The Happiness Discipline (from now on called THD): The unconditional ability to remain focused on the greater perspective of a situation, in real time, without having to think about it.
That’s me trying to make a fancy definition… What THD means to me is the ability to focus on the bright side. To be able to keep your composure when stress arises. To be able to remain (disciplined) focusing on the fact that you can not tell the future, so you have no right to judge the present moment.
It means having the presence, awareness and frame of mind to roll with the punches.
Stress will come. Regularly and in varying doses. How will you handle it?
In my humble opinion, THD is the key to life because it frames how you perceive and experience life itself.
“Happiness” which is just a current state that can be connected to peace, allows you to take life in as it is intended to be taken in.
I am enjoying playing around with THD and what it means to me. Like any original thought, it is simply a cultivation of other concepts I have had the pleasure of studying/experiencing.
Physical Challenges & Exercise
Mindfulness & Meditation
The Law of Attraction
Physical Challenges & Fitness:
The connection between physical challenges and THD is the reason I exercise 2 times a day, every day, no exceptions.
Challenging yourself physically is a great way to put yourself under a controlled form of stress.
Stress on both the body and the mind. Physical challenges put you in a vulnerable position where you must rely on yourself to get yourself out.
There are no corners to cut.
Exercise and physical challenges are also tremendous for you and the closest thing we have to a magic health pill. But if you put all of the physical health benefits aside, the mental benefits are the purpose for all my physical activity. The physical benefits are a nice bi-product.
Setting goals around your physical accomplishments is critical to leveraging your physical activity to receive the mental benefits. Goals allow you to measure progress, which is an unbiased way to see if you are progressing.
The beautiful thing about physical challenges is that they are generally pretty straightforward on how to generate results. That means YOU are the only variable. There is no hiding. You either put in the work or not.
And, if you are doing this to really focus on expanding your mental capabilities, then pushing yourself to the limits is key. (This is not an exercise article, but it is a discussion I would love to have so feel free to connect with me if you want to!) I am not saying sprint your hardest or lift the heaviest every day, I am saying whatever you are doing needs to be done to the best of your ability and with all of your intention.
And of course… in line with your predetermined goal.
As we said before, physical challenges stress the body and then in turn, the mind. Controlling this stress will help you everywhere.
Stress is received the same whether it is from physical activity or something that happened to you in life!
Stress first gets received by the amygdala and sends a signal to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus then triggers the sympathetic nervous system which then triggers the alert response in your body releasing cortisol.
BUT… you can train your brain/body through controlled forms of stress, to actually control this process. Control it to a point where you can either STOP the process, or realize it does deserve the fight, flight, or freeze reaction.
This is why practicing the stress-response in a controlled area like the gym is such a beautiful thing to do. It can change your life. Thanks to neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to change and alter, we can change our natural reactions to things that might not deserve that severe of a response.
I was fortunate. This came innate to me. It probably did to you too but there is a chance you might have lost touch with it.
I found a love for challenges. Really hard work. I found it made me happier.
When you look at a decision, like taking a run, and stretch it out over your life… does it make you happier? Even if you didn't enjoy the 45 minute run, did you feel better after? Did you have more energy for the rest of the day and the next day? Did you feel good about yourself?
I naturally started thinking about the long term benefits through sports.
But David Goggins helps me put it into words. He always says, “A shit storm is coming and you can not control it. All you can do is control your response.” To me, that is what exercise prepares you for.
Similar to cold therapy. Wim Hof got me on this train.
When you get ice cold, you have a very strong stress response. Generally, you start to hyperventilate. It is marvelous though what the body can do though. The body can easily withstand the cold if your mind's made up that you are staging in the water, ice or cold shower. To do that though, you must down regulate your stress. Control your breath. Focus your mind on the goal.
Cold therapy is one of the most powerful ways to take back control of your mind.
Give it a try, even a cold shower. You aren’t going to die or incur any damage. Especially in a controlled environment like a shower where if you had to you can turn the water off or turn it hotter.
But what happens is you get stressed and then you control yourself. You don't even have to try, just let it happen.
Do this frequently, see what happens.
Nothing can phase you. Your underlying confidence in yourself will shine through and help you take more risks in life and life your true self.
The mind becomes resilient. It is in control versus being controlled by your environment.
After running my 100-mile ultramarathon, I felt unstoppable. The high I got has been strong for 45 days and has not stopped.
I just got in such tough positions and was able to quickly and somewhat easily determine the best route forward and proceed. I had no choice.
I put myself in that position and was “practicing” for whatever shit storm might be coming.
Physical challenges are a great and controlled way to increase your Happiness Discipline… and they have great benefits!
Mindfulness & Meditation:
Mindfulness. What even is it?
After reading several definitions, I like this simple one, “The state of being aware moment to moment.”
The state… this means it is a current state. Something we either are or aren’t, right now.
Being aware… this means having perception of the present moment, both mentally (our thoughts and emotions), and physically (our facial expression, our body, or sensations).
Moment to moment… to me, this means in real time, without skipping a beat.
Let’s put this to practice. Being mindful could mean understanding that when you are performing an exercise, you in fact realize your form is wrong and can acknowledge that.
It could mean that when you take your dog for a walk, you actually see and smell what is around you, even if it is the same walk you do every day. (Fun game…next walk you take, try and say 5 things you sense from each one of your senses!)
Being mindful could mean when you are eating, you are enjoying each bite and not thinking about the future and what you need to do after the meal. Or even thinking about the next bite. (Try eating your next meal with no technology and put your utensil down between each bite so you can just enjoy the bite you have!)
How does this relate to THD?
THD requires tremendous mindfulness. It requires that you have not only trained yourself through exercise, but you are always aware, moment to moment.
You must remain grounded in a greater perspective and not so consumed in the emotions of the situation.
Especially in the beginning, where your old habits might creep up on you.
Presence & Awareness will allow you to change your mold.
Think about the law of attraction… you must remain constantly aware of your thoughts and emotions. Moment to moment.
Dan Millman, in The Way of the Peaceful Warrior talks about unconditional happiness being the ultimate discipline.
UNCONDITIONAL… this is really hard. Think about if someone dies. If something gets stolen.
But think back to the beginning of this article, “If you can not tell the future, do not judge the present.” Let that settle in. Your flight gets delayed, maybe you would have crashed. You broke your hand as a drummer, maybe you would have become rich and famous and overdosed on drugs early. You just do not know.
Stay disciplined. Stay faithful.
The Law of Attraction:
The law of attraction is simple. I love how Earl Knightingale describes it. You become what you think about.
Think about a goal, it will come true. This is a law just like the law of gravity. It works every time.
The Law of Attraction is a complex law because you must think about something consistently. You must not think about competing goals. (I am a student here, not a teacher, but there is some much literature out there on it if you feel inclined to dive in. I recommend Earl Nightingale's Strangest Secret speech as a beginning to it.)
This is another topic I would love to connect with people about because discussing it is a hobby of mine.
The reason people do not often believe in this law is because they say they want to be rich, but they actually do not.
This is not a consistent thought.
This is not a thought they think so much about they start to visualize it and FEEL RIGHT… now… before it happened in the physical world.
This is not a thought they think if things go bad!
It is definitely not the only thing they think about.
Realizing the law of attraction is harder than it seems because you need complete discipline to do it.
The Happiness Discipline.
You need to be able to hold space for this thought through thick and thin.
Regardless of the situation, you must unconditionally hold this thought in your mind without any doubt. This needs to become a feeling.
People that have mastered this like Dr. Joe Dispenza have dedicated most of their life to building the mental faculties to be able to visualize their goals with absolutely zero distractions.
It is work. It just takes practice.
Imagine you are looking for abundance in life, of time, energy and money (which in my opinion are the three resources in life and are in order of importance) and you want to attract this.
You want to manifest it.
Now imagine you just lost your job, or your new company that you started is not really taking off, or you have a major expense that hinders your ability to afford something…
…do you think in real time you are going to be able to feel 100% confident that you are going to have an abundance of time, energy and money??
Or will doubt creep in?
This is where really building that new muscle in the brain comes into play.
It is also where mindfulness and meditation enter the playing field from before.
This requires work and discipline.
THD It is fun though because you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Overall, THD is a way of life.
It is like a master meditation expert beginning to bring presence into their life, not just while they sit with their eyes closed.
My goal is to further research these topics and share the journey.
With The Happiness Discipline in practice, we will be a happy society.