Unlocking Happiness Built into Us

Unlocking Happiness Built into Us

Photo by Matthew Henry from Burst

By Ben Fuchs | PharmacistBen

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” 

We humans make things so complicated.

Take the subject of happiness, which can be as elusive as it is desirable. According to an online Harris Poll of 2,345 U.S. adults, only one in three Americans say they’re ‘very happy’, as has been the trend since 2009.

Even worse, our drive to be happy may interfere with achieving the goal. When we strongly want to be happy we may create a standard that can’t be met. Thinking: “I must always be happy” can result in disappointment and guilt, which ironically can prevent the happiness we so desire.

According to happiness researcher Brett Q. Ford of the University of California at Berkeley, “Part of the reason that wanting to be happy backfires in the U.S. is that people get down on themselves. Also, wanting happiness can make you self-focused and disengaged, and then you’re kind of lonely, and that interferes with feeling happy, too.”

Yet, as it turns out, happiness is built into us and we all have access to it, all the time, at any time. The problem is we believe that happiness is the result of an outward focus. The fact escapes us that happiness is an inner condition that involves our thoughts, feelings and biochemistry, which are obviously INSIDE us.

Once we understand the internal nature of the condition we can take this happiness horse by the reins and be happy whenever we like.


Here’s the secret, and don’t be deceived by its utter simplicity.

If you want to be happy all the time: find something to be happy about all the time!

At any given moment, you can choose dozens of things to be happy about. No matter how bad things seem to be, like the man who complained about having no shoes, until he saw another man with no legs, there is always something we can be happy about – a warm bed, a friend, spouse, lover, child, pet, job, not being in pain, eyesight, hearing, hands, feet, fingers, toes, ability to walk, no deformities etc.

The bad news: our brains are hard-wired for survival which is the primal imperative. Thus, the default perspective of the human brain is on what’s wrong, not what’s right. After all, what’s wrong can kill you, what’s right probably won’t.

The good news: we can only think one thought at a time.

In other words, if you are thinking a good thought you CANNOT at the same time think a bad one. Thus, to be constantly happy, be constantly thinking good thoughts.

Because our brains can’t tell the difference between what we’re thinking in our heads and what’s really happening in our physical, real life experiences, by placing attention on what’s right, we’ll be upregulating and enhancing the activity of dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin, which are the brain correlates of contentment and satisfaction. As far as our bodies and its biochemistry are concerned, we really will be happy!

If you’re spiritual, you’re lucky. That means you can focus on spirit, or, if you prefer, GOD, or All That Is, or Jesus, whatever moniker you want to use for the nameless Force that drives creation. This, by the way is the true meaning of Paul’s New Testament admonition in Thessalonians 5:17 to “Pray without ceasing”.

Is that too simple?

Well maybe it is but don’t be fooled, the greatest ideas usually are. As playwright Clare Boothe Luce wrote in the 1930’s “…the height of sophistication is simplicity”.

If you’re feeling less happy than you’d like, give it a shot. Write down 10 or 20 or even 100 things you appreciate in your life. Then, every time some unpleasant thought arises, redirect your attention to something on the list. Over and over and over use all negative thoughts as a signal or cue to return to something you’re happy about. Try and see what happens. Chances are it will be much harder to stay with negativity, and even if you only manage to catch yourself and redirect just a few times a day, you’re going to find yourself a lot happier than you would be otherwise. If you keep at it, eventually you may very well find yourself happy most, or even all of the time!

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Perspective

Finding Happiness Through Suffering: 8 Ways To Find Light in the Darkness

The Mind Unleashed

Finding Happiness Through Suffering

The journey of life can feature mountain peaks of happiness and valleys of suffering. Unfortunately the moments of happiness tend to be fleeting and the moments of suffering seem to go on for forever. Did you know that it is possible to find happiness through suffering without having to look up at the next mountain peak you’re trying to climb? The key to finding happiness through suffering is to actively seek out contentment.

Being content in difficult times can be extremely hard to do. How is it possible to give thanks in the darkest of times? Here are some methods that have been proven to work.

#1. Stop comparing your life to the lives of others around you. When you’re in a deep valley and you see someone up at the summit of a mountain experiencing joy, it can hurt. A lot. You want to be on that summit of joy as well, right? The problem is that in looking at the lives of others, we’re missing the perfect moments that are surrounding us right now. By actively seeking the extraordinary when we feel like we are having an ordinary day, it becomes easier to be content in any circumstance that is faced.

#2. Strength is created through overcoming adversity. One common phrase we like to tell each other in the dark times is that “What doesn’t kill us will make us stronger.” Although that’s a hollow platitude when we’re in our darkest hours, there is some truth to those words.

  • Parents who have lost children to cancer become strong enough to help other parents in a similar situation.
  • Widows can console other widows.
  • Bullied children can become a counseling resource for kids who feel like they don’t fit in.

The experience of adversity is what creates the strength, especially when we find a way to blaze a trail through it.

#3. Little things are still able to bring you some joy. Imagine being in a dark room for longer than you remember. You’re hungry, tired, thirsty, and ready for the physical suffering to end. Loneliness, confusion, and perhaps anger are present as well, creating the circumstances of emotional suffering. Just a drop of water, a bite to eat, or some sunshine on your face will grant a respite and that brings joy. Even on the worst of worst days, if you can bring yourself toward something that you love, then a moment of joy can relieve the suffering. Those perfect moments eventually add up and bring you one step closer to the next mountain summit.

#4. Fate isn’t in control of your life. When we are encountering a valley of suffering, the typical question asked is this: Why? There really is no good answer to that question. We all ask it because we want a tangible explanation for our circumstances. If we get facts, then we can get out of the valley more quickly – at least that’s the theory. In reality, it is you who are in control of how you feel and what you want to do. External factors can try to affect your joy, but you either choose to allow those factors to influence you or to ignore them. Happiness is a choice that you can always make.

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Posted by postmaster in Health News

How to Dissolve Anxiety

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

What we call anxiety is a complex that forms at the juncture of a physical sensation and a thought. It might be called the “Thought-Feeling Complex” {Anxiety = Physical Sensation + Thought}.

To dissolve anxiety, first notice these two components. Isolate the feeling and thought components of the Thought-Feeling Complex.

AnxietyNow you’re ready to dismantle the complex by first sensing the feeling in body, without thinking or applying thought. Just concentrate all your attention on the sensation, its quality, texture, color etc.. Notice where in the body you feel it and savor the sensation. Feel it as an energetic, dynamic “something” that is just there. Get curious about this sensation and observe it like scientist. Is it a warm sensation? Or is it cool? Is it large or tiny? Red or blue? Soft and squishy or hard and sharp? Don’t try to make it go away, simply let it the sensation do its thing in your body. When you get really good at this exercise, you will notice that, when separated from is accompanying thoughts, the sensation, which is nothing more than a neutral tingling energy, is actually quite pleasant!

Now, turn your attention to the anxious thoughts. Simply notice how the thoughts arise and subside, again with scientist-like curiosity, as best as you can, paying no attention to physical sensations that may arise in accompaniment as you notice each thought. Only observe the arising and subsiding of each thought. Noticing it as it arises from its home in the (?), notice how sits awhile in the forefront of your attention and then notice again how it subsides back to its home in the (?). Get curious. Where do these thoughts come from? Where do they go? Where exactly are they when in your attention, as you are “thinking” them? Can be said to be anywhere? Don’t try to answer, just be interested.

What you will find out is that as long as you are only focusing one point or another, either the raw, thoughtless physical sensation OR the pure, naked thought as a brain/mind phenomenon, free of any physical body qualities, anxiety cannot arise. That’s because anxiety is a complex, the Thought-Feeling Complex and as long as it’s two components are segregated it cannot take shape.

If you feel angst you have somehow collapsed or combined these two points of attention back into a Thought-Feeling Complex. No problem, for most of us combining these two components is a lifelong habit and it may take some time to break completely. But it’s worth it! Simply notice the Thought-Feeling Complex again and break it apart making sure to either feel the raw feeling divorced of thought OR observe the pure though free of feeling. Do it as often as you need and over time you will reach a critical mass. When anxiety arises you will automatically, reflexively separate the components and at that point, your anxiety will be a thing of the past.

If you want some, cool, easy-to read books that can help you understand and diffuse anxiety check out:

F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way
“F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way” by John C Parkin

To say F**k It feels good. To stop struggling and finally do what you wish . . . to ignore what everyone is telling you and just go your own way . . . feels really great.

F**k It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way


Stumbling on Happiness
“Stumbling on Happiness” by Daniel Gilbert

Vividly bringing to life the latest scientific research in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, philosophy, and behavioral economics, Gilbert reveals what scientists have discovered about the uniquely human ability to imagine the future, and about our capacity ..

Stumbling on Happiness


Sweet Zen: Dharma Talks from Cheri Huber
“Sweet Zen: Dharma Talks from Cheri Huber” by Sara Jenkins

Offering the unusual perspective on the softness and sweetness to be discovered in the Zen path., which has long been associated with formality and even harshness, this book includes the traditional rigor of Zen practice, but is balanced and eased with ever-growing compassion for ..

Sweet Zen: Dharma Talks from Cheri Huber

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Mental Flexibility, Health & Happiness

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Mental Flexibility

An oversplit by former Olympic gymnast Irina Tchachina

Understanding that we don’t live in the world, but rather we live in our world is one of the keys to well-being. If we are not aware of the neurophysiological processes of meaning-making and perception, it is easy to make the critical error of assuming that the way we perceive “it” is the way “it” is. We can never know, as first pointed out by Immanuel Kant in the 18th century, the way “it” is.

We are marooned on an island of meaning, our own meaning and the best we can hope for is to understand this built-in facet of the human experience and operate accordingly. This means: don’t assume that you know the truth about anything. Always be prepared to maintain flexibility. That is flexibility of mind-set. In fact, perhaps the most important markers of mental health and happiness is the ability to absorb and integrate new information and allow the mental nature to morph in response.

Immanuel Kant (22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher. He is a central figure of modern philosophy. He argued that human perception structures natural laws, and that reason is the source of morality. His thought continues to hold a major influence in contemporary thought, especially in fields such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics.

Kant’s major work, the Critique of Pure Reason (Kritik der reinen Vernunft, 1781), aimed to bring reason together with experience and to move beyond what he took to be failures of traditional philosophy and metaphysics. He hoped to end an age of speculation where objects outside experience were seen to support what he saw as futile theories, while opposing the skepticism of thinkers such as Hume.

He stated:

It always remains a scandal of philosophy and universal human reason that the existence of things outside us … should have to be assumed merely on faith, and that if it occurs to anyone to doubt it, we should be unable to answer him with a satisfactory proof.

Kant proposed a “Copernican Revolution-in-reverse”, saying that:

Up to now it has been assumed that all our cognition must conform to the objects; but … let us once try whether we do not get farther with the problems of metaphysics by assuming that the objects must conform to our cognition.


Posted by Ben Fuchs in Perspective

To Be Happy

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Simplistic as it may sound, the ancient Greek founders of Western Philosophy considered the prime directive, i.e. goal of human existence was to be happy. They called this state of fundamental happiness “eudemonia” and they developed a reputation for spending a lot of time pondering it. Aristotle said “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence”, while his teacher Plato considered the philosophy of happiness to be the center of healthy society.

Be HappyYet, for most of us true happiness seems as elusive as the famous bluebird it’s associated with. And many of us are just flat out un-happy. Clearly something is preventing us from being totally happy all the time. Something seems to missing or required for us to be able to reach this most important goal.

In his book “Thought is Dead”, the Indian philosopher U.G. Krishnamurti wrote that we are not happy because we believe we should be happy. What he meant was our unhappiness is the result of our “shoulds”, those things which we believe must occur before we can be happy.
Question: If all we want is to be happy and the only thing stopping us from having the happiness we desire is our requirements, why don’t we just drop our requirements? Or, why are we resistant to dropping our conditions, our”must haves” before we’re happy? Why not go right to the goal, eliminate the middleman and just be happy? Is that even possible? And if it were, what would be the negative consequence?

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Perspective