Posted on / by Natalie / in Season 1 / 1

Hacking Happiness

Let’s dive into hacking happiness shall we….here’s a snippet from me early in the morning when I grabbed my phone and recorded this:

So it’s like 4:22 am on a Monday morning in Wellington, New Zealand and I am wide awake, unfortunately, because my mind is going all over the place.

And it’s odd because I’ve had thoughts popping in from every single angle and I think this is pretty typical for what happens when you’ve got a lot going on in your head and a lot of the important things are coming off at the same time.

And everything that I was thinking about ultimately came back to why timing is so important and how to make the most of every single moment.

It was exactly 2 weeks ago yesterday, that Josh and I saw the house that we’ve now put an offer on that has been accepted. But is still not unconditional, which is the terminology we use in New Zealand to say that absolutely everything is going ahead and that the place will be ours once all the conditions have been met.

So basically it is saying there’s no way you can get out of it and everybody should be happy.

And we’ve been waiting on banks and waiting on deals and playing the banks off against each other and getting paperwork together and culminating on finances.

And it just feels like to me as an impatient Aries… everything is dragging.

I just want the decision today and the lawyer to come back and say, “Great! Everything is gone unconditional. It’s officially yours. You’ll get to settle on the 5th of April and move in.”

Which will be just two days after my birthday.

The irony around timing, as I mentioned, is not lost on me because that very day that we looked at the property, we also went back to look at another property that we were pretty set on. It was going to be a huge financial commitment, dare I say burden, if we went ahead and did it.

And also it was on 26 acres of land, which on reflection, is just something that I think is immensely scary to deal with for two city folk. And there was just so much work to be done on the land.

So interestingly on that day we went to look back at it, is the day that we decided the one we’d seen earlier was in fact the combination of our perfect wishlist.

The other reason why I think timing is so key for example is over this weekend just gone, in my preemptiveness, I went to the SPCA, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

I was looking at dogs to adopt because I so desperately wanted a dog for the last seven years of being on the road, living out of my suitcase, but I’ve obviously never felt it’s fair to do that, and have never been in one place for long enough to even justify thinking about a dog.

I’ve instead dog sat and house sat and got my fix with every single dog that I’ve come into contact with.

And I was a little preemptive because I saw this dog on Friday and she was beautiful and so I went back Saturday and she already had an adoption pending on her.

And there was no way I could have done anything anyway because they typically try and get the dogs out of there in a week or so and get them fostered.

And so I was just way too early in my typical pre-planning and excitement and impatience as an Aries. It’s a good trait most of the time and sometimes it’s frustrating!

So I was like, “Okay, there’s a reason why I didn’t obviously get that dog and I wasn’t meant to have it”.

And then voila on Sunday morning I am browsing Trade Me which is a bit like Ebay and a bit like Gumtree depending on which country you are in.

And this beautiful new listing of Welsh Springer Spaniel pups popped up. And I immediately clicked on it because I’ve been refreshing this Trade Me listing all week.

And they’d only put it up the day before and only 2 of the 6 pups were left so I rang up immediately and said, “Is it possible to come out and see it today?” and she said, “Yup. We’ve been inundated with people.”

So I went out to see them in the afternoon and oh my goodness! I spent about 25 minutes there with these gorgeous pups which are only about 9 weeks old, super cuddly and sleepy.

The thing about it is, I am really hoping at this point that she’s going to pick me as one of the final two people to get a puppy.

She said I am at the top of the list because I’ve got a lifestyle property that we haven’t even got yet. (But we will have it!)

And that both Josh and I work from home and we are super active as well and that there will be plenty of space for the dog to run around but also good fencing, all these things tick the boxes.

And the fact the momma dog immediately bonded with me which she hadn’t seen nearly do with many other people at all.

Fingers crossed on those things and then I started there to go and look at a second hand piano. Also on Trade Me. And I got there and I played it a little bit even though I am super rusty at playing the piano.

And I was like, “I love it. I’ll take it.” And she’s like, “Well, no joke, three minutes before you arrived somebody put a bid on it”.

So now the auction has started in place. There’s no more buy now button. It’s an auction and you have to bide the time.

And I was like, “Uh! Timing is everything!”. Had I arrived at the time that I said I would, I will be now to hit the buy now button and then just hand her over cash and secure this beautiful old piano that had been passed down from her grandmother.

So now I just have to exercise patience once again and wait until that auction is up for grabs at the end of Wednesday when it closes. And hope that either myself (because I’ll be on a flight to Bali) or Josh can actually go ahead and bid for that and hopefully win the auction.

(Update: Am on the top of the reserve list for the puppies, two many awesome families ahead of me, and didn’t get the piano as my autobid got outbid while I was flying on a plane!)

Timing is everything.

And then I woke up this morning, 2:30am and I was thinking about Portugal and my house over there and what to do about it. And the people who continue to contact me about renting it.

And I cast myself back to being in my house and thinking how lovely it would be to just wiggle my nose and be there and enjoy it a little bit more now that it’s all done up and looking beautiful. And how would that feel.

Then I thought about surfing and the local communities, and the cafes and my neighbor, Adelaide and just being back in Portugal.

I really wish you could wiggle your nose a little bit more and just be able to pop to the places that you love and be present.

And I also reflected that in this moment where timing is everything, that I am really happy in this moment.

And that’s what this episode is all about today, I’ve called it “Hacking Happiness”,

Well I’m pleased as punch to say that did indeed happen, not that day but the next one, when I went into full time hustle mode wrangling banks and my lawyer.

Yep we officially own this amazing property – all 359 sqm of it plus a 246 sqm big modern barn and 2.5 acres of land.

I posted on Facebook last night with a bunch of photos and the comments started pouring in. It’s gone nuts. Over 350 likes and 180 comments so far.

People are genuinely excited, care and are happy for me. For us.

The comments on my previous episode Changing Plans, also blew my mind too. I asked you to help choose my next adventure – A) stay and set up this lifestyle property, or B) go to Europe for summer.

Most people voted for me to choose to stay.  I guess that shouldn’t have surprised me but there was real gold in people’s responses as to why, such as this one from Jeanie Miller”.

“So do you stay or do you go? In following you over the past few years, when I think of you, I think of Go! Go! Go! ‘Go’ is the usual for you. The change, and the challenge, may now be to ‘stay’.

You are awesome at ‘going’, you wear it really well. How will you wear ‘stay’? What new opportunities and learning challenges will you be blessed with by trying out a new gig called stay?

I don’t think you want us to choose…like you said, I think you know the answer deep down inside. It sounds like you are ready to take your life up a notch or 10! Either way you go…you will rock it…and if you choose ‘go’, you will eventually come back to ‘stay’. Hugs! Here’s to your success!”

Or this from Terriane Palmer Peacock:

“I’m glad you chose or are choosing to stay, because that’s what I felt sang from your heart. I love how you articulated Freedom is whatever you choose it to be, and it does change as you grow and evolve. This sounds like a brand new chapter of Freedom for you, and I’m intrigued to follow and support your journey. Plus the property looks absolutely divine! You can’t beat a homestead in NZ for back-to-nature beauty! All the best!”

This is what this episode is all about – Hacking Happiness, because I believe it’s possible to do just that.

I also think we are often misguided about what makes us happy.

When I was at the SPCA on Friday looking at dogs to adopt, I found a beautiful young pup that I really wanted. I went back the next day with Josh and she already had an adoption pending on her.

While I had spent some time focusing on how cool it would be to have her in our lives and at our new property, my happiness was not dependent on the outcome. I wasn’t attached to her…yet.

I do however know for sure that I get so much happiness from dogs, and spending time with them. So rather than get caught up in the decision or outcome that didn’t happen.

I focused instead on the truth, and that when the time is right, the perfect dog will come into my world, for me to love and adore, teach and be taught and to go on adventures with.

It’s not an easy thing to do – stop yourself from saying “When I get fit I’ll do X, or when I earn X I will be happy”.

This is where Andrea Featherstone – a friend, former client and fellow freedomist comes in and shares her wisdom. Over at projectself.com.au, she is a Mindfulness Advisor and shows you how to live a Bloody Good Life!

Here’s what she has to say on this topic:

“When it comes to happiness, the very first thing we need to realise is that our mind – like every other part of our body – is designed to keep us alive, but not to keep us happy and not to keep us fulfilled. So our mind is wired to seek out more.

So no matter what we achieve or no matter what we get, we will always want more. Our mind constantly moves the goal posts of our happiness one step ahead of us; so we think, “Oh I just need that promotion and then I’ll be happy.”, “I just need to get a Boxer puppy and then I’ll be happy.”

So perhaps when you quit your job and you finally get your awesome freedom business up and running, it won’t be long (even though you don’t think it will be that way!) it won’t be long until you find that it’s no longer enough to fulfil you… now you want a six figure income, and now you want a seven figure income, and then you want to own a super yacht and then you want to be famous etc…

I’ve worked for some of the richest billionaires in the world and they still just want more.

They want to keep building bigger and bigger super yachts and spending their money on ridiculous things just to try and get themselves happiness and fulfilment but because their mind always moves the goal posts to the next step, it never lasts.”

Sound familiar to you? Can you resonate? Do you know of someone who is never happy with where they’re at? Always wanting more?

Back to Andrea…this is important so listen carefully:

“Our mind is wired to always want more because it’s like a squirrel basically, hoarding nuts, like trying to save all the nuts in case we have a potential famine or war.

Our mind has not yet evolved to recognise that we are living in an era now where anyone lucky enough to be listening to this, is living well above the survival line and no longer has to seek more, more, more just to be a buffer for future wars or famines. Hopefully.

So what is this mind that keeps self-sabotaging us? You know, the guy that keeps making us procrastinate and stops us doing the things that we know would bring us more happiness.

The activity that shows up in brain scans when we are thinking, what I’ll call for this episode ‘our mind’, is spread all over various regions of our brain and these areas are collectively known as the ‘default mode network’.

So when our ‘default mode network’ is activated it means our mind is wandering i.e we are on autopilot and our mind has wandered off to thinking about the past or the future or whether that hot guy over there is looking our way.

Basically we are thinking about something other than what we are doing.

Now the key problem that we face is in the scientific name given to the mind: ‘default mode’. Mind wandering is our default mode.

It’s estimated that the average human is lost in thought between 50-80% of the day and around 70% of those thoughts (for most people) are negative, which is why we have what’s called the negativity bias, which is again a function of our mind’s orientation towards survival rather than happiness.”

That’s a whole lot of negativity right there –  no wonder we get down on ourselves!

In my mind (pun intended), there simply is no other way than to be present, and be grateful for right here, right now. Cos quite frankly that’s all you have.

Through this entire 2 weeks of dealing with banks, and financials, and getting together screeds of information to present a good case for a loan, and waiting for answers….which went on and on, Josh and I were really good about focusing on our gratitudes each night and what we were excited and happy about.

We knew we’d get the outcome we wanted eventually, and we focusing on being present in the right now and enjoying what we were learning from the process together (as this is Josh’s first house buying expedition), and my 6th!

I thought I’d quote from an article that Derek Sivers recently wrote called Think Like a Bronze Medalist, not Silver

“Imagine the Olympics, where you have the three winners of a race standing on the podium: the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

Imagine what it’s like to be the silver medalist. If you were just one second faster, you could have won the gold! Damn! So close! Damn damn damn! You would keep comparing yourself to the gold winner, full of envy.

Now imagine what it’s like to be the bronze medalist. If you were just one second slower, you wouldn’t have won anything! Whoo-hoo! You would be thrilled that you are officially an Olympic medalist, and got to stand on the winner’s podium at all.

Comparing up versus comparing down. Your happiness depends on where you’re focusing.

The metaphor is easy to understand, but hard to remember in regular life. If you catch yourself burning with envy or resentment, think like the bronze medalist, not the silver. Change your focus.

Instead of comparing up to the next-higher situation, compare down to the next-lower.”

So true right?

In my research on happiness, I came across, amongst a bazillion resources and references, an article in the Observer by Benjamin Hardy.

He wrote about an example I could totally resonate with, having flown hundreds, no probably over a thousand times in my life:

“Several years ago in an interview with Conan O’Brien, Louis C. K. tells of flying on a newly equipped Wi-Fi airplane. He was amazed by the new technology. Until, during the flight, the Wi-Fi went down.

Immediately, the man next to him became extremely upset. “As though the world owes this man something he only knew existed 10 seconds ago.”

Louis C. K. continues by describing people’s absurd frustrations with flying in general. People complain about it all the time “It was the worst day of my life! It took 20 minutes to board! We had to sit on the runway for 40 minutes!”

We hear complaints like these all the time. As if we’ve forgotten how incredible it is that humans can fly at all.

How are we so quick to take for granted the remarkable things going on in life?

Why is it so easy to complain?

Why do we focus on the negative?

Everything is amazing and nobody is happy.

However, happiness can easily be achieved even without the brilliant advances in the world.

Rather than being reactive to what’s going on around us, happy people take control of their lives and emotions.

If you are unhappy with your life, who or what else can you blame than yourself? And if you can blame someone or something else, how is blame going to make your life any better?

Bad stuff happens to everyone. But life isn’t about what happens to you. It’s about how you proactively respond.”

He went on to list out these 10 behaviours, that if applied, will change your life and let you be an incredibly happy person.

I’m going to focus on just 3 that stood out for me.

Define Your Own Success And Happiness

This carries on from what Derek Sivers was saying:

“No two human beings are the same. So why should we have one standard of success? Seeking society’s standard of success is an endless rat-race. There will always be someone better than you. You’ll never have the time to do everything.

Instead, you recognize that every decision has opportunity cost. When you choose one thing, you simultaneously don’t choose several others. And that’s okay. Actually, it’s beautiful because we get to choose our ultimate ideal. We must define success, wealth, and happiness in our own terms because if we don’t, society will for us—and we will always fall short. We’ll always be left wanting. We’ll always be stuck comparing ourselves and competing with other people. Our lives will be an endless race for the next best thing. We’ll never experience contentment.”

Commit 100 Percent To The Things That Make You Happy

“Many of us have convinced ourselves that we are able to break our own personal rules “just this once.” In our minds, we can justify these small choices. None of those things, when they first happen, feels like a life-changing decision. The marginal costs are almost always low. But each of those decisions can roll up into a much bigger picture, turning you into the kind of person you never wanted to be.”—Clayton Christensen

“People are really good at self-sabotage. We consistently behave in ways that contradict our goals and ideals. This is incongruence. As Mahatma Gandhi has said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

The smaller the gap between what you should do, and what you actually do—the happier you will be.

Hence, Clayton Christensen says 100 percent commitment is easier than 98 percent commitment. When you fully commit to something, the decision has been made. Consequently, regarding that thing, all future decisions have been made.

Unless you’re committed 100 percent, you will always be a victim to external circumstances. By relying on willpower, you’ll crumble more often than you think. Research has found that people over-inflate their own performance. Chances are, you probably think you’re doing better at your resolves than you really are.

But once you’re 100 percent committed, you no longer need to rely on willpower. Your decision has already been made regardless of the circumstances. Saying “No” to anything outside our highest ideals becomes extremely easy. This is living proactively rather than reactively.”

I think I practice this really well. I focus on exactly the outcome I want, 100%. I’ve manifested virtually everything happening since we started looking at properties and they’ve come off so far.

I catch myself daydreaming in the glorious vision on walking on our land, with a dog alongside us, the sun shining, the birds singing and nature surrounding us. I visualized walking through the house, cooking meals there, wine by the fire…. in detail.

Visualization is a really powerful method I’ve dabbled with in Ultimate Frisbee and also in speaking, and I realize I do it a lot more now in business in life to get what I want!

Sure I’ve waivered a lot during this house process, pointing out what might happen, thinking about what might not happen too, because that way I can deal wtih the consequences if something doesn’t work out.

Josh and I ran through the worst case scenario if our offer didn’t get accepted and immediately after we both felt happier for whatever outcome, even though we knew which outcome we wanted!

 

The third behaviour is this:

Be Grateful For What You Already Have

“Both abundance and lack [of abundance] exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend … when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present—love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature, and personal pursuits that bring us [happiness]—the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience heaven on earth.”—Sarah Ban Breathnach

“Happiness is as simple as gratitude. Psychological research has found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:

Physical

  • Stronger immune systems
  • Less bothered by aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Exercise more and take better care of their health
  • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological

  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More alert, alive, and awake
  • More joy and pleasure
  • More optimism and happiness

Social

  • More helpful, generous, and compassionate
  • More forgiving
  • More outgoing
  • Feel less lonely and isolated

Despite these benefits, most people ungratefully focus on what they don’t have. As a culture, we have become wasteful and undisciplined consumers. The grass is always greener on the other side. A constant pursuit of having more of the newest and best.

How could you possibly find happiness when you relentlessly want more and never properly appreciate what you have?

It’s time for you to learn how to be more grateful. Your happiness depends on it. Dr. Emmons, one of the world’s leading experts on gratitude recommends 10 ways to become more grateful:

Keep a gratitude journal

Set aside time on a daily basis to recollect moments of gratitude connected with commonplace events, your personal characteristics, or important people in your life. This allows you to weave gratitude into your normal, everyday life. This will help you move from trying to be grateful occasionally to becoming a grateful person. The goal is to move from doing to being.

Remember the hard and challenging things you’ve gone through

When you ponder and reflect on the challenges you’ve passed through, you’ll more fully embrace where you currently are.

Ask yourself these three questions

You can reflect on any aspect of your life and deeply consider these three questions:

  • “What have I received from __?”
  • “What have I given to __?”
  • “What troubles and difficulty have I caused?”

These questions will allow you to look at the people or things in your life from a different perspective. They will allow you to not take them for granted and to realize how grateful you are.

Learn prayers of gratitude

In many spiritual traditions, prayers of gratitude are considered to be the most powerful form of prayer. These prayers turn the individual to their highest source of power. It allows them to realize the divine grace that has so generously been bestowed. It also allows the person to seek for higher and better ways of living.

Come to your senses

Literally, connecting more deeply with our body allows us to see it for what it is: a brilliant and miraculous gift. Being more fully present as we touch, see, smell, taste, and hear facilitates appreciation for being human and alive. In this way, gratitude intensifies our lived experience.

Use visual reminders

The two main impediments to gratitude are forgetfulness and a lack of mindful awareness. Consequently, putting visual reminders in common places triggers thoughts of gratitude. Dr. Emmons has found that the best visual reminders are people.

Make a personal vow to practice gratitude

Research shows that making an oath to perform a behavior increases the likelihood that the action will be executed. Consequently, you should make a personal and public declaration that you are going to be more grateful. Write it down. Share it on social media. Tell your friends and closest people.

Watch your language

Grateful people use words that ungrateful people don’t use. They often use words like gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, and abundance. Use these words in your vocabulary more and you’ll recognize more things to be grateful for. Additionally, in your language, don’t focus on how inherently good you are. Rather, speak of how good things and other people have been for you. This will allow you to realize the abundance around you. The universe and everyone in it is your advocate.

Go through the motions

Grateful motions include smiling, saying thank you, and writing letters of gratitude. When you do these things, you trigger the emotion of gratitude in your life. Say thank you more often. Say you love people more often. Smile at random strangers as you pass them by. Not only will it make you feel better, it is contagious. People are mirrors. They’ll feel good and smile back. This will create a change reaction of positivity throughout the world. The ripple effects are endless.

Think outside the box

Dr. Emmons recommends creatively looking for new situations and things to be grateful for. What in your life have you not spent time being grateful for? What could you include in your life that will generate an inflow of gratitude? Mix it up. Don’t think gratitude can only come from a narrow set of sources.”

I hope you feel happier. And I hope that you have some tips, tactics and strategies to put into action to feel more happy on a daily basis.

Have you noticed that all of these things are ridiculously simple too? So why don’t we actually do them more often? Let’s all do this shall we?

Also if you want to take it a step further check out Andrea’s 6 day free Mindfulness Challenge at projectself.com.au/mindfulness-challenge

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