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Five Steps To Feel Happier: You Have More Control Over Your Happiness Than You Think – Here’s Why

Written by: Megs Malloy, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Megs Malloy

In this fast-paced world we live in, achieving inner peace and experiencing lasting joy may seem elusive, but it is within your control. I simplify the process by thinking of a remote control. In the palm of your hand are all the buttons we need to achieve mental well-being: Play, pause, rewind, fast-forward, and home. You deserve to have your own remote control to happiness, but how do you make that happen when you’re constantly overwhelmed? This article offers the why and the how to guide you on this journey to calm and happiness.


Beautiful young woman looking through the window while enjoying fresh air,

Play: Why is adulting so hard?


As we grow into adulthood, we often lose our affinity for learning through play. In fact, there is active encouragement as adults to “button up,” hide our emotions, and be taken seriously. Achievement and professional growth might provide some level of satisfaction, but the benefits of laughter, lightness, and play are vital for our mental well-being. Play provides all the good brain chemicals that we crave like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. When we feel good, that feeling becomes contagious and grants everyone around us permission to feel good too.


Play: The benefits of play


In Stuart Brown’s 2009 TED Talk, titled “Play Is More Than Fun,” he explains how play signals in animals and humans create much-needed connection, trust, and safety. Play signals such as smiling, tilting your head to one side, having an open posture and hands, and being a mirror of others’ body language can create a feeling of welcoming acceptance. He emphasizes that the opposite of play is not work; it’s depression, and the opposite of connection is loneliness. Depression and loneliness are obviously both obstacles to mental well-being. Understanding the science behind play is crucial, as it underscores the transformative power of these activities on overall happiness and mental health in yourself and others.


Pause: Why does my mind wander?


A 2010 Harvard study found that the average human mind is wandering 47% of the time. Essentially half of your life, half of all your experiences with your kids, your spouse, your friends, and your time on this beautiful earth—47% is just “poof,” somewhere else. Even more important, the study also found that this wandering mind is not good for us; it's counterproductive and decreases our happiness.


Plain and simple, pausing a moment with mindfulness reduces cortisol. As you know, cortisol is the fight or flight hormone in the body that puts you on edge. Reducing cortisol helps us to not perceive things as a threat and, therefore, reduces stress. It also helps us sleep better, enhances focus and attention, stimulates creativity, aids in learning, increases compassion, and optimizes overall effectiveness and well-being.


Pause: How to make mindfulness easy


In order to unlock the richness of the present moment, you can use two simple mindfulness techniques by either intentionally noticing things, or paying attention with kindness. Whether savoring a delicious meal or appreciating the warmth of the sun on your skin, immersing yourself in your five senses, one at a time, deepens your connection with the beauty of now.


Sitting still and trying not to think for 10 minutes can feel excruciatingly difficult. All of the random thoughts that pop in about remembering to defrost the chicken, who invented doorbells, and did Grandma ever have eyebrows are distracting and discouraging. Let’s make it easy by incorporating mindfulness in thirty-second or two-minute pauses several times per day, which will reduce cortisol. By focusing on your breath or one of your five senses at a time, we can live in the now, which will help us feel a sense of calm and clarity in our relationships and professional life.


Rewind: Why is reflecting at the end of the day so important?


As Socrates wisely stated, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Engaging in the practice of rewinding or reviewing at the end of the day provides us with an opportunity to squeeze as much joy as we can out of a moment and save it for the future or learn valuable lessons that might have happened during the 47% of the time our mind was somewhere else.


Rewind: Blameless discernment


If you’re like me, you have a tendency to reflect on the past with self-criticism, self-doubt, and scrutiny of perceived failures. Our inner critic is really good at crucifying us for tripping over our words in that big presentation or for staying too long in that unhealthy relationship. Instead, delve into the day's experiences, acknowledging both successes and challenges without assigning blame. This is called blameless discernment and it facilitates learning and growth.


Reflecting with blameless discernment, as opposed to judgment, utilizes kindness, empathy, curiosity, and the exclusion of your inner critic. This approach nurtures a positive mindset, empowering you to navigate life's challenges with resilience.


Rewinding allows you to identify and cherish those funny or precious moments—those instances that, if noticed, might induce laughter, a smile, or a sense of joy.


Fast Forward: Why do I have to do what I have to do?


Being a human is hard. There are moments where we wish we weren’t doing what we had to do. Our wandering mind clings to the 47% far-away thoughts as we try to avoid the triggers and tension of daily life. Whatever your grind may be…daily rush hour traffic, disciplining your ornery kids, folding laundry, a meeting with a demanding coworker, or even the most important task in the day, getting out of bed, the discomfort is marked with feelings of unease, irritation, dread, or even feelings of torture, all unpleasant emotions in our bodies. Grab the remote!


Fast Forward: How to get through an uncomfortable task and how to heal a difficult relationship


The way to fast forward through these unwanted emotions is to look for the gift in the situation. You can use what Shirzad Chamine calls the End of Life lens. Fast forward to your older, wiser self. Ask your older, wiser self, “How would you view today looking back at the end of your life?” Things that might feel important today will appear trivial at the end of our life. From that vantage point, issues aren’t as big as we are making them. Our older, wiser self is forgiving and flexible. And finally, ask yourself, “What guidance do you want to gift yourself?” As one of my clients so wisely stated, “I don’t want a bunch of venom in my life. I want gifts. I like gifts.”


Home: Why do I need to prioritize self-care for happiness?


Have you ever wondered what does the phrase, “Come home to yourself” mean? I did, too, and after a little research, it is my new favorite way to think about self-care.


Coming home to yourself is about:

  • Trusting yourself

  • Truly knowing and understanding yourself, your desires, your goals, your values, your beliefs

  • Remembering and owning the full, glorious, messy truth of who you are

  • Allowing yourself to live authentically and vulnerably, which builds stronger bonds with others, making our lives richer and longer.


Home: Simple and easy self-care tips


There are so many ways to come home to yourself. In fact, there are way too many to cover in this article. But you can show yourself a huge amount of love by asking yourself these two simple questions several times per day:


“How am I feeling right now?” “What do I need right now?”

If you can create a habit of asking yourself these two questions, you will start to prioritize your well-being and feel more at home in your life.


In the words of Julie Garwood, “He who controls the remote, controls the world.”

By incorporating play signals, short mindfulness breaks, reflective moments, your future self, and prioritizing self-care, you can take charge of your well-being and steer your life towards the happiness you deserve.


Loved this article? Check out Slow Down Time, where you learn the details of how to accomplish play, pause, rewind, fast-forward and coming home to yourself. For more Megs Malloy on the go, listen to the Don’t Just Manifest, Megafest Podcast on Apple and Spotify and check out her hilarious character reels on Instagram.


Follow me on Instagram, YouTube, and visit my website for more info!


Megs Malloy Brainz Magazine
 

Megs Malloy, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

If Mr. Rogers and Pee Wee Herman had a love child, it would be Megs Malloy. Having narrowly escaped the clutches of working mom burnout, Megs has made it her life's mission to guide fellow mothers away from the perils of overwhelm, understanding the strain it places on our precious bonds with our children. She's determined to empower working moms to unlock their full potential, revel in the abundant joy that surrounds them, and cultivate a serene inner sanctuary. As a Positive Intelligence practitioner; she helps others dial down the relentless inner critic that often thwarts us from living our best lives. With her unique blend of silliness, inspiration, and habit-stackable techniques, she's here to help working moms discover their untapped potential, embrace the beauty in their lives, and create a harmonious inner space for lasting peace. Find more information at megsmalloy.com.

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