As the first working week of 2014 gets underway, let me wish you a Happy New Year!
I know this is a traditional greeting but suppose you really do want this year to be happy – what are the options? On the face of it, there seem to be two:
- You can start doing new stuff
- You can stop doing old stuff
You will find one of these options at the heart of most resolutions. You know the sort of thing – ‘do more exercise’; ‘volunteer for a local charity’; ‘give up chocolate’ and so on.
This is exactly how I used to start a new year – setting the combination of goals that I hoped would make me happy. But success was always limited. In fact happiness more often sneaked up on me totally unplanned!
Over the last two years I have come to understand things differently. Happiness is clearly a feeling and feelings always come from whatever thoughts we are thinking at the time. So happiness cannot come directly from goals or achievements.
The funny thing I’ve noticed is that when I’m feeling happy, there isn’t actually much on my mind at all. The ‘mental load’ is low and whatever thoughts are there are just drifting through. It the same for other people too. We have a natural ability to return to a quiet mind and it feels really nice!
What gets in the way is when we get stuck in our thinking. Although we have no control on what thoughts enter our mind, we do choose whether to hang on to them. If we choose to think more about our thoughts (thinking about our thinking) we can soon pile up thoughts upon thoughts upon thoughts. Such a busy mind does not produce a good feeling.
The good news is that there is no need to be stuck; there is an infinite source of new thoughts. So when you let go of your current thoughts, fresh thoughts will automatically take their place. Inspiration is simply a fresh thought that brings a good feeling.
So as 2014 unfolds, use your feelings as a guide. They will tell you whether your thinking is helpful or self-sabotaging. And with less on your mind, you will return to your natural happiness more and more.