Marci Shimoff: Be Happy For No Reason

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by Tuula Fai

Marci Shimoff, New York Times bestselling author of Happy for No Reason and Love for No Reason likes to begin her talks with showing a picture of herself at age two. In the photo, she has one hand on her head and a worried look on her face. Shimoff says she was born with “existential angst” and a “deep pain in her heart,” which she tried to fill with food.

At age nineteen Shimoff asked her dad, “What is the secret to life? He said, “Honey, just be happy.” Shimoff asked, “How do I do that?” He thought for a moment and then replied, “Honey, I don’t know.” Her dad didn’t know because he was a naturally happy person. So Shimoff set out to find the answer for herself.

What she uncovered is an unhappiness epidemic. Eighty percent of people in the U.S. don’t like their jobs, 33 percent suffer from low self-esteem, and 20 percent of women take anti-depressants. The major factor driving this unhappiness is stress: stress about work, kids, male-female miscommunication, and lack of time and money.

Although the statistics are grim, there is a bright spot. Scientists have learned that everyone has a happiness set point, a point to which he or she returns no matter what happens. A person’s set point is determined by 50 percent genetics, 40 percent habits, and 10 percent circumstances.

Epigeneticists also discovered that our habits can influence our genes. What does that mean? It means that 90 percent of our happiness is under our control! Shimoff shared seven steps to create our own inner house of happiness:

  1. The Foundation — Take responsibility for your happiness now.
  2. Pillar of the Mind — Don’t believe everything you think.
  3. Pillar of the Heart — Let love lead you.
  4. Pillar of the Body — Make your cells happy.
  5. Pillar of the Soul — Plug into spirit.
  6. The Roof — Live inspired by your soul’s dreams.
  7. The Garden — Surround yourself with love and support.

Shimoff first addressed the foundation, saying that we often believe we’ll be happier when we have more money, a better relationship, a leaner body, and so on. It isn’t true. The research shows that only 10 percent of our happiness is based on circumstances. It also shows that happiness leads to success rather than the other way around (success leading to happiness).

To illustrate this point, Shimoff told the story of Roger Crawford who was born without a left leg and had only a thumb on one hand and a thumb and forefinger on the other. Not only is he extremely happy, his circumstances didn’t stop him from becoming a professional tennis player and an award-winning motivational speaker featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul. His example shows that people who are “living all out” have higher happiness set points.

After we build our house’s foundation, Shimoff says we must strengthen its pillars. To do so, she offered some of the 21 main happiness habits detailed in her book:

Pillar of the Mind — When you have a negative thought, turn it around by saying the Hawaiian Ho’oponopono phrase, “I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you.” Or tell yourself, “I can do it,” and call a friend and have her tell you, “You can do it,” too.

Pillar of the Heart — When you feel anxious, use HeartMath by placing your hand over your heart and breathing in love. Ask yourself, “What is the most loving thing I can do for myself right now?” and do it. Or you can do something loving for other people such as telling them what you appreciate about them.

Pillar of the Body — When you are sluggish, increase your happiness hormones by getting up and shaking your body like a dog drying off after a swim. Dance to your favorite music or go for a nature walk.

Pillar of the Soul — When you feel disconnected, press three acupuncture points in your hand. The first is the Main Grace Point in the center of your palm, the second is the Body Release Point on the outside edge of your hand just above your wrist, and the third is the Ancestor Point in the fleshy skin between your thumb and pointer.

The Roof — When you get off-track, move back into your life purpose by stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone to do things you love. This will help you create a career that aligns with your purpose.

The Garden — When you feel unsupported, surround yourself with people who uplift you and align with your purpose. Doing so can help you be happy and live your dreams. Remember you become the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time.

Shimoff encourages us to start being Happy for No Reason by taking the step that challenges us most. For example, if you have negative thoughts, start with The Pillar of the Mind. Notice when you have these thoughts and choose not to internalize them by 1) seeing them as false, 2) saying the Ho’oponopono phrase, 3) placing your hand over your heart and breathing in love, or 4) doing something loving for yourself or another.

Shimoff says if we practice this at least three times a day for the next four weeks, we will raise our happiness set point. A higher set point changes our default state to love, which is “an inner state of peace and well-being that doesn’t depend on circumstances.”

Shimoff believes the only way to make the world happier is by raising our own set point. To show the timelessness of this truth, she ends with an ancient Chinese proverb:

“If there is light in the soul, there will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, there will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.”

Tuula Fai, MBA, CST, NCTMB is the author of Seek the Lover Within: Lessons from 50 Spiritual Leaders, Vol 1 & 2. For sixteen years, Tuula has worked as a Marketing Director and CranioSacral Therapist. <tuula@ascendancehealing.com>; www.spiritual.50interviews.com.