A Happy Heart....Building Happiness from within
"It is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 KJV
It has been said that true happiness comes from within and not from external factors. I often hear and have said that “I am not happy because this person, thing or situation has upset me.” Helen Keller once said... “Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us which makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first for the fellow and then for ourselves.” External factors have very little influence on our happiness. We are in control of our behavior and responses as well as our emotions. We can choose to be happy, sad, anger, negative or positive. It’s normal to feel and experience emotions but we don’t want to get stuck in negative emotions such as sadness, anger etc.
Building happiness takes practice. There are certain activities you can do to help build sustained happiness when practiced regularly. These exercises can be done daily such as gratitude journaling, acts of kindness, physical exercise, mindfulness meditation, prayer, forgiving, positive journaling, and fostering healthy relationships. All of these exercises can be done on a daily basis to build that happiness from the inside out.
I often hear clients and people say they just want to be happy and contribute outward things or situations to their unhappiness. We can do all of the above practical things to build happiness; a true happy heart comes from with in you. Self-awareness brings the formation of a more positive self-image an increases the ability to express emotions in a healthy way. Another key factor is practicing forgiveness. Forgiveness is a process where someone who has been wronged chooses to let go of their resentment, and treat the wrongdoer with compassion. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or condoning the wrongdoing, granting legal mercy, or reconciling a relationship. You can forgive a person while in no way believing that their actions were acceptable or justified. When we continue to hold on to painful emotions related to mistreatment, the healing process can't really begin and true happiness in our heart may not take place.
Forgiveness therapy has great benefits and positive outcomes such as reductions in depression, resentment, and rumination of negative thoughts and memories. It involves four phases: The Uncovering phase, the Decision phase, the Work phase, and the Deepening phase. Forgiveness is the decision to overcome pain that was inflicted by another person, letting go of the anger, resentment, shame, and other emotions associated with an injustice, even though they are reasonable feelings. It involves treating the offender with compassion, even though they are not entitled to it. Actions that are not forgiveness are reconciliation (repairing or returning to a relationship), forgetting the injustice, condoning or excusing the offender’s behavior, granting legal mercy to the offender, or “Letting go”, but wishing for revenge (TherapistAid.com).
Positive journaling involves writing about positive events in your life. It could be small things from hanging out with friends or taking a walk enjoying the outdoors. Positive journaling will get you into the habit of focusing on the positive. Mindfulness meditation is simply paying attention to the present moment, without judgement. This means being present in the moment, with a feeling of acceptance. During mindfulness meditation, you will focus on your breathing as a tool to ground yourself in the present moment. Starting with 5-10 minutes of mindfulness meditation can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, improved concentration, and a number of interpersonal benefits.
Fostering healthy relationships have been shown to increase happiness within us. Strong social connections are thought to be one of the most powerful influences on our mood. Those who are dedicated to spending time with friends and family show the highest levels of happiness. Making a phone call, email, text or dedicating time to spend with family or friends you don't see often can help foster those relationships in a healthy way (TherapistAid.com).
A happy heart involves several things to build your overall happiness. It is connected to the emotional state that elicits the body's happiest hormones. Having a happy heart builds from within and produces positive emotions, a healthy lifestyle, and overall positive well-being.
"Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you sit down quietly, may light upon you." -Nathaniel Hawthorne-