Secrets for Happier Life 4-22-2010

Secrets For A Happier Life: Ideas, Inspiration & Practices
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“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory”

 Albert Schweitzer
Be Happy Now April 22, 2010
Dear Michael,   


Welcome to Secrets For A Happier Life. 
Like rain dripping into and filling a bucket, your life can become happier one drop at a time. For over 25 years I have gathered thoughts and experimented with practices related to increasing joy.  I am happy to share them with you. 
Yogi Berra is reported to have said, “It’s like deja vu, all over again.”  Was he talking about our lives and how we  seem to be on a merry-go-round bumping into the same problems over and over again?  What does it take to step off into a new direction?   If he were asked how many psychologists it takes to change a light bulb Yogi might have answered, “only one, but the light bulb has to really want to change.”  Are you ready?  How is your light? Your happiness?
Right now what can you do to add another drop of happiness to your life?  Remember, happiness is a road you travel along, not a destination.  I invite you to begin with Small Moments of Happiness and Quick Changes below. 
Yours truly,  
Michael Selzer DDS


Small Moments Of Happiness

Notice that when you laugh you are happy. Notice especially that when you are laughing your whole body is moving. It’s in motion. You have stopped thinking, have let go and relaxed and allowed your body to move and shake. You are happy for at least that moment. And then like the ripples settling down in a pond the waves and motions of laughter settle back to our routine level of being.

The trick to being happy is to have more small moments of happiness and then let the natural brain chemistry learn to stimulate this happy response more and more often.


Quick Changes

Right now recall a moment when you were happy. Expand the image of that or the sense of that moment of happiness. Make it big and bigger in your minds eye. Put it on a TV screen, a movie screen, an I-max screen.

Group  SmilesOr, you can also pretend. That’s right, merely make up a good thought. It works just as well. The brain does not differentiate between real and pretend. It just registers a path for each thought. As you have more happy thoughts the path gets deeper and easier to access and reverberate with other thoughts. That’s it. Hold onto the awareness of happiness and let it soak into your body down into your finger tips and toes. 


The trick is to continually just let go of unwanted thoughts and replace them with happier ones. Gradually the groove of happy thoughts becomes the routine.


Do this practice 3 to 6 times a day or whenever you realize that you are not as happy as you would chose to be. Allow the groove of happiness in the brain’s chemistry to get deeper and deeper.  

Happiness: A Puppy’s Perspective

Or just take a puppy to the beach
Austen Eating Sand
1. More drops fill your bucket faster.  Every hour think ten happy thoughts.  They can be real or pretend.  The groove in the brain will get deeper either way.  For those old enough to remember that may be where, “it’s groovy” comes from.
2. When an unhappy thought comes up, immediately think the opposite.  Turn it into an opportunity to experience a happy thought when you most need it.  Again, its okay to pretend.
3. Before you fall asleep at night review happy thoughts.  Form an intention to continue filling your bucket with happy thoughts tomorrow.  As you sleep the brain continues to process the last conscious thoughts you have.


Upcoming topics in future newsletters

*More on how to train your brain
*How awareness to body sensations deepens happiness
*How to enhance the good moments of each day



Your breath is more than air August 30 2018

The intention for this meditation is to train and calm the mind. Since your mind can have only one thought at a time while you are thinking about the flow of the breath in and out other thoughts are blocked.
Part of your mind has the role of producing thoughts.  These thoughts are usually a reaction to other thoughts or circumstances that arise.  They may be about the past or future and are usually scattered and become disruptive to the task or activity that you are engaged in.
When your mind is calm you can more easily concentrate on what you choose to be doing without distracting thoughts popping in and out.
This meditation can be used in one minute while standing on-line at the grocery or take out drive-up window.  Also, it can be used as a formal sitting meditation to go more deeply into the workings of your body-mind-spirit.  With practice this meditation becomes effortless as Spiritual Gravity nudges you deeper and deeper.
Place attention on your breath going in and out.
  1. As you breathe in count in one and as you breathe out count one, continue counting breaths up to 5 or 10.
  2. As you breathe in think “calm” and as you breathe out think “now” ( 5-10 breaths)
  3. As you breathe in and out visualize waves moving up and down along a pole (at a seaside dock) as you think rising and falling. (5-10)
  4. As you breathe in and out feel cool air coming in your nose and throat and warm air flowing out. (5-10)
  5. As you breathe notice the beginning , middle and end of each breath. (5-10)
  6. Continue awareness of breathing and as thoughts come up try naming the group that contains that thought. Groups might be, thinking, planning, itchy, sounds etc. Once named return to awareness of the in and out flow of the breath.
In addition to a formal sitting meditation this meditation has popped into my awareness spontaneously. A few days ago I started a project of beautification of my backyard.   I had built a rock garden with areas of rock separated by small cement dividers. I was in the middle of pressure cleaning the cement divider’s top, front and back surfaces. It was very repetitive, the sun was hot and the air humid.
I started with an intense focus on the change of color as the pressured water spray cleaned the block. After some time as my attention waned and I started to contemplate the heat, humidity and how much more cement needed to be cleaned: I noticed my breath. I started to count the breathes in and out as I watched the edge of the water spray clean the cement. I started with the counting of the five breathes in and out and planned to follow that with the thoughts “calm and now” etc.
As I lost track of the counting and then remembered (possibly minutes later) I continued wherever in the sequence I had left off. I completed all 25 (5 times 5 notes of following the breath). This spontaneous starting of the breath counting has arisen several times when I found myself in any circumstance where my mind started to drift to daydreaming, planning or analyzing. In addition to keeping me focused on the task it has reduced the number of thoughts of mild irritation that routinely arise while “waiting” for any job to be finished.

As I had fewer “negative thoughts” I sense that my body started to release more good neuro-peptides like a runners high rather than those related to stress.
Sometimes the sequence of 25 is forgotten and returned to multiple times and not completed until hours later or not at all. By having five groups of five it was easy to recall wherever I had previously dropped off.  Any moments of attention to the breath are cumulative building peace and calm one breath at a time.
* Read more of the story development on    SPIRITUAL GRAVITY
              CLICK HERE for  8-9-17 
                 CLICK HERW for 9-6-2017 
                CLICK HERE For 10-4-17
               Click Here for  11-2-2017 
                 CLICK HERE FOR 2-18-2018 

Let Go and Be Secrets For A Happier Life 7-20-2018

I pulled back the throttle and the boat slowed. When I got to neutral I decided to let the boat drift and turned off the engine. Suddenly all became quiet. The sound and vibration stopped and an immediate awareness of quiet and floating was born.

We were boating on Smith Mountain Lake in Huddleston VA.  The sky was crystal clear, deep blue with white fluffy clouds in the mid eighties. With the engine off and the boat slightly swaying side to side I started to think or contemplate how nice it was to be there and how beautiful the scene of mountains, lake and sky appeared before me.
Then the thought or more of a sensation of insight struck me.
Why would I choose to sit here and think about wanting to feel in a particular way when I can just let go and be?
For a moment it seemed perfectly reasonable and simple to just let go and be.  To be here, now, in this moment just as I am.  To let go and more directly experience the sights, sounds and sensations of the the boat swaying, the white clouds floating in a deep blue sky and reflection of light from the smooth flowing ripples on the surface of the lake.  And then my mind started to explore and comment on the experience I was having.  My mind started to compare this experience with other lakes and mountains. I reapplied letting go and drifted back towards the more direct experience of just being, just sitting and just looking.  I noticed that there was a sensation a physical component to the watching. I relaxed into the slight perception of sensation that felt like a softening of the inside of my body.  This was almost a softening or relaxing of muscle tone or tension that corresponded to a concurrent relaxation of my mind’s thinking about what I was seeing. In a way I was like a camera that was “seeing” moment by moment; still frame by still frame with no thoughts in between.  No thinking no interpretation and no comparisons. It was refreshing. I found myself for a few moments bouncing the relaxation of muscle tone or tension up and back with seeing moment by moment.
Like water swept away that seeps back into itself my habitual thoughts of comparison and interpretation and even happiness found their way back into my awareness. Although this was enjoyable it was drawing me away from the actual experience of being on the lake.  If I were to only use my thoughts about being on the lake I could be anywhere.  The experience of being there on the lake was deeper and more direct that the thinking about it.  Yet it was difficult to remain with the direct experience of seeing, hearing and feeling.
Hold that thought.
Most of us have a tendency to want to hold on to what we like and push away what we do not like. We are having one experience after the other all day with a continual voice in our head telling us that we like something or do like that something.  We would like to be able to let go of what we choose not to think about but often cannot.  This is because half the time we are trying to hold on to what we like. However, if we exercise and practice with our mind’s muscle of letting go we can develop the ability. As it turns out it is easier to let go of what we want than to let go of what we do not want.  Once you are able to do one the other will follow.
Going back to the boat, sky, clouds and water. I found that the physical component of relaxing muscle tone or tension created a concurrent softening or letting go of my mind’s thoughts.  It seems that we may have more ability to voluntarily relax and soften a muscle that relax our mind.
Try this to practice:
Find something you enjoy doing and flow into a more direct experience of it.  If eating something notice the direct sights, sounds, smell, taste and sensations that are present. Try relaxing into the experience especially by softening your general muscle tone.  You might try a few deep breaths in and a long sigh as you let the air flow out.  Practice to develop a feeling for the relaxation of muscle body tone.
As you develop muscle memory for this relaxation of body tone you will be able to activate it to relax your mind and let the returning swept in thoughts melt away.
* Read more of the story development on    SPIRITUAL GRAVITY
              CLICK HERE for  8-9-17 
                 CLICK HERW for 9-6-2017 
                CLICK HERE For 10-4-17
               Click Here for  11-2-2017 
                 CLICK HERE FOR 2-18-2018 
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