Article by Bill Thomason (September 2007)
What would you have to give up to live in joy and to be happy?
“The trick to being happy…,” Wyatt Woodsmall said while conducting an NLP training in Dallas, Texas in the 1990’s, “…is to remember to be happy.” That sounds pretty simple. Could it be that simple and really work? What you would have to give up is feeling bad, pressured, sick, insecure, hurt, and as if you had no choice about the how you feel. What we know about how the neurological system works is that you can literally lose neurological connection to feelings of joy when you do not experience the state on a regular basis.
People report that it is easy to get focused on worry and responsibilities to the point that there seems to be no time to enjoy life and the relationships of those people we love and care about. It seems to many people that there is just not room in modern life for the full expression of ‘joy’ and feelings of happiness. They ask questions like, “How can I be happy when my finances are a mess?” Or, “How can I be happy when my relationship is not working?” And when we don’t experience and express those feelings we have less and less access to them.
Simply remembering to be happy may be an oversimplification, and there is an amazing wisdom there. The more you do remember to be happy, the happier you become and more you allow yourself to experience joy, the most joy you will feel. You literally build the neurological pathways for joy to be the common state you experience in your life.
The favorite NLP question, “Can you remember a time, a specific time when…(you felt totally X’d?)” is a really great question to ask. Of course, you can insert joyful, happy, loved, or any other positive emotion for ‘X’d.” So, remember a time when you experienced being totally joyful. Can you? Remember a specific time when you were in a moment, now, that you were feeling joyful. That’s right! Assuming you are able to remember and be in a moment like this for a while, stay right there, continuing to experience joy.
And if you were not able to remember a moment you would call joyful, find a similar emotionally charged state, like happy, loved, excited, confident, etc. Sometimes changing the label for a word makes it easier to hook up with a particular event. Trust yourself to find a positive event. You might think of an event like the birth of a child. My personal experience when my daughter was born was more like ‘awe’ or a state of ‘enraptured,’ for example. As you do access a moment in a similar state, check to see that the state is close enough to ‘joy’ that you can count it. For me, that state of ‘awe’ goes beyond ‘joy’ and I could easily say that it includes joyful and happy.
Now, as you have accessed a state that is joyful, notice how long you can stay in the state. If you find yourself slipping out of the state, put yourself back in long enough to notice where you feel that in your body. Is it in your heart area or stomach, or in your head? As you do allow yourself to be in that moment, feeling joyful, happy, in awe, ecstatic, enraptured or whatever other descriptor works, remember where you were then now, and notice what you see in this moment now. And notice what you can hear as in voices or other sounds. And notice what you can feel as in textures, temperature, softness, hardness, pressure, etc. Allow yourself to experience the state with all your senses. Include what you smell and taste if you can. You are ‘anchoring’ the state.
Now step out of that moment and come back to the present. Dis-associate from the experience for a moment. Look around focusing a couple of things around you. In a moment I want to step back into the ‘joyful’ experience. And before you go back into the joyful state, allow yourself to imagine that you are going to amplify the state by three times. You are going to step back into the experience of being joyful and happy and you are going to allow yourself to amplify the feelings, including what you see and hear, by three times. Ready? Jump back into that experience and let the feelings surge through your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes and allow the spreading sensations to fill your bod and beyond your body until you are vibrating with those good sensations of joy, love, awe, etc. You are now in the experience three times more intense that before.
Step out. Break state as you focus on at least of couple of things around you; in the present moment. I’m going to have you step back into joy in a moment. Now, imagine you are going step in and when you snap your fingers, you are going to intensify the state by three more times. That’s right three times more intense than it was a moment ago. OK, NOW! Jump back into the moment of ‘joy.’ Snap your fingers and say ‘yeessss!’, and allow yourself to amplify that state by three times. Excellent!
Now, step out of the experience and refocus on the present. Focus on a couple of things around you. And as are in the present now, test your anchor by snapping your fingers one more time. Whether you get the whole picture of the event or not, you can reproduced those good feeling, haven’t you? You can reproduce this good state of ‘joy’ anywhere, anytime, can’t you?
And as you are now aware that you can experience feelings of joy and happiness, I want you to consider that the more times you allow yourself to go these good positive states, the more that your brain and nervous system make stronger and better connections for the feelings that you want to experience in your life. So, what would you have to give up to experience joy more moments in your day than the negative states you were finding yourself in before you make the choice to experience joy in life. That’s right! What if you just decided to let go of the old negative feelings and be a happy and joyful person, now? You can do it and you can choose to do it easily now.
Remember, to remember that you can fire your positive anchors anywhere, anytime. You have choice and you have already learned to be proactive about the states you choose to live your life from as you find way to spend more moments of your day in positive, joyful states than you spent in less than resourceful states in the past. And anytime you are noticing that you are not in ‘joy’, shift your state, because you can change the way you feel.
Imagine a moment in the future, a specific moment a month from now or three months from now. In this moment, notice where you are specifically. Pick a place and be there now in this moment noticing that you have been living your life as a happy person who has been experiencing more and more joyful moments. Now notice what is different in your life in this moment. How has the quality of your relationships changed, and how much more positive are you about your work or study? Notice that you now spend more moments in joyful states than you could have imagined was possible now. Remember: choose to be happy. Excellent!