Feeling Good for No Good Reason

Feeling Good for No Good Reason
by Pete Cohen
How To Books 1999

One of my favourite quotes is, “You will never find the time to do something; you have to make it!” One can easily apply this same adage to happiness. Most people are looking for happiness as if it is out there somewhere to be found. What they don’t realize is that we have to make happiness. It is not a condition to be sought, but a state to be created. Feeling Good For No Good Reason is a straight forward book with practical suggestions on how to create happiness in your life right now.

Reader Reviews at Amazon.co.uk. Book also available at Amazon.com
Please note: I have included the Table of Contents for this book below, as it was not available on Amazon.

Creating Unhappiness

"We all spend time imagining bad things that might happen. ‘Expect the worst and hope for the best…”  You get what you focus on, so when you constantly prepare for the worst, that’s probably what you’ll get."

Get Your Priorities Straight!

"On my street every Sunday morning I see all these people washing their cars. They spend up to an hour doing it. I feel like saying to them, “Didn’t you ever hear about having a sense of priority? The cars look great. Their owners look flabby, miserable, tired, red-eyed and hung over. The same people who take care to put the right oil and petrol into a vehicle and have it serviced regularly, treat themselves like scrap metal. They eat junk food, they don’t exercise and their idea of fun is watching rubbish on T.V. Why treat your car better than you treat yourself."

No Quick Happiness Fixes

"The fastest way to blot out bad feelings is to adjust your chemical balance artificially… These external quick fixes are very effective in the short term, regardless of whether they bad feelings result from boredom or overwork, from difficult relationships or from no relationships at all. Unfortunately, the amount of relief we get from quick fixes is roughly in proportion to the negative side effects which follow. The bigger the buzz, the deeper the downside. We go out every day looking for pleasure and everybody can afford to buy it in small does- a bar of chocolate, a beer, a cigarette, a prescription. But even the little legal remedies for unhappiness cause long term damage."

What Makes You Happy?

"The challenge is to find out what being happy means to you. This is not an abstract definition of happiness we’re aiming for but the feel, the smell, the taste, and colour – and of course the sound – of happiness."

Happy Thoughts Produce Happy Brain Chemicals

"The secret of feeling good more of the time and changing your mood at will is learning to mix your own chemical cocktails. The brain produces its own chemicals, including hallucinogens and endorphins. Some of them would be illegal if sold on the street and their effects range from bliss to psychosis. Did you know that with practice, you can gain control over the production process? You can learn to:
  • Selectively speed up production of the chemicals you want
  • Reduce or displace the ones you don’t want
This is, of course, slower than just buying those chemicals and washing them down with a glass of vodka, and it does take practice. On the other hand, it’s safe and it’s free. Plus the results actually improve over the long term – they don’t decrease as your tolerance rises. And there’s no liver damage."

"How is it done? Feelings are just chemicals. Remember the last time you felt really relaxed? Slipping into a warm bath perhaps, the water soothing and bathing you in relaxation from your toes to your nose. As soon as you start thinking about a time when you were happy, your brain obligingly reproduces the feeling for you."

"You know you can do it. Everybody can. You’re probably pretty good already at over-producing some of the uncomfortable substances you only need in emergencies (like adrenaline). You can learn to cut back on those fight or flight activators and increase the production of endorphins and serotonin at the touch of an imaginary button."

"If you can access a happy feeling, however briefly, what does that mean? It means that your body and your brain know how to manufacture the chemicals that make you feel good."

"Happy people typically have the knack of getting right into their good experiences and distancing themselves from the unpleasant ones. Not surprisingly, unhappy people tend to do the opposite."

Feel Good Formula
  1. Find a quiet place and take a few moments to yourself
  2. Remember a time when you were happy
  3. see if you can collect up five or six of these from the past week and write them down. (you aren’t looking for extended periods of bliss, just  moment of pure pleasure)
  4. Remember each cheerful moment one at a time and check where in your body the happy feeling starts
  5. when you’ve got something, run through a standard checklist:
  6. What did you feel and where?
  7. What did you see?
  8. What did you hear?
  9. What did you smell?
  10. Did taste come into it?
Feel Good Formula for a Good Morning
  1. What am I happy about in my life?
  2. What am I excited about in my life?
  3. What am I proud about in my life?
  4. What am I grateful about in my life?
  5. What am I committed to in my life?
  6. Who do I love? Who loves me?
Feel Good Formula for a Good Night
  1. What have I given today?
  2. What did  I learn today?
  3. How has today added to the quality of my life?
  4. How is today an investment for my future?
Accepting responsibility

"Your thoughts control your life. Your thoughts are what you will become… With all this power at your command, wouldn’t it be a good idea to point your thoughts in the right direction more often?"

"Are you going to make the effort to try even a few of the ideas suggested or are you going to buy yet another self-improvement book and just keep reading forever."
Declutter Your Mind

"Spring-clean your mind once in a while. Our minds fill up with our out-dated clutter – and sometimes they are littered with other people’s old ideas. Check what’s in your own memory bank and if it’s getting you down, get rid of it. You may find thoughts and ideas that were useful once, but if they don’t work for you any more, bin them."

Accepting Change

"Change is the only constant in our lives. Why don’t we admit that we are creatures of change and embrace the process."

A Positive Start

"If we tell ourselves things are going to be fine, we are already creating the internal resources we need to make things work."

Seeking Unhappiness

"The need to avoid pain is biological. It’s built into our nervous system. Physically we protect ourselves without even thinking about it… It’s a pity our psychological protection systems aren’t as efficient. In fact they can be downright dysfunctional. When we feel unhappy, do we react immediately and move away from the source of the pain? No. We’re much more likely to intensify the problem by adding another piece of negative behavior."

Release Negative Emotions

"The brain produces chemicals to deal with stressful situations. It produces them just the same, whether we’re actually dealing with a tough situation or sitting in the darkened cinema watching a bunch of men shooting at each other or a couple arguing on-screen. In terms of feelings, we can’t tell the difference between the scenes we watch and the scenes we take part in. But there is a difference. The difference is that we can only resolve emotional issues by getting involved and dealing with the crisis. If we simply sit and watch, tension builds up. Then we wonder why we can’t sleep."

Feel Good Formula for Stress Release
  • reduce your exposure to media stress
  • find an emotional outlet that you can participate in, rather than just watching
  • get involved (work, volunteer, learn, interact with people in the flesh)
Change Your Mental Images

"We actually think in pictures. If asked what you were doing half an hour ago, certain images would come to mind. When we become depressed, anxious or worried, we picture certain things that make us feel that way. If you think of your mind as a picture gallery where you are the curator and can change the exhibition at will, you begin to see that you can control what’s going on in there."

De-Stress Your Life

"Panicky people are late people – their time management is poor because they waste time worrying instead of preparing. They run round in circles looking for things they’ve lost. There’s nothing glamorous about living that way – so take some pressure off yourself by being very boring and get organized. It’s cheaper than therapy and sometimes the results are surprisingly pleasant."

Nip Negative Feelings in the Bud

"Wouldn’t it be great if you could choose how to experience the real and imaginary events of your life? When you’re late for work, when you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair, when you’re in a difficult interview – wouldn’t those be good times to step out of the experience and be a dispassionate observer?"

Create Happiness with Physical Activity

"Everybody knows that what you do with your mind can affect your body. But do you believe it works the other way round as well? Our well-being relates to our energy levels. Movement generates serotonin and endorphins. Have you ever noticed that children laugh a lot more than adults? They also spend a lot more time running around. The two things go together. Physical activity generates happy chemicals and disperses the stress-producing ones at the same time."

"If you think exercise is boring and gives your mind more time to worry, give yourself a double treat and listen to music – classical, rock and roll, jazz, or ambient, even mood-lifting – while you workout."

Don’t Affirm the Negative!

"If we were to tell you to deliberately spend ten minutes every day envisaging yourself being very ill, you’d quite rightly refuse to do it. Most people know that’s a bad idea – yet those same people may spend time every day worrying about their health. Lots of people accept that being depressed or traumatized can make them physically ill, but they wouldn’t consider spending ten minutes every day envisaging themselves being fit and healthy."

Plan Some Worry Time

"The kitchen timer idea is a brilliant method of controlling your worry time when you’re going through a really bad patch. I know one woman who gradually eased herself off anti-depressants by allowing herself a maximum five minutes each morning and evening to worry about things. She set the timer, sat down and wrote down as many anxieties as she could think of until it rang. Then she put the worry sheet on a spike with the date on it. At the end of the week she allowed herself a ten-minute worry fest, reading through the week’s lists. She knew she was getting better when she caught herself laughing at some of the items on Tuesday’s list on Sunday night."

Some Noteworthy One-Line Quotes

"The way to be happy is to generate your own internal happy chemicals."

"You are likely to get negative side effects if you do things for negative reasons."

"Unless you meet your own basic needs first, you can’t engage in constructive relationships with anyone else."

"When we think about our strengths, we are strong. When we think about our weaknesses, we are weak."

"People who want to change and are ready to change will find a way to do it."

"Everything we do causes pain or pleasure – so why don’t we just stop doing the stuff that causes us pain and get on with being happy?"

"The past can be a distraction, a justification or a smokescreen – whatever you want it to be."

"So stop it now and take control. Write (this) on a card – pin it up where you can see it… MY THOUGHTS CONTROL MY LIFE!"


1.  Feeling good for no good reason
  • Feeling bad
  • Understanding chemical reactions
  • Knowing how to be happy
2.  Using your brain for a change
  • Mixing chemical cocktails
  • Using the power of thought
  • Gettingn what you focus on
3.  Becoming aware
  • Investigating pleasure and pain
  • Discovering awareness
  • Trying some detective work
  • Solving the problem
4.  Getting in a right state
  • Avoidind death and destruction
  • Being strong enough to survive
  • Getting in a right state
5.  Coming to your senses
  • Coming to your senses
  • Casting
  • Seeing the future
  • Changing the soudtrack
6.  Getting out of your box
  • Getting out of your head
  • Getting out of your body
  • Respecting yourself
  • Getting out of your box



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