Stairway to Happiness...is there one?
Today I awoke, jets overhead, dogs barking and a cool wind blowing. I'm back in Forest Lodge. The city. Coffee with honey, dogs fed, now to write. This morning I scrolled through Facebook to check messages for our upcoming Pullenvale workshops (23rd February, 2nd March and the newest addition where there are still places, 10th March 2019), and I came across an article entitled 22 Rules That Will Change Your Life, by a world expert. With respect to Dr Mikhail Litvak, my first response was “How do you become a world expert on anything when the world is so diverse?”
Being from the school of social constructionist philosophy,(we are socially constructed) my objective is to step out of the shoes of the expert so that the real expert (you, because you are the expert of yourself) can step forward. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need specialists. We do! But do we need so many people telling us how to make our lives better?
I have given myself the task to go through Litvak’s 22 Rules That Will Change Your Life For The Better (thank you Dr Litvak) and adjust them to suit people I know this side of the world who are Experts of Their Own Lives.
Here is Number 1. Thank you Riley Cooper for writing this article in Curious Mind Magazine (here is the link to the original article https://curiousmindmagazine.com/worlds-leading-psychiatrist-reveals-22-rules-that-will-change-your-life-for-the-better/). Worth a read. It certainly got me thinking.
1. Don’t chase happiness because you won’t find it in other people and material things – it’s in YOU. Learn to develop your abilities and reflect back on your achievements because that’s the only road to happiness.
On reading this I start to panic...what if some of us cannot reflect back on achievements because we cannot see our achievements to begin with? Does this mean that if we cannot voice our achievements we can never be happy? Surely there are other roads to happiness?
We all know there ARE many roads to happiness. But is happiness the thing we search for or is it a bi-product of well-chosen actions? When we are happy we are doing what we love/want to do. It may be of service to someone else or our own work (which is hopefully of service too). As a consequence, we feel more deeply and experience more profoundly.
In therapy we often use a technique called ‘reframing’, where we reframe the story being told. Often we do not see that there could be other versions of the same story. If you want to learn more about reframing, go to http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.128.7389&rep=rep1&type=pdf. )
When we reframe we can see our successes more clearly. And success builds on success just as happiness builds on happiness. So the happier we are, the happier everyone else is around us. So yes, I believe that happiness is everywhere, including in our relationships with others, as well as our relationship to objects.
Happiness is indeed relational. I get enormous happiness lighting a perfumed candle, or smelling the coffee someone has made for me, or patting my dog, having a cup of tea with a mate or watching a good movie with friends. Our friendships and environment are direct reflections of our internal selves and if we can find the energy to clear up our surroundings, and hang with people who care, we find suddenly that we are feeling lighter, and dare I say happier.
I believe that if we are feeling down, the best antidote is to hang out with happy people. And if that feels too urksome (and I get it, sometimes it does), then what about hanging out with good dead people, those old classics written by the wise ones. And practice the game of “Reframing”. It is a technique that can be used at any time. It can be enormously fun, especially when we do it in company.