What exactly is happiness?
You’ll find the beginnings of an answer in Part 1 of this article series.
There you’ll learn that happiness is not success, and it’s not pleasure.
In fact, it isn’t something you can find outside of yourself.
Happiness is intrinsic, an internal state that doesn’t depend on anything external.
And that’s why hypnosis and happiness work so well together…
… because hypnosis lets you “go inside” and tap into your inner resources.
One way to achieve that is by using the Agapic exercise outlined in Part 1.
In this second part, you’re going to find out more about how to make the best use of that exercise.
It will also expand on many of the concepts and provide you with some troubleshooting tips just in case any of the ideas seem difficult to grasp.
Hypnosis And Happiness: Putting The Agapic Exercise To Work
Here’s a quick recap of the Agapic exercise:
Think of a friend. 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.
And that’s it. But how does it lead to happiness?
For two reasons. First, wishing other people well actually changes the architecture of your brain.
Put another way, it strengthens your happiness circuits.
Second, it makes you naturally happy, because you can’t be too unhappy if you’re feeling at ease.
It’s also true that happier people have more social contacts. And more social contacts are what can lead to more opportunities.
More opportunities eventually lead to more success, and all of that comes from being happy.
In the past people got it all wrong, thinking that happiness was the by-product of other things, like money, material goods, or success.
The truth, however, is exactly the opposite.
When you’re happy, everything seems to fall into place.
It’s easier to take risks, to go after opportunities, and to enjoy the work you do.
When you’re happy, you’re not wasting energy on negative thoughts or an unhealthy state of mind.
All of your energy is focused on being positive and gaining success, which makes success much more likely to occur.
It’s easy to send your good wishes to someone you like and already know. But that’s probably a limited number of people.
Why should you stop there?
Troubleshooting Tips For The Agapic Exercise
You might very well wonder: why would you do this with bad people?
You’ll recall the definition of happiness as someone who is at ease in their mind, their heart and their stomach.
A bad person is not likely to be at ease. In fact, they’re probably filled with anger, or fear, or terror, or panic.
They’re being driven by an unhealthy mental state that leads them to pursue pleasure.
And one way they get pleasure is by hurting others.
So why wish them well?
Because when they’re at ease, they no longer have a reason to harm anyone.
A second scenario involves someone who might be facing a major disaster or coping with a serious illness.
How can they possibly be happy when their life is falling apart?
Of course, wishing them happy doesn’t initiate any magic spells.
There’s nothing external you can do to change things.
Their situation remains the same, but what changes is their ability to cope.
They become so happy that all of their problems are easier to deal with.
There’s always going to be a pain in life, but there doesn’t always have to be suffering.
Happiness is the answer to suffering.
In other words, you don’t have to be unhappy just because things are less than ideal.
But getting to that stage is a skill, and like any skill, it can be learned.
Here’s how to go about it.
Hypnosis And Happiness: Skill-Building Techniques
To get the most out of the Agapic exercise, try doing it while considering these 3 important concepts.
1. Materialism vs Attitude
Materialism includes all those “things” that people want, such as money, a big house, fancy cars, jewelry, relationships, fame, and so on. But even if you manage to get everything on the list, they’re not necessarily going to make you happy.
While you’re striving for these things, you end up living in a kind of fantasy world, expecting items outside of yourself to bring you happiness. It might be easier to feel happy when you’re rich rather than when you’re poor, but it doesn’t change the fundamental truth about what makes life worth living.
Where the attitude is concerned, think “good enough”. In other words, when your mind, your heart and your gut are at ease, and you’ve got a smile on your face, then you’re going to be happy – no matter what context you happen to be in.
2. Emotion vs Attitude
Emotion refers to the thrill you get from being happy, the joy, the pleasure, and the exuberance. There are days when you won’t have that feeling in your body, but you’ll still be trying to maintain the attitude of happiness.
This produces cognitive dissonance because how you’re actually feeling is miles apart from what you want to be feeling. The further apart they are, the more emotional pain you’ll experience. Ironically, trying to force yourself to feel happier will only make you feel even worse.
If this happens, try doing the “inner smile” exercise, as follows:
- Close your eyes and imagine your face.
- Whatever expression is there, turn it into a big, beautiful beaming smile, with your lips curled up and your eyes lit up.
- At some point – you won’t be able to help it – you’ll actually start to smile for real.
When a stranger smiles at you, what do you do? You smile back. With this exercise, you don’t need to wait for a stranger to come along. You can make yourself smile.
And that’s usually enough to make you feel happier.
3. Rote Effort vs Genuine Intent
Anything you do with rote effort has zero impact on your life. For instance, think about people who are forced to exercise versus those who choose to exercise. When you’re forced to do something, you naturally feel stressed. And when you’re stressed, you can’t be at ease.
So when you do the Agapic exercise, you can’t just repeat the words over and over (rote) like an affirmation. For it to have meaning, you have to put in some effort. Think about the person and wish them well with genuine intent – the bits that say: “and see them being happy/at ease/etc.”
Bonus Technique: The Inner Smile Alignment
Imagine yourself in a situation where you’re stressed, feeling afraid, overwhelmed, angry, or doubting your ability to achieve something.
Notice the expression on your face. Whatever it is, change it to the inner smile, and wait. Keep watching that smile until you smile yourself.
If you can’t do the inner smile exercise in a certain situation, then you’re not aligned. Once you’re able to think of that difficult situation and your smile comes back, then you’ll be aligned, and your unconscious mind will take over.
Does that mean you’ll never have any more problems in your life? No. But think about what people do when they have a headache or an upset stomach. They pop a pill or take a tonic.
Well, the inner smile works like that. It’s the tonic you can take whenever you find yourself in one of those tricky and unsettling situations.
In terms of hypnosis and happiness, you’ll notice that the inner smile alignment works a lot like self-hypnosis. It gives you the chance to tackle difficult situations on the spot quickly and efficiently – and nobody else will even know what you’re up to.
Taking The Agapic From Skill-Building Exercise Into Fantasy
This is another quick troubleshooting tip. It involves the unattributed affect issue, sometimes called paradoxical emotions.
When you do this exercise for a long time, you might start having mixed (paradoxical) emotions. Even though you’re wishing someone else well and wanting them to be at ease, you start feeling rage or grief for no reason.
Why? Because over the years things have happened that have hurt you emotionally. You put armor around your heart to protect yourself. But this exercise forces you to open up your heart, and that means all those trapped bubbles of emotion are able to resurface.
The thing to remember is that these feelings are not about the exercise or the person you’re wishing well. They’re just your body’s way of releasing emotions when it believes it’s safe or appropriate to do that.
How do you cope with it? Simple. Just acknowledge them and keep on doing the exercise. You can feel those emotions but still want to wish someone else happy.
For example, imagine a parent who loves their child. The parent has a chronic illness and is in constant pain. But as they watch their child sleeping, they’re able to wish them well.
It doesn’t matter if their emotions are in the way. They can still carry on doing the exercise, wishing their child happy and successful, because they want them to be well. And that’s where the Agapic attitude really shines through.
Following The Agapic Progression
Of course, you’d probably find it easy to do this exercise with someone you know and really like. It takes a bit more work to do it with other people.
This progression can serve as a guide to help you build up your skill and to allow you to go from easy wins to more challenging ones. The order might change depending on the individual, but it’s just a guide after all.
You’ll recall that this exercise has the incredible power to make you feel happy, even though you’re wishing happiness on someone else. The more people you can do this with, the more your attitude of happiness will blossom.
Start off with a kind person. That’s the law of reciprocity. When someone’s been kind to you, it’s natural to want to be kind back to them.
Next, go to a friend. Why? Because friends are not always kind. Sometimes they’re mean or do stupid things. But they’re your friends, so you forgive them.
Next, go to a troubled friend. This is to help you realize and remember the distinction between extrinsic circumstances (their troubles) and intrinsic happiness.
Next, go to a pleasant stranger. A pleasant stranger is like a kind person, but your sense of obligation to them is lower than to a friend or a troubled friend.
Next, go to yourself. Say: May I be happy, may my mind/heart/gut be at ease, may I be well.
If you want to, you can put yourself first, or after the kind person. One of the reasons for putting yourself after the pleasant stranger is that it acts as an antidote to narcissism. But you’re free to do things however you see fit.
Next, go to a neutral stranger, someone you don’t know and don’t owe anything to. There’s no pleasantness to motivate you, so it becomes more altruistic.
Next, go to someone you mildly dislike, someone you have a beef with. That might be a family member or a work colleague. These are people that might rub you up the wrong way, but you still have to get along with them.
Next, go to someone you really dislike. Someone who makes you angry just thinking about them, even though they’re absent. Who is that anger hurting? You. Whose creativity and productivity is being affected by the anger? Yours. Who is tying themselves in knots with worry and frustration? You are. But the Agapic exercise is the antidote.
So what about hypnosis and happiness? How does this exercise fit in there?
Using The Agapic Exercise As A Therapeutic Tool
Here are some of the other ways you can use the Agapic exercise as part of your hypnosis sessions.
1. As an experience – you can build the exercise into a session as a 3-5-minute segment on kindness and goodwill to others.
2. In dream therapy – dreams are part of how you process the world, so why not go into the Agapic exercise during your nightly dream time?
3. To abolish fear – courage is a skill that’s learned. But if you’ve never faced fear, you can’t be courageous. How do you face fear if you’ve never done it before? With the Agapic exercise.
4. To raise self-esteem – just boosting someone’s self-esteem will make them narcissistic and more destructive. The Agapic does the opposite, raising self-esteem naturally by helping you become of more value to your peer group.
5. As an insomnia cure – when you’re lying in bed at night and your mind’s buzzing, just pick any person you’re thinking about and wish them well. Keep doing it until you fall asleep.
6. As part of couples therapy – in the morning while still lying in bed, wish yourself well. Then wish your partner well. Finally, wish both of you well as a couple.
As you can see, there are lots of different applications for the Agapic exercise. And as long as you use it with genuine intent, there’s no end to the goodwill and happiness you’ll be able to generate.
Conclusion & Key Takeaways
It’s possible to spread happiness around using the Agapic exercise.
The crux of the exercise is to wish other people well so that they are at ease.
And wishing other people well has the amazing ability to make you feel incredibly happy too.
It changes the architecture of your brain, and because you’re at ease, it makes it impossible for you to be unhappy.
Learning the Agapic exercise is a skill, and like any skill it requires effort and practice.
You’ll find it easier to grasp if you keep these 3 essential points in mind:
1. Materialism vs Attitude – material things can bring pleasure, but they won’t necessarily make you happy. Being at ease and well within yourself – the “happiness attitude” – can make you happy.
2. Emotion vs Attitude – emotions can fluctuate and even contradict each other. If that happens practice doing the inner smile exercise to reignite your happiness circuits.
3. Rote Effort vs Genuine Intent – rote effort is the meaningless repetition of something, often forced upon you. And when you’re forced to do something, that puts you under stress. When you do something because you want to do it, i.e. with genuine intent, then you’re at ease and can be happy about it.
Another way to deal with tricky or difficult situations is by using the Inner Smile Alignment technique.
The Agapic exercise can generate paradoxical emotions. Over the years things happened that have hurt you and you hardened your heart to them. During the exercise, those feelings may be allowed to resurface, but the best way to deal with them is to acknowledge them and simply keep doing the exercise.
When you practice the exercise, follow the Agapic progression and wish people well in an order similar to this:
- A kind person
- A friend
- A troubled friend
- A pleasant stranger
- A neutral stranger
- Someone you mildly dislike
- Someone you dislike intensely
As a therapeutic hypnosis tool, the Agapic can be used in many different ways:
- As an experience
- In dream therapy
- To abolish fear
- To raise self-esteem
- As an insomnia cure
- As part of couples therapy