How the Wim Hof Method can make you happier
Everyone wants to be happy. We’re often looking for ways to increase and influence our happiness. How is that for you? Are you satisfied, happy and relaxed? Or are you (sub)consciously wishing for more happiness in your life? Is there a way to achieve this?
What does happiness mean to you?
Happiness can’t be boiled down to a simple word or definition. It is not just related to big and compelling life events. Happiness can also be found in little things. It is an individual experience, so how can you maximize your own potential for happiness?
For me happiness is a walk on the beach in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, the place where I grew up. Feeling the wind in my hair, watching the always impressive ocean and endless beach. Healthy and delicious food can really boost my energy and spirits. An intense conversation with a good friend. Dreaming away with a good book. Watching a movie on the couch with my family. To have these opportunities makes a me feel privileged.
I also find happiness in yoga, meditation, breathing and... nowadays the cold. Really, I never would have thought that the cold could bring me happiness and joy.
A fresh look
My biggest discovery was that I could become happy so close to my own home, in my own neighborhood. I live on the waterfront of the Vecht river, but I always thought it was too cold to jump in. As a psychologist, coach and yoga teacher, personal development is a big part of my life. During my Mindfulness studies, ‘To take a fresh look’ was an important theme. Can you have a fresh look at everyday things? What do you see then? – was the question. I looked at the river again, differently this time, and suddenly I noticed an attraction, almost an invitation to jump in. What could I lose? Swimming in the river turned out to be unexpectedly wonderful. Also when the water got colder in the fall. ‘Being’ in cold water was my greatest discovery.
This process was the beginning of a quest that ended in finding more happiness in my life.
Step 1: Breathe, breathe and breathe
Scientific research shows that various emotions are connected to various breathing patterns, according to happiness researcher Emma Seppâlâ. As a yoga teacher I understand the importance of breathing. Breathing is the secret to regulating and controlling your emotions. This means that through breathing you can influence, control your emotions. What a beautiful, useful instrument this is to have with you all the time!
When I discovered the techniques of Wim Hof, I found a power of breathing I did not yet know. Being able to consciously activate your body and finding deep relaxation very quickly. No other method offered me this. Normally, it takes a while before I find peace of mind but after the Wim Hof Method breathing exercises I entered another dimension where rest and happiness rule.
Step 2: Developing focus
In the everyday hectic our attention is continuously splintered. Thankfully, you can train your attention and focus with the Wim Hof Method. To me, the mindset exercises are axiomatic. I recognize the combination of power and flexibility from my yogic practice. Creating awareness in the body with exercises, is discovering space and rest in body and mind. This way, it becomes a conscious component of creating a powerful focus. It’s about ‘reprogramming’ your spirit. Undertaking the following step is a must: exposing yourself to the cold.
Step 3: The unknown force of the cold
In our contemporary, comfortable lives we have forgotten what cold can do for us. Yes, we know it’s healthy. But there are many more advantages of exposing yourself to the cold than you can imagine. The exposure influences the development of positive emotions.
Research from 2007 showed that taking cold showers lowers a depressive state. This, because of stimulation of dopamine transmissions in the mesocorticolimbic and nigrostriatal pathways. Or in layman’s terms, the cold water creates a stream of mood sensitive neurotransmitters that makes you happy.
Developing your own happiness
In the Wim Hof Method I found a way to develop my own sense of happiness. People close to me tell me I glow now. And I feel like a happier person, abler to withstand life’s adversities. I feel stronger and more capable of working out my dreams and goals.
You too, can maximize your happiness!
Power lies in developing daily habits. Repeating behavior ensures learning new things. Develop the habit to take time for yourself. Do the breathing exercises. Followed by yoga or meditation exercises. And then take a shower. Gradually, change the water from warm to entirely cold. Allow yourself to get used to it and increase cold water exposure slowly. And if you’re ready, take a dip in cold water in nature. Or follow a Wim Hof Method workshop. Under supervision, you will experience even more what this method has to offer.
With this beautiful method you have an instrument in your hands to maximize your happiness.
What’s stopping you from starting today?
Naomi Stubbé is a certified WHM Instructor.