“Forget your troubles, come on, get happy…”
Judy Garland sang those very words in the 1950 musical Summer Stock.
And in many ways, that’s all there is to it.
After all, you can’t be unhappy if you’ve got nothing troubling you, can you?
If only it was that simple.
Things get even more complicated when you realize that, as far as happiness is concerned, everyone is different. That’s why hypnosis and happiness make such a powerful combination. Using hypnosis, it’s possible to tune out from all of your everyday distractions.
Hypnosis lets you communicate directly with your subconscious, so you can focus your attention and energy on the positive things in your life.
This enables you to look at your “troubles” from a different perspective…
… and find creative ways to work around them.
But that’s nothing new.
It’s what hypnotists and hypnotherapists have been helping their clients do for decades, especially with reference to executive coaching.
So what is it that makes happiness so elusive? Is it something only a few people can achieve, or is the real problem the way you think about happiness?
Happiness Versus Success: What’s The Real Story?
Does success make you happy?
Or is it the other way around?
In his book The Happiness Advantage, author Shawn Achor argues that rather than success bringing you happiness, it’s actually the case that happiness brings you success.
Think about it: when you’re happy, everything falls into place. You’ll take more risks, go after more opportunities and put more effort and energy into the “happy” work that you do.
When you’re sad, depressed, or unhappy, a lot of your energy goes into managing your state of mind.
When you’re happy, though, you’re not wasting that energy.
Instead, all your energy goes towards your success, and that means success is more likely to happen.
In the world of NLP, that’s what you’d call a meta resource.
Meta is a Greek word meaning “to go beyond”.
So a meta resource is a resource that creates or leads to other resources.
(You’ll recall that many hypnosis techniques enable people to tap into their own inner resources. Perhaps that explains why hypnosis and happiness go together so naturally.)
Happiness, then, is a meta resource, because it can create those other resources, like success.
People used to think that success was what made them happy. But that’s putting the cart before the horse. Because when you’re happy, you’re much more capable of creating success. Getting stuck into tasks becomes a pleasure, not a chore.
But are happiness and pleasure two words that describe the same thing?
Happiness Versus Pleasure: The Link Between Neuroscience & Happiness
It’s a common theme in our culture to compare happiness to pleasure.
For example, imagine you’ve had a really bad day. You’ve had some terrible news, or experienced a breakup, or lost a valuable client. Whatever it was, it affected you badly.
So what do you do?
You turn to your coping mechanisms.
That might be food, or alcohol, or friends, or a tempting tub of ice cream.
But will you find happiness at the bottom of an ice cream tub?
You might get pleasure from it: it might give you some satisfaction. And neuroscience research shows that a certain amount of pleasure can lead you to happiness. In fact, a lack of pleasure can sometimes prevent happiness from occurring.
However, pleasure is NOT happiness in and of itself, but is merely one of the possible contributing factors.
Oddly enough, you actually need fewer things to be happy than you do to feel pleasure.
Take someone addicted to alcohol as an example.
In order to get pleasure from it, they might take one drink on a particular day. To get the same feeling the following day, they might need two or three drinks. Next day, four drinks, then six, then eight, and so on.
With happiness, it tends to work the opposite way.
Once you’ve discovered how to be happy, it gradually takes less and less effort to get back into that state again.
So if happiness can’t be found at the bottom of a carton of ice cream, where can it be found?
In other words, what conditions need to be satisfied in order for happiness to occur?
The 4 Conditions Of Happiness
If the following four conditions are realized, then happiness should be guaranteed.
There’s another condition closely related to these that come from the field of psychotherapy: the idea of having a structured day.
It isn’t just the concept of routine that’s significant, but also the ability to socialize with others. Structure is important not only because of the structure, but because it gets you doing the other things more or less automatically: exercising, eating well, sleeping well, and having more social contact.
One of the most interesting aspects of happiness is that it is an intrinsic emotion.
It’s inside of you. You don’t need anything external to have it.
Another way to think about happiness is the phrase “good enough”.
For example, imagine you see someone using an outdated cell phone, or an old banger of a car.
“Why don’t you get an upgrade?” you ask them.
They answer: “Because I like it. It does what I want it to do. It’s good enough.”
Even though the items can be improved, they’re still good enough as they are.
Using them makes the person happy, and nothing outside of them can affect that.
And because that happiness is intrinsic, inside of you, hypnosis is one of the best tools to access it.
But how do you do that?
Hypnosis And Happiness: The Agapic Technique For Achieving Happiness
At this point, we can state categorically that we know what happiness is not.
It’s not success, and it’s not pleasure. So what is it? As mentioned above, part of being happy involves your attitude: when things are good enough, then you’re happy.
The other part is physiological, which you can think of in terms of tension and ease.
Things that make you more tense take you further away from happiness, while things that make you more at ease will bring you closer to happiness.
But what does it mean to be “more at ease?” That happens when your mind, your heart and your gut are at peace.
Your mind is at peace when there is nothing troubling you. Remember the expression “what does your heart tell you? And how often have you relied on your “gut instinct?” That’s the language you use to describe an experience.
When you know in your heart that everything is OK. Or when your gut instinct tells you all is well.
Put these things together and you create ease, which in turn produces the neurological conditions for happiness.
Changing your attitude (being happy with “good enough”) helps you create the psychological conditions for happiness. And if you have a good attitude and are physiologically at ease, then you will be at a point of happiness.
So how can you transform that into a useful technique that will help others reach their own state of happiness? To do that, you need to use the Agapic exercise.
It’s an exercise based on kindness, on wishing others well, on sending out thoughts of goodwill.
Here’s how the exercise works:
1. Think of a person – any person – and wish them happy. For starters, choose someone who has recently been kind to you (this is the Law of Reciprocity in action). See that person smiling and being happy.
2. Now bring that person back to your mind. Say to them: may you be happy – and see them being happy.
3. Next say: may you have peace of mind – and see them experiencing that in any way you can.
4. Next say: may you be peaceful at heart – and see them experiencing that in whatever way you can.
5. Next say: may you have an easy belly – and see them experiencing that.
Next say: may you be well – and see them being happy and at ease in all these different ways.
7. (Saying “may you be well” incorporates all three of the other factors, the mind, heart and gut.)
Finally, notice if the corners of their eyes and mouths lift up in the hint of a smile (that’s an inner check, also know as the inner smile).
The term “agape” is an old Greek word meaning the love of one’s fellow human being, or brotherly love.
Amazingly, what happens when you wish someone well in this way is that it makes you feel incredibly good too.
Again, you’ll notice that this “happiness wishing” doesn’t depend on any external factors.
It’s entirely intrinsic, inside of you. And that’s a good thing, because it means being happy doesn’t rely on anyone or anything else.
It’s not dependent on success, or money, or material things. That idea harks back to the old “success equals happiness” concept which you know is not actually true.
So what that means is that happiness can exist regardless of the context.
For example, you can wish someone happy even if they’re going through a really rough time.
Perhaps they’ve just been fired, or someone they care about is seriously ill.
Simply wish them happiness. Bring them to mind, and say:
1. May you be happy – (and then see them being happy).
2. May your mind be at ease – (and then see their mind being at ease).
3. May your heart be at ease – (and then feel their heart being at ease).
4. May your belly/gut/stomach be at ease – (and then get a sense of that area becoming at ease).
5. May you be well.
Again, notice the corners of their eyes and mouth turning up in that inner smile.
Their situation is as bad as it was before you wished them happiness, but things are no longer the same, are they?
You have broken through the extrinsic barrier of finding happiness on the outside.
That’s why this exercise focuses on the heart, the mind, and the gut because these things are inside of you and you have control over them.
You can’t control whether or not someone gets ill or gets fired. You can’t control the economic climate or the way companies choose to operate.
What you can control, however, is how you react to things.
To find out more about how to use the Agapic as a therapeutic exercise, make sure you check out Part II of this article series.
Conclusion & Key Takeaways
How can hypnosis help to increase your happiness?
It gives you the tools to focus your attention and energy on the positive things in your life. You’re able to look at your “troubles” in a new light so you can find creative ways to work around them.
The idea that success brings you happiness is outdated and false. Actually, the opposite is true, that the happier you are the easier it is for you to be successful.
In NLP terms, happiness is a meta resource, a resource that makes it possible to create other resources such as success.
Are happiness and pleasure two words that describe the same thing? No, but a lack of pleasure can prevent happiness from occurring.
It’s generally agreed that there are 4 conditions that need to be satisfied for happiness to occur, namely:
4. Social contact
A structured day is also believed to be important in maintaining a state of happiness.
You can think of happiness in terms of tension and ease.
Anything that makes you more tense takes you away from a state of happiness, and anything that puts you at ease brings you closer to a state of happiness.
A powerful technique for experiencing and spreading happiness is the Agapic exercise, in which you wish someone else happy.
It focuses on the other person’s heart, mind and gut, since these are all internal (intrinsic) forces that they (and you) have control over.
Wishing others well using the Agapic exercise also has an amazing happiness-induing effect on the person doing the wishing, which demonstrates the Law of Reciprocity in action.