Advertising
Advertising

Book Review: The 7 Timeless Habits of Happiness by Henrik Edberg

Book Review: The 7 Timeless Habits of Happiness by Henrik Edberg

    “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.” – Aristotle

    “Life wasn’t all too bad really, but I wasn’t that happy either,” recalls Henrik Edberg, creator of The Positivity Blog and author of The 7 Timeless Habits of Happiness. “I think the problem was that I didn’t understand myself or the world around that well. I didn’t understand what I needed to do to create a happier life for myself.” Well, now he does:

    1. Choose Happiness

    “Most people are about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” – Abraham Lincoln

    Misery and happiness aren’t about external circumstances; they are a conscious choice. “You choose each day what you focus on and how you interpret your reality,” Edberg writes. So instead of seeing the world and yourself “through a lens smudged by negativity”, you consciously choose to look outwards and inwards “through a lens brightened by positivity”. This could involve being grateful for what you have, spending time in an environment of happiness with people who lift you up, and choosing positive information such as personal development reading over negative information like endless news reports.

    For more, see The Gift of Gratitude and Thoughts on Happiness

    Advertising

    2. Get Your Physical Fundamentals in Shape

    “Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley

    “How we manage our body has a huge, huge impact on our thoughts, emotions and everything that happens in our personal world,” Edberg explains. This is why we need to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep.

    For more, see No More Stress: Part One and The Secret of Dreams by Yacki Raizizun

    3. Create an Action Habit

    “Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.” – Benjamin Disraeli

    It’s been said that the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. We need to stop waiting for other people to solve our problems and take action in order to see results. Use a morning ritual, do things even if you don’t feel like it, and take responsibility for the process, not the potential results.

    Advertising

    For more, see Get the Edge and The Seven Habits: Part Two

    4. Be Here Now

    “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha

    Guess what? The past and future don’t exist. They are simply thoughts arising in the present moment. By focusing on the present, we can improve our social skills (no more thinking of what to say when you should be listening to what’s being said), improve our creativity (no more worrying about what others will think of our work), and release stress. And by focusing on what’s in front of us (through practices like guided meditation and breathing techniques), we also learn to appreciate our world more.

    For more, see Focus by Leo Babauta (Part 5 of 5) and Carpe Diem!

    5. Help and Make Other People Happy

    “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else.” – Chinese Proverb

    Advertising

    “When you do the right thing and make people happy you feel good about yourself,” Edberg points out. “When you make someone else happy you can sense, see, feel and hear it. And that happy feeling flows back to you.” Give value by bringing a positive attitude to your interactions, giving useful advice, or offering a listening ear to someone who needs it. And let’s not forget about smiles and hugs! Even though people may not always appreciate what you do or feel compelled to reciprocate, you should still persist and feel good for doing so.

    For more, see People Policy and Relationship Review

    6. Do What You Love to Do

    “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer

    The fact that you’re working at a full-time job doesn’t mean you can’t (or shouldn’t) pursue your passions on the side. “There is always time,” Edberg explains. Things won’t always be great but the work won’t feel as hard nor will you have to force yourself to perform. Spend some time exploring and asking questions to bring clarity. Most importantly, remember to add value to the world and not simply to yourself. “By using your talents and skills and at the same time helping people and giving them value in some way you can find the opportunities to both do what you love and to earn money to support yourself from it.”

    For more, see Seven Keys to Discovering Your Passion by Jonathan Mead and Success Built to Last

    7. Let Go

    Advertising

    “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu

    So much of our suffering is caused by our clinging. We hold on to who we are and what we believe to the point where we must always be right. We hold on to things that are impermanent and things we think will make us happy even though they never really do. Sometimes we simply need to accept things as they are and then let them go. We need to stop trying to control everything and stop fussing over things that don’t even matter. And while it may be hard at first, it gets easier as time passes. Our happiness depends on it.

    For more, see You’re Worth It! and No More Stress: Part Three

    Conclusion

    Edberg admits that this book won’t solve all your problems or make you happy all the time. But he firmly believes that with some effort and persistence, focusing on one aspect at a time, you can start to see major differences in your life as was the case for him. What do you think? Are there any other habits of happiness you would add? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

    More by this author

    The Problem with Personal Development Book Review: Five Laws of Success Book Review: The 7 Timeless Habits of Happiness by Henrik Edberg Why I’ll NEVER Cut Up My Credit Cards

    Trending in Lifestyle

    1 How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind 2 Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It) 3 10 Powerful Ways to Stop Worrying and Start Living Today 4 Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide) 5 12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

    How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

    Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

    Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

    I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

    You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

    Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

    When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

    I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

    Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

    Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

    Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

    1. The Inner Critic

    This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

    • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
    • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
    • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
    • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

    The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

    Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

    2. The Worrier

    This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

    The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

    3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

    This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

    Advertising

    This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

    The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

    4. The Sleep Depriver

    This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

    The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

    • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
    • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
    • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
    • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

    How can you control these squatters?

    How to Master Your Mind

    You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

    Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

    There are two ways to control your thoughts:

    • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
    • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

    This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

    The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

    Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

    For the Inner Critic

    When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

    You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

    For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

    You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

    Advertising

    “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

    If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

    • They rile up the Worrier.
    • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
    • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
    • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
    • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

    Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

    Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

    For the Worrier

    Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

    Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

    You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

    • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
    • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
    • Muscles tense

    Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

    If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

    Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

    “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

    Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

    If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

    Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

    Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

    Advertising

    For example:

    If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

    “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

    Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

    “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

    Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

    For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

    Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

    The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

    • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
    • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
    • Muscles tension

    I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

    Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

    Breathe in through your nose:

    • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
    • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
    • Focus on your belly rising.

    Breathe out through your nose:

    • Feel your lungs emptying.
    • Focus on your belly falling.
    • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

    Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

    Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

    One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

    Advertising

    Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

    For the Sleep Depriver

    (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

    I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

    Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

    1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
    2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

    When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

    From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

    For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

    If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

    You can also use this technique any time you want to:

    • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
    • Shut down your thinking.
    • Calm your feelings.
    • Simply focus on the present moment. 

    The Bottom Line

    Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

    You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

    Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

    More About Mental Strength

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

    Read Next