12 Steps to Health & Happiness, Part 2

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Marion Michele

By Rena Greenberg

At a young age, I got sick, and I don’t mean slightly ill—I was literally facing death. As I desperately clung to life, I set a goal for myself that I have never turned back on: to find health and live my best life.

Over the decades that have followed, I’ve been on a conscious journey towards seeking well-being—mental, physical, and emotional health. Through a lot of trial and error, I have come up with 12 steps that are essential, towards that end.

In addition to using my own life experience, I’ve had the pleasure of working with over 100,000 people, and I’ve also learned from their ups and downs in the quest for health and happiness.

From all of this experience, a general theme has emerged: Life is a constant series of choices that ultimately boil down to one decision to be made in every moment. Are we choosing life/health/love/goodness or are we selecting, either overtly or by default, pain/negativity/fear/evil?

Following are the first six steps to make the choice easier. (The first six appeared in the October 2019 issue.)

  1. Eliminate Toxic Substances—Drugs, Food, Liquids

Your body is not a trashcan. Stop treating it like one. Think about the substances you are about to put in your body and their long- and short-term effects.

Flippantly throwing out phrases such as, “You only live once, you might as well enjoy yourself,” as you guzzle down your third margarita, may not be in your best health interest.

Many times when evaluating what food, drinks, or even the prescription drugs to take, we seek advice from others. The downside of that is that the people we are seeking advice from, even if they are professionally competent, may not have the expertise we are assuming they do.

How many medicines have been touted by physicians and their educators (pharmaceutical companies) for decades, only to be recalled later? Or what about food items and beverages that have been reported to be safe for consumption that later are put under greater scrutiny and found to be health hazards?

These examples are obvious, but what about the subtle effects that food and drugs have on us? I suggest reading up on the benefits of living without caffeine, alcohol, sugar, processed foods, and other potentially harmful substances.

Become a master of your own body. Notice the effect that lifeless substances have on you. Consider the fact that if an item is processed, it most likely is not carrying a very high level of life-force energy. And if you are taking a substance to lift yourself up, remember that what goes up must come down. Look for ways to obtain the energy, vitality, and happiness you seek, naturally.

We are often looking for shortcuts when it comes to improving health, but the truth is that the journey leading us to the better life we are seeking is often what is of the most value.

Question what you are putting into your mouth, and make a conscious decision to select the items that will uplift you. Be patient, listen to your body’s feedback, and let it guide you and show you the way.

  1. Eat and Live in a Balanced Way

Balance is the key to health. Let go of the concepts of good or bad, right or wrong. We need to check in with ourselves regarding the effect the foods we are eating and our lifestyles are having on our mind and body.

It’s all about balance. Carbohydrates aren’t bad, but it is essential to eat them in balance with protein and vegetables. Plant-based food is indeed best; however, most of us, particularly those of us with sugar and carb addictions, need to offset the vegetables we eat with protein. We need some starch, too, but that needs to be combined with protein, healthy fats, and vegetables. Healthy starch is made from whole grain or root vegetables, not processed white flour. Potatoes, winter squash, yams and whole grains are good examples of healthy carbs to go along with your vegetables. Good quality protein is essential, along with healthy fat such as olive oil, small amounts of coconut oil, almond butter and avocado. Other foods like dairy, nuts, and seeds can be enjoyed in small amounts by those who are not sensitive to them.

Balanced eating also means discovering your triggers—most likely, sugar, fat, and sugar substitutes—and eliminating them. Not because you are on a diet, but because trying to eat them in moderation is next to impossible. It’s like trying to date someone only once a week to get over them. It’s easier to just break the addiction than to try to string it along.

Balance also means not thinking in terms of black and white. If you “messed up” and had some pizza, don’t think of it as messing up but, rather, make your next choice of food something healthier to offset any damage. Wait until you are hungry again and then have a salad, some celery, or a little meat with steamed broccoli.

If you are in an environment where a lot of dense, highly caloric, rich food is your only option, select small amounts with lots of lettuce to help stay in balance and lessen the negative impact. Drink lots of water, rest deeply when you are tired, and move your body as much as possible.

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is “all or nothing thinking.” Either I’m on a diet or off a diet. This attitude just leads to failure.  Remember balance is the key to a healthy life. Eat everything in moderation except trigger foods, which do need to be avoided completely.

  1. Practice Emotional Containment

One of the greatest challenges we all face is dealing with our own emotions—our reactions to the world around us. Our ability to do this successfully can mean the difference between happy relationships and painful ones. Can we contain our own and other people’s emotions, without withdrawing or attacking, either overtly or in a passive-aggressive way?

One way to do this is to remember that our emotions are like the weather—they simply come and go. Also, they are repetitive.

The good thing about getting older is that we get to have the realization that our emotional tendencies are habitual. This realization can bring us to the awareness that what we are feeling in the moment may be, to a large degree, based on our own history, and not exclusively by what is happening in the moment.

Often, strong emotional reactions, when observed without judgment or interpretation, reveal deep-seated fears or insecurities that we weren’t even aware of. In fact, these fears and insecurities may have been handed down to us by our ancestors and may be kept alive by our culture, our environment, and our own habitual way of operating in the world.

Containment means being able to hold or contain situations without reacting in a way that adds fuel to a burning fire. It means responding with wisdom, love, humility, and compassion rather than with the need to control, defend, or gain power and dominance. It means holding the space for a win-win conclusion. The goal of containment is to bring healing to the human condition and any pain that it is triggering in you, either consciously or unconsciously.

To contain your emotions, it’s necessary to shift your perspective—to see the points of view of the other person or people involved.

It can be helpful to mentally roll back in time to increase your understanding of why you and the other players in your drama may be feeling and acting a certain way. Finally, the goal is to look toward the future and imagine the achieving and outcome that will be beneficial to all involved.

What would be your next right action to take considering these factors? As you are contemplating the next step, remember to keep your heart open so that you are receiving compassion, mercy, and strength as you seek to bring something of value to the situation at hand and to your life.

  1. Breathe and Live with Intention

The breath of life is what keeps us alive. Yet most of the time, we are breathing unconsciously, with no awareness. To be truly happy, we need to increase awareness of our own levels of tension in the body. Patterns of muscular constriction and holding tension directly correlate to how shallow or deep our breathing is.

When you are feeling tense, chances are that you are holding your breath. Stay conscious of your breath and deliberately practice making your breath rate slow and even. This action will calm your mind and slow the thoughts down.

Set an intention for how you want the next hour, day or year to unfold. I’m suggesting that you not only consider long-term goals, but ask yourself, What is important to me and how do I want to live?”

The point of discovering this information isn’t to figure out whether you are right or wrong or good or bad. It simply can be helpful to notice that when you say you have a goal and do nothing to move towards it, except spin your wheels and sabotage yourself, perhaps there is a part of you that really doesn’t want to achieve what you think you do.

To help break free from this type of downward cycle, remember to breathe deeply with conscious awareness and at the same time set a new intention to let go of the past and your old way of doing things. Embrace a new possibility for yourself—one of accomplishing your goals and living congruently with your deeper values.

Setting a daily intention and drawing it in with a full breath can be very strengthening. Some possible intentions may be, “Today, I am alive with happiness and gratitude,” “I embrace, radiate, and receive love deeply today,” “I am full of wisdom, kindness, and inner peace.”

  1. Practice Meditation and Self-Hypnosis

If we could have solved our problems with our conscious mind alone, we already would have done so. Einstein told us, “You can’t solve a problem at the same level it was created.”

This means that when we create problems for ourselves with our incessant thinking, judging, and analysis, the only way to break out of this trap is to shift away from that surface level of awareness and go deeper. Self-hypnosis and meditation offer a vehicle to go past the critical, chatty conscious mind and connect deeper with our inner voice of Truth and Wisdom. This new, inspired information may come in the form of an inner knowing, new awareness or deeper insight.

Getting into a positive habit of practicing self-hypnosis is like opening the window and letting the fresh air in.

Regular practice of self-hypnosis helps you keep your heart open and your mind receptive to new ideas and fresh, creative possibilities to improve all areas of your life. Even more importantly, practicing meditation and self-hypnosis helps to combat the negative and detrimental effects of stress.

Physical and emotional stress has been proven not only to cause or exacerbate illness and disease but to increase depression, anxiety, and hopelessness.

Often when we find ourselves in these negative states, our tendency is to want to analyze our way out of them. This rarely works in the long run. What can help us shift out of a dark state of mind is traveling within beyond the conscious mind and connecting to the deeper resources within our inner mind and heart.

Getting caught in negative frames of mind such as fear and grief are like being trapped in a bed of quicksand. The more you fight against difficult feelings or submit to them, the more they seem to engulf you and the stronger their hold on you. The solution is to go inward beyond the “quicksand” of emotional and mental turbulence and discover and bask in a deeper, wiser, more vast and eternal part of yourself.

Though this infinite field of intelligence in your subconscious mind is always available to you, it is only through your conscious intention and focused attention that you can make contact and commune with it. It is through this connection, on a regular basis, that your life can start to change and reflect this deep, inner, soulful, and profound relationship with your higher self.

Not only will you live a less stressful life, but you will acquire the satisfaction of achieving greater levels of inner peace and happiness and more optimal health in your body and mind. Other side benefits of regular self-hypnosis and meditation are developing greater awareness, deeper compassion, and empathy for others, and a connection to a greater wisdom and strength that can guide you to your greater good in all areas of your life.

  1. Adopt a Miracle Mindset

Having a miracle mindset means letting go of skepticism and fear by replacing them with faith and optimism. No doubt we’ve heard the expression from Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are right.” It’s so true that our ability to achieve our goals is very predictable based on our mindset.

The best way to change your mindset to be more productive is to become aware of your own inner voices and adapt them to reflect what you truly desire.

It’s OK if you have doubt. That is only natural. We all have doubt, insecurity and fear so welcome to the human race!

Even the seemingly most confident people have some insecurity and fear, which will manifest in one way or another. The important thing is not to attempt to rid ourselves of fear because what we focus on grows. We need to admit it’s there—see it for what it is: false evidence appearing real—and stop making an identity of it.

Instead, focus on your strengths, blessings, and the vast, infinite, eternal spiritual strength that you have access to and can tap into at any time. If your inner voice says, “I can’t,” “This is hard,” or criticizes you in one way or another, affirm to yourself aloud or silently:

“I release all negativity, criticism, judgment, un-forgiveness and toxic emotion to my higher mind to be dissolved and healed completely, and I am free.”

“I release all emotional pain, real or imagined, known or unknown, coming towards me or from me, conscious or unconscious, past, present, and future in all directions, to my Divine Mind, to be dissolved and healed completely.”

“I Am” statements are very powerful, so use them wisely. Your subconscious mind hears everything you think so be aware of putting a negative expression after the words “I Am.” Instead repeat phrases to yourself such as,

“I am successful.”

“I am happy.”

“I am loved, loving, and lovable.”

“I am strong.”

“I am capable.”

“I am a fast learner.”

“I am peaceful.”

“I am filled with light and love.”

“I am a vessel for love, beauty and goodness.”

Notice how these words make you feel. It’s so interesting to see people hooked up to biofeedback equipment that measures their physiological responses, such as heart rate, blood pressure, sweating response, and muscle tension. They have noticeable improvement in all these bodily systems when they are speaking words of kindness to themselves.

By contrast, when we speak harsh, cold words to ourselves, or remember times when other people have hurt us, our physiology reflects the impact by shifting our bodily systems in the wrong direction—muscles get more tense, hands and feet get colder as the blood vessels clamp down, and heart rate goes up.

Practice adopting a mindset filled with thoughts of peace, safety, gratitude, joy, and faith. Don’t worry if you have to fake it at first. The good news is that your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined.

If you pretend to be happy, your body and mind will respond by relaxing, being more at ease and creating healthier, more productive responses. This starts a positive feedback loop and helps to turn your miracle mindset into a positive habit.

Always look towards the future with optimism, believing that things will get better, even if your conscious mind doesn’t know how.

Dare to dream. Access the incredible, creative, picturing power of your subconscious mind by visualizing and imagining with all your senses how magnificent your life can be.

Imagine feeling so full of love that you are flowing over. Imagine expressing yourself creatively and feeling your own inner power in a way that only brings out the best in others, while basking in your own deep strength and sense of empowerment.

Instead of looking to the outside, physical world to tell you what reality is and what’s achievable and what’s not, seek out within yourself an understanding of your place in the world and what’s possible for you.

Tap into your deep heart and soul to discover your inner longing and let that longing for life and energy guide you to the best action steps for you.

Practice your miracle mindset daily by releasing doubt, fear, and insecurity and embracing inner power, love, wisdom, strength, and your connection with the life force energy that powers all of life.

These are the steps that I have developed over time to help you live your best life. The goal is not perfection but getting closer and closer to living a life where you are most connected to your authentic self, comfortable and happy in your own skin, feeling fully alive and saying yes to life!

Rena Greenberg, a Hay House author, can be reached at http://www.EasyWillpower.com. Her weight loss and gastric bypass hypnosis success has been featured in 150-plus news stories including USA Today, Woman’s
World, The Doctor’s, CNN, Good Morning America and Nightline. PBS stations nationally aired Rena’s show, “Easy Willpower,” in August 2015. Her wellness program is sponsored in 75 hospitals and 100-plus corporations. She conducts hypnotherapy sessions with people all over the world on Skype.

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