How To Leverage Your Focus To Increase Your Happy

We’ve all heard the adage “you get what you focus on”.  So how can we use this idea of focus to increase our sense of happiness and fulfilment?

It’s easy to discover we aren’t as happy as we’d like to be.  You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work that out.  Feeling fatigued and wishing the world had a stop button so you could catch your breath are signs that joy may have taken a holiday…..and didn’t invite you.

So if you’d like to have a bit more happy in your day, let me ask you, do you know what it would feel like or look like if it showed up?

With all the feelings, information, stimulation and experiences we encounter everyday it’s easy to miss things we aren’t paying attention to.  

Why What We Focus On Matters:

Our brain has evolved a system to help with this barrage of data.  

The Reticular Activating System or RAS is responsible for our wakefulness, our ability to focus, our fight-flight response, and how we ultimately understand the world.  This network of neurons receives information and filters it, determining what is important and what can be deleted or ignored.  Things of importance get our attention.  Information relating to our safety gets passed along as does data that we’re intentionally seeking.

You may have experienced the RAS in action when you are researching the purchase of a new car.  Once you bring your attention to white transit vans ( yes we ‘d like to buy on and dip our toe in vanlife) you begin to see them all over the place.  You even wonder if there has been a sudden influx of them in your neighborhood.  There haven’t been, there are the same number of vans as there were last week. It’s just now that you have brought your attention to looking for them, your RAS is filtering this data in and showing them to you.

So how does this help us experience more happy?

We use the same system.  We get the RAS working on our happiness quota. Let’s go back to the question I asked in the beginning.  What would happiness look like or feel like if it was to show up?

Some people respond, “it’s being smiled at by people as I walk by,” “chatting with a friend on the phone”, “completing a tricky task,” “seeing something beautiful in nature”, “ having a quiet moment”, “getting into my garden”, “being heard in a meeting”, “someone giving me a compliment.”.  These are all small moments that in the hurley-burly of a day can rush on by.

When we bring our attention and focus to the things that bring us joy and are ready to experience them then this is where we can have more happiness each day.

You may be thinking , but Loretta these are so small, how are they going to make the difference I need?

Great question.  What they are doing is building up your bank of positive experiences.  These are vital to our overall happiness and sense of wellbeing.  Not only do they give us shots of our happy hormones in the moment but they help us build our emotional resilience, impact our work and performance and help us foster better relationships.

Our brain is wired to seek what we bring our focus to, so let’s feed it more of the things we do want and less of the things we’d rather sidestep.  

Here are some practical ways you can help focus on finding more happy:

  • Begin your day with a reminder to seek joy
  • Play happiness bingo.  Endeavor to experience 5 things that make you smile, keep a tally
  • At the end of each day, ask yourself,” Where did I find my happy today?”
  • Take a photo on your phone of something that brightens your day
  • Leave the house smiling
  • Greet and smile at people as you walk past them

Make sure you listen to the Happy Chicks Collective Podcast about Focus HERE!

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