Sunday, October 25, 2015

What is the Secret to Happiness?

Author Toby Neal
by Toby Neal

The secret to happiness is gratitude. 

Gratitude can be learned and practiced, while "happiness" is a byproduct of it. 

I've studied, read, and practiced a lot of different spiritual and other techniques in my time. Being happier and having more peace are the main things clients come to me looking for, as well as freedom from whatever symptom is plaguing them.

I'm not a passive therapist who just listens and reflects. I always give suggestions, and homework, and try techniques with my clients. Here's an experiment I've begun and I'm finding it really transformative, more than many others. 

I start each day, not just with a catechism list of "things to be thankful for" thoughts, but by refusing to get out of bed until I FEEL gratitude fill and suffuse me. This takes a little effort, and usually begins with a conscious list of what I'm thankful for. But gradually, as I let it, I feel the thankfulness begin to suffuse me, as each cell and pore opens up and cries, "Yay! I get to be alive today!" and then a sort of glow happens within me, and it overshadows the aches and pains of being fifty and doing too much at the gym, the list of "to-do's" I am mentally fending off, the worries, the sorrows. 
No. It is not enough to just list your gratitudes. Thankfulness, to be transformative, must be deeply felt. Whatever your situation or spiritual understanding, you can cultivate it. Try it. Just don't get out of bed until it happens.

You may need to wake up earlier. My husband has commented on how long I'm in bed some mornings. I'm not saying it's easy, but once the gratitude flow switches on, this "gratitude well" can be recaptured throughout the day in little pause moments: stopped at a stoplight, watering the thirsty yard, wandering the produce aisle, you will be ambushed by joy. 

I don't think you have to be any certain stripe of spiritual to have this phenomenon change your life right where you are. Every cell inside you is longing to have a voice. Stop. Listen. Let them cry, "thank you, thank you." And then do it again tomorrow. ~

Toby Neal

Rip Tides by Toby Neal
Author Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. After a few “stretches of exile” to pursue education, the islands have been home for the last sixteen years. Toby is a clinical social worker, a career that informs the depth and complexity of the characters in her books. 

Neal is the author of more than a dozen novels in the mystery and young adult genres, and the bestselling Lei Crime Series, which launched in 2011. The series centers on Leilani “Lei” Matsumoto Texeira, a multicultural detective with issues. Lei, her dog Keiki, and her love interest, Stevens solve a range of complicated crimes in the Hawaiian Islands. 

Amazon launched the Lei Crime Kindle World in 2015, which allows authors to build licensed fan fiction upon Neal’s works, and she’s sold over half a million books. She is a 2015 Independent Publisher Book (“IPPY”) in Best Mystery/Thriller for Twisted Vine and 2015 National Indie Excellence® awards winner, Best Multicultural Novel, for Torch Ginger.

Outside of work and writing, Toby volunteers in a nonprofit for children and enjoys life in Hawaii through beach walking, body boarding, scuba diving, photography and hiking. 

Torch Ginger: A Lei Crime Novel 

Twitter: @tobywneal 

Instagram: Tobyneal0

Google+: Toby Neal

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