Happiness is a muscle – build it!
If you want to have a really buff body, you have to put in the reps. Same with happiness – the more you use your happiness tools, the better they work for you and the happier you become.
Creating a happier outlook and happier life is simple, but not easy. Here’s what that means…
- First, you need to be aware of the thoughts you think automatically that don’t serve you. Don’t kid yourself – this one is hard. Research on how the brain processes thoughts shows that the more often you think a thought, the more likely you are to believe that the thought is true. And if it’s true, shouldn’t you think it? Well, first of all, it may or may not be objectively true – it just feels true to you because you’ve thought it a lot. The litmus test for you is how does that thought make you feel? If it makes you feel good, great – keep it. If not, then that’s a thought that doesn’t serve you. That means it’s worth the work to make your brain stop thinking it.
- Second, each time you think a thought that make you feel bad, you must interrupt the thought and replace it with a better one. My favorite tool for this is the mental stop sign, but you can use whatever works for you. The old rubber-band-on-the-wrist trick works for some people, so find what works for you and use it every time you find a negative thought rattling around in your noggin.
- Third, you need to focus on the positive, not negative, events around you, and be consistent about putting a positive spin on even the most negative events. Yes, bad things happen, but far more good things happen than bad. Focus on the good things, and when something bad happens in your life that you have to deal with, find the positive aspects and focus on them.
How do you do that? Thankfully, there are tools you can use. Just like when you want to hang a picture, you reach for a hammer and nail, when you want to change your thoughts, the right tools (like the mental stop sign) are what you need. Here’s an example…
My long-term marriage ended quite suddenly, and quite out of the blue (or was it the oblivious?) That first night, I was numb and didn’t know what to think or feel. Early the next morning, I awoke with that “punched in the gut” feeling, and then the internal questions started. What could I have done wrong? What could I do now? What will the rest of my life be, now that it clearly isn’t what I thought it was?
Because I’ve worked with all of these happiness tools for most of my life, one of them came to the rescue as if on autopilot. The “gratitude and appreciation in the moment” tool kicked in and made me literally laugh out loud, as I realized that henceforth and forever more, the toilet paper would be hanging the way I wanted it – the right way! That small moment reminded me that, no matter what, life must go on and can still be fun.
When you make a conscious effort to use the happiness tools that are available to everyone – optimism, pursuing goals, significant close relationships, being responsible for your actions, forgiveness, meditation, gratitude, and appreciation in the moment – not only does your outlook on life change, your life changes. In my keynotes and workshops, audience members not only learn how to use the tools, they also have the tools’ effectiveness validated by their peers. Each of these tools works – pick two, use them regularly, and watch your life change.
Use it – don’t lose it, and have a happier life!
I’d love to know if you use any of these happiness tools – please contact me to let me know how they’re working for you!