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Looking Forward to a Year of Contentment and Well-being

There’s an ancient Chinese curse and blessing that says, “May you live in interesting times.” And the last year was definitely…interesting…by anyone’s definition. For many of us, it was just flat out hard, hard, hard. So, if between trying to stay healthy and trying to stay employed, you’ve been struggling and have forgotten what it feels like to be happy, I can’t blame you one bit.

But 2020 is now officially over (thank goodness!) – and despite the challenges of your external environment—I want to remind you that you have the tools to find lasting happiness. Just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you’ve had the power all along to “click your heels three times” and say “there’s no place like home!” Because “home,” like happiness, resides within you and is not dependent upon what’s happening -- or not happening --in your outer world. It’s all in your head.

Yes, that’s right. What’s in your head, the thoughts that echo in your mind throughout your day, are what create your happiness. And you are 100 percent in control of what you think. Your thoughts, in turn, affect how you feel. Your feelings determine what kind of signal you are sending out the Universe: if you’re thinking negative thoughts and feeling depressed or powerless, then your vibrational energy frequency will be low and, most likely, you will attract people and events that match your vibration. If you’re thinking positive thoughts and feeling good and full of gratitude for your life no matter what it looks like, then you will attract people and events that match that positivity.

Happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky says that, more than anything, happiness is a state of mind, a way of perceiving and approaching the world we live in. Even if your familiar world is crumbling around you with job loss, COVID and isolation from the ones you love, it’s still possible -- actually it’s essential -- to maintain a positive state of mind.

Lyubomirsky’s research showed that only 10 percent of our happiness is influenced by our external environment! Intentional activity, or what we choose to do every day, accounts for a whopping 40 percent of what influences our state of mind.

In other words, we have the ability to create what our external environment is like through the state of mind we create. (According to Lyubomirsky, the remaining 50 percent of what influences our happiness is attributable to genes. However, Dr. Joe Dispenza’s research shows that our thoughts can also up-regulate our genes.)

Since our natural bias is toward negativity (left over from our cave dwelling days when threats were everywhere and we had to stay vigilant to survive), we have to train ourselves to see the good in our lives, especially when we are dealing with challenging external events that are not in our control. What we can control is how we respond to those events. Notice I said respond, not react. Reactions are lightning-fast fear messages from our reptilian brain that put us into fight or flight mode when we perceive a threat. A response originates from our neo-frontal cortex part of the brain. If we can short-circuit the reptilian reaction, we give ourselves a crucial, few seconds to choose how to respond. A response keeps us in control of our thoughts and feelings, and helps keep our vibrational frequency high – which, in turn, helps us attract a more positive outcome, no matter what is occurring in our environment.

The lesson, even in a difficult year such as 2020, is that happiness – happiness that lasts a lifetime – is totally within your ability to create. Once you learn to change your thoughts and generate positive feelings inside yourself, you change your energy and how the Universe responds to you. It’s like a domino effect: first create happiness and the rest will follow!

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