Get “Happy Places”

Get "Happy Places." An article by Andrew D Pope – the original and best – accept no substitute.

Where are my “happy places?”

I have many happy places. They are all very close to my heart and I use them often. I rely on them.

They are my special collection of memories and projections.

My happy places are positive memories of physical locations, people, experiences, and events.

My happy places are sometimes projections of positive futures. For example, how I see my world when I have achieved my goals. The welcome I will get from my special someone whenever I return home.

My happy places allow me to gain full control over my “current state”.  Whenever and wherever I choose.

My “current state” by the way, is the totality of my thoughts, feelings, and behaviours at any given time.

Do happy places and state control sound like a good thing for you? I trust the answer is yes.

In that case, I’ll tell you what they are and how you can create and use them.

BTW – if you prefer an audio version of this, I have included one at the end of this article.

What exactly are happy places?

“Happy places” are self-triggered, sensory-rich mental clusters which, when triggered, produce desirable and often specific positive physiological, affective, and cognitive states in the individual concerned.

Although correct, this style of definition is way too fancy-schmancy for us.

We live in the real world. “Happy places” are fast, fun, free and fantastic tools for altering your body, mood and thinking. They’re also available whenever you need them.

I would encourage you to get at least one happy place into your life. One happy place is good, but many happy places are better.

Thoughts and memories are powerful things

Allow me to expound on the rationale behind the wonder of happy places and what makes them so effective.

Most of us have memories of past events, experiences, and relationships.

Some of these memories will have high significance for you. Some will represent a positive significance, and likewise some will represent a bad one.

Your memories of these significant places, experiences and relationships are powerful. Indeed, they can continue to exert an effect on you long after they occurred.

Consider how a negative memory can give you sleepless nights and anxiety for many years. In similar fashion, what about worrying over an anticipated negative event? Extreme negative experiences can create reactions including phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These are not happy places.

You will also recall significant positive memories. You may imagine positive future circumstances too. This activity can create wonderful states and beneficial sensations within you. These are happy places.

The mind-body connection is the happy places key

Yin Yang symbol with mind and body labels. Happy places work with teh mind-body connection.

We humans have a thing called the mind-body connection. It is stronger in some more than others, but we all have it to some degree.

Think about this. It means that what you think affects how you feel and vice versa.

It works on positives as well as negatives by the way.

You feel bad, your thinking is bad. You feel good, your thinking is good.

Above all, aim to focus on positive “happy places” vibes to get positive effects.

A deeper dive into the “happy places” definition

To add depth to all this, I will now unpick the technical definition term by term.

Here it is again.

“Happy places” are self-triggered, sensory-rich mental clusters which, when triggered, produce desirable and often specific positive physiological, affective, and cognitive states in the individual concerned.

The fancy terms explained

Physiological, affective, and cognitive are fancy words for physical feelings, emotions, and thoughts. An easy start.

The term “self-triggered” lets you know that you have full control over the process. You can thus take full charge of when, where, and indeed if, you pull your happy places triggers.

Memory clusters are many layered memories. They are groups of memories which together form a stronger cluster. Hence, they are easier to recall and use in this format. 

What does sensory-rich mean?

Humans have many senses.

There are more generally acknowledged prominent sensory systems now than the traditional five. Debate continues about an actual upper limit – I’ve seen claims of up to thirty-three.

However, seven is plenty for our needs.

Seven human senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, external physical & internal physical.

  • Sight or the visual system handles your body’s sense of sight.
  • Smell or the olfactory system handles your body’s sense of smell.
  • Sound or the auditory system handles your body’s sense of hearing.
  • Taste or the gustatory system handles your body’s sense of taste.
  • Touch or the tactile system handles your body’s sense of touch.
  • External physical awareness, kinaesthetic or proprioceptive system. This handles your body’s sense of its relationship to the outside world. E.g., balance, motion, spatial orientation, etc…
  • Internal physical awareness or interoceptive system. This handles your body’s sense of internal awareness. E.g., Heart rate, thirstiness, hunger, muscle tension, etc…

You can have sensory information attached to your memories of lived experience. You can also apply your full range of senses to your constructed projections.

These are powerful ideas and can be both positive and negative in application. Be careful and use judgment.

Sensory richness is the key to creating great happy places

Undoubtedly, the key for me is the “sensory-rich” element phrase in the definition.

The more sensory elements you can layer onto your mental clusters the better.

In addition, the more sensory-rich elements you can group together into a cluster the better.

Doing this enables you to create a very specific tool for yourself. A specific tool for altering and improving your physiological, emotional, and mental state. All under your full control.

How to create happy places for yourself

Let’s explore an example and, because I am writing this post, let’s choose writing.

I would like to be in a curious, energetic, happy, and optimistic mood or state to write this article on happy places. I would also like some focus as well. I’m not asking for too much am I?

Well, if I were designing one of my happy places for this task from scratch, this would be my basic approach.

The basic happy places process

The basic happy places creation workflow. Collect materials - ask many questions - amplify & strengthen - trigger & use - rinse and repeat.

Real experience memories

Going for experiential memories first, I would check for a clear memory which nails the brief. For example, a time when I was writing in the exact way I have described above.

Now I would build in as many layers of sensory information as possible. I would do this with a series of questions.

What did my desired state look, feel and even sound like? How was my body positioned? What could I see, feel and/or hear? When and where was I in the desired state? Why was I in that desired state? Was anyone else there? What was my immediate environment like? Was I hungry, thirsty, relaxed, tense, or tired?

Is there anything else I can add to this to enhance my sensory memories about the time in question?

Keep asking questions. Keep building sensory layers until you have what you need to create one of your happy places.

If I cannot find a single memory, then build up many memories into a unified whole. For example, if the memory above did not have optimism, I would recall an optimistic time and include it in the mix.

Constructed projections

No problems here either because imagined or projected things work just as well.

Your brain often struggles to separate actual reality from constructed reality. Also, your brain uses the same circuits to process both scenarios.

Project yourself into a future where you have everything you desire state-wise. Now layer up all the sensory information required to create your super-detailed representation.

Feel free to mix real-world with constructed world. It’s your happy place so hybrid is fine.

Whatever works.

Now ramp it up and amp it up.

Whichever route you took, it’s now time to super-charge your happy place.

Take some time to picture your happy place. Concentrate on it. Whatever you came up with already, double it. Amplify it. Add to it. Make your imagery and sensory experiences as powerful as you can.

Strengthen it until you can strengthen it no further. This is now a recallable peak experience.

You have a new happy place – well done.

Triggering and using one of your happy places

You’ve done all the hard work.

When you need the resources, go to your happy place.

In our example, when I need to sit down and write an article, I relax and recall my purpose-designed happy place. I trigger it.

When I immerse myself deep into the happy place experience the magic happens.

When I recall my peak experience, the mind-body connection takes over.  I take on all the physiological, emotional, and mental states associated with it.

Therefore, I can now write my article under the best of conditions.

What could you do under your best conditions?

Over to you

You can build up a whole suite of happy places and state management tools. Create your own toolbox of powerful “happy places.”

The second pillar of emotional intelligence is self-regulation. Therefore, the happy places technique, and others like it, enable you to increase your EQ and become far more emotionally intelligent.

What’s stopping you?

That is all for this one

I hope you enjoyed this emotional intelligence tip. If you found value in it, subscribe to the blog. Also join my monthly newsletter community. Get exclusive content, news and, just occasionally, some irresistible offers. It all comes with my no BS and zero pushy sales guarantee.

In the meantime, you might also like to check out these related articles:

Monitor your emotions

Emotional button pushers

Emotional triggers

“Project You”

PS Do you want to maximise your emotional self-control? Get my very useful Rapid Emotional State Management Technique audio file. It’s FREE so you can download it and start to learn to manage your emotional states with confidence. You’ll also join my monthly newsletter community. In the unlikely event that you don’t like it, an unsubscribe option is available.

PPS Here is the audio version of this article if you would prefer to listen

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