Edited by Marie Louise Zervos
“Living a life of joy is being able to be grateful and feel your experiences in the present moment. Then one joyful moment follows another.”
Many human beings walk around living a less than joyful existence, due to perhaps sad, disappointing and even traumatic life experiences. As humans, we are often burdened with thoughts and memories that consistently keep us imprisoned from enjoying the basic human right to live a happy life. These thoughts and negatively geared memories continue to circle around relentlessly in our minds and become a habitual way of being.
However, is it possible for individuals to change those habitually negative thoughts and learn to actually live a more joyful life, increasing, what I call, their Joy Factor™? The answer is a resounding “yes”. You may be asking how can this even be possible, given the myriad of life experiences that may have left our hearts and souls sadly traumatized?
In this article...
I will offer you some concretely effective ways and means that can be gently adopted to break free of those habitual negative thinking patterns. If this negatively oriented pattern has already been set in gear within you, then the guiding tools you’ll read about can enable you to trade up those revolving, un-serving thought patterns that keep you from enjoying life, thus creating space for joyful ones to come alive in you.
For the few precious moments you take to read this article, kindly keep alive in your mind and heart that it is possible to live a more joyful life. The steps and directions that you may decide to adopt will effectively bring about a shift in your negatively geared thinking patterns. The key aspect about this shift is that the negative thoughts will no longer be on automatic in your mind. In fact, I believe, and it has also been my experience, that we can actually train our bodies and minds, to think thoughts that make us feel good, thus setting us on the path to increase our Joy Factor™ exponentially.
Beware of the Thinking Treadmill That Goes Nowhere
“That’s just who I am,” is a statement I’m sure you may have heard too many times, or that you may even have said yourself. Perhaps you may even have heard yourself say, “What’s the use, everything bad always happens to me.” “Look at their life, they always seem to have everything they want in life. How come I can’t?” Note: Kindly be aware that when you are in resignation that nothing can change, nothing will. These are the very types of thoughts that keep individuals running on negative, that continuous thinking treadmill that goes nowhere, with using the verbiage in their thoughts that continue to feed the feel-bad factor, as if on automatic, like a robot. Henry Ford said, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”1
Hit the Pause Button
A first step to undo the feelings behind such statements and thoughts is to pause for a moment, consciously hear yourself, and make the decision in that very moment to stop using words that seemingly justify your feelings of habitual “negativity”. This is the first step to ensure that your brain is beginning to break through the pattern and on the way towards integrating the Joy Factor™ in your life.
As you, dear readers, may already know, my whole life has been dedicated to studying and teaching the physical human and the spiritual nonphysical relationship dynamics. The point is that I’ve heard over and over again individuals express an idea that the physical/material part of our human beingness is the more important part and even more real than the non-physical. From my studied learnings, and experience, I suggest that it could not be further from the truth. Here’s why: when we only rely on the physical/material world, we can easily become “victims” of our environment, circumstances, situations, and even our own bodies. When we realize that there are other ways of looking at our thinking process, we are able to switch gears and change the way we think, and not only behave in more healthy ways, but enjoy ourselves more and more, deepening and increasing the quality of our lives. Living a joyful life does not come without a conscious effort, however, and it does take that decisive and determined action step I suggested to break the old patterns of negativity.
Chemistry in Negativity
Let’s take a brief moment to look at how negatively geared thoughts manifest themselves in the body from a scientific chemical standpoint.2 The basic learning essence that I have gleaned consistently is that we all come equipped with a survival mechanism that kicks in instinctually. The scientific explanation for this instinctual survival manifestation mechanism may help you to better understand what exactly happens in your body on a chemical level. When the brain entertains a particular thought, it sends out a particular chemical, depending on the thought naturally going through the limbic system. If the thought is “negative”, the limbic system sends a signal to protect the body, and the body reacts accordingly, releasing cortisol or adrenaline, sending the body into stress which produces a reaction mode of either fight or flight. Consequently, consistently going through releases of cortisol and/or adrenaline in your body, may not foster an optimal feeling of well-being. However, when we were cave people thousands of years ago, fight or flight stressors triggered from fear served us humans tremendously, warning us of danger at every sound that was heard, be it the sounds of ferociously wild animals or other sounds that also meant certain peril.
Today, we are not surrounded by such dangers. However, past belief systems imbedded in us can steer us into realms of fear. When this happens, we go into an old patterned behavior that we have just triggered in motion. The body insidiously and surreptitiously create the same behavior. Our bodies then become acclimated to feeling “bad” from the random negative thoughts that keep firing off, like a lightning storm. Those negative thoughts attract other ones, and all of these keep spiraling around and around.
When Negativity Becomes Automatic
After years of negatively geared thought conditioning, our bodies become really good at feeling low most of the time, and even all the time. Such afflicted individuals automatically wake up feeling bad, go about their day feeling gloomy, and go to bed feeling sullen and defeated. Daily experiences elicit doubtful feelings about the outcome of whatever is experienced. These self-defeating occurrences are the results of how thoughts are all geared toward feeling awfully unhappy. These negatively geared feelings of unhappiness affect our behavior and over time, generalized negativity becomes our way of being – an identity. I have a friend, who to this day is always angry and upset over something. I asked him many years ago what would happen if he gave up his anger, and his answer was, “I would lose my identity.”
I reiterate to emphasize my point to be in conscious awareness of your thoughts. Be conscious of how you feel. Dr. Joe Dispenza says,
Thoughts are the language of the mind and feelings are the language of the body.
Dr. Joe Dispenza
You need to pay attention if they are in alignment, which he calls, “… being in coherence between the mind and the heart.” He engages a team of scientists who measure the thought activity in the brain in correlation with the heart. They measure how the heart manifests any changes based on specific thoughts.7
Remember what it took to learn how to drive a car, and how now, when you drive, you don’t consciously think about that anymore? The same goes for when you brush your teeth. Do you consciously think about how you learned to brush your teeth every time you do so? I certainly don’t. We perform these, and even other things, on automatic. So, how do we stop being on automatic in order to increase our Joy Factor™?
JOY FACTOR™ SCALE
The Joy Factor™ scale above has notches numbered from 1 -10. The most miserable you could possibly be is indicated as 1, and the most joyful you could possibly be is indicated by a 10. Where do you hover most of the time? Your indication reveals a little more concretely where you stand. *
Increasing our Joy Factor™ takes some conscious perceptual adjustments. I can’t say this enough: when you look at life in a habitually negatively geared way, you set yourself up to live a quality of life that is simply unhappy.
After you have taken the first step by making the decision to no longer use verbiage that only serves to justify feeling un-happy, you’re ready for the next step. The next step is to ask yourself if you are living life authentically, and according to the way you want to live. If the answer is “no”, then do a mental check-in with your beliefs. Any beliefs you identify as ones lingering around that you no longer want to accept are ones that you are ready to let go. Let go of them by acknowledging each of them, one by one, and then saying the following statement after each one:
“Thank you and goodbye. You don’t serve me anymore!”
The process you just completed is an accomplishment in decisiveness. The next step is very important: Celebrate yourself for your self-empowering decisiveness. Celebrating could be anything that you deem as a “reward” – perhaps buying some exquisite chocolates, or, expressing a loud “yes!” with a punch up in the air, or, getting a massage. Massages can build up your sense of wellbeing, and you’ll feel a more calming approach to your day and the day’s taskings. The celebratory aspect is hugely important and not to be skipped. You will be gypping yourself of feeling even a small flutter of happiness if you omit rewarding yourself for the tiniest shift you’ve acted upon.
At this point, you may want to list your life values. Once you’re pleased with the ones you’ve written, put them in order of priority as much as possible. Now use these as your behavioral compass, checking in with them keeps you on track with living in alignment with them.
When you think “positive thoughts” your brain sends signals to release hormones that make you feel good. You can feel when the endorphins, serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine are running through your body. If you have a challenge trusting someone, BE trustworthy, and you are more likely to trust. Touch stimulates oxytocin and when you are more affectionate, you get to feel a yummy delicious feeling – it’s a flutter called happiness. When you increase your endorphins, it’s nature’s way of relieving pain and also promotes wellbeing. Laughter and crying are also significant releasers of tension. Another way to release this hormone is doing a yoga or Pilates class for a new experience and see how you feel!
Dopamine helps release the energy you need to get the rewards you want. Serotonin helps you to feel safe through activities that build self-respect. Enjoy where you are and be happy just doing whatever you are doing. Take pride in what you have accomplished by giving yourself praise, acknowledgement, validation and approval. Don’t wait to get it from the outside. Give it to yourself. It’s all an inside job. Choose to live your life with joy by your side.
The following step is to take a moment and candidly acknowledge to yourself that your life is a gift, a gift for you to live! Increase your Joy Factor™ now by expressing gratitude for your life and everything in it. It may not be easy if your situation seems horrible, but express gratitude regardless. Stop yourself from indulging in a traded-up pattern of justifying every single reason why you are miserable. At the same time, check in with yourself if you have that disease that I’ve coined “Fingerpointyitus™”. This is a blame disease, which indulges consistently in pointing the blame finger to others and towards outside circumstances to “justify” the way you feel. This “outside-in” way thought-pattern which may have evolved into your way of living life, only serves to engender more of the same kind of negatively geared thoughts. You want to shun assuring yourself that you’re producing and promoting more negative emotions. Remember when you point the finger out, three fingers are still pointing at you.
When you live from the outside in, you will always be setting yourself up to blame and be affected by anything, anywhere, including criticism from family and friends, a bad economy, your lack of finances, unhealthy relationships and catastrophes beyond your control. When you hear yourself say, “I’m tired of the way the world is…or he/she is doing x to me,” then those are clues that you are living an outside-in perspective. So, stopping to blame others and things outside of you is the loud and clear message you want to express to yourself. Shifting the perspective to an inside-out point of view – regardless of what may be going on outside of you, immediately positions you positively in the eye of the storm, where you can exercise control of your thoughts using the steps I’ve outlined. You have now cultivated a feeling of calm, instead of constantly being reactive to frenetic energy. I respectfully say to keep your fingers to yourself and take responsibility for what you BRING to the table of your life, not what you get from life.
Identify things, even the tiniest of things, that make you feel joyful. Make a list and do them. This exercise towards achieving happiness incrementally is not simplistic by any means. The reason why is that your heart’s desires are highly important and getting in touch with them is self-empowering. Take action even on the tiniest item on your list and get yourself to hover over at a higher number on the Joy Factor™ scale. It’s in your power to live life with more ease and grace. Basically put, let yourself believe the things that make you feel good and let go of the beliefs that make you feel bad.
Treat your human self with compassion and kindness. These genuine feelings have the power to train your body to notice and catch yourself in what you say and how you say it, as well as the behavioral attitude for almost everything you do. When you are conscious of being kind to yourself, you will see your kindness naturally come out when you engage with others. Exercise gentleness with yourself when doing all of these steps. Compassion is avoiding being hard on yourself and take a little pitfall as an opportunity to say to yourself that if you’ve made some shifts already, which means you’re self-correcting. Therefore, going forward, you can continue to do more until you reach your desired Joy Factor™ level.
You are the most important person in your life. Everything in your universe begins with YOU. Put your life in perspective. Keep yourself in the equation of all the things you say you “have” to do, and even change that phrase to “get to do”. Value your breath by being present, by being grateful you are alive, by being loved by those who love you, by being able to love those you love, by being able to eat, and sleep and breathe and create. All of these things are gifts of being human.
It’s your life. Enjoy the journey. And remember to bring love into everything you do.
*The Joy Factor™ is a workshop that is given as part of the Soul Diving Institute Certification Program for individuals, coaches, and healthcare professionals. This program involves the study of the art and science of being human with focus on increasing each one’s Joy Factor™. The courses, workshops and programs are open to all individuals who wish to study the human-spiritual dynamic either for, personal interest, or, to become a Certified Soul Diving Master Guide. The Joy Factor™ Program is also offered in workshop format for groups and organizations. If you are interested in either hosting this workshop for your group or you yourself are interested, then contact Shelley Whizin at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Shelley at 818-414-5111. Do not hesitate to speak with Shelley if you want to increase the quality of your life, deepen your human experience and learn how to sustain joy.
I have drawn this essence from reading some of the teachings of Dr. Joe Dispenza, Dr. Bruce Lipton, Gregg Braden3, and as well as from working with Marie Louise Zervos, my personal and professional Life Steward of many years.
8 In several workshops I facilitated for actors, educators, rabbis, administrators, professionals, and other curious soul divers, called W.A.Y. (What About YOU?), I used one wall of the classrooms to represent a 1 on the Joy Factor™ Scale, and the opposite wall to represent a 10. The space between these two walls represented the notches between 1-10. Then I asked the individuals in the groups to stand on the notch in the Joy Factor Scale that most represented how they felt in their life most of the time and to be honest with themselves. The majority of the individuals in the groups hovered around a 3-4 on the Joy Factor™ Scale. The point of this exercise was to demonstrate and have each of these participants realize for themselves to what degree they’re living less than a joyful life most of the time. Many were somewhat surprised and quite saddened to see the Joy Factor™ in their life defined more specifically in this way, and this served as an awakening to see how they accepted complacency about living “unhappy”. It was illuminating. I then asked the group if they wanted to increase their Joy Factor™. They all responded yes, but also said that they didn’t know how and that was what the workshop was all about.
14 Working with M.L. Zervos over the years, I learned many powerful processes that have changed my life. One particular self-worth process I learned and put into practice as a new life habit included carefully drafted statements that each reflected Praise, Validation, Acknowledgement and Approval, suiting a variety of situations that I had not even thought I ever deserved any kind of acknowledgement. I realized I was the one who needed to say those things to myself and to remember to reward myself. This system has worked immeasurable wonders for me. I am forever grateful to my life steward.