Discover Your Happiness Without Lifting a Finger

We all want to be happy. The finish line for most people’s goals is usually in the vicinity of happiness. It’s a natural human desire. And it’s wonderful that we’re all trying to find it because it motivates us to create, explore and be better in general. And yet, it’s incredibly elusive.  

I’ve been reading Timothy Gallwey’s book, The Inner Game of Work. You may have heard of him through his other book, The Inner Game of Tennis. In both books, he recommends an interesting way to improve performance, including states of happiness. How do we make our lives more enjoyable? Don’t try to change anything. Leave everything as is. Instead, simply be aware of what you’re feeling when you’re doing the very things you wish were different. For instance, if work feels like drudgery and you want to add pizzazz to it, then focus on how you feel when you’re at work. Don’t’ try to do anything thing differently, just feel.

This idea is counterintuitive. If something isn’t working, then we change it or ourselves. But something has to change. Based on Gallwey’s years of experience as a tennis coach, he noticed that when students focused too hard on improving their game, they often make the very mistakes they were trying to avoid. Yet, when then simply noticed what was happening with the ball, they naturally improved.

It’s the thinking that gets in the way. When athletes talk about being in the zone, where they do everything just right, they all say that in those moments they weren’t thinking about anything at all. It’s when the conscious mind shuts off, and the intuition takes over, that everything beings to flow properly. You’ve probably had moments where you exceeded your own expectations, where you just knew what to do without having to think about it. That’s the zone. And it probably felt exhilarating.

So back to happiness – how do we get it? Based on Gallwey’s theory, the way to finding it is to stop looking for it. Just feel. This bypasses the conscious mind, whose job is to continually judge, criticize and give orders. Without it, enjoyment begins to flow naturally. This takes practice. It’s like meditation, except you’re not in a quiet, secluded room, you’re fully engaged in your life.

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2 thoughts on “Discover Your Happiness Without Lifting a Finger

  1. I definitely related to this post. While studying piano in college, my professor once asked me what I was thinking about while playing, and the honest answer was “nothing!” She couldn’t ever understand how I could play along without actively “thinking” about the musical composition. But I agree that when I began thinking too much, I didn’t play with the natural, effervescent qualities I did when my mind went blank, so to speak! Great post — I’ve enjoyed reading around on your site!

  2. Thank you for your comment.

    A lot of athletes talk about what you described – when they’re in the zone and doing amazing things, they’re not thinking of anything at all. It when the mind starts to think that they suddenly pop out of it. Intuition is underrated. Probably because it’s so esoteric, almost magical.

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