Article by Bill Thomason
What would you have to give up to live in joy and to be happy?
[Put yourself fully into the exercise describe below.]
“The trick to being happy…,” according to Wyatt Woodsmall from an NLP training in Dallas, Texas in the 1990’s, “…is to remember to be happy.” That sounds pretty simple.
Could it be that simple and really work? And what if what you would have to give up is:
- feeling bad
Most people live their lives as if they have no choice about how they feel. They also tend to believe that their internal state is dependent on the external circumstances. NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming challenges this view.
NLP Practitioners understand that you can literally lose some of your neurological pathways that lead to joy and happiness if you do not experience these states on a regular enough basis.
A Life By Default or A Life By Design
Most people report that the pace of modern life can make it easy to get focused on worry and responsibilities to the point that there seems to be little or no time to enjoy life and the relationships of those people we love and care about.
It seems to many people that they just don’t have room for the full expression of joy and feelings of happiness. They ask questions like, “How can I be happy when my finances are a mess?” Or, “How can I be happy when my relationship is not working?”
And when we don’t experience and express those feelings we have less and less access to them. Most people can even find a reason why suffering in their lives is someone else’s fault. They become victims.
Pathways Through the Brain and Nervous System
Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) techniques agree with current brain science suggesting that thoughts and behaviors create stronger and stronger neurological pathways through the brain and nervous system. When behaviors are repeated over and over, they can build those information pathways even deeper and wider.
Allowing yourself to experience joyful happiness more often is a great way to be more joyful as a steady state in your life. Simply remembering to be happy may be an oversimplification, as is suggested in the quote from Wyatt Woodsmall, and yet there is an amazing wisdom there.
The more you do remember to be happy, the happier you become and more you allow yourself to experience joy, the most joy you will feel. You can literally build the neurological pathways for joy to become the common and constant state you experience in most of your life.
Can You Remember a Time When
A favorite NLP coaching question is, “Can you remember a time, a specific time when…(you felt totally X’d?).” This is a really great question to ask.
Of course, you can insert joyful, happy, loved, or any other positive emotion for ‘X’d.’ So, remember a time when you experienced being totally joyful. Can you?
Remember a time when you were in a joyful moment, now; a specific time when you were feeling joyful or very grateful. That’s right! As you are able to remember the moment, and as you can be in that moment for longer and longer, the more you can build in the state to be experienced more of your waking moments, every day.
If you were not able to immediately recall a moment you would call joyful, simply find a similar emotionally charged state, like happy, loved, excited, confident, grateful, etc. Sometimes changing the label for a word makes it easier to recall and get yourself into a particular event and the state you experience then.
Experience it now as you were experiencing it then. Trust yourself to find a positive event. You might think of an event like the birth of a healthy child. Most people can recall the birth of a child and might describe the state as ‘awe’ or a state of being ‘enraptured.’
As you do access a moment joy or a similar state, check to see that the state is close enough to ‘joy’ that you can count it. That state of ‘awe’ goes beyond ‘joy’ and could easily include joyful and happy, maybe even ‘ecstatic.’
Allow yourself to experience the state, even if you can only hold it for a moment.
Being Joyful for More Moments In Your Life
Now, as you have accessed a state that is joyful, notice how long you can stay in the state. If you find yourself slipping out of the state, put yourself back in long enough to notice what you are feeling and where you feel it in your body. Is it in your heart area or stomach, head, shoulders, neck, a toe, or in your head?
As you do allow yourself to be in that moment, feeling joyful, happy, in awe, ecstatic, enraptured or whatever other descriptor works, remember where you were then now.
Notice what you see in the moment now. And notice what you can hear as in voices or other sounds as you are in the state you are experiencing. And notice what you can feel as in textures, temperature, softness, hardness, pressure, etc.
Allow yourself to experience the state with all your senses. Include what you smell and taste, if you can. You are ‘anchoring’ the state, now. Notice the feeling in your body connected with the way you are thinking. Notice your mind/body connection.
Break State and Then Go Back Into the State
Now step out of that moment and come back to the present. Dis-associate from the experience for a moment. Look around, focusing on a couple of things around you.
In a moment I want to step back into the ‘joyful’ experience. And before you step back into the joyful state, allow yourself to imagine that you are going to amplify the state by three times.
You are going to step back into the experience of being joyful and happy and you are going to allow yourself to amplify the feelings, including what you see and hear, by three times. Ready?
Jump back into that experience and let the feelings surge through your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes and allow the spreading sensations to fill your body and beyond your body until you are vibrating with those good sensations of joy, love, awe, etc. You are now in the experience three times more intense than before.
Break state again. Step out of the state as you focus on at least of couple of things around you; focus on specific items in the present moment.
I’m going to have you step back into you joyful state in a moment. For now, before you step into the state, imagine that when you do step into the state and you snap your fingers, and you will say ‘YEEESSSS!, and you are going to intensify the state by three more times. Step into it and experience the state 3 times more intensely.
And as you are now aware that you can experience feelings of joy and happiness, I want you to consider that the more times you allow yourself to experience these good positive states, the more that your brain and nervous system make stronger and better connections for the feelings that you want to experience most in your life, isn’t that right!
So, what would you have to give up to experience more of these joyful moments in your day than the negative states you were finding yourself in before you made the choice now to experience joy in life?
That’s right! What if you just decided to let go of the old negative feelings and be a happy and joyful person, now? You can do it and you can choose to do it easily now.
Remember to Remember
Remember, to remember that you can fire your positive anchors anywhere, anytime. You have choice and you have already learned to be proactive about the states you choose to live your life from as you find way to spend more moments of your day in positive, joyful states than you spent in less than resourceful states in the past.
And anytime you are noticing that you are not in ‘joy’, shift your state, because you can change the way you feel.
Imagine a moment in the future, a specific moment a month from now or three months from now. In this moment, notice where you are specifically. Pick a place and be there now in this moment noticing that you have been living your life as a happy person who has been experiencing more and more joyful moments everyday for a long time now.
Now notice what is different in your life overall in this moment. How has the quality of your relationships changed, and how much more positive are you about your work or study? Notice that you now spend more moments in joyful states than you could have imagined was possible. That’s right. Excellent!
Be fully associated and in the state. Snap your fingers and say ‘yeessss!’, and allow yourself to amplify that state by three times. Excellent!
Now, step out of the experience and refocus on the present. Focus on a couple of things around you. And as are in the present now, test your anchor by snapping your fingers one more time.
Whether you get the whole picture of the event or not, you can reproduce those good feeling, haven’t you? You can reproduce this good state of ‘joy’ anywhere, anytime, can’t you?