In Part 1 of this article, I touched upon how people often equate happiness with people, experiences, or material things outside themselves. However, happiness is an internal state of being and we get to choose whether we are happy or not. As a result of the very nature of how our brain has developed, and the link to the fight or flight response in the amygdala, we tend toward negative emotions as a means of survival. So, it appears, the cards are stacked against us. We are already doomed. Should we just give up and let our negative emotions and negative thinking dictate how we want to be in the world? Hell no!
Below are some suggestions about increasing positive thinking in your life and raising your happiness energy level. It won’t happen overnight. These take time and practice to master as you shift from seeing things from a negative point of view to one of positivity. Be persistent and I guarantee that you’ll soon wake up and realize your life is already a blessing and you have more than you could ever imagine.
You need to figure out what happiness means to you and what your intentions are for your life. I want you to write it out, not just halfheartedly think about it in your thoughts. Take a pen and a paper and write out what happiness means to you. Also, write out the areas in your life where you are already experiencing happiness. For example, great friends, a loving partner, good health, etc. You may surprise yourself and realize there is more happiness than you thought. Then write out what matters to you. Your values and beliefs and compare those to the people and things in your life. For example, if you value honesty, but you work for a company that is deceptive in its practices, then you are going against your core beliefs and will ultimately not be happy. Live your life according to your values and beliefs, and to what you measure happiness as being for you, and you will stay the course.
In order to increase positive thinking, you need to first be aware of your negative thoughts and the negative words you speak. Our words create images in our mind and those images create emotions. For example, stating “I am so ugly” may invoke an image of someone from your past saying you were ugly, which invokes a feeling of sadness and reinforces a belief you aren’t attractive.
Become more self-observant and notice the words in your head or that come out of your mouth. Remove the following negative words from your vocabulary: 1) try – “I’m trying to…”or “I’ll try to…” instead say “I am attempting to…”; 2) when – “when I lose weight, I’ll go on a vacation” – don’t delay your happiness; 3) worry – “I worry that I won’t get that job” – you have no control over what will happen, but you have a choice to view things more positively; and 4) can’t – “I can’t do that” – you can either choose to do it or you can choose not to, can’t doesn’t exist.
As you start to pay attention, you will realize how much negativity you spew in a day. Not just about yourself, but about others too. We tend to be the hardest on ourselves and the words we say to ourselves whether out loud or in our heads is often cruel and unkind. When you catch yourself saying something negative, reword it in a more optimistic and positive light.
Affirmations are great, but they don’t work because we don’t believe it in our heart or our body. Let’s take a negative thought and reword it to something you can buy into. For example, “I am so stupid, I can’t figure out this new software at work.” If you were to say: “I am so smart and this software is easy,” you wouldn’t buy it. Instead, start new positive sentences with either “I am in the process of…” or “I am on the path to….” So in the example above, reword it to: “I am in the process of figuring out this new software with ease” and truly believe it in your heart and with your complete body. Get excited, feel the energy, let it flow through your whole being.
Being mindful means being present in this exact moment. You want to observe with all your senses, describe what you are experiencing, and participate fully. Try an exercise with your morning tea or coffee. What color is it? What type of container is it in? How does it smell? Maybe you hear yourself blowing on it to cool it down. How does it feel on your tongue? Notice the taste. Notice as it goes down your throat and warms your belly. Feel the different sensations it elicits in your body. The emotions it invokes. Maybe some memories come up – acknowledge them and let them go.
The more you stop to be mindful and present throughout the day, the more you become increasingly aware of how you are feeling, what is happening in your body, and what your needs are in any given situation. Maybe you’re thinking: “Why was I just so abrupt with my colleague?” Well, if you take that moment to check-in with yourself, you may realize you’ve been working straight for the last six hours and haven’t eaten or had anything to drink. You now realize you are hungry, exhausted, and need a break. Bringing mindfulness into your life can provide new insights and clarity around making healthy choices and decisions for yourself, which, in turn, will help you to feel more calm, stable, and happy.
Create a vision board of all the things you want to have in your life. Dream big. Nothing is unreachable if you show up and take action every day. Whatever you put on your vision board, don’t attach to that exact thing. If you have a picture of a house on your dream board, don’t expect it to be that exact same house. Let the universe bring you something even better. Look at your vision board daily, when you wake up in the morning and before you go to bed at night. Take time throughout your day to day dream and visualize as if it’s already come true. Sense what it will feel like in every pore of your body. How will you act? What feelings will it elicit? What kinds of things will you say? Who is there with you? Visualize it as if it’s already real with all of your senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch. Get excited. Remember your brain doesn’t know the difference between when something is true or imagined. Hence, why pro athletes visualize completing their actions flawlessly over and over again. It is powerful!
There are 168 hours in a week. Let’s say I’m being generous and you get about 9 hours of sleep a night. This now leaves you about 105 hours. I’ll shoot for the low side of the scale and say you work 40 hours a week. Add in an hour a day for travel. Leaving you 60 hours. Let’s say 10 hours a week for cooking, cleaning, shopping and you now have 50 hours. What do you want to fill with those 50 hours with? Your life isn’t just work and sleep. Engage in your life. Find out what is important to you and make sure you increase those parts of your life.
Seeing this visually can be very powerful. Get out a piece of paper and draw and big circle in the middle of it. Then on the side write all the things that are important to you in your life – whether you are currently doing them or not. Some topics can include: friends/family, partner, spirituality, charity work, hobbies, travel, education, work, reading, etc. Whatever matters to you. Then plot the percentage on the pie chart for each of these things. Work will still take up a big piece of the pie. However, you may notice that some important parts don’t even register on the pie chart. For those percentages that you want to increase start to add those into your life on a daily or weekly basis.
We are incessantly bombarded with negative messaging through media. We have difficulty shutting down our phones or computers for fear we might miss out on something important in our social media accounts. We watch the news on TV or on our computers or listen to it on the radio. We write posts or respond to people’s posts about the injustices and the state of the world. We keep our phones at our beds and respond to people’s texts or emails in the middle of the night. We are not using technology as a tool, we are allowing technology to rule how we live our life and how it affects our state of being. If you are constantly thinking of your immediate world and the world at large through a negative lens, then that is how you will feel: frustrated, angry, upset. Instead, seek out articles, blogs, cute/funny animal pictures or videos, Ted Talks, documentaries, books, seminars, workshops that support your mental and emotional well-being.
Technology keeps us distant and disconnected from real human interaction. Look around your dinner table tonight and see what everyone is doing. If they are all on their phones or iPads, or no one is there because they are somewhere else in the house on their phones, computers, or watching TV, then you need to ask yourself if this is the life you want and the relationship you want with those closest to you. Unless you are a doctor who will get an emergency call in the middle of the night, turn off your phone. Choose a specific time and take all phones and iPads away from family members until the morning. Tell people you will be unavailable and shut down all technology on the weekends. Instead, get outside, spend some one-on-one time doing activities with your family or friends. Notice how it increases your emotional well-being.
Just because you have been friends with a person since grade school, doesn’t mean that person should be in your life. Every once in a while it is a good practice to clean house around the people who are in your life. This also means removing people on all your social media accounts. What are the qualities you want in a friend? Write them out. Examples include: being positive, supportive, kind, giving, spiritual, loyal, like-minded. Whatever is of value to you. Then write down all of the people in your life, including family members. Then compare the list of values with each friend or family member. If they don’t uplift you and bring positivity into your life then it’s time to remove them completely. With family members, distance yourself and create healthy boundaries for when you do interact with them. If your friend is constantly badmouthing other people, I can pretty much guarantee he/she is doing the same about you when you’re not there. Whoever you surround yourself with, is how you will feel and act. Choose people who you aspire to be and who will make you a better person. Feel the relief and joy as you release these negative people from your life.
We are all just energy particles bouncing around through time and space. We are infinitely connected to one another, to inanimate objects, to animals, to plants, to trees, to the very earth we are living on, and to the stars and galaxies beyond our reach. Start to see the beauty in everyday things. Take your eyes off your cell phone for one minute to notice what is happening around you. I remember being on the train one morning and the sunrise was absolutely breathtaking. I took that moment to take in all the brilliant colors and feel the joy in my heart and every cell of my body for the warmth and energy of light the sun brings. We are truly blessed. I looked around to experience the joy on other people’s faces and to my chagrin not one person was seeing or experiencing what I was. Every single person either had their eyes glued to their cell phone, was reading a book or the paper, or listening to music with their eyes down or closed. I wanted to shout: “Look up, open your eyes, you are missing out on the most spectacular sunrise.” Open your eyes and truly see beyond yourself.
Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude
Buy yourself a special journal and pen. Keep it with you throughout the day or at your bed at night. Write down five things every day that you are in gratitude for. It doesn’t have to be big. It can be as simple as “I found a quarter today” or “the sun was shining”. Whatever you feel in gratitude for. When you are feeling low, read through all the things you’ve written and it will stimulate your emotions and body sensations to the same vibration you were feeling when you experienced it the first time.
You can also do this as a family. Get a clear jar and have everyone decorate it together. Have everyone choose a specific colored piece of paper that will represent them. Every day have every household member write on their colored pieces of paper 1-3 things they are in gratitude for that day, speak it out loud to each other, and then place it in the jar. Keep the jar in the kitchen or family room where everyone can see it fill. When someone is struggling, have them pick out one or more of their colored sheets to remember how happy they were when that experience happened. At the end of the year, get together as a family and read out all the wonderful things you’ve experienced that year.
When you wake up in the morning, or while you’re driving to work, state all the things you are in gratitude for. For example, “I am in gratitude for my health, my parent’s health, my family, my dog, my home, my job, my car, my financial abundance.”
Writing a gratitude journal, keeping a gratitude jar, and speaking about the things you are in gratitude for, will not only increase your positive outlook on your life, but you will feel hopeful, and you will start to create even more abundance to be in gratitude for.
This is not about perfection. Increasing positive thoughts can be challenging. Be kind and compassionate to yourself. Do the best you can as you try out some of these suggestions. As with all other emotions, happiness will come and go. This is normal. Don’t berate yourself for not feeling happy 24/7. However, do take the time to engage in these practices and you will notice that your happiness increases.
You have the choice and the control to create a life filled with happiness. It is your God-given right to be happen and create a life of meaning and joy. Live in gratitude for all the abundant blessings you already have. Remember, what you place your thoughts on expands exponentially. What you think about and what you speak about, reflects how you feel and how you act in the world. Make sure those thoughts and words are of the highest vibration.
Still struggling to bring happiness into your life or would like some support? Contact me to set up an appointment. Have more questions? Call me at 403-891-1384 to set up a free 15-minute phone consultation.