Monday, 8 October 2012

Marci Shimoff on Happiness

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Mahatma Gandhi

With book sales of more than 14 million copies worldwide in 31 languages, Marci Shimoff is one of the bestselling female nonfiction authors of all time. This is the latest breakthrough from this New York Times best-selling author, world-renowned transformational expert, author of Love for No Reason, Happy for No Reason, co-author of six Chicken Soup For The Woman’s Soul series, and featured teacher in the film The Secret.  I listened to an interview with her and would like to highlight some of her answers to questions on happiness.

Why are people interested in happiness?
Most people are unhappy and as a society in general unhappiness is an epidemic.  One out of five women in the USA is on anti-depressants.  For the first time in history, science has cracked the happiness code – we now have answers to fill that need.  The most important piece of research is we all have a set point and it means whatever happens to us, good or bad, our happiness will hover around that setting.  How do you determine your set point?  50% is genetic, in your DNA, which you are born with, 10% is from your outside circumstances which most of us focus our attention on and the other 40% is from your habits of thoughts and behaviour.   This 40% is where we can raise our happiness levels.

Why happy for no reason?
It doesn’t mean that you walk around all day with a silly grin on your face.  It is having an inner state of peace and well- being which does not depend on your external circumstances.  Bring happiness to the experiences we have in life rather than try and extract happiness from those experiences.  It is called unconditional happiness.  If we base our happiness on our circumstances than we will never be free.

Happiness habits
·         Take full responsibility of your happiness.  Firstly start looking at things that happen to us a little differently.  Even though things may not go your way all the time, we live in a friendly Universe which is on your side.  So rather than feeling like a victim of life, ask yourself the question:  If this was happening for a higher purpose, what would that be?

·         The pillar of the mind.  Don’t believe everything you think.  We tend to remember the negative far more than the positive.  Happy people have made it a habit to really register the positive.  Firstly, because it takes longer to register the positive, you have to notice it and register it for at least 20 seconds.  Keeping a gratitude journal each day helps this.  Secondly, remember the 5:1 rule – if you can have a ratio of 5 positives to 1 negative in what you say to yourself that will strengthen your neuro pathways to better happiness.  Thirdly, really savour the good.  This is not just noticing the good things happening but really allowing them to take a hold in your body.   Happiness is a neuro physiological event, not just something in the mind.

·         The pillar of the heart.  We tend to live in a brain orientated culture but the happiest of people live from their hearts – they experience love, passion, care and they let their hearts lead the way.  When you are feeling stressed out or angry for just 5 minutes, it will suppress your immune system for up to 6 hours but when you are feeling love, happiness and compassion for just 5 minutes, it will strengthen your immune system for up to 6 hours.

Marci suggests a practice that she learned from the Institute of Heartmath, a group which I happen to follow. 
The Inner Ease Technique moves you from what science calls the stress response into the love response, a place where you will be strengthening your immune system:
Close your eyes.
Place the palm of your hand over your heart starts the flow of oxytocin.
Imagine that you are breathing in and out through the centre of your heart.
On each inhale imagine that you are breathing in love, ease and compassion.
Exhale normally, repeat for 5 minutes.
Open your eyes.
Do it 2 to 3 times a day for the next two weeks – you can do it anywhere – and see how you feel.

·         Forgiveness.  We cannot really be living in happiness when we are holding onto anger, resentments and grudges.  You don’t forgive for the sake of the other person – you forgive for your own sake.

Marci shares her favourite forgiveness practice which is so simple.  The technique is called Ho'oponopono.  Say 4 phrases silently in your heart, wishing them toward the person that you have had a hard time forgiving:
I am sorry
Please forgive me
Thank you
I love you
Just feel it in your own heart and this shifts your energy.   When your energy starts to shift, miracles start to happen.

I suggest you visit Marci’s website and do the happiness quiz just out of interest.  While you are there you can have a look at all the free offers, wonderful articles and books she has to offer:
One question she is always asked is:  Is it selfish to want to be happy when the world is full of people suffering?  Her answer comes from an ancient Chinese saying:

"If there is light in the soul,
There will be beauty in the person.
If there is beauty in the person,
There will be harmony in the house.
If there is harmony in the house,
There will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
There will be peace in the world."

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