At the bus stop near my house where I catch my ride into town on a regular basis is an unusual piece of graffiti. I often walk to the bus stop, sit down and turn my head to the ground and read the line of words neatly scrolled on the pavement that I guess you can only call vandalism but it seems somewhat inappropriate to label it so –
“You Deserve Happiness”
The first time I read this I had a chuckle because it felt wrong to be reading a statement intended to be uplifting in a format usually reserved for rude comments or political statements. I put it down to the fact that my suburb has an unusually high proportion of new age hippy types with an affinity for positive affirmations. I love people like that. I’m one of them too so I’m living in the right place.
Over the more recent years I’ve worked hard on my own self-talk to improve the way I speak to myself. You probably know your own inner voice quite well. It’s that little trail of thought in your head, that little voice that says things to you throughout the day, that reacts to what other people say, to what you say and what you do. It probably says too much but it has an opinion on absolutely everything so it’s hard to get it to shut-up.
In my recent history my inner voice was part of a problem I had. I can’t wholly blame it for all my issues but it was a major contributor to something I suffered through in my late teens and early twenties. I remember quite vividly the first few times I suffered the symptoms.
I jumped on the bus from university to go home after a day of lectures. I don’t think it was a day any worse than any others. I showed the bus driver my ticket, and being the cool guy that I was went to the back of the bus to sit down with all the other cool back-seaters. I can’t remember what I was thinking at the time but I remember feeling that it was quite inconsequential – everyday worries about university and life – the sort of thing most people would think about when they were a university student.
Suddenly out of the blue a feeling of absolute fear gripped me. It felt like it came from nowhere. My heart raced, my thoughts rushed, I couldn’t sit still and I had this horrible feeling like I was going to die. The sensation passed within a few moments.
I went on to experience this many times, sometimes in really obscure places like in the middle of watching a movie at the cinema, walking home just talking to a friend, sitting in bed before going to sleep and listening to a particularly boring lecture. It was all quite random and strange and not something I enjoyed at all.
Eventually with the help of my counsellor mother I figured out I was suffering from panic attacks. My story was not unusual as I read a book about the problem. Apparently one in five people suffer from the disorder at some point in their life. Whether it is because of brain chemical imbalances or for whatever reasons it is quite prevalent in our modern western culture and I was its lucky latest “victim”.
For people who have never experienced a panic attack it can be hard to fathom what it is like. It is pure fear. An awful rush of emotion that causes your body to react in ways it should not react given the present situation. As the book explained to me my panic attacks were the result of a very animal instinct, a fight or flight instinct that in normal circumstances would come on in situations of life-threatening danger. The rush of blood, increased heart rate and alert senses where meant for me to be able to run away from or fight whatever it was threatening my existence, just like any good animal would. However sitting in the movies is not a situation of life-threatening danger so clearly something was messed up.
Over the course of the months and years from the point when I first had a panic attack I went through therapy to help improve my situation. With verbal guidance from my mother and father, a helpful book or two and lots of self-development I managed to curb the problem. I did go through several recurrences especially during difficult times in my life and I can’t really say that I am 100 percent cured even now but I feel totally in control of that aspect of my life.
As a result of that experience I gained a very powerful skillset – the ability to control my thought process. The benefits of being able to do this go way beyond helping me deal with panic and anxiety – I can now control my emotional state by changing the way I think.
Can you imagine how helpful that is? Think about any time you have been depressed, demotivated or reacted adversely to situations with anger, or frustration or self-loathing or hatred or by beating yourself up by drinking too much or taking drugs. While positive thinking and being in control of your emotional state is not a cure for life’s problems it’s pretty close and I am very thankful for it’s benefits.
Some people scoff at positive affirmations and consider them useless but as anyone who has had panic attacks will tell you, at the root cause of them are the opposite – negative affirmations. As a result of spending most days thinking negatively and repeating self-talk that beat myself up my body reacted with panic attacks. In your case you may not have the same reaction as I did, but if your self-talk is negative it’s holding you back from achieving your dreams and can certainly be a cause of things like depression, feeling like you have no control over you life and an inability to feel happiness.
Here’s an exercise for you in positivity training – you are going to need to expand your awareness somewhat if you haven’t done this before. During today stop and take note of how you react to situations and be aware of what your little voice says to you as you go about your daily activities. Pay particular attention to how you react when other people speak to you, when you receive feedback directly relating to you or something you have done and when you see other people enjoying something you want.
You may be very surprised to notice that your self-talk is terrible and you spend a lot of your day beating yourself up over your inabilities, inadequacies and perceived failures. It’s amazing how easy it is to be down on your life and reinforce that attitude by telling yourself that it’s all your fault or you are just not “lucky” or you have no talents whatsoever. What is the “truth” doesn’t matter, what is important is to change your attitude, react positively AND think positively.
By changing the dialogue in your mind you become the greatest life coach you could ever have. Your trainer will be with you at all times, ready to pick you up no matter how bad your reality is. Then, and here’s where the magic really starts to happen, by simply telling yourself positive things and believing in positive outcomes you want and deserve they actually start to manifest. Whether it’s an active result of your positive attitude, a subconscious motivator or some great spiritual force doesn’t really matter, (and all you negative thinking skeptics will never experience this, not because it doesn’t work, but because you don’t change your attitude), what matters is that you will actually notice an improvement in two of the most important things in your life – you will feel great and you will start to achieve things you used to beat yourself up over because you lacked.
The Key To Happiness
During a particularly angsty period of my life searching for the meaning of it all I went looking online for answers. Who do you turn to when looking for answers? Why Google of course.
I typed in “what is the meaning of life?” and came across one of my now favorite web pages that I often refer people to when they are really down in the dumps and questioning everything. The page is mostly plain text and aptly titled for good search rankings although I doubt the author knows anything about SEO –
This page attempts to answer quite a few questions and while my intellectual side thoroughly enjoyed the discussion it also helped remind me of a very simple fact –
You Choose To Be Happy
Happiness is ultimately not in anyone else’s hands or controlled by any external element at all. It’s purely a choice you can make. As often as I can I choose to be happy. It’s not always as easy as that but by undertaking to change the way you think and create an ongoing positive dialogue with yourself you are both working towards the same goals – that’s you and your little voice – both aiming for happiness.
Remember what the sidewalk tells us –
“You Deserve Happiness”
Wow yeah, reading that I relived my past. I used to get them in weird places like movies and I would have to get out of the building quick. Mine lasted off and on for a year but went away when I finally felt comfortable and fearless in my own skin. It was almost like a kind of insecurity I had to get over but that would not be the correct word for it. Just like dÃƒÂ©jÃƒÂ vu it holds its secrets and can never be put to words once it is gone. I do not miss those feelings at all. This looks like an interesting blog, I will have to visit here from time to time.
Yaro, you have discovered one of life’s truths: you CAN choose to be happy.
Feelings follow behavior. If you behave as if you are happy, guess what? You start to feel happy.
Have a great one,
Great post Yaro and thanks for writing it. One of the problems with Ã¢â‚¬Ëœwestern manÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ is his inability to open up and share whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really going on. Stiff upper lip, over supply of testosterone etc
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m 44 and one might even say IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been through the wringer a time or 2 as I fumbled through life, and panic attacks were simply taken into the daily stride. I just didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a name for them back then, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all, but they were interfering with my development!
When I left school I was semi numerate, semi illiterate, as thin as a rake and covered in acne. Whow, how those drinking days relieved my anxieties and inferiorities!
But it wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t until many years later that I realised that hiding behind mind altering substances, as opposed to facing up to life on life terms, was getting me nowhere fast.
Not only was there no personal growth, but there, was an increase in bad attitude as the years slipped away. My glass always seemed half empty and never half full.
I was in danger of growing into a grumpy old man!!!
To cut a very long story very short, the day came when IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d become sick and tired of being sick and tired and I realised that if I was to find any true happiness, I was going to have to get to know Aitch for the first time.
The day had come to put away the invisible clowns outfit, the acting mask, and start to take life one hell of a lot less seriously. Easier said than done, I know, but I so desperately wanted to change I was ready for anything. But hey, thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s another story.
WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the difference between achievers and underachievers? Easy, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s their attitude and outlook upon life.
One of my best friends ever had even less academic achievement than I, but he enjoyed life for what it was and rarely complained about anything or anyone. He wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t afraid to have a go at the things many of us only dreamed about, or discussed in a smoky bars after a skin full of ale.
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a millionaire now (pounds sterling), and has changed very little due to his success.
As for me, well, life has never been so good and it all began the day I started to take care of myself.
When you enjoy being you, anything is possible!
You know you’re doing something right when even the *comments* on your blog make riveting reading.
This feels quite synchronous [is that a word?] because I just finished reading Ted Nicholas’ newsletter called “The Success Margin” and he talks about the power of self-talk in that. The magic words that he recommends are “Today I’m going to love my life”.
I here I thought that the answer was 42…
Fantastic post Yaro, one of your best to date. I also suffered from panic attacks. Think happy thoughts 🙂
Thank you for your inspiring post, Yaro!
It’s really true that you always get what you think you “deserve”. For example if you think you deserve to be rich, you will become rich. But if you don’t think so, I can say it’s impossible that you become rich because your mind will block your way.
The same goes for finding happiness, love, and so on.
I’ve posted a new article on my blog about the Key to Happiness where I’ve agreed with you that everyone deserves happiness. I’ve also shared a nice experience to see a lot of beauty in the world around us. It starts with “closing your eyes”.
Hi Ladan – thank you for the comment and continuing the flow of posts on this topic. I think it’s important that more people come to this realization as it can make life a lot more pleasant.
the ‘art of happiness’ is also recommended 😉
Excellent post Yaro, thank you for sharing.
Hi Yaro, I can relate to what you say. I haven’t had panic attacks, but I used to be like a pressure cooker on the inside, full of self-imposed stress, beating up on myself, imagining negative scenarios, and all the while having high ideals too. Today, if I catch myself thinking negative thoughts I really notice it because they are not usually there, and I am much more relaxed and happy. I’ve learned some good stuff in the last 2 decades, and applied it too, and it makes a hell of a difference to my life.
yes, yes we do deserve happiness 🙂 too bad i don’t see much of it 🙁
When I was working with troubled youth a few years ago, I was given the priviledge of attending a two day workshop on suicide prevention. The main thing I learned was to get said person talking and being a good listener—–reading between the lines, so to speak, as to what the person was Really saying.
The Anatomy of Depression
Incredible insight, I knew this but to find it expressed in such clear irrefutable terms is very inspiring. Very useful information. Thank you.
May I add that the natural tendency of the mind is to gravitate towards bliss or happiness and the negative self-talk habit just sabotages this natural tendency. It is easier to be happy than to suffer, if we just let it happen.
That’s fantastic that you’ve taken control of your life in such a positive way!
Once we realize we’re not all victims at the hand of some unseen force, we can take the steps necessary to get out of any rut we may be in and begin to make our minds’ eye view of a fulfilled life become a reality.
I first read this post a long time ago and I remember saying to myself that I’d try to concentrate on thinking positively and for awhile I was doing pretty good and felt happier more often. Then I slipped back into my old habits without realizing it. Revisiting this post just reminded me of how important your mindset is to your health, success, and well-being. Thanks Yaro.
Yaro, this was exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you so much for writing this post. I value the fact that his article is not a ‘how to blog’. The thoughts came straight from the heart because you genuinely care about helping other people. You live the mantra of giving. Keep giving the best of yourself and you will continue to be successful.
You have helped me so much with getting my blog started and you make the me happy by just sharing these posts.
Here is what I learned the most: Honor your feelings as number one. When you make it your number one priority to feel good, then you allow yourself to ‘create from a place of positive energy’.
Along with this, is realizing that nothing around you in your environment especial people need to change in order for you feel good. Feeling good comes from within and when you’re not feeling good it’s because your perspective is different then that of your ‘Source’. Feelings are the language of ‘the soul’ and you can be aligned with who you really are by paying close attention to how you feel.
In my experience the best way to create lasting relationships, is to completely remove them out of the picture. In other words, stay so focused and centered within, that nobody outside influences how you feel. When you find your center within yourself, when you are aligned with that center of yourself so keen, you will know exactly how to get feeling good again in any situation, and when you stay true to your feelings… then you are consciously creating a reality of joy, peace, and happiness.
Through mastering this technique, you will start to notice how people are drawn to you, how they feel uplifted just by being in your presence, how you seem to carry this energy of love with you everywhere you go. The relationships outside yourself, will become a reflection of what is within yourself.
Most people see this as being selfish and self-centered and they are right, it’s the most loving centerness one can find because that love within yourself, that happiness, that feeling good, that peace of mind… is reflected outward too. That is perhaps the most loving thing you could for your relationships (not to mention everyone else around you in your daily life).
Great post Yaro;keep it up. I am 55 and always felt that “such thoughts” would have aided me immensely, had I been “Aware” in my formative years. Nevertheless, am now sincerely counselling myself to positivity, in every aspect of my life.
Do you post all your comments?
Or just the good ones?
There is an excellent proverb, “Be careful with dreams, they come true … to dream, and think about the good, and everything will be cool! 🙂
The mind controls the body. Professional bodybuilders know that saying. The same strategy works internet marketing or some form of mental self improvement.
Actually, any goal has a better chance of being reached if the human mind is controlled properly.
I love seeing those kind of unexpected inspirational messages. There is graffiti on Stop sighs like don’t STOP believing. Or STOP war. Ouch panic attacks. Really horrible stuff. It affects so many, especially when we feel that we are not in control of our lives. Its good to know that you have taken chare of your life, and overcome your panic attacks.
Great stuff here. I feel that many of us are controlled by outside forces. Yes, you mind can overcome a lot and take you places. But when we as a society are controlled by money and it is now just like water, how happy can we be?
Great article and very nicely written. I too, used to suffer from panic attacks and still occasionally do. I like that saying, “you deserve happiness” and wish that people who did graffiti would use more inspirational quotes like that.
Loved the post, and of course agree. I launched i-choose-happiness.com 2 years ago, and that is the very site I am considering turning into a blog.
Nice article, I just wanted to mention a joke that popped up in my mind when i read you have used Google to look for answers.
Try searching: the answer to life the universe and everything
that is an impressive story. I had changed my selftalk too. I started doing it by releasing the tension in my body. The reason for that was I wanted to do what others could do.
While I was going to release tension all sorts of feelings came up. The more I released the better I felt.
This process helped me to get rid of my eyeglasses and medicine. The medicine caused depressiv feelings and lots of other bad sideeffects.
I learned to see people. Than I started coaching people to release to find their way to happyness. Through that I worked with people who had panic attacks.
That is really challenging. I recognised that it is helpful for them to step away from reasoning and start caring about their body and wellbeing. Dealing with releasing the tension help them to get away from worrying.
And the body adjust to that. The more often you release tension, the more tension you get rid of. The better their perception become the earlier they get rid of it. In that tension the feelings of panic or anxiety are saved. If you let them go right away they hardly can add up to such an amount you can panic.
You can see that changes in the body and face. You can read or hear it in the words people use. You can see it in their eyes, they get clearer and the colour can change too. It is pretty amazing.
You can prevent such things if you learn to let go of tension as soon as the situation for them is over. You can prevent it by dealing differently with your self. That includes the way of selftalk as well as the nutrition and how you move, think and perceive.
You can read more around that topic and how to empower and enlighten yourself on my blog. I am also writing on some e-books as well.
The insights you give are pretty amazing. The more I read the more I am impressed.
Had my personal happiness breakthrough when I realized, finally 🙂 no one can be 100% happy all the time – we’d only be miserable if we were – but everyone (including I!) can be happ-ier by simply making their minds up to be so. I goes deeper than that, but as a breakthrough it was powerful. Talking of going deeper, I just added a blog post on that very theme earlier tonight: http://www.beatschindler.com/success-strategies/weaving-success
This is a wonderful post, Yaro. This world we be a much happier place if ever one would realize they deserve happiness and learn that it is right in there back yard. Happy people don’t let life over take them when they feel sadness, sorrow grief or fear. They appreciate life, choose friends wisly and are trust worthy problem solvers. And ever once in awhile you just plan need to throw some humor in a situation.
Thanks for sharing. This is really a very inspiring post.
I just wanted to mention a joke that popped up in my mind when i read you have used Google to look for answers.
Try searching: the answer to life the universe and everything
I just wanted to say that you do a great job and have a fantastic blog. I always find sth interesting when I drop by
I saw on tv that the people that are happiest is the ones who lives in butan, a little country near china and nepal. They live without many things that we (the first world) have and use everyday to make life easier, but they are happier than us. It is a thing to think about.
Yaro, you aren’t alone, I suffered from panic attacks at one point and wound up taking medicine for almost 2 years. Although I’m much better at controlling my thoughts I’ll have negative thoughts rush through my mind every once in a while.
I agree, It is possible to overcome panic attacks and negative thinking by controlling your thoughts. Great post and great information, you are helping so many people through sharing your story!
Happiness is a state of mind. However I find in north american society I believe we are under a lot more stress especially in recessionary times. Our lives are about work. I travelled to italy that people were happier and also lived longer. Life was about working to live .. not living to work. Where I stayed technology wasn’t so important .. and pass times didn’t require an abundance of money. Everyone had stories and great conversation. In N.A it’s like ground hogs day the movie. But I digress .. I try to get by and stay positive always.
Happiness is choice. I believe the mind has the power to overlook depression and sadness. Positive affirmation plays a vital role on that. If you get ahead of the negative thought with a positive statement there’s a big chance that you won’t get affected of any negative vibe surrounding. At the end of the day, it all depends on you.
Happiness without a doubt is 100% a choice. In every situation every individual chooses to be happy, sad, stressed, or whatever it may be. I feel blessed enough that I have realized this at such an early age.
Excellent article Yaro. I love them all.
Just like everyone else, I agree that happiness is a choice and we deserve it.
I love this post..thanks for sharing Yaro.
Happiness is a choice I make every morning I get out of bed. I am the friendliest and happiest person you could ever imagine first thing up in the morning, and this translates into my days too. Being miserable or happy is a matter of choice, and paying attention to your thoughts is key to keeping the happy mindset and not slipping into the darkness……
I agree that what we choose to think is what will reflect or happen to our lives. Choose happiness in order to be happy. It is a way of law of attraction, If you think of positive thought, all positive and great things will come your way. The opposite of course will manifest if you think of negative thoughts.
Thank Yaro for your wonderful insight about Key to happiness. You continue to uplift us and made us to keep on going and stay happy 🙂
If I recall correctly, our minds sputter out some ridiculous number of ‘self-talk’ words every minute (somewhere in the range of 1,000?) so it’s totally vital that we train ourselves to make that self-talk positive as it can obviously play a huge roll in our subconscious outlooks and behaviors! Very good.
Gosh, Yaro. This is such a wonderful post. I can definitely identify.
Don’t think i’ve ever had panic attacks but i did struggle consistently with negative affirmations. I believe another side effect of buying into such affirmations-apart from experiencing panic attacks- is depression.
I constantly struggled with depression: I was short tempered, irritable, hardly smiled, felt constantly close to tears and i was frustrated. Generally, not a very nice person. It was when i started ‘taking it out’ on my family, i knew it was time to do something about it.
Like you, i went to google.Focused more on inpiring quotes and sayings on happiness though (because with me, assimilation is easier in small doses!). Then i decided to take it a step further from just getting inspired to taking deliberate steps to getting myself out of the pit hole i was in, using the messages in those quotes.
I am in a much better place today but like you’ve indicated, it is an ongoing process and we must consistenty choose to be happy- regardless of cirmcumstance or thought. But i will never forget what a dark place i was in and wish i could help people out of it or outrightly avoid it (heck, i even started a blog on it).
Blessings upon all your endeavours, mate and keep doing what you’re doing.
Yaro, this post really hits home with me. You see, although I have been in the entertainment industry my whole life, spending the past 20 years at NBC, I have always wanted to create something of my own. A few years ago, I created a website called, i-choose-happiness.com based on the premise that happiness is a choice you can make regardless of your outer circumstances.
50,000 visitors later, and largely thanks to you, I am launching a membership site and social community called, LifelongHappiness.com. It will be a place where people can gain both free and premium access and actually PRACTICE all that goes into creating a happy life.
My theory has always been that you can learn what goes into owning happiness all day long, but if you don’t practice it everyday, it’s meaningless. This community will be the place to do that.
Part of my content will be to provide interviews with experts. I would love to interview you about your past challenges in this area and all that you did to overcome them. I’d love to hear from you, Yaro.
Thanks again for all you do!
Another excellent inspiring story. Thank you.
I have had panic attacks for quite a while now, but thankfully, they have calmed down a bit recently. I do believe that avoiding negative talk to oneself is important for your overall well being.
However, I do not believe that thinking of positive outcomes will make them manifest. Following your passion is the key to any type of success, not thinking about the outcome. There are plenty of athletes that have envisioned winning a game or race and did not.
Panic attacks… I don’t even want to talk about them but it is certainly refreshing to know that you had them and were able to overcome them.
I still get the sensation of them when they are sneaking up on me but now that I’m aware of them, it is way easier to walk them off and control myself.
Thanks for sharing that Yaro, it means a lot to me.
I guess life is really all about perception. Everything we do affect how we will feel in the future. Even if you are struggling with the most basic survival skills, you can choose to be happy.
I really believe this – I think that everyone has the potential to be happy. If only people could see focusing on the negative effects them so badly. Most people are not even aware that they are doing this to themselves.
Thanks Yaro! This gives me one more thing that I can practice everyday. And maybe become a little enlightened.
Happiness happens to be my absolute favorite topic in the world. In fact, although I have been in the entertainment industry for the past 40 years, and have been working at NBC for the past 22 years, I’ve just written and published a book called, Happiness Rocks: A Powerful Blueprint to Master the Art of Lifelong Happiness. I’ve already received lots of great feedback on Amazon in response to it. If you’re truly interested in raising your happiness set point and maintaining happiness on a daily basis, I invite you to check it out!
The Happiness Guy
thank you for such an honest and open post – and for showing me how this is so endearing and connects the reader with the blogger!
I also went through a phase like you described above, it wasn’t fun, it hasn’t happened in a long time though. I do something called The Work of Byron Katie (close to cognitive therapy but much better in my opinion). I’d highly recommend this as a tool and people can do it themselves for free on her website – just google The Work.
Thanks again for your authenticity and for linking to this article in your latest article with Gideon S.
Yaro, I’ve noticed on the contrary, that I preferred not to look back and analyze what I had done wrong. Thus, I was always looking ahead, neglecting my mistakes. This led to making the same mistakes in life over and over again, some of them for many years. Don’t know why I did that, but now I realize that I do want to analyze what I did wrong and what I did well. I am a scrum master, and in agile, you have this practice of a retrospective at the end of each sprint. I have facilitated this at work but never did in my life. I was or I am like a shoemaker whose son always goes barefoot 🙂