Interview With Jeannie Dougherty: Sharing Her Thoughts on Mindfulness, Cultivating Inner Happiness and How They Help Your Relationships
1. Can you explain what mindfulness is and why it is important in relationships?
Mindfulness simply means you are aware of your inner and outer experiences.
When you are mindful it means you are aware that your feelings, physical sensations, your body language, and your responses to your environment aren’t reflexes.
Mindfulness in relationships is a critical component to healthy relationships. When your partner mentions that you seem sad, lonely, happy, or excited, it means he is tuning into you.
A good check-in is to notice if you actually feel what your partner is sensing from you.
Mindfulness is also helpful when you and your partner argue. Did you feel anger? At what point in the argument did you raise your voice? Are you still angry now? What are you doing when you think about the argument?
Mindfulness often encourages us to notice our thinking, feelings and behaviors to see if they seem to be patterned responses in our relationships.
Healthy mindfulness can prevent arguments, reduce stress and increase your overall happiness.
2. Based on what you said, it seems mindfulness isn’t something that occurs naturally, but rather something you have to practice being good at.
How can someone go about developing mindfulness and are there any activities that can help cultivate mindfulness?
Mindfulness is breathing consciousness into your life.
The best way to practice mindfulness is to pick a time to practice. For example, on your break at work.
Step away from your virtual life and take a few moments for yourself. Check in with yourself to see how you’re feeling.
Are you consumed with stress, boredom or horniness?
What’s really happening in the present moment? That’s what is really important, not your fantasies.
When you are at home, take a few moments before you eat to practice being mindful. For example, ask yourself while you’re preparing food: “Is this something I truly desire to eat right now?”
If you keep hearing your inner voice say: “This is what is available” or “Yeah, I guess it is,” then again ask yourself: “What do I really desire?” Savor that desire instead.
3. You mentioned “A good check-in is to notice if you actually feel what your partner is sensing from you” What if the partner is not sensing how you feel whether it is anger or anxiety or disappointment?
This is part of a healthy discussion. Most partners tune in or tune out because of their ability to understand you and what is expected of them in the relationship.
So if you are feeling angry, anger or disappointment and they don’t notice, it’s best to ask what they are feeling.
Some partners are so self-absorbed with their thoughts and stresses they wouldn’t notice anything unless it dropped in their lap.
If you are in need of your partner’s ear ask him when you can have it. Ask what is going on with them? They may want to speak to you now or wait, neither response is bad.
However, if their response is always later, this could be a timing issue.
Keep in mind most men need some time to transition once they come home from their jobs before they want to be involved in a discussion. This gives you time to think about what you’re feeling so you are not reacting as soon as you see him.
4. So much of your advice focuses on becoming aware and living in the “now.” Some of our women subscribers tend to worry a lot- they worry that men are not approaching them or they are worried they are attracting the wrong men or they are worried that they will always be single and never find the right man etc.
So they are constantly thinking about the future and in the process not able to enjoy the present and the negativity only becomes worse as time passes on. What would your advice be for women facing this problem?
I remind my clients that NOW is our most powerful creation.
If you were outside building a powerful fire on a cold day, you wouldn’t eat the snow and drink cold water to stay warm would you? Many women assume if they give 75% of their thoughts to worrying about the future and the other 25% to being present to the “now” that it should somehow work.
But it doesn’t.
Fulfilled relationship dreams only come to fruition when 100% of your thoughts are focused in one direction and one direction only.
Instead, stay 100% focused on what you want and on being present to what you already have in your life. Remember, the “how” is never up to you. All you can do is put out the energy frequency of what you want, and let the Universe decide the fastest way to bring it to you.
Let go of trying to control “how” something will happen, and embrace letting it happen in whatever way it does.
5. We live in a world where I think we often end up looking for happiness from outside- happiness from a promotion, happiness from buying a nice dress, happiness from money, happiness from our partners etc. Sometimes we end up tying happiness for an event that needs to occur or a special person to enter into our lives.
How can someone cultivate inner happiness and change their belief to happiness is in me and comes within me?
No matter how many promotions you get or new outfits you buy yourself or how many relationships you get yourself into, you will never, ever find real happiness in any of these things.
Sure, it might make you feel happy for the moment to buy a new outfit or to get a raise, but in the end, sustainable happiness requires a lot more than that.
Happiness is a lifestyle, and if you decide to share the happiness your have for yourself with a partner, that is the Ultimate Happiness.
However, your partner—current or future—cannot make you happy. Only you can do that.
Every healthy relationship happens because both people were happy by themselves first, and then became even happier by getting together.
You must first find happiness with yourself, before you can ever find happiness with someone else. You do this by investing in what makes you happy, instead of playing roulette with your happiness and only being happy “once Mr. Right shows up.”
Do the internal work required to really get to know yourself—your likes, dislikes, what turns you on, what turns you off, what you ultimately want for yourself and your life. When you do that, you’ll find happiness radiating from inside you, which will, in turn, radiate into your external world.
6. Some women stay in toxic relationships despite being unhappy, unappreciated and unfulfilled. Even though they realize that they need to get out of such relationships, they still stay because they either hope their partner would change or fear that they would never be able to find another man.
Can we engage in self sabotaging behaviors that keep us from being in happy fulfilling relationships and be addicted to toxic relationships? How can we overcome these behaviors and what changes do we have to start making?
Yep—we can and we do.
I find that some women are addicted to things like drama, hectic schedules, people who treat them badly, etc., and they have no clue on how to set limits with themselves or anyone else. So what unfolds by default is constant drama, and toxic relationships and situations.
Our worst self-sabotaging behavior comes from listening to your limited and fearful beliefs.
For example, if you have a fearful belief that you will be alone forever if you get divorced, you’ll stay with your husband no matter how toxic the relationship might be.
If you really want to have healthy relationships in your life, build a fire pit and let your fuel be happiness, mindfulness, self-love and trust in your inner voice.
7. I have read that we tend to have our own internal set point for happiness- meaning some have a low happiness set point while some have a higher happiness set point. So people with naturally low happiness set point can win the lottery and their happiness can increase for a short while before they are dragged back to their natural low state of happiness whereas people with naturally high happiness set point can suffer a setback but soon bounce back to a higher state.
What are some simple things people can do to raise their happiness and constantly work on improving their natural set point to a higher state?
It is true that scientists have studied our human happiness potential. It’s also true that happiness is a choice.
If right now you think you might be living at the low end of your happiness potential—don’t fret. Once again, happiness is a choice.
The most important thing to remember is that happy people survive life-altering tragedies, unconquerable diseases and poverty.
If you always choose happiness, even when your life seems bleak, you will return your natural set point to a higher state automatically.
Feeling low or having a lower happiness set point may mean you need to utilize your support network better: friends, family, mentors and co-workers. It may also mean you need to explore your faith or your sense of spirituality.
I have worked with many people who’ve found that they actually moved into their higher happiness potential once they decided to get curious about life and the human race.
Once they decided to study and explore, that’s when they learned how to embrace happiness in general, not just at the low or high end.
8. I also read that gratitude can improve happiness. In today’s world, we have the habit of taking so many things for granted that we are always looking for what’s not there rather than cherish what we have.
What are some ways we can consciously cultivate the habit of gratitude?
Gratitude is one of the easiest things to cultivate.
Gratitude lists abound all over the world in self-improvement and spiritual practices. Gratitude is really the practice of slowing down your own sense of lack and doom, and thanking yourself for this moment of time, your accomplishments, while telling your fears they are not the most important voice in your head.
I like to create gratitude practices in my own life. Some of my favorites are:
1) Move with gratitude around your house or office. Just take a few minutes and find the feeling of gratitude. Move with the feeling, being thankful for everything you have and everything you desire.
2) Draw or sketch what you are grateful for.
3) Create your very own “Pinterest Board of Gratitude”
4) Find a gratitude partner and text, email or listen to each other’s daily gratitude lists. This is a very powerful practice.
Another idea is to use a service like Gratitude160 to get gratitude reminders sent to your email or phone. When one arrives, you simply reply with what you’re grateful for at that moment.
Gratitude must be a daily practice if you want to see a transformation in your life.
Ask yourself one question: when you don’t have gratitude in your life, what is the result?
9. Some of our readers have a tough time with meditation. They either feel too distracted or they are too restless to be able to meditate. Some also tend to have the mindset meditation is not for me.
Is that the negative mindset within us making up excuses and are there any other activities or exercises people can do to improve mindfulness and ease anxiety?
Meditation is designed to create focus and peace, while removing doubt and anxiety.
If you feel you’re focused and at peace with little to no doubt or anxiety, then perhaps you don’t need a meditative practice. However, the Dali Lama is considered the Buddha reincarnated and he practices daily.
Meditation is often taught while one is still or sitting, however, there are moving meditations too.
Bikram Yoga has been described as a 90 minute moving meditation. There is 5Rhythms™, Ecstatic Dance, Journey Dance™, and just the concept of trance dancing that can move you into a trance like or blissful state.
Don’t be so hard on yourself, even monks struggle with meditation.
All you need to do is commit yourself to a meditation practice of some kind. I promise you, if you commit to a meditation practice you will reap the benefits in your life.
10. Can you share any resources, programs or books that would help our readers to improve their mindfulness and happiness?
Happy, the movie, is a great film about what it means to be happy across the globe.
If you use binaural beats or theta meditation music your meditation practice can feel enhanced. There are dance communities you can get involved in that vary from social dancing, like swing and salsa dancing, to conscious dancing like 5 Rhythms™, Journey Dance™ and Biodanza™.
These are wonderful communities to build up your support network, have fun and experience something else out of life. There are meditation meet-ups, laughing yoga classes and mindfulness retreats across the globe.
About Jeannie Dougherty
I’m a professional relationship coach who has ignited hundreds of people to transform their relationship roadblocks into relationship fulfillment, using my Conscious Movement Transformation™ methodology. Where does your happiness come from?
Take my quiz and find out: www.jeanniedougherty.com.