Warning: This story may make you happy.
I tend to be the kind of person people get into deep conversations with, even in somewhat light hearted settings. Especially when it's needed. One time, at a party, a girl friend of mine named Brianna seemed a little down. She told me that she had a bad day and that she had come to the party to kind of cheer up.
"Well, is the party helping?" I asked.
"A little," She paused, "What do you suppose is the secret to being happy?"
"Actually, there are three keys to being happy," I told her as I moved the conversation out onto the porch so we could talk more easily, "I think they can best be summed up as, Be happy, See happy, and Be Empty."
She smiled, "Oh, come on now, it can't be so easy as a couple of bullet points."
And she was right, it's a bit more complicated then that. But human emotions are an interesting subject precisely because of their complexity. Being happy, an emotional state, can be achieved in a number of different ways. The first key then, is that you can make yourself happy. You can do this for instance, by doing something you like.
Or, a shortcut noted by psychologists: if you smile, even if it's fake, it will have an effect on your mood. This happens because the muscles in your face that make you smile, are associated with the feeling, and, biologically, that system works both ways. Try smiling right now, as genuinely as possible, and then just pay attention to how you naturally become more happy. Likewise, it has been noted that shaking your head up and down in a "yes" motion can achieve a similar result.
An obvious extension of this idea is that if you say words over and over again with the ending sound "eeee" you will quickly find yourself smiling by accident simply because of the shape your face has to move into to say the words. Try saying the following words out loud several times through while shaking your head up and down and notice how simply reading them improves your mood.
Key, Me, Be, Happy, See, Happily, Empty, Free.
You'll notice through the rest of this article that even reading those words silently makes you smile.
But emotional states are fragile things when they are created and maintained entirely from within. Emotions are actually easier to stimulate in someone else than they are in your self.
Take laughter, a symptom of happiness, for example. It's actually difficult to make yourself laugh. Go ahead and try it. While you may be able to force a kind of chuckle, creating genuine laughter from inside is difficult. Now, by comparison, try this:
"Every book is a children's book if the kid can read."
Jokes have such a profound effect on us precisely because they are coming from the outside. A punch line is funny, independent of your current emotional state, and can profoundly alter how you feel almost immediately. Outside stimulation of our emotions is actually more intense then internal stimulation, for a number of reasons, most notably because we are a social species.
As a matter of fact, we have a specific type of neuron in our brains that responds more to the people around us then it does to internal function. Mirror neurons are what allow us to see a smiling face, even as an infant, and feel happy. Thus there is an entire part of the brain that is by definition, far easier for other people to stimulate, then for us to stimulate, and that part is intimately related to our emotions.
This, then, is the most often overlooked key to happiness: When I see happy, it makes me be happy.
The third key to being happy is that other emotional states can interfere with our feeling of happiness. If, for instance, one is already feeling angry, it may be difficult, even with a lot of outside pressure, to be happy. The solution to this problem of course is to know how to empty your mind of other feelings quickly and easily to allow the happiness in more completely.
To illustrate this point more clearly, empty your mind for a moment of all thoughts and picture an empty ocean, stretching in every direction, perfectly calm. Imagine you are standing on that ocean, able to walk, perfectly safe, and looking off towards the horizon.
Take in a deep breath, let it out, and realize that by simply imagining the ocean already calm, your other emotions all seem to calm as well. Let this relaxed and empty state fill you for a moment, a perfect peace.
Look down into the water and see that deep down, all the way to the bottom, there is an endless calm. So calm in fact that it feels perfectly free of all emotions. Picturing this deep, calm, empty sea, can easily result in a deep trance like state. For this reason, any time you see, read, or hear or say the words "deep trance" it can help you clear your mind of all feelings and thoughts by bringing you to this empty sea of calm.
Now that the sea is calm, imagine trying to make a huge wave in that ocean by yourself. Imagine jumping up and down, for instance and seeing the ripples move outwards from you. At best, you might be able to cause a ripple your own height, but beyond that would require super human feats of strength.
Now, instead, picture taking in a deep breath and letting it out slowly, relaxing completely. Empty your mind and take in a deep breath as you imagine that the words you are reading are making little ripples on the ocean.
In this deep trance like state, you can be free to experience what you see, and on the empty sea you can feel any way you'd like to be.
Now, because these words are outside of you, they can stimulate your emotions more easily then you can. So when I tell you to picture the word happy, in letters as tall as you are, you see happy as a bigger thing then you. Picture the word happy, as tall as you are, bouncing up and down on the ocean. See how the ripples and waves wash over you and just let them be for a moment. Let yourself receive the feeling happily.
Be Empty, See happy, be happy.
Feel it wash over you.
Then picture the word happy even bigger. See happy. Then feel free to be happy. Because these words are coming from outside of you, there is no limit to how big they can be. Every time I tell you to "See Happy" let yourself picture happy even bigger, and then mouth the words "be happy" in response, feeling the wave of good feelings wash over you in bigger and bigger waves. Because I am making you feel happy, while you are making yourself feel happy, this effect is doubled every time it's used.
See happy, be happy. See happy, be happy. Notice how you are smiling, uncontrollably. Relaxed and yet blissful. Let your mind be empty and your heart full, see happy, be happy. Doubling each time. Twice as happy.
You'll notice yourself in an incredible mood, perhaps even light headed from smiling so much because each time I tell you to "See Happy," you automatically respond by becoming twice as happy as you were the moment before.
"I live on a one way dead end street. I have no idea how I got there."
Let yourself be happy, laugh if you feel like it. It's precisely because we don't see happy in the world around us often enough that we don't feel happy. Let that be different for a moment, let the euphoria sink in. Be happy.
"The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese."
You'll notice that the happier you feel, the easier it is to laugh, and that the more you see happy the more amazing you feel. It can quickly spiral out of control to the point that you are almost deliriously happy.
This effect grows even stronger when it's shared, or when you see someone else experiencing it with you. This happens precisely because of the multiplying effect of mirror neurons, take for instance Brianna, whom by this point in the conversation was smiling quite broadly, and you'll notice that you, even just reading about her, feel her emotions with her.
By this point in the conversation, she responded by saying "be happy," every time I told her to "See happy." It was a pretty noticeable effect. She was smiling so much in fact that she had forgotten exactly what it was she had asked me.
But the effect just kept getting stronger. Every time I would tell a joke she would laugh longer and harder.
"My cheeks are starting to hurt from smiling so much," She said.
"See happy," I told her.
"Be happy," She responded, her head light with the feeling as she continued to smile.
"When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane," I said.
And she laughed, almost hysterically, I had to help her sit down.
But I didn't stop there, I kept doubling the effect.
"I feel like I'm on drugs or something," She said, "Its like the waves are the size of sky scrapers and there's just no way to stop smiling."
"All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my hand." I said, and she actually fell out of her seat laughing.
At that point, I figured I'd simplify things, I simply had her chant, "When I see happy, I will be happy."
"When I see happy, I will be happy," was all she said over and over again, it only took about a minute before she was so light headed that she felt like she might pass out from smiling. She couldn't stand up any more and almost any joke made her laugh uncontrollably.
Go ahead and say it, "When I see happy, I will be happy," and feel how the smiling seems to be flowing through your cheeks and up into the top of your head like energy. Pure bliss. See happy, be happy.
"How big are the waves now?" I asked her
"When I see happy I will be happy," she said, she couldn't figure out where she was any more, it was as if the waves had simply gotten so big that she couldn't find herself in them anymore, there was just a pure empty happy sea.
"When I see happy, I will be happy," being shared with two people was all it had taken.
It was when she was in this deep trance like state of pure bliss that I realized the secret to happiness. The secret to happiness is the fact that other people can stimulate us to be infinitely happy. There is no limit to it. Even now, just reading this has you so light headed and smiley that you feel like you might pass out.
It's been doubling in you too, empty, see happy, be happy. Let your mind go completely blank, empty of everything but this wonderful feeling. Then feel it double, twice as happy as you ay the words, "When I see happy, I will be happy."
Feel yourself wash away in the waves, leaving nothing but the feeling. Empty into the deep trance, then feel yourself wash away in a wave of pure bliss so high it covers the sky.
"When I see happy, I will be happy."
"When I count to five you will wake up, coming back from the empty sea of happy, but you will remain in an amazingly good mood, almost like you have been filled to the point of overflowing with the feeling of happiness.
It's ok if you don't remember anything that happened while you were empty, you'll remember the feeling, and that feeling will stick with you. From now on any time anyone tells you to see happy, you will be happy, and that feeling will double each time.
Let this knowledge of what pure happiness feels like spread through your day, take it with you. You don't need to know the details, just the feeling.
1, Waking up. Still smiling, almost as if you have been to the brink of madness from being so happy. Able to think normally more and more.
2, Waking up, still smiling so much it almost hurts.
3, More awake, almost embarrassed by how good you feel, but glad to have experienced it.
4, More awake, feeling like you are waking up from an impossible dream of pure bliss.
5 Wide awake."
"How are you feeling?" I asked her.
"Really good," She said, smiling up at me from the porch.
"What do you remember?"
"Just being happier then I've ever been in my life, oh my god, did that just happen?"
"Yes. I almost had a psychic girlfriend once, but she left me before we met."
"Well, shall we get back to the party now that you can enjoy it?" I helped her stand.
"That sounds wonderful," she said, still a little dizzy on her feet.
The Secret To Happiness II
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Jokes quoted from my two favorite comedians: Stephen Wright and Mitch Hedrom.