Most people forget or never knew that your Nervous System not only coordinates all your joints and muscles, but it also has a huge impact on your mood, your thoughts and feelings.
We all subconsciously know this because we can see the impact of stress on our posture (take Theresa May for example, her posture is collapsing under the stress of Brexit). And at a more personal level, try feeling really miserable and then stand up very straight, stretch your arms out to the side and throw your head back. Now try to feel really miserable. It’s remarkably hard I know.
But what made me ask the question about happiness?
Party because so many of my clients have happiness as one of their goals…..
I’ve just been on a skiing holiday. Now although I’m sporty, I’ve come to skiing very late in my life so I’m not very good. I go away with a ski club so that I can ski with people of my level, whilst my husband who is an excellent skier goes off with the advanced group. This year I chose to ski with a very experienced skier who was nearly 30 years my senior. And through her I got the big “aha”…..
"Happiness comes from Making Progress”
What do I mean by Progress?
For the first time ever, I managed to get down a Black run and actually enjoy the experience. I wasn’t terrified, I skied it technically quite well, though slower than my friend. It felt amazing because I could see and experience the progress I was making. And every day last week I learnt something new. I did things that a few years ago would have put me into serious fear and distress.
How to mess up Happiness…
So if my goal had been to ski as well as my husband last week would have been depressing, a total failure and not a pleasurable experience. The reality is, it’s unlikely I’ll never ski to his level, he started over 40 years ago.
So how do we make our happiness threshold unattainable? Usually it’s out mind that messes us up - the perfection gene is what I call it. It’s that little voice that either sets totally unrealistic standards and then beats you up when you don’t achieve them, or even if you making progress finds someone else to compare you to and says “but they are doing better than you…..”
Do you recognise that voice?
How to Achieve Progress and hence lower your Happiness Threshold?
There is a balance here. It’s tempting to set super easy goals and then you achieve everything. However, if your goals are too easy, sooner or later you’ll get bored and then the fun will go out.
I set myself the challenge this year to ski with different people and be open to new experiences and challenge. I did have one day where I scared myself on a red run by going way faster than I was capable of and being out of control. I recovered by holding my nerve and didn’t fall or injure myself or thankfully anyone else. I learnt from it because I was still on the edge of my comfort zone, but beyond it to be honest.
So set yourself goals that are going to stretch you, but are also achievable. Skiing with others was a realistic goal, what I didn’t know was would it stretch me. Because I put challenge in my goals, I got exactly what I asked for. New people, challenge and a huge amount of happiness and pleasure.
I’m curious to hear how other people experience this? Do ask yourself - what is my happiness threshold and how can I lower it realistically?
What else can I do?
Notice when you make progress and how it makes you feel
Observe how often you sabotage happiness, it’s probably more than you think
Practice somato-respiratory integration Stage 1 daily to check in with your internal state
Get your nervous system checked by a holistic practioiner who knows the spine in depth, and make sure your posture supports who you are and who you want to be.