The Secret to Happiness by TracyWebster One of my favorite movie scenes is

the French lady telling Simon Pegg, in Hector And The Search For Happiness, that she wants ‘appenis’. With her thick French accent however, it sounds more like shewants amale body part. It always makes me laugh and wish I was French, because you know – yes, that’s how I would forever pronounce the word ‘happiness’.

Mark Twain said that humans have one effective weapon –

laughter! It can improve your immune system, enhance your intake of oxygen, stimulate your heart, lungs and muscles, increase endorphins, relieve stress, and increase happiness. So why are wemore stressed than ever before with suicide rates on the rise and a general decline in positivity and optimism for the future? One of the main reasons is because we are literally hard

wired to look for the bad, and when we look for something, we usually find it. It really isn’t our fault.We are all born this way. Let me explain: First and foremost, our brains are circuited to be on the lookout for danger and pain.With any experience, our brain must first interpret what we see or hear and, to do this, it filters the incoming information through the amygdala to scan for anything that can cause pain and, only when no danger is found, does it then filter through a different part of the brain to scan for pleasure. If you need to ‘fight or flight’, then you need to have this information first. This obviously is a lifesaving mechanism when we are

living in a cave in the middle of the wild and need to stay vigilant to stay alive. Inmodern day, however, this has become a ball and chain, tethering us to our pessimism and glass half empty attitude. We all know that where focus goes, energy flows, and what we give energy to, we create more of. So, the chance that our amygdala will always find some aspect that is dangerous/painful to us, has high probability causing an ever- self-fulfilling prophecy of negativity. It literally takes work, lots of work, to create a permanent

positive outlook on life.We are required to override our animal brains to change our perspective and this is not easy to do but it is possible, andwhen donewith dedication, can be achievedwith relative simplicity. Iwas desperate to figure out howto increase happiness and

reduce stress. Iwas determined to understand happiness to help myself and then help those aroundme. I had retracted fromlife as it was too painful to be front and center and watch friends and family navigate heartbreaking circumstances. I felt totally impotent and couldn’t figure out how to help, so I removed myself from society to reduce the sadness and pain I encoun- tered and indirectly to increasemy happiness. This was not the result I achieved. I spiraled downwards to the point I could not see a way out.

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Luckily, I was conscious enough to grasp at a straw, and

thankfully used it to propel myself forward to being the happiest I have ever been in my life. It became important to me to formulate exactly how this change took place.What I did to make it happen, and why it worked so well, because then I could teach others howto do the same. I discovered one fundamental error in our collective thinking. Mywhole life I’ve been told to find balance, as if this is the

Holy Grail to happiness. I took note of quotes such as “The secret to life is finding balance in everything you do”, and “Balance is not something you find, it’s something you create”. Iwould see thosewhowere stressed beyond reason and note that they were not in balance – they were working too much or obsessed with this or that, and believed if they just found some form of balance they would be less stressed. When I began to research balance and its link to happiness,

I discovered that balance itself is the pesky problem. To be in balance we must have equal amounts of opposing things – not so? The definition of balance is: a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. So, for happiness to be in balance, we need to have equal amounts of things that bring us happiness and equal amounts of other things that bring something different, in this case, sadness, stress,worry or pain which all equates to unhappiness. This made zero sense to me! This would mean that to be

happy, we should be unhappy 50% of our time. There is even a quote that states “Everything in life is temporary. So, when things are going well, enjoy it, because it won’t last forever. And if things are going bad, don’t worry, it can’t last forever either”. This is just crazy to me. Why can’t we be happy 100% of the time? Who says

happiness doesn’t last? Is there some Centurion standing guard on our happiness andwhen you reach 50%happiness you’re cut off and must experience 50% unhappiness to be balanced and then ultimately happy overall? What poppycock we have fallen for! In this new age metaphysical time, we are all learning that

happiness is an inside job. It is not dependent on what occurs outside of us.We are also learning that to create the lifewewant wemust find the gratitude in everything, furthermore, to find the gratitude in a sad or painful situation, we must first find meaning to have gratitude follow. And with meaning, we understand the benefit of any

experience or situation, and when we see the benefit and have gratitude for it, we create happiness. That’s the point! Happiness is the point! With this under-

standing we now realize that in any experience we can find the good and therefore the reason to be happy despite what we are going through.When you make this your perspective, you free yourself of the pain and happiness remains. I encourage you to make happiness your highest priority.

Tracy Webster was born in Zimbabwe and moved to

South Africa when she was 6 years old. She has had a varied career path, and loves reinventing herself. She is most proud of her Harley Davidson riding skills and loves being a biker chick! When asked what she loves most about husband Steve, she replied: “His sense of humor and sharp wit”

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