Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • April 2013
Written by  Judy Rogers, LCSW


What is your definition of happiness? Some of us would say it is the absence of sadness, while others would say it is the inner peace they feel when they meditate. Some say it is that fleeting feeling you get when you obtain something you consider valuable — a relationship, money, new home, dream job or the perfect pair of shoes. In psychology, happiness is defined as positive emotions such as optimism, high self-esteem, surrender and contentment. Buddhism says happiness is achieved by overcoming all desires.

Desire is one of the most basic human emotions. It is an instinctual impulse that creates feelings of yearning to acquire anything that we consider valuable. Put a mouse in a maze filled with new things, and it will gather them up and save them for a “rainy day.” The desire to acquire is an impulse from the primitive brain that rewards us by releasing the pleasure neurochemical dopamine. If too much dopamine is released, we become addicted to our yearnings. This explains how it can be that people never get enough power, money, influence, houses or cars. It also helps us to understand addictions to drugs, food, sex or relationships. The primitive brain never feels like it has enough. So no matter how much we accumulate of what we desire, it is not enough to bring lasting happiness. And if we lose what we desire, it can create great suffering.

So how can we experience “unconditional happiness,” which is the experience of happiness that is independent of having or doing? It is that inner state of peace and well-being. I believe we can find that kind of happiness when we are able to slow down in life, get off auto-pilot and develop “happiness habits”(Shimoff). In her book, “Happy for No Reason,” Shimoff shares her research after interviewing “100 unconditionally happy people” and the behaviors they have in common. Shimoff lists five happiness habits: being good to your body, questioning your mind’s authority, releasing old attachments, letting go of the “I’ll be happy when” syndrome and making a deep connection to a higher power. Happy people’s higher power had different labels: God, universe, higher self, spirit, creator, nature.

The Mindfulness Center for Wellbeing™ offers groups that take you on a journey to a happier and healthier life. Through a guided eight-week group experience, members learn how to get off auto-pilot and live more conscious lifestyles. Through awareness and acceptance, they learn how to take good care of their bodies, decrease negative mind chatter, release limited thinking and painful emotions, and develop a unique daily practice that connects them to the higher power of many names. Groups follow along with The Mindful Turtle Study Guide™, which was written to enhance weekly group participation and help members develop a daily practice and connection to their higher power. The study guide includes various tools, meditative practices and inspirational readings that follow the topic of the week. 

Judy Rogers, LCSW, is the owner of Mindfulness Center for Wellbeing, a private practice specializing in integrative psychotherapy, including mind-body medicine. They offer individual, couple, family and group counseling. By integrating evidence-based therapy practices from Eastern medicine, they are able to enhance the best of Western medicine. Check out or call 920-722-7245 for more details and to find out when the next group session of interest will start. You can also LIKE Mindfulness Center for Wellbeing on Facebook to follow what is happening at the center.

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