In my emotional intelligence work with PeopleSmarts.biz I conduct a fun and informative seminar called "The Science of Happiness" where we explore the fascinating research on happiness.
Happiness is more than just an emotion or experience that only a lucky few experience. The research on positive psychology, neurobiology, resiliency, and learned optimism, as well as my experience with thousands of clients, clearly demonstrate that happiness is (fortunately!) an actual skill that can be taught and can be learned. This is great, great news.
So the other day I was watching the movie "Marley and Me" and I heard part of the song "Lucky Man" by The Verve which I hadn't heard before. I purchased the song and immediately fell in love with it as I think it well captures the essence of the science of happiness.
In the lyrics below —[I've added my annotations within brackets like this]— to share some perspectives on happiness. I'll highlight some of the mindsets and awarenesses that connect with The Science of Happiness. I'll save the neurobiology of happiness for another discussion. But bear in mind that how we think and what we choose has a direct impact on our biochemisty.
More or less
It's just a change in me
Something in my liberty
—["It's just a change in me" highlights that happiness ultimately comes from within. It is not based in externals. True happiness is an internal experience that can be shared with others in the external world, but cannot be obtained fully in the external world.]—
—["Something in my liberty." Happiness is not only freeing in and of itself, but is also, and most importantly, the outcome of making an internal change in how we choose to see things. That is what creates that very sense of freedom. This is akin to Bob Marley's admonition in Redemption Song, "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery." It is our mind that traps us way more than our circumstances. Again internals vs. externals.]—
Oh, my, my
Coming and going
I watch you look at me
Watch my fever growing
I know just where I am
—["I know just where I am." Knowing where one is is essential to knowing who one is. It's a sense of connection, awareness and presence. Many people get so confused by the seductives worries and regrets of the future and the past that they are unable to fully live "just where I am."]—
But how many corners do I have to turn?
How many times do I have to learn
All the love I have is in my mind?
—["How many times do I have to learn..." Buddhists inform us that enlightenment comes in a flash after years and years and years and years of meditation; e.g., after much learning. Many of my clients are initially frustrated with the steep learning curve of creating a Great Relationship. I remind them that while the principles and skills we learn (and then practice, practice, practice) are simple that they are not easy. I never confuse simple with easy. Simple is hard at first to learn—the results are just easier to live with. The Complexity Mess of hypocrisy, despair and disintegrity most live in is actually easy to keep doing (because of mindsets, habits, patterns and perpetual reinforcement)—the results are just hard to live with. Thus it (life in general and/or the Great Relationship work) is going to be both hard and easy. The question is where do we want the "hard" and where do we want the "easy." My clients, to their credit, continually choose to do the hard work up front so they can experience the joyful ease of living in a Great Relationship. Thus, "many corners to turn, and many times to learn", and to fully integrate that learning, is just part of the process. But once we get there we learn the Great Secret:
—["All the love I have is in my mind." Jesus taught, "The kingdom of God is within you." In other words, it's not somewhere else, it's here within us. All the love we need is within us. It's not elsewhere, it's not external. This usually requires many, many wrong turns to discover this as we live in a culture where the model is that happiness is to be found in the externals.]—
But I'm a lucky man
With fire in my hands
—["I'm a lucky man." Lucky in what way? Oprah Winfrey said that, "Luck is when preparation meets opportunity." I agree with that statement. Instead of "luck" being something that happens to you, luck is something that you create and or invite in to you which then manifests. This type of luck is much more active than the passive type of luck most people think of.]—
—["With fire in my hands." Fire is symbolic of power, life, passion, energy. Thus, my power, my life, my passion, my energy, my "luck" are all in my control. Being a "lucky man" is more than finding $20 on the sidewalk. Lucky because of this core, essential awareness that I have the power in my life to experience life on my terms, that I'm not victim to the ups/downs of life, not victim to fair/unfair, not victim to what others do/don't do. Instead, I'm fully conscious and I feel so lucky to know that. Just like when man learned to use fire. To have that kind of power, freedom, control and responsibility in one's own hands is awesome.]—
Something in my own place
I'm stood here naked
Smiling, I feel no disgrace
With who I am
—[Happiness brings a sense of innocence and acceptance. Several years ago I had the profound pleasure of seeing the Dalai Lama here in Utah. I witnessed his ability to at one moment to talk with deep seriousness and insight of the need for peace in this war-torn world and in the next moment laugh with the simple abandon of a five-year-old. His Holiness had left the Eden state, the state of innocence, of growing up sheltered and protected in peaceful environment as a child and sadly he and his people have been exposed to every atrocity known to man. Yet through his practice and devotion he lives in a child-like state of innocence. An innocence not based in naivete but an innocence consciously claimed in the face of full awareness.
An innocence that arguably can be said was lost because of what he and his people have suffered, but that he has willingly and with skill and practice regained.]—
—["Smiling, I feel no disgrace with who I am." In the Genesis story we are told that Adam and Eve in their innocence in the Garden of Eden were naked, "And they were not ashamed." To choose self-acceptance after we've been exposed in this life (after leaving the Eden state of innocence), when we don't "match up" to how the magazines say we should look is to choose true happiness.]—
All of these comments are representative of a "change in me...something in my liberty." To be happy in the midst of life as it is, vs. how it "should" be, is not denial or being naive, it is a powerful choice that alters our biochemical and neurological states. Cool. Definitely a "lucky" place to be. So be.
Those are my thoughts. They are by no means the only interpretations of this song or these concepts. How does this song touch you? What are your thoughts on creating and manifesting happiness in your life?
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