Shortcuts to Happiness

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

I think we can all agree there are helpful things we can do in any given situation and there are unhelpful things we can do. As I test this out in my mind I would even go so far as to say there is nothing that can’t be made better on some level by what we do and nothing that can’t also be made worse. (Put like that, the responsibility for all this power we wield is almost making me uncomfortable.) 
Our own happiness is no exception. At any given time there are some very specific things we can do to feel at least a little more uplifted, some of which Dr. Astrid Andreescu explains and demonstrates in 5-Minutes Stress Relief Part 3 -- Shortcuts to Happiness. In this latest addition to her stress relief series, Dr. Andreescu first explains the neurobiology and psychology of happiness accompanied by specific exercises we can very helpfully do for ourselves. Because these exercises are quick with pretty immediate effects, Dr. Andreescu calls them shortcuts, which she groups into four categories in her class:
  1. Smiling
  2. Laughter
  3. Meditation
  4. Moving Meditation
My favorite is a “moving meditation” called Lifting the Spirit. (You might just as easily call it a stretch or a sequence.) It goes like this: in a standing position, slightly bend your arms to almost form a circle then gradually bring them up in front of you. When you get to about face high, turn your hands so your palms are facing up as if you are pushing something up overhead. Once your arms are fully extended overhead, slowly bring them down, stretching them out to each side. Repeat the sequence several rounds, coordinating the movement with the breath: inhaling on the way up and exhaling on the way down.
I love the way this movement and breathing creates a sense of energy control. (All you lovers of control out there, here’s your chance.) If I’m feeling poorly or sluggish, I can move negative or dead energy up and out, gathering new energy and sense of calm as my arms follow through on the way down. Catch 5-Minute Stress Relief Part 3 with Dr. Astrid Andreescu right here. Dr. Andreescu is an oncologist at Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Cancer Care of Maine.
You know the fastest shortcut to inner happiness? Letting yourself smile.
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
  • Thich Nhat Hanh
    Zen teacher, 1926 – 2022
Sometimes our smile is for others, but the inner smile…that one’s just for ourselves.