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



Thoughts To Ponder For Happiness 3-01-2021

SECRETS FOR A HAPPIER LIFE Inspiration and Practices
Thoughts to Ponder for Happiness

Hello Michael,

I remember my dad coming home from work and sitting at the dinner table with his tie on.  But even more than that I remember his hat.  Maybe because although he had a number of ties he had only one hat.  As a I did not wear a hat  I remember he wore it a lot; anytime he was outside and going somewhere.  

When I was a teenager he stopped wearing starched white shirts every day to work. He also loosened his tie and started taking off his shoes before eating dinner.  Imagine expanding the feeling of “taking off your shoes and being at home.” And then expanding that feeling a little bit at a time to being outside in a park and then outside on a city street and then inside a crowded NYC subway car. Imagine not the closed down separating yourself sensation of being in a dense noisy crowd and not the excitement of being together with thousands of others at a rock concert.  But being at ease, unguarded and fully at peace; and being with this feeling in more and more places.  

If you are one of those people that already feel comfortable anywhere then you can stop reading.

For the rest of us …What are the feelings associated with not feeling at home?

Self consciousness

Wearing clothing that is less comfortable

Fitting in to a particular behavior type 

Being dressed accordingly 

Role playing


What if all of the actors in a play or movie were dressed the same?  Would the story they told be affected?  Could they portray their character without the outward visual appearance of a costume? 

What is the costume of being at home?  

Do rock band performers wear their most comfortable clothing or is it part of the act for them to dress as if they were?

If getting “dressed” for an occasion whether it is for a picnic, beach, rock concert or funeral do the outfits create your personality for the occasion?  

How much of “me” do I try to portray when I go out of the house? As I have relaxed more into me and less of my projected me I am more able to dress less.  Although I still put on a collared shirt when I am going to a doctor’s office or as most golf courses require a collared tucked in shirt. 

From a philosophical viewpoint there is a larger field of view than our usual constricted image of ourselves.  When we can tap into and merge with this field we tend to loosen our ties and wear softer more flexible footwear.  

Meditation enhances this change.

Why is that? 

Feeling Your Way Into Happiness 1-02-2022

SECRETS FOR A HAPPIER LIFE Inspiration and Practices
Feeling Your Way Into Happiness
Hello Michael,Once upon a time you were rowing your boat down a slowly moving stream. You found that even without rowing, your boat was advancing along the stream as if it were moving by itself.  At times when you were deeply absorbed in thought it appeared for a moment here and there that your boat was remaining still and the banks of the stream along with the trees and sky were moving by.  But this pleasant wonderland of altered background vanished too swiftly.For the most part things were peaceful as you and the objects of your senses filtered through and arrived in your conscious awareness.  Until something; one thought, image, sound, memory or desire was sticky.  It grabbed at your attention and pulled you away from the free flowing stream.  You became hooked or caught in what buddhist psychology calls shenpa.  As if your boat bumped against a log jam on the stream that stopped your gentle motion.  Being stopped you started to recall other times of disturbance and as one thought led to another and another you were caught in a whirlwind that might have ended up anywhere.  This discursive mind journey seemed to progress on its own without awareness until at one point you were back and your awareness bursts upon the scene.  If driving you may have missed your exit or if reading you may have realized you had finished the page but could not remember one word of what you had just read. This aimless wandering mind that seemed like a pin ball bouncing from one bell to another is called papanca.The good news is that your body can apply the rudder or even a brake for wandering mind.  Each thought has a corresponding felt body sensation.  Many times these sensations pass by unfelt.  However, with practice they can become easily upgraded into awareness.  As your thoughts traverse their meandering journey a particular level of tension can become a trigger to wake you up and bring your awareness back to the present moment.  Awareness of the body’s level of sensation moves through uncomfortable before it rises to soreness or pain.  Awareness of a particular level of uncomfortable sensation breaks the chain of discursive thought and you arrive at a fork on the road of choice.Depending upon your commitment to growth and awakening versus the slippery sloped road to suffering you can use your awareness of attachment to the object of shenpa to either grow or suffer. You have the ability of free will to decide. To develop an awareness of the levels of uncomfortable sensation you might begin where you are, with meditation and mindfulness to enhance and sharpen your sensitivity to the river of tension within your body. 
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Michael Selzer DDS (retired)Happiness CoachingCharlottesville,