around us. While a tour guide takes people on expeditions of new places and sights, a life coach takes the client on an exploration journey of their own mind. When people reach their destination, they are fascinated to find that they are able, successful, friendly, kind, smart, funny and happy and that "the happy place" had been there all that time, in their mind and within reach.
When Tsoof stood on the top of the water slide, doing something he was afraid to do, he was exploring how far he could go with his fears. He had a natural drive that 2-year-olds have to do the things you fear, because you know that at the end of the ride, you will discover how brave you are.
There was a chance he would get to the bottom of the slide, hit the water with his face, be unable to breathe and discover that it was not fun at all, but at least he tried.
Courage is fear holding on a minute longer
- George Smith Patton
Another challenge for happiness explorers is the belief that obstacles are signs they are not on "the right path" that leads to happiness. They think life needs to be easy and without any challenges. In those situations, they avoid obstacles, challenges and problems and aim for a life in which everything is perfect, they are not worried, they succeed at everything, they love everyone and everyone loves them.
This makes them miss opportunities to explore their challenges and learn something about themselves. I always say that the main emotional function of a school is to give students the opportunity to explore the "I can" function of their brain. Discovering you can, you are strong, you are kind, you are capable, you are friendly and you are kind is way more important than what you learn in grammar or math lessons and these discoveries will bring you to your happiness faster.
This week, I had an amazing session with one of my clients. He is 40 years old and has sad, painful and dysfunctional relationships with everyone in his life - family, parents, wife, children, bosses, work colleagues and even neighbors. After lots of "I have no idea where I want to go" and "I have a vivid understanding of where I started and where I don't want to go", he learned about taking the journey inside and going down the water slide with a scary look on his face and excitement in his heart.
I told him that as a happiness explorer, you must
- Know where you are going
- Feel that you deserve happiness
- Have the courage to do the things you are afraid of, because they are the best signs of growth
After six months of coaching, he said, "The first time I tried to face my fear, I was in panic. I wanted to run away. The second time, I was still scared, but it did not feel like I would faint, and now, I feel I can control that feeling and shift the intensity of the feeling at will".
If you are a happiness explorer, work on these key factors in order to get going and reach your happy destination.
- Make a list of 100 things that make you happy to help you discover what you think your destination is
- Make a list of 100 things that make you worthy. You deserve happiness. Everyone does
- Make a huge list of your fears and conquer them one at a time. The easiest way to find your fears is to list all the things that are hard for you. If they are a bit hard, then you have a bit of fear. Get them out of your way. If they are extremely hard, you have an extreme fear. You can handle them gradually:
- Stand next to the water slide for a while and watch others enjoying it. Try to learn from them strategies for sliding and watch their faces as they reach the bottom
- Find someone or something to catch you and pick you up - a parent, a sibling, a life vest or goggles
- Stand at the bottom of the ladder and gather enough courage just to climb
- Climb up and watch others sliding
- Sit down, close your eyes, take a deep breath, let go and allow life to take you on an amazing journey
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear
- Ambrose Redmoon
So free yourself and look at life as an opportunity to explore your skills, abilities, talents and gifts, which you can take with you on your life expedition to find happiness.