by Teri Coutu
If you couldn’t tell, when we did the video on happiness, during our vision quest to Phoenix, I was pretty happy! The time on the motorcycle away from regular “life” was empowering, enriching, and intriguing all at the same time. It was so freeing to be away from my usual responsibilities, and riding free with just my thoughts to keep me company between fuel stops. It was a vacation from life. But, we can’t be on vacation every day, and don’t you sometimes find it difficult to find the joy in everyday life?
When I look at my life, and am honest with myself, I have spent a lot of time thinking unhappy thoughts. And the worst part, is that many of those thoughts were not even about real things!
When I had a conflict with someone, I would play out scenes in my head depicting what I THOUGHT our next conversation would be like. Needless to say, I didn’t imagine a happy discussion, I always went for one that was negative and uncomfortable. To make matters worse, many times I would obsess over this “dramatic discussion” and replay it over and over in my mind. Initially, I thought I was preparing myself for the real thing, and that by doing that I would be ready to say what I needed to. But, now I realize that all I was doing was making myself miserable.
Let me type that again – I was making myself miserable. Truly!
Multiply that behavior many days over and happiness was becoming something other people felt, but not me.
As a constant seeker of personal growth, I eventually realized that I was not going to grow and find happiness if my focus was often unhappiness. So, one day, during one of my Replay Sessions, I decided to really focus on my thoughts. I made a pact with myself that every time I started replaying the negative scene in my head, I would STOP and force myself to think of something happy – ANYTHING happy. I was amazed at how many times in the first two hours I started my replay… But, as time went on, the replays didn’t last as long, and it became easier and easier to redirect my thoughts to something more positive.
For the past few months, I have been practicing this Happiness Habit, and training myself to let go of negative, hurtful, judgmental, and self-deprecating thoughts, and instead focus on things that make me smile, bring me joy, give me peace, or boost my self-esteem. Yes, there are still days when it’s hard to stop feeling negative, but they are becoming fewer and further between.
Now, when I am feeling unhappy, I stop and look at what is causing it, and usually I find that it is my own thoughts - there really isn't anything happening at that moment that is upsetting my peace, just me! When I know a confrontation is coming, rather than imagine a myriad of negative scenes so that I am "prepared" for the outcome, I do one, or sometimes all, of the following:
I encourage you to practice your own happiness habits by being mindful of the thoughts that are minimizing your peace. You deserve happiness, and You can make it happen!
By Dolores Chandler
“Don’t Worry, Be Happy!!” is so easily said or sung, as we ride along blissfully enjoying a little wind therapy (a term we love to use in the motorcycle world!) These words or jingle can be extremely annoying to anyone that is in the “worrywart” mode or a recurrent worrier. We all know someone that worries all the time, about everything, maybe even worry about growing a wart!
Chronic worriers are extremely irritating and can bring down a room’s motivation with a cloud of pessimism. Conversely, the overly optimistic person that appears to be oblivious to danger or harm can be just as frustrating. Chronic and overly are the keywords. In any given situation, it is important to observe a person’s ability to live a balanced and functional life, rather than being stuck in the mud of their thoughts and feelings and unable to move.
Don’t worry, we are getting to the happy! Let’s hop over to the “thinking pad” and give thought to the connection between tune, toad, and living with balance and harmony.
While overthinking can create paralysis by analysis, and may even create a little anxiety, the thinking process is encouraged in most, if not all, situations because it's a good chance to "check in" with yourself.
In the wise words, of Benjamin Franklin, “Happiness depends more on the inner disposition of mind than on outward circumstances.” To expand on this wisdom requires: a decision to be happy, a commitment to do the work and action steps to look inside.
Open the door, let happiness in! The above quote implies that happiness is an inside job. It is our responsibility to make a conscious choice to be happy; it doesn’t mean that there is a magic wand (or ride) to wipe away the pain and suffering in the world. Our problems don’t just go away or disappear. It does suggest that happiness begins within, it is how we look at life and the choices we can make to see things differently. Even the happiest of us, have bad days, moments of sadness, loss, or setbacks.
Happiness is a choice (like it or not!) I am often perceived as a “naturally happy” person, and it surprises many when I tell them otherwise. I choose happiness every day.
On occasion, I slip into the mud. Sometimes it’s my own mud, and sometimes it is the mud of others. This slip may be conscious (just to wallow a while) or subconscious, it's still a choice. Either way, it doesn't feel good and when I "feel the slime," I change my mode from self-pity to self-love. Woohoo, this often calls for a good day at the spa for a different type of mud.
It takes practice and this is where healthy habits, mindfulness, and personal development become the gear of choice. Why? Because it opens the door for more happiness and fulfillment in all your endeavors. Gear of protection provides safety, creates healthy boundaries mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.As a motorcyclist, this can include gloves, helmet, and practicing good riding skills! Similarly, cyclist, equestrians, and many other professions mandate safety gear. Why not for happy?
I write with a twist of humor and reality, as well as trying to leave the reader with a few questions. Here’s a few for you:
“Don’t worry, Choose Happiness”
The worry “wart” is a humorous example of the embodiment of an outdated belief system that a frog’s urine can cause warts. Can a frog’s urine really cause warts? NO. Warts come from a human virus, although some frogs can be poisonous in different ways.
Ironically, worrying, limiting beliefs, pessimisms are toxic, and yes, unrealistic amounts of optimism can be a cause for concern. Worry or optimism can be like a virus or toxic in their own right.
Tune, Toad and Harmony connection: Frog medicine has been used for centuries by healers, shamans and native American Indians as a tool for protection and cleaning.
The frog is a great reminder of the common bonds we share with each other and life. They sing of songs that celebrate transformation, cleansing, understanding emotions, rebirth, healing,