The Happiness Experiment

People most often change their personal habits not because of health concerns or social pressure but rather because they are feeling good about themselves and want to feel still better.”

      This was the conclusion from a Gallop Poll reported in American Health Magazine. The obvious implication is that people most often find it easier, more natural to change their unwanted personal habits when they are feeling good about themselves and want to feel still better.  In other words, when they are already feeling happy with themselves, at peace with themselves, it’s easier for them to drop old habits.

So would it make quitting smoking a lot easier if we simply increased our daily experience of peace and happiness? Wouldn’t this be a fun experiment to try? What could it hurt?

So how would we—could we—conduct this experiment? How would we go about intentionally experiencing more peace and happiness in our lives, to see what happens to our smoking habit?

Based on the scientific research, here are some basic guidelines:

  1. Give peace a chance. Give happiness a chance. If we intend to increase the amount of peace and happiness we experience in our lives, let’s admit it probably won’t come about by accident. So for just one month—to start—let’s make experiencing more peace and happiness in our daily lives our highest priority. Research shows that we must decide to make experiencing peace and happiness the most important thing we are doing this month, no matter who we are with or what else we are doing or where we are physically. Let’s experiment to see if we can experience peace and happiness in every experience! Let’s give peace and happiness a chance to show up in our lives!
  2. We will test the hypothesis that we can only experience peace and happiness when we are at peace with the stories we are telling, happy with the stories we are telling, to ourselves and others. We will assume that it will not be possible to increase our own experience of peace and happiness if we are telling stories we do not enjoy, or with which we are not at peace. Thoughts make up our stories. So we will experiment with thinking thoughts and stories we enjoy, which do not disturb the peace!
  3. Since experiments require testing, for one month let’s continually test our thoughts and stories. Whenever necessary or appropriate, we’ll quietly ask ourselves, “Do I enjoy this thought, this story, yes or no? Am I at peace with this thought, this story, yes or no?” Here’s the scientific standard we’ll use: If it’s not an immediate and spontaneous yes, it’s a no. (We want this experiment to be easy to conduct.)
  4. In our regular tests, if the answer is yes (we enjoy the thought or story we’re telling ourselves or others) perfect. If the answer is no, (we are not at peace with the thought or story we are currently entertaining) then it’s time to do the experiment, be brave and take action. We have two options: A. Change our story, or simply drop the story, and find or create a story we enjoy more, which does not disturb the peace; or
  5. Decide to enjoy the story that a moment before we were not enjoying, or at least not fight it, to be at peace with it. WHAT’S IMPORTANT IS NOT THE CONTENT OF THE STORY BUT WHETHER OR NOT WE ENJOY OUR STORIES, WHETHER WE ARE AT PEACE WITH OUR STORIES. If we are not at peace with the stories we are telling ourselves or others, if we don’t enjoy our stories, we are not obliged to tell them, no matter how true they may seem to be. Experiencing more peace and happiness is our highest goal for this month! We have to be brave to experiment this way, because most people do NOT consciously make peace and happiness their highest goal, (though subconsciously it is always the highest goal.) Our experiment this month is to find a way to enjoy our happiness, enjoy our peace, if only a teeny tiny bit more than we otherwise might. Here’s good news: Teeny tiny bits of happiness, of peace, do count, and they do add up!

Isn’t this an experiment worth trying, just for a month? Even if it fails, we have a happier, more peaceful month than we would otherwise have had. (If it doesn’t work, you can have your unhappiness back for free! The experiment doesn’t cost a dime.)

Based on my own experience, however, I’ll bet a nickel that the experiment  WILL work! Will it be much easier to walk away from smokes when you are feeling happy, at ease, at peace, than if you’re not?  Science has already proven that it is. But isn’t it worth taking up the experiment in your own life?

Let me know how it goes:

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