Being happy - a topic picked up by many books and self-helping talks. Reading books and listening to a podcast about that topic over the last year made me realize that it all boils down to some enlightening principals.
Often we make a choice to be unhappy. It is odd that anybody would choose not to be happy. But given that we make our own lives more difficult by focusing on the negative aspect instead of moving on and focus on the next positive opportunity is mind-boggling. Negative focus happens often because it is combined with comparison to others. A reason might be that it is easier to focus on the negative aspect and get stuck. A positive mindset requires effort.
Especially in the age of social media, it is easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with others. Everybody seems to be happier than ourselves. I call that social media effect. Remembering that people rarely post sad things on social media may not be the first thought which comes to our mind at that moment. Instead, social media is filled with happy moments which are great when we understand how to deal with it. This effect was also researched in the following paper.
Let's see how that would look like in the real world: It is a rainy and cold workday. The feeling that the day is longer than 24 hours and time is standing still - yeah one of those days. Working on a tedious work assignment is in particular responsible for that feeling. It is too tempting to get distracted and browse on social media, only to discover that an acquaintance is on his trip around the world. All you can see is breathtaking pictures of sunny beaches and wonderful landscapes.
A negative mindset: You are wondering how he is able to afford that. He is "always" traveling and he is "obviously" not working as hard as you. You feel jealous and believe life is unfair - it sometimes really is. After your workday, you go home and you are thinking about your acquaintance again and you are wondering what you did wrong in life. The result is that you are negative and there seems to be no salvation.
A positive mindset: Among the pictures you find some interesting vacation ideas for yourself. After some investigations, you decide to make a plan to do a vacation. You make it a priority for yourself to make it happen. This enables you to develop a thrill of anticipation and the result is that you get inspired and happy.
This example can be transferred to many other situations.
What's important to realize is that a negative mindset influences the relationship with others. Not only will a negative mindset poison our own well-being but it also changes how other people perceive you. This can become a negative spiral and a self-fulfilling prophecy. "What we think will become reality" can be a very powerful tool to be successful but it can also spin in a negative direction. Therefore, it is important to discipline our mind.
Learn to appreciate small things in life is a counter-measurement. Enjoying the little things like the smell of cherry blossoms in spring, sun rays on your face after a long rainy season or the appreciation of the relaxing feeling of a hot shower can make all the difference.
There are simple tricks to learn to be grateful.
1) Take a bunch of - at least five - marbles (or chestnuts) and put them in your left pocket in the morning. Whenever you feel happy, take a marble out of your left pocket and put it in your right pocket. Before you go to bed look at the marbles in your right pocket. Maybe you will be surprised at the numbers of marbles you will find in your right pocket.
Tip: Remember every moment when you take a marble out of your left pocket, and about the thoughts and situation at that very moment. If you would like more marbles (= happy moments) in your right pocket, create more of these moments like that.
2) Writing a journal - no matter in a digital form or physical form. I personally write twice a week in an app on my laptop to capture my thoughts and feelings. Mostly I make sure to include photos. Whenever I get overwhelmed by negative feelings I browse through my journal to realize all the wonderful things in my life.
Realizing that nothing and nobody are perfect is an important step to be happy (and successful). There is no perfect solution to anything in life either personally nor in business. Learning to forgive ourselves is an important step to accept that failure is OK. The key is to learn and grow on mistakes and not punishing ourselves to try opportunities.
Not being afraid of having goals and making our goals a priority in life is an important step to more life fulfillment. It may be a good idea to announce your goals to family, friends, peers or even publicly. This will increase commitment to successes and not give up along the way. Additionally, it may create an opportunity for others to be part of the journey or be a support.
In rough times, it is vital to take yourself - and your loved one - out for a nice treat. Be it a day out in nature, a nice spa to relax, a board game night with friends or just a walk to your favorite place to creates space for new and positives thoughts.
Being aware of negative thoughts and feelings is halfway to a better mindset. That enables to counteract it early. It may be enough to step out the situation for a short walk, taking a deep breath (or mediation) or just a couple minutes with a favorite happy song. Nobody is always happy but it makes a difference when we understand how to appropriately deal with negative thoughts. Finally understanding and avoiding the situations and persons which make us unhappy can support us on our journey to a happier life.
The realization that long-lasting happiness comes from within - not by others and not by money is key to creating an environment to nurture positive mindset. As shown in the happy planet index, there is a reason that wealthy countries are not necessarily the happiest countries in the world. Contrary I would suggest that obsessive focus on money or materialistic objects will lead to a negative mindset because it distracts from learning gratitude small things in life.
We are all on our journeys in life and will most likely never perfect it. More so it is important to keep working with ourselves and others to create a better and happier environment.
You have questions about this post? Would you like me to write more about a similar topic? You think something is missing in this post? Leave a comment or E-Mail me at Blog@Steven-Geller.com