I was perusing through my new book, ‘How to be Happy (or at least less sad)’ by Lee Crutchley, when I came accross this quote from my mindfulness guru, Ruby Wax:
When I teach my Wellbeing Warrior workshops in schools, we spend a good bit of time looking at fight, flight and freeze. My reason for including this was that I wanted kids to really understand what their body was doing, and why it was doing this.
I want children to know that this is normal, and that they’re not alone. I also want children to appreciate how amazing their bodies and minds are. Because it really is amazing when you think about it; that our brain can set off a chain reaction of physical changes and sensations the second it senses a threat – all aimed at protecting you from harm.
Just as Ruby say, “Your brain was designed to keep you alive.”
And I’m sure that for the cavemen and women our brains were designed for, being happy was most likely a side-effect of being alive, possibly with the added bonus of being safe, having food, finding shelter etc. They weren’t sat around complaining about lack of job fulfillment, the fact that their babies plan wasn’t on track, or asking themselves why they kept mixing wine and beer despite the hangovers. They were too focused on staying alive. Happiness just wasn’t a priority.
For most of us in today’s world, though sadly not all, we don’t need to work so hard at avoiding danger. For most of us, it’s pretty likely that we’ll stay alive, unless something goes dramatically wrong (and in any case that’s often out of our control so there’s no use in thinking about it.)
So we have to re-train our brains to focus on the positive. We have to train ourselves to be happy.
We can still appreciate that our brains are amazing, without expecting them to just lay down and give us happiness.
We’re like Ferraris, running on on the engine of a Morris Minor. The models have kept changing, but the engine never has.
Luckily, in this scenario, you are the mechanic. With the right knowledge, skills and tools, you can tinker with that engine until it’s worthy of a Ferrari.
Like my car analogy? I thought I’d branch out from food-based ones. Do you feel disappointed at how hard you have to work at happiness? Or do you feel that it comes to you naturally? Thoughts welcome: