Cultivating Happiness - Happy Place

photo credit: Brian jeffery beggerly

photo credit: Brian jeffery beggerly

A fun exercise, and one that I do with all of my clients, is to take a moment to imagine:

What does happiness look like?  Where would you be? This could be someplace you've actually visited, someplace you've seen in a photo, or someplace you've imagined.  What's important is that calling it to mind brings up feelings of tranquility or joy.  What other feelings would you experience while there?  

Would anyone be with you?  Here, it's a good idea not to include people with whom you have a difficult relationship; if anyone is there with you it should be someone about whom the overwhelming feeling is positive, from whom you feel connection, love, and support.  

What sounds would there be: birds in the trees, waves, children laughing in the distance?  

What would the weather be like: warm, or crisp? Would there be a breeze or stillness in the air?  Maybe it would be raining?  

Would there be any scents: the ocean, perhaps, or flowers, or food cooking?  

How would your body feel: relaxed, exuberant, weightless?

It sounds simplistic, but spending the time to truly develop this "happy place" in your imagination can lead to big benefits, in that it can become an imaginal "mini vacation" that you can access easily in moments of stress.  Doing this activity by itself is relaxing; doing it in conjunction with EMDR is even more so!