Happiness and Wellbeing – according to Human Givens
Finding happiness and wellbeing comes when you stumble across it without really looking. Happiness and wellbeing can be found in the ordinariness of every day but whatever you do, don’t be looking for it.
Three steps to Happiness and Wellbeing
Better words than finding happiness and wellbeing might be developing resilience, which would be the capacity to find emotional equilibrium quickly after the sharpest shock – or attaining balance – of work/life, of future/past and success/failure.
This is my take and understanding of finding Happiness – having lived a life, long been interested in the subject of self development and having learnt a little bit of what works – for me and my clients. There is not much that is original (and I freely provide sources) but it is free of scientific/academic straitjackets and there are no models to defend. So enjoy and find something of value.
Getting to first base
As Jonathan Haidlt says and as has been implicit is so much on this site, there is a Low Road – where crude limbic system emotion dominate and a High Road -where emotions are moderated by the advanced brain or Neo-Cortex.
Getting to first base
Discover the existence of the High Road and how to find it. Clearing out is finding the high road increasingly easy to find and indeed becoming quite familiar with it. Travelling there is the journey of a life largely spent on that high road and what is experienced and discovered – is this finding happiness or just a life of self development?
If you are lost in a Whirlpool of emotion and failing to get out – and so stuck in anxiety, addiction or depression then you are most definitely on the Low Road. But we have the insights and means perhaps to help you.
It’s when you reach first base – with Low road emotions more under control and living a life of reasonable balance and free from obvious anxiety, depression and addiction that you can begin the next stage of self development to finding happiness.
Another way to see it is that more and more you are accessing your Observing self.
What you need to learn about yourself.
- You are on a journey and there is no destination – where happiness has been found.
- It’s about being comfortable in your own skin – being able to tell yourself the story of your life and see progression through its successes and failures, triumphs and humiliations, joys and trauma.
- And that the doing is the thing, not the having – that security lies being happier with less and less.
Learning to be Present
The journey is about spending more of it being present.
The quality of presence evolves – from low road addictive, depression and anxiety trance states…..to lower arousal levels and so being more in your observing self….to experiencing trance like states of flow.
As you move onto the High road you will learn and experience that you are not your emotions – that you can be in your Observing Self – looking across at them. And as you are more present in an activity that stretches, fully engages you and is accomplished – that you are in a state of flow. Is this finding happiness – at least for that moment?
And discovering that so much are Unconscious and automatic processes – that control far more of us than we like to believe. This has to be in order for us to function ….BUT when is it dopamine surges that do not help us AND when is it reactions and instincts that are tired …. such as
- Fear responses – that move us away or back to safety. This suppression response is typically very strong and will typically overwhelm the addictive, sexual and anger responses that move us toward
- Living with dissatisfaction in order to survive – or else why would the species have done anything?
- Always judging, and either finding others or ourselves to blame. And normally it is others as we have survived by having a far too high opinion of ourselves. We are innately hypocritical
- An incredible sensitivity to reciprocity and fairness. So as Haidt suggests, learn to find fault with yourself – and take pride in taking responsibility
- Elevation and Awe – which is something we can all feel from time to time – before beauty, love or God or even a story of compassion and sacrifice. Just today I watched a programme of the inspirational life and death of Karen Woo – a young doctor who was killed in Afghanistan. To watch this brings peace and a sense of being reborn – much more than finding happiness.
There is less to say here as the journey is for you and you are ready to make it. You can test yourself by looking at the boxes facing. How easy are you finding that you can accept these?
- Doing and action and stretching and accomplishment
- Relationships that connect and take you out of yourself
- And that something more – our virtues exalted.