Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Choosing Happiness

Being Yourself - Brilliantly

A highlight of my day at the Tots 100 Blog Summit was listening to the inspirational, motivational speaker and author of The Art of Being Brilliant  Andy Cope who gave a talk about happiness and positivity in everyday life.  His words spoke directly to the part of me that hides under a dark cloud somewhere deep inside, which sometimes surfaces and threatens to douse my life with irrational, negative thoughts.  Hearing Andy Cope actually felt life changing.

Much of what he said was incredibly simple.  We cannot change what is going on in the world, but we can change how we respond to it.  We can wait for some allusive pot of gold coloured happiness at the end of a neverending rainbow, or we can see the joy in the here and now.  We can train ourselves, with a subtle switch in our perception to choose to be happy.  This may be commonsense, but it certainly is not common practice.

Much of what was said was similar to the way I speak to be children.  If they are down about something that is happening in their lives I remind them that they are in control of how they see their problems.  Approaching those problems with a positive approach is empowering and gives them back the control that feeling down takes away.  Dwelling on negative thoughts will only ever create a spiral of despair.  Wishing away the days until after they have finished their exams or until they break up from school, causes them to miss out of the simple pleasures that surrounds them everyday.  Although these are words I say to my kids with conviction, I have never said them to myself.

Only 2% of the population of the UK according to Andy Cope's research are really happy.  Many of us fall into the category of 'mood hoovers' who dwell in the bottom of the happiness spectrum, sucking the positive energy out of everything and never experiencing true contentment in life.  But this negative outlook is learned behaviour.  Material possessions, career, wealth and success are things we strive for in life to make us happy.  We live fast but we don't live well.  The more we rely on these factors for our happiness, the more disillusioned we can become in our never ending search for the next thing that will complete us.  We need to strip this back and be grateful for what we have.  We need to unlearn this behaviour.  We literally need to stop and smell the roses.

Andy Cope starts each day being thankful that he hasn't got toothache.  A simple trick to start the day happy.  Instead of focusing on the fact that it is silly o'clock, it's raining and you've got loads of work to do, just focus on something positive as your first thought of the day.  For him it's the fact that his teeth don't hurt!  Choosing to find the positive in a situation is the basis of changing your entire outlook on life.  It's so simple, it's genius!  Applying this process to all aspects of your life can definitely change things for the better.

Driving home from Blog Summit there was an accident closing the M6 slip road and causing a tail back.  The weather took a turn for the worse and the heavens opened as we sat there in the traffic jam in the torrential rain.  This incident suddenly became a metaphor for life and a way to begin to change my perceptions for the better.  I didn't stress myself out by being held up at all.  I enjoyed being in the car with my family who had picked me up from the venue, chatting and laughing together about the day we had had.  Then suddenly the sun broke through the rain clouds and  a beautiful rainbow appeared up ahead.  A symbolic rainbow full of the promise of happiness right there at that  very moment.  A sign that we all have the potential to simply be ourselves, but brilliantly!



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