And I’m feeling good…
I’ve been investigating the science of how to feel good for five years now. There are lots of different ways of expressing ‘feeling good’ – I really like satisfaction. Whether it’s happiness, joy, peace or serenity, one thing I’ve learnt is that there is no simple hack to consistently feeling good. Indeed, I would argue that ALWAYS feeling good is impossible and actually not desirable. Anger, fear and sadness are great motivators, without them we would struggle to get anything done. They add colour, light and shade to our lives.
(Excuse my wordy language, I try to avoid calling emotions and feelings ‘positive’ or ‘negative’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’. They make us FEEL good or bad, but they are not intrinsically good or bad in themselves).
For me, the goal of life is to spend more time feeling good than feeling bad. Good doesn’t always mean ecstatic. A lot of the time being in a neutral state feels good. But obtaining even a neutral state involves a bit of activity. Very few people can drift through life without anything bothering them, without having the remotest niggle that things could and should be better, whether personally or socially.
I’ve collated everything that I’ve learnt (and continue to learn), and everything I teach into four overarching themes. Seasons if you like. Four things to “find” which form the basis of a happier, more satisfied life. Some are quick to implement. Some will be a lifetime’s work. All interlink to help us become progressive, satisfied humans.
Find Your Focus. We all need structure in our life. You might not think so, you might think you hate it, but it’s almost impossible to humans to function without it. When my sense of routine goes, I feel like a jellyfish stranded on the shore. I feel blindfolded from where I’m trying to get to. By establishing good routines we create a skeleton that allows us to move around. And “good routines” isn’t just about planning when to “do” stuff. It’s also about planning in when NOT to “do” stuff. When to take care of our bodies. When to sleep. It creates space to have fun – to really have fun without thinking of the things we could or should be doing instead.
Find Your Fire. As I said before, few people are happy drifting through life without ever wishing things were different. Why would you want to? Humans don’t live in a vacuum. Finding your focus is about drilling down into your motivations, and finding incentives that truly sustain you. We should strive to contribute to the society we live in and to have a positive impact on the world and people around us. I’m not necessarily saying we all need to be activists or politicians. Wanting to create the best world for your family is a wonderful purpose to have in life. Living a life with meaning and purpose is essential to creating a satisfied life.
Find Your Flow. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi made it his life’s work to study the state of Flow, so it’s probably best for me to quote his words: “The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” Flow is when you’re so involved in a task that time no longer exists. When even your SELF no longer exists. Flow is key to being satisfied as it brings satisfaction into the actual task itself, rather than just the result or accomplishment of the task. Remember; we want to feel satisfied and happy MOST of the time. You can’t wait until you’ve completed something before you’re satisfied. You could be waiting for years!
Find Your Self. This is the long game. This is where things can get a little philosophical. Pondering questions of “who am I?” shouldn’t be taken lightly. Yogis, monks and meditators have been driven mad as they disassociate from themselves. For me, this module is all about putting ourselves in context. Feeling our bond to other people and to the natural world. Building in a sense of compassion, for friends, strangers and for ourselves. We can then – potentially – dig a little deeper and open out the question of “who am I?”. How much of your answer to this question is to do with your relationship with others, or your role in society?
How does this last section relate to our satisfaction? Well, it puts us in perspective. Knowing how we are connected to others can be a salve for our trials and tribulations. It can also help us to inform or reaffirm our core values, which in turn feed into our sense of purpose. Getting to know yourself is not the easiest task. We are easily lead by other people’s and society’s definitions of who we are. But to me, this leads to the ultimate sense of satisfaction.
There’s a beautiful interplay between all of these strands which weave together to create a satisfied life. No single part of life exists in isolation. It’s the same in physical yoga – you may focus on the movement of a single limb, but that movement will affect the whole body. Which is why I’m bringing everything together into The Satisfaction Revolution. Want to find out more? Click here and you’ll be among the first to know.