For many, the festive holidays are not a happy time. They are filled with stress, anxiety, sky-high expectations and absolute unhappiness.
But they don’t have to be. More joy can be found in Christmas than you might think. You can take practical, achievable steps to have a more meaningful Christmas that will lead to a happier you come the festive season and beyond.
As humans, we are hard-wired for both joy and fear. Joy is a constant default setting located somewhere ‘underneath’ fear, which fluctuates and shifts. Joy is the absence of fear, not the other way round. Think about this for a second and consider: you are naturally happy. Sounds odd, doesn’t it? But it’s true: your default factory setting is joy. It might not always seem that way, especially in the build-up to big events such as Christmas, but you are led by joy. But you have to know how to activate it; you have to teach yourself how to make happy work.
When we talk about ‘happiness’, we’re not talking about a fake happiness that comes from some naïve sense of optimism or infantile approach to the world. As David Lynch sometimes says, this innate happiness is not an “old lady… roses around the door sort of happiness”. Nor does this innate happiness require faith or belief in anything. Instead, this happiness is real – it’s authentic.
Real happiness is always there and all you have to do is create the right context and conditions for it to grow.
To give yourself the gift of being (genuinely) happy at Christmas, all you have to do is dial down the part of your nervous system that seeks fear, so that the other part of the nervous system to do with joy begins to come through. The key to achieving this is modern meditation. Consider it a starting point that will lead to a happier you.
Right Here, Right Now
So how do we access this happier you? We need to become less distracted. In modern life, we exist in a frantic, image-obsessed world where just being yourself, doing what you do, seems never to be enough – particularly during the festive season. We are surrounded, and sometimes overwhelmed by, noise and distraction designed to make us feel incomplete, leading you towards thoughts that you need to be somebody else and be doing something different. The key to lessening this noise and distraction is meditation…
“…it’s the bliss that comes with experiencing not mere happiness but complete satisfaction with the way things are. These are our moments of supreme quiet, total acceptance, and non-judgment. The wondrous intervals when we know we are in the right place doing precisely what we’re supposed to be doing…”
From The Essential Wisdom of the Bhagavad Gita: Ancient Truths for Our Modern World, Jack Hawley (2006)
To know we are in the right place, doing precisely what we’re supposed to be doing, in that moment, is liberating and energising.
Learning to be Happier
At beanddo, we often talk about happiness and how to make it work. And we work with a lot of people who would like to lead a happier life.
After years of research, psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky and colleagues developed the 50-10-40% Formula. This research showed that:
- At least 50% of happiness is determined by your genes.
- 10% of happiness is determined by external factors, such as the circumstances in which you live.
- 40% of happiness is determined by your actions, your attitude or optimism and the way you handle situations.
In other words, if you exclude the 10% that comes from external factors (which in reality is just what is required to meet our basic needs), we are responsible for our own happiness: we can’t become happy, we can only be happy.
The happy you is not a destination, neither is it an output or a product, or located in some distant past or far off future. It’s a process and it’s happening right now.
But there is another way of achieving success and hitting the centre of the target – realising that we don’t need to be somewhere else, or be anybody else, doing something different and that who we are right now is enough.
During the Christmas period, being present to yourself, and for yourself, is practically the only present you need.
If you’d like the opportunity to be a happier you, take a look at our modern meditation programmes. We work with businesses and individuals to allow people to access their inner resources of creativity and resilience. Learn to make happy work with beanddo.