Repetition and the habit of happiness

This week Ed and I have been talking about repetitious behaviour and concentration. The ability to habitually focus may be the basis of Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour (OCD), though may also be a great asset. We all do things repetitively. The issue is are we addicted to the behavior, do we have to do it to feel normal?

We are all an accumulation of habits
One of the biggest revelations in life for me was realising that no one is ever born miserable. They have learned to be miserable from the moment of their birth. We are all simply what we have learned to be. We are all an accumulation of the behaviours that we have repeated since the moment of our birth. These are our habits.

As a child I thought that people were only happy because they had things. The families around me seemed happy and they also had warm friendly homes full of people and stuff. My house was one of relative financial and emotional poverty that people rarely visited and happiness was quite thin on the ground.

Like all children I accepted my lot, though I did not like my lot, and spent my childhood very unhappy. When at fifteen I left home I began to find happiness mainly in visiting and staying with other families. It was then that I felt the joy that is in the freedom of a happy house. However, it was a great lesson to find that rich people could be as miserable as my own family. I was even more surprised to discover that poor people can be so happy they could burst.

It took me a bit longer to understand that happiness and love go together not, as I had thought, happiness and things. Love is the most wonderful thing that changes sorrow into laughter and darkness into light. Where as things often become a burden and a worry.

Then I began to question what was the difference between those people who were happy and those people who were sad? Over the years, working with thousands of people, I now understand that all that we feel, every state of mind that we have, are simply the habits that we have learned since that moment of our birth.

The person who is miserable learned to be miserable from those people around them and then practised it until unhappiness simply became a habit. Their learning was so gradual that they didn’t realise why they were miserable, they just assumed that was the way that they are. The same is true of all emotional states such as anxiety, lack of confidence or self esteem. But, it is also true positive feelings such a optimism, positive expectation and, of course, happiness.

Happiness like every emotion is a habit. A habit may be an idea, thought, feeling or behaviour that we have practised long enough for it simply to be the way that we are. When people say to me now, “it is ok for you, you are always happy” they do not realise that I was once one of the most miserable people on the planet. Yes I am happy. It is because I consciously choose to practise the habit of happiness and it has become just the way that I am.

The other part of happiness is gratitude. Being thankful for what we have, however little, connects us with the emotion of love and leads to happiness. I love the American expression ‘an attitude of gratitude’.

Anyone, at anytime, can decide to learn to be happy right now. There are always things to be happy about. The fact that you have the eyes to read this, or the ears so that someone else can read this too you, that fact that you have a chair to sit on, a floor to lie on and so on are all things that are positive if we see them that way.

Your life is a collection of habits in what you think, feel and do.

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

So, have you got the happiness habit. If not you could start right now with deciding what it is that you are grateful for.

Take care

Sean x