How do you feed your soul? Do you grab pre-packaged Pleasure from the freezer, microwave it, and eat on the run; or do you cook up your Joy from scratch using organic, locally-sourced ingredients? Perhaps you have a saucepan of Gratitude constantly simmering on a back burner? Or do you wait for others to invite you over for Connection and a bit of Calm?
If you follow this recipe, in whole or part, you will notice your personal stress levels decrease even as you take on more responsibility. Because in the end, it’s not really about the workload — it’s about the Story you tell yourself that “creates” your stress.
I share here my favorite recipe for Happiness, gleaned from years of study and practice in the Positive Emotional space. I invite you to try this as written, or to experiment with what is stocked in your own Emotional Cupboard. The recipe for Happiness is neither simple nor easy, but who promised you that it would be?
(to download the Recipe in a compact form for your cookbook or fridge, go here for a pdf version)
**A RECIPE FOR HAPPINESS**
First, Gather the Core Ingredients
- 1 cup personal Core Values, warmed (see Cook’s Notes 1)
- 1 sincere Smile
- 30 days of Gratitude, freshly gathered, best if written down
- 1 steaming mug of Engagement and Meaning
- 4 teaspoons of Balance, one each from work, play, rest & personal growth
- 3 Breaths (best if harvested from your deep belly)
- 1/2 cup each of Openness and Flexibility
- All your Raw Emotional Energy (see below for Preparation Notes)
- 3 oz of Contentment or Satisfaction, grated
- 1 glass of Acceptance, halved
Select a large METAL bowl, and mix in as many of the following as you have in your pantry. IMPORTANT: do not go out and purchase the ingredients for this next step — if you don’t own them now, just use what you have.
- Entitlement Thinking, e.g. beliefs like “nothing bad should ever happen to me” or “I should only get the best.” (see Cook’s Notes 2)
- Suffering, or any brand of Arguing with Reality (store brands will work – really, most varieties are imposed on you by others anyway)
- Negative Self-Talk
- Raging Insecurity – the fresher the better
- Self-Absorption or Self-Pity — if you have both, use it all.
- Hate in any form, e.g. liquid, solid, or gaseous (wear gloves while handling)
- Worry, Anxiety, and Fear — these are always sold in a set, so if you have one you likely have all three
- Sadness and Anger (but only the excess. Keep out what you need to protect you for the next week)
- The Urge to Control (note: if you’re arguing with this recipe, you have it. Toss it in — there you go. Open up your hand. Let. It. Go!)
- Resentment and any connected Grudges (see Cook’s Notes 3)
Mix lightly, being careful not to inhale the vapors. Pour 2 cups of Rum or Brandy over the top to soak the bowl. Immediately set fire to the mixture using a lighter stick or kitchen torch. Once it has burned off, scoop out the Raw Emotional Energy that remains (it will be glowing but cool to the touch — it is the positive essence that resides in all emotions) and continue with the recipe.
Next, Assemble the Core Ingredients:
Spray the inside of a large glass bowl with Patience (see Cooks’ Notes 4). Mix the first seven ingredients with a wooden spoon, just until lumpy. Drop Raw Emotional Energy by spoonfuls into the mix and sprinkle with the grated Contentment. Pour half a glass of Acceptance over all. Set aside and let soak.
Focus for five minutes on your Breathing. If you have extra Mindfulness after this, you may add to the mix.
Stir the mixture again, then turn the entire bowl out onto a floured work surface. Knead gently for 10 minutes, remaining Present to what you are doing. Spontaneous humming may occur. If you have pets or small children, you may notice they come and sit quietly during this step. Feel free to give them a taste — it is quite nourishing in a raw state.
Return mixture to the bowl and place on a large cookie sheet with a raised edge. Place in oven warmed to 200 F (93.3 C). Pour the remaining half glass of Acceptance into the pan so the mixture is bathed in it.
Cooking times may vary, depending on the quantity of Patience used. When the Happiness doubles in size, you may remove half the mixture and consume.
Once you’ve got this starter going, keep it warm and surrounded by Acceptance. You can remove half of your Happiness every day, and it will double again by the next day, as long as you Practice it.
May be served warm or cold; best when garnished with Positive Self-Regard. For a more dramatic presentation, swirl the plate with a reduction of Bliss, Flow, and a dry red wine. Sprinkle with Permission to Make Mistakes, which reduces indigestion for those who suffer from Perfectionism.
- To warm your Core Values, hold them against your heart for 3-5 minutes.
- If you do not own any Entitlement Thinking, you can substitute Victim Mindset, Envy, Vanity, or ungrounded Rage.
- If Resentment or Grudges get mixed with Denial, they may be mis-labeled as Negative Self-Talk in your Emotional Cupboard. If so, clear the shelf and scrub with equal parts Self-Love and bleach, which should kill any remaining Germs of Self-Deprecation.
- Generic brands of Patience will work as well as the more expensive versions – quantity matters more than quality. If you lack Patience, substitute five minutes of Deep Breathing with your feet flat on the floor.
Just as every cook has their own version of pasta sauce, recipes for Happiness vary. Even using the same ingredients, your sauce will look and taste different than mine. You may adjust the seasonings and preparation styles or cook using a different Mood.
As long as you honor the Core Ingredients, I promise that you’ll love whatever you put on the table. Other ingredients you might consider:
- A pitcher of fresh Summer Rain
- 1 beaker of a Child’s Laughter
- Essence of fresh-cut grass or lilacs in bloom
- 1 cup Chocolate, chopped (milk or dark)
Finally, remember that taking time every day to focus on your Happiness will pay huge dividends. You will notice strengthening in your Resilience, Creativity, Confidence, and Engagement muscles, and a reduction in your Stress across all measures.
I have a beautiful saying my Dad used to repeat often and I found a plaque at an antique store with these words that I hung up as a motto for my children. It goes something like this:
Any man can smile
when life goes by like a song;
but the man worthwhile,
is the man with a smile
when everything goes dead wrong!
Therese, I love that poem. It’s all about choosing your Attitude!
This is great. The only thing missing (and I might have missed seeing it) is Chocolate!!!
OH, but it’s there, Dick! It’s one of the optional ingredients. I, personally, would make it a Core ingredient, but there’s the Milk vs White vs Dark preference, plus we have to account for allergies — you wouldn’t want anyone to break out in hives from eating fresh baked Happiness!
Excellent recipe, now we just need to get everyone to use it.
Such a lovely “recipe for happiness” – it is interesting to note that many of of have most of these ingredients already on hand – it’s just a matter of putting it all together in roughly the right kind of way. Thanks for a great article Jim.
You’re welcome, Leonie. And you’re so right… we have all these ingredients on hand, if we choose to notice!