Betty W. Phillips, Ph.D., Psychology
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The Battle for Happiness



                                            The Battle for Happiness


Two armies are battling for your life. The Army of Unhappiness is lined up with forces such as anger, hostility, resentment, fear, worry, jealousy, envy, complaining, depression, and self-pity. The Army of Happiness has battalions of joy, love, kindness, compassion, generosity, gratitude, hope and serenity. The question is: which army wins in your life?


If you are a regular reader of my columns, you know you do want to enlist in the Army of Happiness.  People can make this choice even late in life; it's just more difficult and you may have deprived yourself of the opportunity to live a happy and fulfilling life. So make the choice now and start winning your personal war. You may remember my articles about Positivity or you can consult this well researched subject by UNC's own Dr. Barbara Fredrickson (Crown, 2009). When you choose the dark side, the negative forces are initially stronger. As Dr. Fredrickson computes, you will need three positive experiences to build up enough positivity to win your war. But you will have an infinitely better life as you enlist in the Army of Happiness.


Point to yourself. Do you point to your head or to your heart? Most people point to the center of their body close to the location of the heart. Your heart is not only the symbol of love, it's a place where we actually feel love. When we lead with the heart we feel warm and loving energy flowing inside to ourselves and outward to others. Interestingly enough, research at the Institute of Heart Math shows the profound positive mind-body effects generated by loving kindness. When the Institute researchers studied heartbeat patterns they found that negative emotions cause erratic jagged-looking patterns of incoherent heart rhythms which have damaging effects on the body whereas positive emotions produce rhythmic and coherent health-promoting patterns.


At this point in reading this article you may be thinking, OK Phillips, this sounds good but I'm not any happier than when I began reading this column today. OK reader, here's a good place to start. To travel on to this path to happiness, choose an attitude of loving kindness every day and make this practice a habit. You will see positive results when you begin to choose, in a conscious and heartfelt manner, practicing kindness to yourself, to loved ones, to all the tradespeople and others we encounter, yes even to the people who cause you problems. Too often we go about our business in a self absorbed way, stuck in our mind and our habits but disregarding our hearts. Remember to smile, say something nice, be helpful to others. At first you will remember loving kindness only sporadically until the habit is established. This will take at least a month. I recommend that you also add a Loving Kindness meditation as a part of your daily routine. The article in the Reading Room of my website will introduce you to this most rewarding practice. The meditation will remind you to apply these feelings and behaviors within your daily routines.


Of course there is no Nirvana anywhere I know of on this earth. The Army of Unhappiness will win battles. To plan your response to negativity, you can check out additional articles describing tactics to deal with anger or fear and stress in the Reading Room and Advice Line sections of my website.


My wish for you and your new happiness practice: May you be filled with loving kindness; May you be free and live in safety; May you be peaceful and happy; May you be free of fear and suffering; May you be healthy and live with ease.