Mind and Body
It is universally accepted that the state of your mind affects the state of your body. If you feel stressed out and overwhelmed you are likely to experience fatigue and muscle tension. Equally, if you feel happy and calm you are likely to have more energy and physical vitality. The mind and body exist within a dynamic relationship whereby every cell contains the essence of your thoughts and emotions. The implications of this are profound when you consider that you are having a 24/7 conversation with yourself.
Glass Half Full
What is the quality of your conversation? Do you tend to see the glass half full? If you answered yes, you can expect to have higher levels of happiness, life satisfaction and improved health. If you answered no, research shows that pessimism and high stress compromise well-being and lead to significant loss in confidence, motivation and productivity. In our work as a team for the past 15 years, we feel fortunate to have spent 10 of these years working in alternative medicine witnessing firsthand the mind, body and spirit connection to health and well-being.
An interesting fact you may not be aware of is that stress actually makes people less intelligent. When you don’t deal with stress effectively your thought process becomes rigid and simplistic and your ability to perform mental tasks and solve problems is diminished. Stress literally decreases oxygen flow to your brain thereby decreasing your mental clarity and creativity. It excites your nervous system causing you to feel edgy and less emotionally resilient and flexible with yourself and others. This is hardly the optimal mind-set for your health and success.
The Happiness Habit to Change Your Brain
Brain plasticity is an area of study that has received significant attention in the last 5 years. It refers to the ability of the brain to “re-wire” itself in response to conditions. What this means to you is that if you want to be happier you can change your brain by practicing new habits of mind. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t BREAK habits you simply REPLACE them. When you practice new habits you naturally weaken old ones. In doing so, you change your brain. Increasing happiness takes practice and conditioning much like building muscle mass through weight training. Comparing happiness to muscle development is a paradigm shift for many people. If you want to learn a new language, improve your tennis serve or build bigger biceps it is universally accepted that you must practice these new skills. The same is true for emotional well-being training.
What are the specific areas of training that have been shown to increase happiness? First consider that happiness is not just an emotion. Happy people have identifiable happiness characteristics that lead to seeing the glass half full, which anyone can develop with focus, practice and conditioning.
Top Four Happiness Characteristics
1. Purpose in life—Do you feel your life has meaning and that you make a positive contribution?
1. Self acceptance – Do you appreciate who you are?
2. Strong social relationships–Do you have a core group of people who you connect with regularly?
3. Feeling of control—Do you feel empowered to make desired changes in your life?
Happiness is a universally aspired state of being and more than available to every one of us through practice and training!
Coaching and Counseling
Hilary Stokes Ph.D. and Kim Ward Ph.D. have been a team for 20 years, specializing in mind, body, spirit psychology. They are the authors of the bestselling books The Happy Map: Your roadmap to the habit of happiness and Manifesting Mindset: The 6-step formula for attracting your goals and dreams and founders of Authenticity Associates Coaching and Counseling. They are passionate about combining the best of holistic and traditional approaches to health and happiness. If you are interested in learning the answers to the most frequently asked questions on how to decrease stress and increase happiness sign up for their free video series.