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The most frequently-cited study on winning the lottery and happiness was published back in 1978 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Researchers interviewed Illinois State Lottery winners and compared them with non-winners and with people who had suffered a terrible accident that left them paraplegic or quadriplegic. Each group answered a series of questions aimed at measuring their happiness level.
The study found that the overall happiness levels of lottery winners spiked when they won, but returned to pre-winning levels after just a few months. In terms of overall happiness, the lottery winners were not significantly happier than the non-winners. The accident victims were slightly less happy, but not by much. The study showed that most people have a set level of happiness and that even after life-changing events, people tend to return to that set point.
What I do is change people s set point, so they can raise their happiness levels, no matter what is or isn t happening in their lives. Where is your set point?

Happiness can be a delicate creature. It has to be fed, nurtured and given attention. If we are too busy to nurture it then it grows weaker. In some cases happiness becomes so weak that it seems dead, but it is merely lying dormant until it is nurtured once more. For it to remain strong we need to create and maintain a balance between things that consume our energy and things that replenish our energy. This is often referred to as work/life balance.

We can become so busy nurturing other people’s happiness that we run out of time or energy to nurture our own. Our own needs get relegated to the bottom of the list where they are forever waiting. That elusive thing called work-life balance seems impossible.

The reason our needs languish at the bottom of the list is because of limiting beliefs about work, often picked up in childhood. I recall coming home from primary school one day and finding my normally busy mother sitting down having a cup of tea. She immediately jumped up with an embarrassed look on her face and exclaimed “I’ve only been sitting down a minute”. I was bewildered as to why she would feel the need to share this information with me. Looking back now I can see the belief I picked up that day. Her reaction taught me that there is something wrong with sitting down, even for a minute. Her reaction taught me that you have to be busy all of the time, and that you should feel guilty if you are not.

Another belief we can pick up from childhood is that we must always put ourselves last. My mother would always take the smallest piece of meat and if there wasn’t enough of anything she was the one who went without. She was the last to get new clothes, only after everyone else was taken care of. One of my clients told me she was taught J.O.Y. “What is that?” I asked. “Jesus first, then Others, Yourself last” she replied.

This sounds very altruistic, but it is not actually the way things are supposed to be. It is like when you are flying and the steward(ess) tells you to fit the oxygen mask to yourself before helping a child or anyone else. The reason being, if you don’t have enough oxygen you can’t help anyone else. Everyone loses out. Life is like that. In the same way that we have a money budget we also have a time and energy budget. When we have ‘enough’ we feel great, we can do things for others and all is well.

As you give to others your energy level drops, much like the water level in a glass drops when you drink. Give more and your energy level drops again. If you have work-life balance then your level of ‘enough’ gets replenished. We can keep on giving only when we are replenishing. Replenishing is otherwise known as ‘me time’. The more you give, the more ‘me time’ you need.

The problem is that people with limiting beliefs such as ‘I have to be busy all of the time’ or ‘I have to put myself last’ can’t replenish themselves. The guilt stops them from having ‘me time’. As they keep giving, their supply of ‘enough’ gets very low.

People without those limiting beliefs will notice the symptoms of low levels of ‘enough’ and will stop giving for a while. They will nurture themselves until the symptoms are gone, then when they feel they have ‘enough’ they will start giving again. The symptoms can be feeling stressed, tired, unwell, or snappy with others to name just a few. These symptoms are the body’s way of saying “No”. “Something has to change.”

Unfortunately people with limiting beliefs can’t change because their programming tells them to do the opposite. They don’t listen and just keep on giving. That is when the body really says no and stops us in our tracks. Sometimes it stops us dead in our tracks – literally.

Many doctors and nurses notice that certain personality traits seem to be associated with certain illnesses. Many believe they can tell who’s going to develop something serious such as cancer or heart disease in the future, based on personality alone. It is often ‘nice’ people who get these serious diseases because they are the ones who don’t put themselves first, don’t say “no” and don’t express their negative emotions, especially anger.

Dr Gabor Maté, in his book When The Body Says No, writes “In important areas of their lives, almost none of my patients with serious disease had ever learned to say no.” “The inability to process and express feelings effectively, and the tendency to serve the needs of others before even considering one’s own, are common patterns in people who develop chronic illness”.

I have noticed the same personality traits with my clients. Another trait following closely behind these is what I call Superwoman Syndrome. Superwoman (or Superman) Syndrome is a close relation to perfectionism but worse. With perfectionism we set such high standards for ourselves that we use a huge amount of energy trying to achieve them. With Superwoman syndrome we not only try to be perfect at what we do, we also try to do everything. We believe we have to be everything to everybody and if we aren’t then we aren’t good enough.

An example is a lady client who had no work-life balance at all. We talked about how we might create ‘me time’ in her schedule, which involved working full time and being a mother. Every day of the week after school she was taking her children to activities. I asked if they needed to do all of those activities and if they really liked them. “No” she replied, “They don’t want to go, but I make them”. She believed she should be able to work full time (achieving great success) whilst being the perfect mother. That she should have a perfectly clean house, a perfectly clean car and wonderful children who achieve to the highest levels. Any thought of doing less made her feel like she was less.

I mentioned above that people with limiting beliefs can’t change, but let me clarify that. They can’t change without re-programming over those beliefs. Limiting beliefs reside in the subconscious mind, which is like a DVD. Whatever program is loaded onto it is what it plays, forever, no matter how much you ask it to play something different. The quickest and most effective way to reprogram over beliefs is with Energy Psychology such as EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques).

Before you can have balance you first need to create time for it. To create the time you have to change the beliefs you have about the way you ‘should’ be. Superwomen tend to have beliefs not just about what they should be doing and how well they should be doing it, but they also have conditions around what makes them good enough. A list headed ‘I will be good enough when’ can be lengthy, unattainable, and contain such things as:

• I am successful
• I can keep people happy
• I make my father/mother proud
• I am respected
• I have a partner
• I have a house
• I can stay at this level
• I get things done
• I look nice
• Other people think I’m good enough
…. the list goes on

With beliefs such as these you can’t create work-life balance. Even if you did create ‘me time’ you would spend it feeling bad about yourself. It is much easier to keep giving than it is to feel that bad. The answer is to seek professional help to change the thoughts, beliefs and emotions that are creating this dis-ease within you.

One of the best statements I have ever read about work-life balance was said by Brian Dyson, former vice chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola. “Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them –work, family, health, friends and spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls — family, health friends and spirit are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”

Work-life balance by definition means having equal amounts of those things that deplete our energy and those that replenish it. While speaking to a group of business owners recently I asked what percentage of their average week contained ‘me time’. “Zero” said one man. I think his ball was about to shatter. Take some time to ponder whether your life is in balance, and if not seek help to change that before it is too late.

Driving home from the gym last night after dark I saw a man walking a large dog on a leash down a city street. I started imagining life for that dog. It was probably walked once a day down city streets. No grass and no ability to run free. Perhaps once a week it might be taken somewhere where it could run off the leash, in a park or at the beach, and I’m sure it loved that day. Was that one day enough? What was the rest of the dog’s life like when it was so restrained the rest of the week? Then I realised that most people’s lives are exactly like that dog’s. They go to work most days, cooped up in small offices. When they get let out at lunch time they can only walk on pavement in a built up area, restrained by their work clothing, the time allowed, and their surroundings. Before and after work they have responsibilities and many things that need to be done, so they probably only get one day a week that is for fun. One day to run free and enjoy their lives. Is that one day enough? If you want to break free of the leash that is your life but can’t see how, contact me. It is more possible than you might think.

My happiness level is pretty high most of the time, but lately I have noticed I’ve been feeling even happier than usual. When I thought about why that might be I realised it was because I have something that I am working towards in my life that I am passionate about and excited about. My book is not too far off being published and every day I jump out of bed filled with enthusiasm to work on those things that still need to be done before publishing. I can’t wait to get into my day. This has heightened my happiness considerably and it is a wonderful feeling. Having something in our lives that we are passionate about is vital. Having something to get up for is crucial. Here is something you can try yourself. When the alarm goes off in the morning, lie in bed for a few minutes before you get up. Use that time to think of why you want to get up. Don’t think of what needs to be done or why you need to get up. Think of why you want to get up. What excites you about today? If there is nothing that you can think of, it is a sign that you need to add something into your life. What would you like to start working towards? What are you passionate about? What brings you joy? If you can’t think of anything and you have nothing that you want to get up for then make an appointment to see me, the happiness specialist.

Today I listened to a great TED talk by Dr Gabor Maté who was talking about addictions.  His definition of an addiction is:  “Any behaviour that gives you temporary relief or pleasure but in the long term has negative consequences; and you can’t give it up despite the negative consequences”.  Often we look at others with addictions, perhaps to alcohol or drugs or gambling, and we look down on them because they can’t stop their behaviour.  Dr Maté pointed out that most of us are the same but don’t realise it.  For instance we continue to do things that cause global warming even though we know the long term negative consequences.   We continue to buy food that is factory farmed or that has had herbicides or pesticides used on it.  We know the damage that causes, but keep doing it anyway.  We keep doing these things because they are quick and make life easier for us or cheaper for us (short term pleasure). Are we addicted to comfort, ease and pleasure at the expense of the world?  It really made me think of all the things I don’t stop doing that I know are damaging.  Sometimes buying factory farmed chicken because it is massively cheaper than free-range for example.  Nearly always using my car when I could bus.  Often buying fruit and vegetables that aren’t organically grown.  I am addicted to my behaviour. What are you addicted to?  Perhaps we need to look with understanding on our fellow addicts who have just chosen different comforts to us.

I often say that happiness is a sliding scale.  I see it as like a heater in a car, before the days of digital, where there is a sliding lever with blue/cold at one end, red/hot at the other, and inbetween just various degrees of warmish or coolish.  When you have the car’s air on, if the lever is right at the far red end of the scale then one could say that is ‘hot’, but who is to say that ‘hot’ doesn’t occur before the far right of the scale?  Where does cold end and warm begin?  Where does warm end and hot begin?  If I asked 20 people to give their opinion I am sure I would get 20 different answers.  I believe happiness is much the same.  There is no one spot where we can say “I am happy”.  As we move through our hours, days and lives we are experiencing different degrees of happiness.  Sometimes we are a bit more happy, sometimes a bit less, but unless we are near the cold end of the scale we are still happy.  Sometimes I believe we get judged on how happy we seem.  Not than anyone else can know what we feel inside because not all happy people are outgoing and go around with a huge smile on their face.  That is a personality thing rather than a happiness thing.  Still, I feel others judge based on their idea of where happiness lies on that sliding scale.  They are sure that happiness is ‘here’ and not ‘there’.  What I think is more relevant is how far someone has come along that happiness scale.  The important part is how far you have moved along it from where you started.  Few people seem to be naturally really happy all of the time.  Most people seem to start from the cooler end and have to learn how to move along the scale.  I have a lot of respect for people who started nearer the cool end of the scale and have managed to move up a long way.  Even if they have only moved to half way, they have made a huge improvement and done a lot of work on themselves.  I honour people who have had the farthest to go, rather than those who are naturally at the higher end.  I honour those who still have some way to go.  It is not that you aren’t happy now, you just have even greater happiness ahead.

I often say that happiness is a sliding scale.  I see it as like a heater in a car, before the days of digital, where there is a sliding lever with blue/cold at one end, red/hot at the other, and inbetween just various degrees of warmish or coolish.  When you have the car’s air on, if the lever is right at the far red end of the scale then one could say that is ‘hot’, but who is to say that ‘hot’ doesn’t occur before the far right of the scale?  Where does cold end and warm begin?  Where does warm end and hot begin?  If I asked 20 people to give their opinion I am sure I would get 20 different answers.  I believe happiness is much the same.  There is no one spot where we can say “I am happy”.  As we move through our hours, days and lives we are experiencing different degrees of happiness.  Sometimes we are a bit more happy, sometimes a bit less, but unless we are near the cold end of the scale we are still happy.  Sometimes I believe we get judged on how happy we seem.  Not than anyone else can know what we feel inside because not all happy people are outgoing and go around with a huge smile on their face.  That is a personality thing rather than a happiness thing.  Still, I feel others judge based on their idea of where happiness lies on that sliding scale.  They are sure that happiness is ‘here’ and not ‘there’.  What I think is more relevant is how far someone has come along that happiness scale.  The important part is how far you have moved along it from where you started.  Few people seem to be naturally really happy all of the time.  Most people seem to start from the cooler end and have to learn how to move along the scale.  I have a lot of respect for people who started nearer the cool end of the scale and have managed to move up a long way.  Even if they have only moved to half way, they have made a huge improvement and done a lot of work on themselves.  I honour people who have had the farthest to go, rather than those who are naturally at the higher end.  I honour those who still have some way to go.  It is not that you aren’t happy now, you just have even greater happiness ahead.

Today I want to share with you something that Marianne Williamson wrote:

“Each of us has an instinctive calling to be more than we are now…to stretch…to grow…to bend toward the infinite the way a flower bends toward sunlight.
Every cell in the body is coded to contribute its own uniqueness to the healthy functioning of the organ it belongs to. It has a natural tendency to collaborate with other cells in a venture way greater than its own individual life.

And so it is with human beings. We too are here to contribute to a great creative effort, each of us becoming whom we are capable of being, then collaborating with others in supporting something larger than ourselves. Each of us has a unique part to play, and a natural guidance system that reveals not only what our part is but also how to accomplish it.

No one’s function is any more or less important, or special, than anyone else’s. We are all here, like cells in the body, to do what is needed to support the whole. And who among us isn’t feeling today the call of greatness—not a personal greatness, but the greatness of the times in which we live—that we ourselves might participate in the healing of the world? We are the individual immune cells in the body of human civilization. Where there is sickness, we are called to be healers. And we heal by being healed ourselves.”

Marianne Williamson

Whenever something happens that is not ideal I use it as an opportunity to practice my gratude.  The Law of Attraction states that we attract into our lives that which we focus our thoughts on, so we definitely don’t want to be thinking about what is wrong.  We want to be thinking of what is good in our lives or ‘practicing gratitude’.  I do this regularly but what some people may not realise is that when things are ‘bad’ it is a great reminder to be grateful for what is good. For instance we are looking for somewhere to rent for six months or so while our house is rebuilt after the earthquakes.  As I look at possible houses I find myself thinking that I would not like living there.  That makes me even more grateful for the house I do have.

When there is some noise coming from next door, which very rarely happens, I use it as an opportinuty to send out grateful energy for the fact it is usually very quiet. If I get a rare cold or a bit of pain somewhere in the body I think to myslef how grateful I am that I usually don’t have that.  When things go wrong remind yourself that they are usually going right and you are only noticing because most of the time things are great.  The more you focus on what you are happy with the more you will attract that.  If the kids are playing up send out happy, grateful thoughts that a lot of the time they are being really good.  Things going wrong are a great reminder not to take things for granted and to be grateful for our lives.  I like to see things that way, that they are temporary reminders.  Be grateful for your temporary reminders.

According to a US government report, it takes 17 years for medical advances to travel from lab to bedside, and only about 15% of them even make the journey.  The other 85% are lost. Read that again – 85% of medical advances never ever come into common use!

Even if they do come into common use it can take a lot longer than 17 years.  Take scurvy for instance, the killer of many a sailor.    In 1617 the cure for scurvy (eating lemons, limes, oranges and any other vitamin C containing food) was discovered by military surgeon John Woodall who published his findings.  It was completely ignored by the medical community.

136 years later naval surgeon James Lind published his discovery (the same cure)
which was also ignored. The medical establishment insisted that the testimonials of eating citrus fruit to reverse scurvy were merely “anecdotal” and not based on “scientific evidence”. That is the same thing we hear now with regards to natural therapies.

Fortunately James Lind persevered and about 50 years later citrus fruit was finally accepted and used for the prevention and treatment of scurvy on sailing vessels. The horrible truth is that the cure for scurvy was ignored for nearly 200 years after its discovery. 

If the cure is natural, doesn’t make the drug companies any money and is so simple that it is available to everyone, it seems to be ignored by modern medicine.  It is likely that if you went to see a doctor with the symptoms of scurvy you be subjected to a barrage of expensive tests, misdiagnosed, prescribed pharmaceutical drugs, and subjected to treatments for some other disease.

I often hear people say “If it really works it would be mainstream and everyone would be using it”, but that is unfortunately not how it works.  Be open to things outside of mainstream medicine.  Remember, 85% of medical advances never ever come into common use.

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