As we ate our meal, Dharma began my lesson. "If a frog keeps a green bough in his heart, Irwin, the singing birds will come. Do you know why that is?" "Yes!" I quickly replied, "It's because what we focus our attention on attracts more of that same thing...like attract like." Dharma smiled, so I guess I must have gotten the answer correct. Then, he said something that totally shocked me. "Nobody likes a Debbie Downer, Irwin. If you're a happy frog, you'll attract more happy frogs (or people) into your life. They are your singing birds." "Debbie Downer?" I thought to myself, "Where on earth does someone like Dharma ever hear of a fictional character off the TV show Saturday Night Live? But he obviously had so I just nodded in agreement. But I was gobsmacked. He continued, "Most frogs, and people too, I dare say, don't know how to even act happy, let alone be happy. But happiness, son, is what makes life pleasurable." He went on to remind me that happy frogs and happy humans have more friends and are more attractive to others, no matter their physical appearance. And happy people enjoy better health, as well.
"So, Dharma, how can I attract more happiness and thus more singing birds into my life?" I asked. It didn't take him long to reply. He reminded me of a few key elements that can help attract more happiness into my life. These are all things that he and I have gone over before but are definitely worth repeating.
1.Be grateful for the things you have and appreciate the life you have. Even when things don't seem to be going great, we can all find things to be grateful for; a soft bed to sleep in, the sunrise, birds singing, frogs croaking, a hearty breakfast, etc. Being appreciative of all the good things we have, even the seemingly small and inconsequential ones, will go along way to attracting more good into our lives.
2. Focus on what you want vs. focusing on what you don't want. Keep your thoughts positive. Why? Because like attract like. If your thoughts are negative, you are far more likely to attract negatively into your world than if you keep your thoughts positive. Being consistent with your thoughts isn't an overnight or quick fix, but it is a mindset you can practice for life.
3. Be open-minded. This is, as Dharma likes to say, "The Big One." We don't always get what we want, but we always get what we need. Just because our "gift" isn't packaged just the way we imagined it might be, doesn't mean that it's not the perfect one for us. Be open minded and accepting of what shows up in your life. You'll be pleasantly surprised.
4. Follow your intuition. Your gut is smarter than you may think. Following our instincts, rather than what others might tell us, can...and often does...lead to greater fulfillment and personal happiness. We have everything we need within us to be happy at all times. It simply requires belief and trusting your gut is a great way to start believing in yourself.
Happiness is about how we feel. It's more than just a passing mood, though. Positive emotions, like hope and happiness, help us connect with others and to build our capacity for tolerance when things go bad. Happiness is about being able to make the most of good times but also to effectively cope with the inevitable bad times. This gives each of us the opportunity to experience the best quality of life overall.
Before Dharma hopped away, he told me about a friend of his, Matthieu Ricard who is a biochemist turned Buddhist monk. Dr. Ricard explains happiness this way; "Happiness is a deep sense of flourishing, not a mere pleasurable feeling or fleeting emotion, but an optimal state of being." And who doesn't want feel like they are flourishing even during difficult times? Having a green bough in your heart gives other "birds" a safe and happy place to land. And their music will bring you joy.