At this time of year in particular, I often see a raft of new clients, who come to see me because their relationship is in tatters or they have decided they don’t like their job. Springtime makes us feel very much as if we have to find some new beginnings. Some feel they are stuck and they can’t change things quick enough to get what they think they want out of life.
Usually I find myself saying, “Let’s get you to feel good and see what happens”.
This can be puzzling for many people to start with. They believe that only a change in their external circumstances will do the trick and make them happier.
Don’t get me wrong, releasing yourself from a relationship or job that is not working can be very liberating. But I like to look at it in a different way. You see, changing your circumstances doesn’t always create happiness, it simply changes your circumstances. Learning to feel good in yourself is what makes the difference.
The first step in the process of feeling good is to know how we are feeling right now. In order to demonstrate this to my clients, I developed the concept of The Happiness Barometer. This tool quickly and easily allows us to identify how we are feeling, either at a particular moment in time, or just in life generally. Take a look… how are you feeling right now on The Happiness Barometer?
You may find that you travel up and down The Happiness Barometer over the course of a day, a week, a month, or suddenly when reacting to a new situation. Some people lead very stable lives and will always remain pretty much in the same zone. Others can yo-yo up and down on an hourly basis. It doesn’t really matter which applies to you, the point is that getting to the top, or as high as you can, and staying there for as long as possible, is the goal.
So how can we apply the concept of The Happiness Barometer and where we are on it now, to help us live happier and more fulfilling lives?
Here’s an example of how it helped one of my clients recently. She was a lady in her mid 30s, who came to see me because she was going through a divorce. It was nobody’s fault and the separation was amicable, but due to finances they were still living in the same marital home until it sold.
This lady was understandably feeling anxious, tired and isolated. She hated going home and felt she couldn’t even be in the same room as her soon-to-be-ex-husband. Everything about him annoyed her and she hated their living arrangement. She was very tearful and stuck at the lowest level, ‘Despair’, on The Happiness Barometer. She came to see me in complete turmoil, desperate for a way out of her circumstances.
As is often the case it wasn’t her physical circumstances that were truly the problem, it was more that her state of mind needed to change. She had lost herself in always trying to please others. That coupled with a feeling of loneliness within an unhappy marriage, meant her self-confidence was at rock bottom.
We worked together for a few months and gradually she began to take the reins of her life. She began to be true to herself for the first time, making new plans which suited her needs as an individual, rather than as a wife and mother. Her happiness improved and she began to feel more free.
By moving up The Happiness Barometer from ‘Despair’ to ‘Good’, her life had changed. She had managed to improve how she was feeling on the inside without changing anything on the outside. She became happier and less anxious, and her newly found strength meant she was now able to deal with life in a much better way.
As she began to feel better, so her relationship with her soon-to-be-ex-husband improved too. They began talking openly again and co-habited in a friendly way, until they sold the house and went their separate ways.
It is so important to feel better in ourselves before anything else can improve. If we are at the bottom end of The Happiness Barometer, life seems difficult and at times, impossible. Decisions don’t come easily and it is likely that we will feel very stressed and negative. When we move up towards the top of The Happiness Barometer we can find a new perspective, strength arrives and life becomes a whole lot easier. In this place we often find that good things begin to happen, we have more energy which allows us to glide through life, dealing with stress like a knife through butter.
If we can change how we are feeling, then we can change the lens through which we view life.
Of course it is impossible to stay on top at all times; when life throws various things at us we will fluctuate up and down, but if we can consciously get near the top of The Happiness Barometer, and try to stay there, we will be much happier for it.
Realising that happiness is not based on external circumstances, and understanding that you are in charge of how you feel, is where your power lies. So take small steps to start climbing your Happiness Barometer today.