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



Potato Chips and Ice Cream 6-28-2018

       When I eat potato chips or ice cream it is very easy to keep my attention on what I am doing. Eating these foods for me not only satisfies my taste buds but allows me to relax into the moment. It feels like the ancient idiom about having your cake and not only eating it but still having it. It just feels good and that good feeling lingers for a while even after the last bite.
        The good news is that even though these are not the healthiest of foods there is a silver lining to their eating.
         In reaching for the bag of chips or dish of ice cream there is a softening of our grasp on being healthy, a softening into just enjoyment and being happy. Come on now; even for you couch potatoes out there (a shrinking group) there is still at least an iota of guilt that is let go while reaching for the bag or dish.
        “Okay just one,” seems to run through the mind as we relax into the expectation of delicious flavor and satisfaction.
It is this relaxation or softening or giving in that is the key to the silver lining. How so?
         Jump to the flip side of this, to having to do an action or activity that brings with it the opposite feeling of eating chips or ice cream. What might that be for you? Washing the dishes? Cleaning your closet? Sitting in traffic? Reading this newsletter?   If you look into your reaction to the these thoughts you might notice a little tightening somewhere in your body just at the thought of having to do something that you do not like to do.
         The key is in the commitment or the decision you make to do this activity anyway. Sitting in traffic comes up; you are stuck there.   Cleaning the dishes comes up; you do them. Finding your way into letting go of the tension or tightness, which accompanies the not wanting to be doing this activity, can be found in the chips and ice cream.
How does this work?
         The muscles in the body store information and reactions to repetitive events. Many most or all (depending on your point of view) of our thoughts are intimately related to body sensations and stored muscle memory.   We learned to eat, drive a car or play golf and now allow our muscle memory to direct these actions. The same muscle groups tighten or relax as a response to repetitive actions.   If you find where you soften in the reaching for the chips or ice cream you will notice it is the same place you tighten in response to having to do things you would prefer not to do. The tightening comes from the resistance we have to the unwanted activity. If you are going to do this activity anyway why suffer through it? Wouldn’t it be more enjoyable to soften and relax or let go of the tightness and tension you usually associate with this action? It is actually your choice.
         By practicing and noticing how or where you soften and let go each time you do something you enjoy, you can find your way into letting go and relaxing this area. You build up and strengthen this muscle memory. After building this enjoyable muscle memory look for small areas to apply it.
         Look for the resistance that comes up off and on during the day. Begin with noticing the resistance to the activity, remembering you have a means to drop the resistance and then recalling the softening into the reaching for chips or ice cream. Then just do that, soften (let your muscle memory kick in) and allow the resistance to dissolve into the softening; like water flowing down the drain. You can then continue and allow the activity to proceed as you make the choice to travel along this path into happiness.
* 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 
a blog
Spirituality Happiness Joy Wonder Deconstructed

Wanting 5-16-2018

Be where you are…Right now
What I mean by wanting is to be forward in my mind from where my body and its now experience is, right now. I think that makes sense.  

When I am in wanting I am not in balance with the now. However, the wanting is in the now because everything that is, is happening in the now. So therefore it is the effect of what is happening that I am referring to. The effect is that there is an imbalance that exists between the desire that the wanting represents and the awareness of what is happening within the body. With this imbalance a warble is occurring, a spinning off-center like a washing machine on the spin cycle that is off-balance and the whole machine is banging on the floor. When in balance the machine can still be spinning but there is a smooth flow.

With wanting there is a separation between what is in my mind and what is happening in my body.  There is a pushing for whatever I am doing to be finished so that I can do something to acquire “the wanting.” If the wanting is just wanting and there is nothing for me to do to acquire it then I am continually in a state of imbalance.  In this state tension is created and that leads to additional imbalance and etc.

Wanting is a futuristic thought. That is it is about having something occur in the future. It is like planning but with impatience about getting what the wanting is.
Desire seems to be a greater amount of wanting.  Obsession a grater amount of desire etc.

Wanting feels like my face and body are pushing forward from the inside about a half-inch deep towards the outside. I feel that my entire body is leaning forward so that as in walking I am in a state of continual imbalance which is somewhat balanced by the forward motion that allows me to catch myself with the next step. 

With wanting the movement is to be able to get to do the action that will give me the wanted thing. I start to go faster with whatever I am doing and this movement is like that of walking so that I am catching the forward push of the wanting and not falling over.  I start to go faster and faster with the activity or action that I am in the middle of. It seems that I am trying to get that finished so that I can get onto doing the thing that will satisfy the wanting.  The faster I go the more I create tension and lose equanimity. I start to lose the excellence of the result of what I am doing in addition to not enjoying the doing. If golf I swing to fast, if typing I hit the wrong key, if eating I bite my tongue, if hammering I hit my thumb, if reading I miss the meaning, if speaking I am not fully heard, if listening I am not really there.

The opposite of wanting is not caring, being complacent, lacking desire. Being less alive. Like Simon and Garfunkel may have said, “I am a rock I am an island.”  The opposite is like being one snow flake .   Although each individual snow flake is beautiful and unique when they touch each other and join together they are reunited in a geometric  multiple of that beauty.

Therefore the complete elimination of wanting may not be a good thing.   Just as a bird must have two wings and they must flap to allow flight wanting may be one wing of a pair.

Okay follow this. The now can become a meditation that is returned to like the breath. Wanting may pull us away from the awareness of now so far that we forget to return for too long a time.  But what of intention?  Intention may also pull us away from the now but with a gentler nudge and we can return or maintain being aware of the now even when holding an intention. Holding an intention may be less attached than holding a heavier wanting.   Or maybe the wanting is even heavier and it must be carried rather than held. Imagine a knapsack that is empty or one loaded with varying amounts of rocks as compared to holding a butterfly in an open palm.

When the amount of awareness is not holding the knapsack loaded with wanting it is open to the lighter energetic molecules of emotion of happiness and joy. These can be sense/felt within the body mind as long as the heavier molecules of emotion are not being created by wanting and desire.  There is a continual infusion of the molecules of emotion like a light bulb glowing as electricity passes through it.  The light can easily be turned on and off.  So can the molecules of emotion.  Just let go of the wanting or desire and there is an immediate release which you can sense/feel as the lighter molecules of emotion come into awareness. It is as if the happiness and joy are always there but can be covered up by the heaviness of wanting and desire.

Posture is a mode of affecting the molecules of emotion. Leaning forward resonates with wanting. Leaning backward with complacency. Imagine a broomstick held upside down on one finger. In the moments of balance it feels weightless.   Gravity appears to be helping to hold it up!  So to with the body.
Sit up in balance.  Be in balance sitting from front to back and side to side.   There is an immediate shift in how you feel.The molecules of emotion have immediately shifted and your breathing is also shifted to a somewhat deeper and slower pace. As soon as you start to focus on the shift thoughts may return to the wanting and notice what just also occurred; your posture slackened at the same time. As you can you hold the balanced posture so to can you hold the lighter molecules of emotion and the h 

appiness and joy they allow you to feel.

Just as we cannot continually hold a balanced posture and just as we cannot continually hold joy and just as we must do something so that we can eat, be clean, help others, provide for the winter freeze and practice playing golf we fall off balance.  The effects of the wanting and desire creep in and build up their own residual hoard of the effects of the heavier molecules of emotion. Therefore it helps to practice the actions that build up the lighter molecules and help decrease the supply of the heavier ones. And these are for another discussion. Ha ha cliff hanger.

No actually the states of compassion and joy, loving kindness, forgiveness and equanimity build the lighter molecules. Some of these molecules can be stored in caches within the body system and also if they are being produced there
alter egos of the heavier molecules are not.   Formal meditation on the above creates the molecules. Casual meditation while doing anything holds off the heavier ones. You can also (when the supply of lighter molecules is available) touch the supply, like the fragrance of a rose, and let go of the wanting for an instant boost of joy and happiness. With practice this becomes the default position.
* 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 
a blog
Spirituality Happiness Joy Wonder Deconstructed