Happiness: What Makes Us Happy & How To Build Your Happiness Core
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SNW009: What Makes Us Happy (and how to strengthen your happiness core)

What Makes Us Happy

(and how to strengthen your happiness core)

Episode Summary:
Everyone has a ‘core’ emotion that no matter what ups or downs they face during their life, they will – sooner or later – migrate back to.
For example, if someone has sadness as their core emotion – even if something happens in their life to lift their mood – it will only be temporary. They will fall back down to feeling sad again.
If someone has anger as a strong core emotion, then no matter what happens in their lives to change their mood state – it won’t last forever. Sooner or later, their anger will return.
And if someone has happiness as a strong core emotion, no matter how much it’s tested:
be it money, relationships or health, sooner or later they will return back to their core state of being happy.
And the stronger their core happiness state is, the quicker they’ll return to it.
In this episode I explain what the four key components to happiness are and reveal how you can strengthen your happiness core. To make ‘being happy’ your strong, default emotional state, no matter what life throws at you.
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Episode Transcript:

I believe we should take responsibility for our happiness…

Take control of it and work on developing and strengthening it.
That may sound like a stupid statement, but think about this:
Are you always consciously aware of your emotional state and can you change your mood if you need to?
Or do you let ‘life’ control how you’re feeling?
In other words, who is leading who here?
Are you taking control and choosing how you feel, no matter what life throws at you; or
do you let what happens in your life dictate if you’re feeling happy or sad, calm or angry or confident or pessimistic?
Because if you’re letting your emotions drive your life unchecked, one day you could find yourself in an emotional tailspin.
Let me explain what I mean by that.
We’ve all had periods in our lives when everything just went well.
We could do no wrong and everything flowed.
Of course, this makes us feel optimistic… happy.
And, because we’re feeling optimistic and happy, we get on a roll and everything keeps going right for us. That, in turn, continues to feed our optimistic, happy state.
But in contrast, we’ve all had periods in our lives when nothing went right.
Nothing flowed for us. Every decision we made turned out to be a disaster and everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong.
When this happens it makes us feel pessimistic and unhappy.
The more we expect the worst to happen, then the more it does.
That, in turn, continues to feed our pessimistic and unhappy state and so the negative cycle continues.
That’s why it is critical that we take control of our emotions and be as happy as often as we can.
But, let’s be honest.
There’s going to be times in our lives where our happiness is going to be tested.
Sometimes in small ways, which are relatively easy to recover from.
For example, you can have a screensaver on your phone that makes you smile, or proud, or grateful – every time you look at it; or
spend a few minutes reminding yourself of all the people that love and care for you; or
listen to music to bring you out of a bad mood, or to calm you down.
I use music all the time to alter my state.
Any of those methods will work to bring you back to feeling happy, after a temporary deviation.
But sometimes our happiness is going to be tested by large, life-changing events.
These are far more difficult to recover from.
For example, if you lost your job in the morning, crashed your car on the way home and when you finally got home, you caught your partner in bed with your best friend…
Then listening to Whams greatest hits – probably isn’t going to change your mood much!
So, when we face serious, life-altering events, we need something stronger to pull us back to happiness again.
To do that, we need to have ‘happiness’ as our strongest, number one, core emotion.
In other words, we need to have happiness as our factory reset.
Because, whatever ups or downs people have during their life, they will – sooner or later – migrate back to their strongest core emotion.
Happiness, the 4 pillars of happiness, the super now wow show, grant j marsh, grant marshSo, if someone has sadness as their core emotion, even if something happens in their life to lift their mood – it will only be temporary.
They will fall back down to their core emotion.
If someone has anger as a strong core emotion, then no matter what happens in their lives to change their mood state – it won’t last forever.
Sooner or later, their anger will return.
And if someone has happiness as a strong core emotion, no matter how much it’s tested:
Be it money, relationships, health – sooner or later they will return back to their core state of being happy.
And the stronger their core happiness state is, the quicker they’ll return to it.
I believe most people, if asked, would say that happiness is already their core state.
The problem is, I believe it’s not strong enough in most people.
And if your core happiness is weak, then when you do face challenges in your life, it’s going to take you longer to get back to being happy again.
And the longer it takes, the more dangerous it is.
Because if you’re not feeling positive emotions, then you’ll be suffering with negative ones.
Negative emotions left unchecked, will keep delivering more and more reasons to be negative.
Your life becoming a negative self-fulfilling prophecy, that sadly some people never escape from.
I’m sure we’ve all known someone who was once a happy person, but then something terrible happened in their life and, emotionally, they never recovered.
Never experiencing true happiness again. Instead they let the hurt and anger consume and control them. Slowly turning them bitter and pessimistic.
So how can we develop and strengthen our happiness emotion?
Well, the first step is understanding what makes us happy.
And it’s a question many of us spend little time considering.
Ask most people what makes them happy and you’ll get answers like:
Chocolate, shopping, drinking or going on holiday…
But eating, drinking, shopping or being happy two weeks a year, but miserable for the other fifty is not increasing your core happiness.
That’s like treating a damp wall by just painting over it. The damp will come back, you haven’t solved the root cause of the dampness.
I know… I tried it!
So what underpins our happiness?
Well, I believe there are four key components:
Health
Optimism
Purpose
Enthusiasm
Which handily, is an acronym!
HOPEHealth, Optimism, Purpose, Enthusiasm
Ok, so let’s quickly go through them.
Health: Having good health and not fearing being ill.
Optimism: Being confident about your future.
Purpose: Having a purpose in your life, working towards your dream. Whatever that is for you.
Enthusiasm: Being so excited by whatever your purpose, your dream or your ambition in life is.
So now we know the key components that underpin our happiness, the next step is to know our current happiness level.
Makes sense right? If you wanted to lose weight, you would weigh yourself first. Then you can measure how much weight you’ve lost over time.
Happiness, the 4 pillars of happiness, the super now wow show, grant j marsh, grant marshIt’s the same with your core happiness. You need to know where it is now, so you can see how far you have developed and strengthened it over time.
To calculate your existing happiness level, write down the four key components (which are Health, Optimism, Purpose and Enthusiasm) and rate yourself out of ten for each one.
For example, if you’re in excellent health and you never worry about any future health problems, then give yourself a 9 or 10.
But if you’re not feeling that optimistic at the moment, maybe give yourself a 5 or a 6.
Mark each of the four components as honestly as possible.
Once you know where you are now, you can then strengthen your happiness core and target any particular weak areas, by using these four Core Happiness Exercises…
Core Happiness Exercise #1. Physical Exercise
If you said to me I’m not listening to your show any more, I’m not going to read any more of your blogs and I’m not interested in your Facebook posts.
But before I disappear forever, what would be the one peace of advice would you give me?
Then my answer would be this:
Do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day.
The benefits are enormous.
First, you’ll be healthier. One of the core happiness components.
Second, exercise releases endorphins, neurotransmitters found in various parts of our body including the spinal cord and brain.
They’re a chemical that interacts with receptors in your brain to reduce your perception of pain. And they also trigger a feeling similar to morphine.
Various studies have found that exercise significantly increases the release of endorphins which, in turn, improved mood states.
Studies have also shown, that after exercise the increased mood will last for the rest of the day.
Third, exercise also increases neuron growth, reduces stress, increases working memory, improves cognitive control and increases our brains information processing speed.
And that’s just scratching the surface.
If they could manufacturer a tablet that provided you with all the benefits that a 30 minutes a day aerobic exercise provides – it would cost a fortune. But you would probably still buy it!
And look,
You don’t have to be running a marathon by next year.
You don’t have to be going to the gym pumping iron three times a week.
If you only do a little exercise at the moment, start gradually. Maybe just a few more brisk walks three or four times a week.
Then just build it up, until you’re doing around 30 minutes a day.
Core Happiness Exercise #2 – Develop Your Gratitude
If a lack of optimism is affecting your happiness, then this exercise will be great for you.
Because all of us lose focus of the real important parts of our life, sometimes.
For example, how many times have you been upset, or angry or hurt and then you hear someone else’s bad news and then you’ve thought, “that’s put my problem into perspective.”
If you can purposely and consciously keep everything you are grateful for ‘in mind’, it will help you keep day-to-day challenges in perspective.
And if you’re constantly reminding yourself I’m grateful for my children, I’m grateful for my partner, I’m grateful for my parents, I’m grateful for my health, I’m grateful for my family’s health and so on.
Well, believe me, that will increase your optimism significantly.
So how do you develop your gratitude?
Well, the advice has normally been to force yourself to write down a list of between three to five things you are grateful for, each day.
And if you can do that, everyday single day and you will never stop – then great, that will probably be the best way to develop your gratitude levels.
That’s exactly what I did when I heard about it a decade or so ago.
I started on a Monday, enthusiastically wrote another list on the Tuesday… and haven’t done it again since!
And that’s the problem I have with many of these ‘self-development’ strategies.
Most will work, but if nobody has the time or the inclination to do them… well, then they’re obviously not going to work!
This is what I do to keep myself grateful and it may work for you too:
I  have gratitude theme weeks.
Over the weekend I choose what I will be grateful for during the following week.
For example, one week was for my daughter. I then spent the entire week keeping my gratitude for her – consciously – at the top of my mind.
I’m not saying I’m not grateful for her the rest of the time. But it was extremely powerful for me, to spend an entire week reminding myself how ridiculously lucky I am to have a daughter like her.
Happiness, the super now wow show, grant j marsh, grant marshNow, how can you not be optimistic when you’re having those thoughts all week?!
Give it a go. You only have to pick one thing to be grateful for each week.
Do that and you’ll soon be one of the most optimistic (and happy) people on earth!
Core Happiness Exercise #3 – Create Your Life Dream
You use this exercise to give you a purpose in life.
Because if you lack purpose in your life, you’re going to struggle to find consistent happiness.
There needs to be a reason for you to keep going. What’s your destination? What’s you ‘WHY’?
And your ‘Why’ doesn’t have to be finding a world cure for aids, ending poverty, or becoming the richest person in the world.
Your dream… your ‘purpose’ in life maybe bringing up your family to be intelligent, capable, free-spirited, confident, well-adjusted, happy young adults.
There is nothing wrong with that. That’s a beautiful purpose to have, if that fulfils you.
Think about what you want to achieve in life.
What’s your dream?
Start writing it down, plan it out. Is it enough?
If not, alter it. Keep working at it until you get it right for you.
Look, most people spend a lot of time planning their holidays.
They Spend weeks, or even months, searching through Tripadvisor to find the best hotel.
Then back to Tripadvisor again, to find the best restaurants around the hotel.
They book the airport parking and could tell anyone who asks, months in advance, that they will be parking the car at 10.40 in the morning.
That they take off at 2.00 in the afternoon, they land at 5.00, they will be out of the airport by 5.45. The taxi to the hotel is booked for 6.00, the transfer is 30 minutes and they will be in the hotel bar enjoying their first holiday drink by 7.00pm!
All that military style planning for one or two weeks of their life.
But ask them what their plan is for their LIFE…
“oh, I don’t know.”
You need to have a plan for your life… a dream.
That gives you your purpose… your ‘WHY’. And knowing what your purpose is in life is one of the key foundations to happiness.
I’ve provided a few tips on how you can create, develop and grow your life dream in previous episodes.
But here’s another idea you could use to start creating one.
Pretend your a film director making a movie about your life.
What’s the movie about? Who’s in it? What did you do? Where did you go? What happened? How did it end?
That’s how I created my life’s dream. And it’s my life’s dream that has given me an enormous amount of purpose in my life.
Which, in turn, helps keep me happy.
And it will do for you as well.
Ok, final one.
Core Happiness Exercise #4 – Continually review your Life dream
Reviewing your life dream has three major benefits.
1st, it keeps your dream at the top of your mind. A constant reminder of your main purpose in life. That makes it much easier to deal with little setbacks along the way.
2nd, you can keep tweaking it – or even maybe do a rewrite – along the way.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
This should be a continuously evolving document of your life. Not something you write down once, stick in the back of your bedside drawer and then forget about it.
3rd, the more you review, keep thinking about the details, designing it, tweaking with it – the whole time it’s becoming more and more real for your subconscious.
And, trust me, there is only one thing stopping you from achieving your dreams – and that’s your thoughts. Your subconscious mind and what it believes to be true or not. What it believes is possible or not.
The more you expose your subconscious mind to the reality that your dreams are going to happen, the more your subconscious will believe you.
And that’s critical because, whatever you believe is true – you will always prove yourself right!
So they are the four exercises to build and strengthen your core happiness. To make ‘being happy’ your default state.
And realise that being happy, just like any other emotion you feel, is a choice.
In every moment – every ‘now’ – you can choose to be miserable or happy, calm or angry or confident or pessimistic.
And that’s an important realisation to have.
Because if you choose to be angry, then you’re just going to see more things to be angry about.
If you choose to be pessimistic, then you’ll keep getting results to be pessimistic about
If you choose to be miserable, then you’ll find loads more reasons to continue your misery.
However, choose to be happy, then you’ll be amazed how you’ll see and experience more and more things to be happy about.
And happiness is not only a pleasant place to be…
Happiness also improves our thoughts and ideas.
It increases our self-esteem and improves relationships.
It’s good for our health and reduces stress.
And happiness breeds happiness. It attracts happier people into our lives.
Which, in turn, makes it easier for us to be happy.
Surely you deserve to be healthy and optimistic?
Surely you deserve to have purpose and enthusiasm?
Because if you work, develop and strengthen those four key components, you would have mastered the greatest life achievement of them all:
How to be happy.
And remember this week, these days, this ‘now’ is going to pass anyway.
So make this ‘now’ a super now, a super now that makes you go wow!

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