Joy and Happiness as a Way of Life

People who know me know that I have spent a lot of time traveling and living overseas.  There’s almost nothing I love more than being in a new place where everything is different.  It is definitely not always easy, but it gives you a perspective you can’t really get in a 9-5 life.

One of the beautiful things I was lucky enough to experience while living in Thailand is the idea of sanuk.

I think travel writer Eric Weiner summed it up best – ‘Sanuk is not fun as mindless diversion or frivolity; it’s fun as an intrinsically valuable activity. Walk down any soi in Bangkok, those wonderfully kinetic alleyways brimming with life – or step into any office for that matter ­– and you’ll see sanuk in action. It might take the form of gentle teasing, clever word play or plain old silliness. It’s almost always good-natured and always includes an element of social harmony’

Joy is a state of mind:

Joy can be found in any country, but Thailand feels like an exception. In my experience, outside of Thailand many people believe that joy isn’t something you create around you, but is something you get.  How many times have you thought to yourself ‘I’ll be happy when I get that car / house/ hot spouse / extra money…’?

The truth is two people with the same things in life can experience very different levels of joy.  One might feel lucky with what they have and the other could be caught in a state of fear that it isn’t enough.  Joy isn’t about the things you have, but the way you feel.  Joy is a state of mind.

Why is this important?

We all experience something called state-dependent memory.  The simplest way to explain it is that our minds tend to recall memories that fit our mood.  If you feel happy and joyful, then this ability is great.  Your mind will be more likely to recall positive memories, creating a positive loop that keeps you in a state of joy.

The other side is if you’re feeling down, your mind will reinforce that by bringing up memories of other times when you felt sad, depressed or anxious.  It’s at these times when we need our happy memories the most, that they become harder to remember.

Slip into sanuk.

You can break free from that loop of sadness, fear or anxiety.  Hypnosis uses deep relaxation to tap into the part of the brain that responds to errors and evaluates emotional outcomes. You can read about the science here.  Hypnosis is effective because it helps your brain access happier, more joyful memories, and makes them easier to remember.  The more you practice remembering joy, the easier joy becomes.   As they say in Thailand มีความสุข