Annual Gratitude Letter - 2019 Intentions

By the time I review this letter it will be 31 December 2019 and a full year since I last sat down to review my life, the universe and everything in between. For the past 15 years I have penned a letter to my future self to create a space of possibility to grow into. This year was certainly no exception.

It began with me reflecting on the year that was 2018 while I sat just outside the city of Varanasi, India near the temple devoted to the Buddha where he sat down after attaining enlightenment and preached his first sermon to his five erstwhile companions. It seemed appropriate to be envisaging my future self and receiving blessings in this sacred space.

To read my full and very personal letter to myself for 2019 visit https://www.uqpower.com.au/annual-gratitude-2019

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How to feel happier and more uptimistic

You may have heard the saying before “what you think about you bring about” but have you really pondered the truth in it? It’s now been scientifically proven that what you think about regularly become the habits of your mind. That whatever you practice grows stronger. So what do you think about?

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What also know scientifically that we each have a happiness set point and despite the ups and downs in life we tend to drop back to that setpoint regularly. What then can you do if you want to change your set point? You need to rewire your brain for wellbeing because it is possible to feel happier and more joyous and feel the inner peace that comes from wellbeing which simply takes a decision and then practice.

The kind of practice I am referring to is meditation, journaling, practicing gratitude, spending time in nature and mindfully noticing your mood and your mind to notice when it is going up or down. If you want to stop riding the waves of mood you have to develop strong mental patterns which takes time, patience and practice.

Humans are wired with an inbuilt with a negativity bias so to overcome it you must retrain, redirect and rewire your brain for wellbeing, you must learn to grow the capacity for joy as a behaviour and mind pattern

Buddhist psychology suggests there are two types of happiness:

  1. Happiness with reason – for example seeing dolphins playing in the waves, a friend smiling at you, your child painting you a picture are all sure to bring you some brief happiness

  2. Happiness without reason - being alive could be enough to make you happy – you just wake up happy with no reason at all.

The one we can have the most control over initially is the happiness with reason. This requires conscious effort to train the brain to require for uptimism.

Seven steps to become more UPtimistic

Step 1 – Grab a piece of paper and pen or start a new note on your device. Draw up two columns down the page. At the top of  the first column put “Uppers” in the second column put “Downers”.

Step 2 – Now identify where you feel your own level of happiness and wellbeing is at. Give yourself a score out of 10 with 1 being terrible, down in the dumps and 10 being freaking amazing. Rate yourself somewhere in between 1 and 10 but as a rule do not score yourself a seven – seven is a safe number you’re either 6 or below or an 8 or 9. Rate your level of happiness now.

Step 3 – Now in the first column of Uppers write down all the things that lift you UP and make you feel UPtimistic. If you’re not sure think about when you’re feeling happy what gives rise to it? What causes it? Is it sensory? Is it when you are achieving? Is it when you feel loved and appreciated? Is it when you experience nature? Write down your uppers now.

Step 4 - On the flipside column of downers draw up a list of all the things that block your wellbeing and drag your mood down. Is it an overflowing to do list? Traffic jams? Judging yourself? Angry at another? A heavy workload. Financial burdens. Not feeling heard or understood? Write down all your downers now.

Step 5 - Notice your patterning. Now for the next 2-3 days just begin noticing you patterning. When do you dip below the line of happiness int despair or anger? When do you catch yourself smiling? Begin being an observer to your own feelings and mood. Was it due to the external environment, other people or stimulus, or was it driven internally?

Step 6 – Now focus on rewiring your brain to UP your set point. Start by looking for opportunities to be more kind to yourself. Remember what you practice grows stronger and some of your practices may keep you small or sad so start catching yourself if you’re dipping and start choosing a different more UP lifting thought instead. You may wish to incorporate a daily practice or intention by saying aloud each day something like “I want to open myself to my potential for wellbeing. May I experience the freedom of joy and happiness today. I am worth it. I can cultivate my capacity for joy. I choose to feel happier now.” The aim here is to intentionally gladden the mind to create new neural pathways.

Step 7 – Lastly think of someone you are grateful for in your life. Spend time to write them a one-page letter expressing your gratitude and then if possible, read it to them. You’ll be amazed at the profound impact this can have on yours and their neurology and mood too.

Research shows that people who feel happier tend to practice wanting to be happy ie: setting intentions or daily mantras such as “may I be happy” “may something good happen today”. So wish for happiness, become a more uptimistic person and watch it impact every part of your human experience.

Check out my latest video about how we can shape our mind and our life to feel more joy and uptimism:

PS don’t just take my word for it – check out this letter by Sir Richard Branson where he shares the key to happiness is that

Happiness shouldn’t be a goal, it should be a habit. Take the focus off doing, and start being every day. Be loving, be grateful, be helpful, and be a spectator to your own thoughts.” https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/how-be-happy