Many experts define happiness as a ‘sense’ or ‘a feeling of wellbeing’. I also like to call happiness ‘the soundtrack of your mind’. But obviously this is only true when you’re feeling happy! The point is that you always have a soundtrack playing in your subconscious. A kind of background mood music. Stop and listen (how often do we even take the time to do that?): is it excitement, hope, love? Or anxiety, regret and frustration? Is it well-being, amusement or compassion? Impatience, cynicism or boredom? A mixture of all the above? Something else altogether? Something you could not describe in words very easily at all? When I first start coaching a new client, this ‘soundtrack’ is one of the main things I am listening out for because one of my jobs is often to help someone change their mood music before they take action to achieve a goal. Whatever your soundtrack, the essential point is that it decides how you process the world around you, it influences your reactions to situations and conversations, it will decide how you interpret this or any other blog …
All these different ‘tunes’ (and many more besides) are available to you all of the time. And the good news is that you are both the composer and the orchestra. And the entire universe is on hand to give you a standing ovation. Or a boo or two. We all have a dominant soundtrack and this determines the kind of person we are – what we think, say and do – and therefore what we achieve.
The purpose of Buddhist practice is to establish this soundtrack of joy whatever is happening on the outside. For example, when I have ‘man-flu’ (widely recognised as the worst kind of flu…), do I ‘choose to’ feel sorry for myself and grumpy? (yes, probably for the first few hours!) Or do I expand my life to the point where the symptoms no longer dominate my attention? I can equate my man-flu to a drop of ink clouding a thimble of water. Or the same drop of ink can land in a huge ocean of joy and therefore make no perceptible difference to my life. I know which David my wife and kids prefer… With my non-Buddhist clients I find that affirmations are a powerful way to change the soundtrack of their minds.
My 12-year-old son recently said: “I often feel happy for no reason at all.” Which is, of course, the best reason of all, don’t you think?
This week’s affirmations:
- I take time out to stop and listen to how I am feeling
- I am the composer of the soundtrack in my mind
- My life is a huge ocean of joy
Next week: Relative and absolute happiness