Sunday, December 26, 2010

Preparing the Ground

I know lots of folks (like my kids!) love Christmas, but I really prefer the lull after Christmas. I like the quiet time to reflect on the year winding to a close and to anticipate the new one almost here.

With that in mind, I thought I would say a little more about the blog plans for 2011. As I said before, I am going to try a more structured approach, highlighting one of the 10 Steps every month.

Before we get started with that, it might help to prepare the ground, so to speak, to grow some new habits. Remember that only 10% of our happiness depends on outer circumstances. Of the 90% left, some portion is based on the temperament we were born with, but the overwhelming portion of our happiness is directly attributable to our habitual thoughts, actions, words, and feelings. In other words, biology and circumstances are resoundingly trumped by habits in the happiness formula.

So let’s start with a baseline. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, how would you rate yourself as a happy person? This isn’t about how you are feeling at this moment, but generally, how would you rate this aspect of your life? This is like your homepage, your default setting.

Okay, now let me ask you, if you could increase that number, would you? Most of us would say yes. Whether we are at 2 or 9.9 on the scale, most of us would not say no to more happiness. So what we are going to do is reset our homepage. We are going to move our default setting up the scale. We are going to do this by identifying and reinforcing our habits that serve us, and by substituting good habits for the ones that don’t.

Will that make us feel happy all the time? Of course not. But we can build a reservoir of well-being to enhance our happy times and to sustain us during challenging times. We can live in the embrace of deep, abiding joy.

Between now and end of the year, I invite you to think about your habits. If you are like most folks, you have some habits in both categories, habits that serve you and habits that don’t. So be honest. But no judgment. No blame. No effort to be any different. Just loving awareness. In fact, if there is a theme throughout all the steps, I would call it loving awareness.

Hold that thought....


  1. This is good advice. Fortunately for me, because of a wonderful combination of temperament, therapy long ago, and a wonderful life, I would put myself at a 9.5.

  2. I am high up on the scale, because I want exactly what I have.

  3. We have to look at the bad habits too? I'm nervous to see if the bad outweighs the good. I think I shall have to get a notebook and write the good and bad down. I'm curious to see where I fall in my life.
    I would say for the most part, I'm a happy person. About once a month, I'm not and let everyone know it. I should work on that. *lol*

  4. You hit on the reality of happiness for me. I am pretty much a happy person upon waking each day. I love life and many people/animals in it. What happens for me throughout the day is where my thoughts can lead me....sometimes it's like I need to be constantly reassuring myself or like you said hold on to loving awareness and let the other "crap/bad stuff" not effect me....

  5. I think this is great advice and I really appreciated what you said about our happiness being heavily dependent on our own thoughts, actions, words and feelings. It really points us to the truth that we have more control over our happiness than we may have thought. For me, I have tried to do all I can to eliminate the bad habit of imagining how things could go wrong. I think it is all about realizing that you really can control your mindset and then being smart about the thoughts and beliefs you let run through your mind. Great post.

  6. Mrs4444 -- That is a great combination! You are fortunate indeed!

    JJ -- Your comment reminded me of a line from the Tao Te Ching. "He who knows enough is enough will always have enough."

    onemixedbag -- Don't be nervous. We all start where we are, wherever that is. Remember, no judgment. No competition or comparison. Wherever we are is where we begin. And every moment is a new beginning. Writing things down is a great idea.

    Karen S -- I, too, sometimes need repeated assurance. Once, my therapist suggested that I simply say to myself, "I am safe."

    Sibyl -- I laughed at myself when I read your comment. I used to be the master of imagining disaster. I spent so much of my time rehearsing all the horrible things that could happen. As you say, it was a habit. I finally broke it by using the phrase mentioned above, "I am safe." Whenever my mind would start to spin out tales of woe, I would just stop myself with that reminder. Montaigne said, "My life has been full of terrible misfortune, most of which never happened." I can relate!

  7. Just found ur blog; nice blog and good advice;)Happy 2011!

  8. superenergetic -- Welcome, and Happy 2011 to you, too!

  9. Hmmm..I am pretty happy; basically. This year has been very, very stressful with a lot of tragedy...but they all turned into blessings so while I am thrilled to say goodbye to 2010; I am thankful all has ended well (oops..too soon to say that)...

  10. I am a new follower via blog hop. Nice blog! would love a follow back if you like mine at

  11. Hi Galen,

    I am always a big fan of quiet time. Must be my INFJ nature and my need to reflect and spend time alone.

    I agree with you when you say that our happiness depends on our habitual thoughts, actions, words and feelings. If we change the way we think, it is possible to be happier than we are. I would say that on a scale of 1-10, my happiness would be 6. I love how you suggest that we should be more aware of our habits. It is only by being aware that we can make the necessary changes we need to make. But judgment should never mar the awareness we have. Instead, we should just be accepting and loving of who we are and to view habits as useful or not. This is my favoured pragmatic approach that helps me to put my ego and feelings in place.

    Thank you for sharing this post! :)

    Irving the Vizier


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