The Secret to Happiness
Listening. That’s it, the secret to happiness and fulfilment.
Not just any old garden variety listening though. It’s listening from a still, quiet place that’s needed. Active, intentional listening and it’s listening to ourselves that makes the biggest difference.
Learning to listen well starts with a conscious decision to invoke the magic of mindfulness. When we can intentionally focus on being present and not caught up in the fog of stories that goes on inside our heads, we start to listen in a very different way.
Then there are five key areas to apply great listening to that can make a huge difference to our sense of contentment….
- Listening to our habitual thought patterns. This wakes us up to what we’re focusing on and where our energy is going. With this awareness we can make choices on what to focus on that will bring us the most fulfilment.
- Listening to our body’s cues and signals. This can make life a whole lot more comfortable. We hear the tension, the beginnings of something not feeling right, the postural changes that might be needed to avoid pain, the food that doesn’t sit well, the desire for movement or stillness, the need to be active or rest. All of this information that comes into our awareness gives us the chance to honour our bodies and do what we need to do to take care of them and consequently ourselves.
- Listening to our lives through the filter of our values, paying attention to our hopes, dreams, desires and longings. This brings a deep and joyful fulfilment that can’t be matched by buying any material thing on the planet. The depth of fulfilment that can come about is sustainable and true.
- Listening to our intuition. This can take us into a miraculous flow that feels as if life is being orchestrated for our benefit by a benevolent external force. But it’s not the ‘universe’, it’s you listening to you that’s manifesting wonder.
- Listening to others. Truly listening in the present moment untainted by made up stories and assumptions is a powerful way to not only hear but to also truly see the other person as they are instead of as a reflection of ourselves and what we think about them. You know when you’ve been listened to in this way. It’s palpable and so is the feeling of being heard, seen and accepted.
True listening is a learnt skill that takes time and practice. It’s a delicate balance of presence and focus. Not too much, not too little. The biggest challenge is honing the awareness that sparks when we realise that we’ve lost our presence and gone off into listening to the internal story instead. Practising mindfulness is a wonderful start. A sustained, disciplined, embodied meditation practice can take it to a whole new level. Time spent every day consciously listening to your mind, your body and you guarantees development of listening super powers.