Month: January 2019

Ejo #109 – The Happiness Project: Part 2

And away we go with Part 2 of The Happiness Project (which has actually blown out to be a chunky three parter, to be continued next month). Zimmy’s just opened registration for the second round of the project, which is due to start in a couple of weeks, and if you can spare the time and money I would really highly recommend you get on board and commit to doing something that will definitely change your life for the better. What have you got to lose?

So here is Zimmy’s offer:

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Do you want to be happier – but just don’t know how to go about it, or where to start? Rather than waiting for certain things to happen, that you think will make you happy, would you like to learn how to create happiness in your existing circumstances? A large number of research studies have been conducted about happiness and how to create it in our daily lives. We now have a great amount of guidance on how to be more empowered in this pursuit. On how to create the life we want, rather than just responding to life, or surviving it.

Last year I completed a degree from Yale University – The Science of Well-being. It showed me that many of the things I’ve learnt over the past few years, and have been practicing diligently, are in fact the cornerstones of creating happiness. I realised that these practices have produced very tangible positive results in my life, and in the lives of my friends and clients too.

So with that in mind, I have created this project, and we have already completed Round 1 a couple of months ago, with 20 participants who were able to increase their happiness scores significantly through the practices that were shared in the course. During this 12 week project, we will be using scientifically proven tests to measure your authentic happiness score before, during and after the course. You will receive clear, proven tools and techniques to employ every single day via email, that will help you create more happiness in your life, more consistently. And you will have these for life, to use for yourself and share with loved ones.

This course can be done by people not only in Dubai, but anywhere around the world, as it will be conducted through emails, and two personal one-on-one progress meetings, either in person (if you are in Dubai) or on video chat. There will also be a Facebook forum for group discussions and sharing of challenges, breakthroughs, inspiration and achievements.

Special introductory offer for all Epiphany clients is 2,750 AED.
Early bird offer, if paid before February 6th is 2,500 AED.
If you get a friend to sign up for the project with you, you’ll both pay 2,250 AED each.

If you are interested in doing the course, and know that you will be able to access your email every day, as well as meet with me twice during this period, please let me or Chryss know by February 4th 2019, and we will send you further details. This course is limited to 20 participants so that I can give each of you the right amount of attention and focus required to master the practices.

And now we’ll carry on with twelve more of the happiness rewirements.

INTERACT MORE MINDFULLY WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
Self-explanatory. I definitely had a problem with my phone before this project. A problem that I think I now have under control. During the project, I just decided I wasn’t going to use my phone at all, half an hour before bed. And I’ll tell you what has happened as a result. It takes me much less time to go to sleep, and I sleep so much better. It was hard in the beginning, because I had to break the habit, but once I did I felt free. Free, I tell you!!!!!

SPEAK TO YOURSELF MORE KINDLY
This one kind of matches with the first rewirement. We can be so loving and kind to other people, and so harsh and critical of ourselves. One way to make ourselves happier is to be gentler and kinder to ourselves. So when you catch yourself being critical or mean, turn that shit around. Go from saying, “Fuck, I’m such an idiot” to “Wow, I miscalculated that, but it’s OK, I’ll do better next time”. It seems like such a simple thing, but the way we speak to ourselves has such a big influence on our self-worth, and ultimately our happiness.

SELF-LOVE AFFIRMATIONS
As I mentioned in Part 1, most of us have this negative background tape playing on a loop, pretty well every moment that we’re awake. The idea of self-love affirmations is to counter the bullshit with something positive. If we hear something often enough, we start to believe it. But at the end of the day, whether you believe in it or not, choosing positivity over negativity has to be the better choice. I chose three self-love affirmations, that I repeated in front of the mirror seven times, three times a day during the project (and beyond). My favourite was (and still is), “I am confident in my individuality”. When I first started telling myself this, I felt like a fraud. Today, I mean it.

AMPLIFY HIGH RANKING STRENGTH & LOW RANKING STRENGTH
We all have character strengths (and weaknesses). The purpose of this rewirement is to become aware of what they are in order to appropriately amplify them. As part of the project we all did a survey to figure out the exact ranking of our character traits (my top three were love, kindness and honesty and my bottom three were humility, teamwork and self-regulation). Zimmy then provided detailed methods to take advantage of, and develop, these individual characteristics depending on their ranking. Only by knowing where we’re strong, and where we can do more work, can we then use these traits to enrich our own lives, and the lives of others.

WRITE A LETTER OF GRATITUDE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF
As I’ve already mentioned, gratitude is the big kahuna of happiness. This one involves handwriting a letter to yourself from a time when you might have been going through something difficult or after learning an important life lesson, and thanking yourself for getting through it so well. This task invokes self-love, compassion, appreciation and hope, as well as gratitude towards ourselves for navigating life’s crazy rollercoaster. It’s tough out there people. Give yourself a pat on the back, because you seriously deserve it. It’s so liberating and soothing to acknowledge yourself in this way. I actually cried about four different varieties of tears when I wrote this to myself: “Thank you for being so brave when it got so fucking hard. Thank you for somehow controlling the damage, even from the depths of despair.

WRITE A LETTER OF GRATITUDE TO SOMEONE ELSE
Continuing on with gratitude, this one is directed outward to someone who has made a big difference in your life. Someone that you want to thank, but haven’t had the chance to do so. Again, it needs to be handwritten (and it can’t be addressed to your significant other). And…. here’s the doozy. It has the most impact if you can arrange to actually read your letter aloud to the recipient. In person. Whoa, right?!! I was lucky enough to have the chance to read my letter of gratitude to Zimmy (meta, much?) and it got pretty damn intense. It was a really beautiful moment between the two of us and I’m so thrilled I had the opportunity to make her feel so special and loved and adored. This task is something that a lot of people might find difficult to muster up the courage to do, but if you can manage to overcome that, the pay off is enormous.

EAT MINDFULLY
Well, this one is obvious. We all need to eat better. And we all know it. But it actually takes a bit of a tectonic plate shift to adapt that knowledge into our every day lives. Seriously though, the difference this can make to your entire mindset and wellbeing (and ultimately happiness) is enormous! I would personally like to advocate for giving up sugar. I haven’t eaten any sugar since 8th November 2018 and I feel amazing for it. I don’t experience any more weirdo mood swings and my energy levels are so much higher. Giving up sugar wasn’t specifically part of the Happiness Project but rewiring the way I looked at food was a natural precursor to quitting. Another thing David and I do is try to savour our dinner when we eat together at home. That means lighting candles, putting down our cutlery between bites, trying to actually taste what we’re eating and really trying not to rush a meal.

DRINK ALCOHOL MORE MINDFULLY, AND DRINK MORE WATER
Mindful drinking of alcohol is a big “thing” right now (congratulations to everyone who made it through dry January). And so it should be. Alcohol can be a bit of a danger zone for some of us these days. Lots of people are tending towards some kind of emotional dependency on the booze and I can totally relate to that. But I also know how liberating it can be to break free of that dependency and learn that you can actually enjoy life (and I mean REALLY enjoy it) without the crutch that alcohol provides. Blurring your life doesn’t make it happier. Fully experiencing it, in sharp relief, actually can. Also, just drink more fucking water. You simply can’t go wrong with that advice.

GET ENOUGH DEEP SLEEP
Well, this one is easier said than done for a shift worker, so that kinda sucks for David and me. More often that not we both feel tired from lack of sleep. It’s just something that comes with the job, sadly. But hey, most of you aren’t shift workers and there IS something you can do about it. A good night’s sleep isn’t a luxury. There’s a whole bunch of evidence about the benefits of getting a good solid seven hours a night. Did you know that while you sleep your brain essentially refreshes and regenerates?? And you actually NEED to be deeply asleep for that to happen. Try making it a priority for a while and see how much happier you feel.

DO 15 MINUTES OF EXERCISE EVERY DAY
Another oldie (but a goodie) is, of course, to just squeeze some physical activity into your daily routine. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Go for a walk, take the stairs, go for a swim, do a class, clench your butt at the supermarket checkout. Squat while you’re in the elevator. Just move your body, damn it! And hey, if you can get it, a great way to move your body is to get funky with it. Grab someone you love (or like, or even just dig a little bit) and get down on it, coz sex is a magnificent way to generate a bit of body heat (and in the process happiness, intimacy, a sense of belonging, higher self esteem and better health).

MINDFUL BREATHING
Check this out. I’m 47 years old and only just recently realised that I didn’t know how to breathe. What the actual fuck?! Most of us tend to breathe way too shallowly, and only in the upper part of our respiratory system. When you figure out how to breathe deeply, into your abdomen, your life will fucking change. And I’m not joking when I say this. Think of every deep breath you take as a love letter to your body ❤️. And when you exhale properly you do amazing things for your parasympathetic nervous system. You will ease your anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder. And if you don’t suffer from these conditions, will simply realise that you’re able to operate at a much more optimal level, and just generally feel so much better. Yoga helps. Tai chi helps. Qigong helps (look it up – it’s easy to do and you feel amazing afterwards). Just breathe. It seems like something you shouldn’t have to think about, but when you do you can seriously improve your wellbeing.

DAILY MEDITATION
I’ve been meditating (on and off) for a couple of years but only recently started doing Vedic meditation, twenty minutes a day. This is another big one for me. Something that I would say is a definite requisite for life happiness and a daily practice that I’ve found to positively contribute to my wellbeing. In fact meditation is a massively trending topic these days and you can easily get a lot of information about it online. There are shitloads of apps you can use to meditate, but in reality all you need is somewhere to sit for a spell. You can do it just about anywhere and anytime, though I’d recommend starting off in a peaceful, quiet environment where you won’t be disturbed. At least until you get better at it. And you will get better, I promise. You just have to keep at it for a while. So many people give up practicing meditation because they think they’re not doing it right, or they expect to achieve immediate nirvana. When you boil it right down, meditation is simply the act of not allowing yourself to get caught up in your thoughts. The idea is not to empty your head, but rather to not fixate on what does crop up. It helps to have something to anchor your attention on, and your own breath is a hugely popular thing to focus on because it’s something that is always present. Another thing is a mantra (which is what I use when I do Vedic meditation). You just say the mantra over and over again, bringing your attention back to the words whenever you get distracted by a thought. And that’s it. It sounds ridiculously simplistic, and it is, but the positive effects are extremely powerful.

Here’s the thing, guys. You all know this stuff. There’s nothing new or magical here. But the project takes all of these ingredients and alchemises them into a potent elixir that will make you happier. I guarantee it.