How To Train Yourself To Be Happy

If you repeat an activity for 21 days it will become a habit.  The scientific proof for this is pretty thin but I’ve found it true in my own experience so I don’t care. That’s why I was delighted to come across this video by Bruce Lipton because, among other things, he outlines a very plausible way to give yourself the habit of being happy. I also think it’s a nice adjunct to Sam Harris’s video on free will I wrote about last and fills out the picture a little more.

Bruce Lipton is a biologist and cells are kind of his thing. As a seven year old, looking through his first microscope, he thought cells were little people. He went on to get bigger and bigger microscopes, a raft of impressive qualifications, teaching positions in some of the most prestigious institutions around the world and in the end came full circle to describing cells as mini people once more, he just uses bigger words now.

Like Sam Harris’s video this one is long (55 mins) so I’ll outline the highlights.

  • Genetically identical cells will develop differently depending on the environment they are in, some will grow into bone, some into muscle etc. So genes alone don’t determine outcome. It is genes plus environment which determine outcome.
  • Our mind’s perception of the world changes our biology, the chemistry of our body, which in turn changes our cells.
  • We run our lives through our conscious mind only 5% of the time.
  • The other 95% of the time our subconscious mind runs our life.
  • Subconscious beliefs are formed in the first 6 years of life.
  • The subconscious mind learns through habit, not insight.
  • Through repeated diligent awareness you can change the habits of your subconscious mind.
  • Survival of the fittest is incorrect, we evolved because our cells came into community.
  • Our body is comprised of 50 trillion cells living in community with each other.
  • Every human being is a cell in the larger super organism called humanity.
  • The nocebo effect is the evil twin of the placebo effect.
  • Cancer can develop because of a familial belief in the propensity to get cancer. Adopted children developing cancer in a cancer family.

Apparently it’s been measured and about 70% of our thoughts are negative or redundant. From meditation I’m used to hearing my mind going on about all its worries and negativities. I saw it as mind chatter and was more interested in the silence than what it was chattering about. The notion that what I think about is just a habit is very handy to know and refreshingly impersonal. Rather than trying to smash those pesky negative thoughts and be more positive, it’s more a case of chosing the thoughts I want to be thinking and getting myself out of the habit of thinking about things I’d rather not be thinking about.  That’s the idea anyway.

Most of the work is done in just identifying the thoughts I’d like to change as they arise – being aware in the moment, which is basically what meditation is anyway.