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Happy People Know How To Let Their Heart Lead

Feb 3, 2008
When I was a child, my grandfather visited my family every weekend. I dearly loved Poppa, and I vibrated with excitement and joy as soon as I saw him approaching the front door. I could feel the energy in my heart jumping out to meet the energy of his.

Even as a child, I recognized that my heart's powerful energy extended beyond my body. Today, science confirms this.

The Institute of HeartMath, a world leader in research-based transformational technology, has found that our hearts generate an electromagnetic field around us that is several feet in diameter and five thousand times greater than the field generated by the brain -- five thousand times!

HeartMath researchers have also found that peoples' heart patterns look different when they're happy than when they're angry, frustrated, or sad.

Negative emotions cause erratic patterns called 'heart rhythm incoherence' which have damaging effects on your body. When you're feeling angry or sad, stress hormones and cholesterol are released into your body, your heart pumps faster, and your blood pressure rises.

In contrast, when you're feeling appreciative and loving, you create 'heart rhythm coherence' - smooth, even patterns in your heart's rhythms. These feelings of happiness increase the production of anti-aging hormones, normalize blood pressure, improve cognitive function, and strengthen the immune system. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?

What's most exciting is that HeartMath discovered that you can create more coherence in your heart rhythms at will simply by focusing on emotions such as appreciation, love, and gratitude.

And this is one of the secrets that happy people know: No matter what's going on in life, they let love lead. During the research for my book, Happy for No Reason, I interviewed 100 unconditionally happy people -- I call them the "Happy 100." It was clear that one of the ways they let love lead is through gratitude. Though they have the same kinds of fears, pains, and disappointments as you and me, people who are Happy for No Reason simply focus more on gratitude throughout their day. You too can use the power of gratitude to raise your level of happiness. It's a matter of where you focus your attention.

Where do you focus your attention?

One of my Happy 100, Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk in his eighties and founder of the Network for Grateful Living, is one of the happiest people I've ever met. Brother David shared with me a gratefulness practice he's done every day for over 30 years.

Each day he selects a different theme to remind him about gratitude. For example, one day he'll choose to focus on water, so every time he encounters water - washing his hands, watering the plants or brushing his teeth - he uses it as a reminder to be present in the moment with pure gratefulness. This exercise requires no extra time or physical energy -- it's simply a shift in his awareness that allows a continual flow of appreciation, love, and gratitude.

Try it for yourself. Choose your theme for today - it could be leaves, the sound of traffic or the telephone. For the rest of your day, whenever you encounter your chosen theme, let it be a cue to consciously feel gratefulness.

When you focus your awareness every day to experience what Brother David calls "great fullness" in every moment, you'll significantly raise your baseline level of happiness.

This is one of the many Happiness Habits I learned from the Happy 100. I'll be sharing more of these with you in future ezines. In the meantime, let's all keep practicing happiness. . .



P.S. If you find the research by the Institute of HeartMath as fascinating as I do, you may want to learn more about their emWave Personal Stress Reducer. This portable device can show you how stress is affecting your body and help you learn to eliminate it from your life. I love using it. You can find it online at myemwave dot org.
About the Author
Marci Shimoff is author of Chicken Soup for the Woman's Soul and Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul, making her one of the bestselling female nonfiction authors of all time. She's also a featured teacher in the international film and book phenomenon, The Secret. Visit Happy for No Reason.
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