I think my main message through writing this blog is to bring home the idea that habits are the key to happiness. It’s often something we hear over and over again especially if we’re trying so hard to find and create that sense of ease and happiness in our lives. But sometimes in our frustration it can land on deaf ears or these habits start to become so cliché.
Starting the intention to change can be the hardest step. We’re comfortable in our routine habits, mindsets and beliefs yet we rarely see the connection between each one. Each one is feeding the other and so creating our lives.
It really is starting with little habit changes and realising how we’re choosing to show up in the world through the way we think.
This week I thought I’d post a Lifehack article I wrote a while ago highlighting the common negative thinking we’ve been conditioning ourselves towards and the need to drop them 🙂
The language we choose to use is a really good indication of where our mindsets are. Many of us believe we’re a positive person but is that reflected in what you say to others or how you talk about yourself?
It’s really important to be mindful of what we say as most of the time we aren’t fully aware of how we come across or the beliefs we put forward. It can sometimes be very subtle but the one we can probably all relate to is complaining. Do you complain a lot? Why? Question yourself, why do you have this belief? Is it limiting?
You may have heard about the rainy day analogy. A rainy day can mean something completely different to two different people depending on their perspective yet they’re still experiencing the same thing. What this shows is that we have a choice. If you find yourself complaining about a rainy day, can you see a different perspective? Can you think more about the plants that need the rain or be appreciative of your warm, waterproof clothing instead of cursing the possibility of the rain ruining your day?
And what about the negative language we use with ourselves? We often say things to ourselves that we’d never say to a friend and yet we are more willing to talk negatively or berate our being. We think it’s harmless. It’s habitual. We may not even realise we’re doing it. But over time it becomes extremely detrimental to our happiness. After all, if we’re not able to show love to ourselves then no one else truly will.
When you describe yourself to someone are you putting yourself down a lot or building yourself up positively? Be mindful next time you’re in conversation with someone – it may surprise you.
Do you tell yourself you’re a failure, not good enough or not worthy enough? Or do you tell yourself you’re successful, lovable, kind and lovely? To a lot of us this feels unnatural because we’re led to believe it’s egotistical and that we shouldn’t think highly of ourselves. But our self-beliefs shape our thoughts and how we move through the world. Therefore, it’s logical that thinking negatively about ourselves will ultimately affect our happiness levels.
Remember, what we think is a choice. Positive thoughts and words bring more of the same into our lives and the same goes with negative thoughts and words. It’s up to you which side of the spectrum you want to lean towards.
If you speak negatively about things, positive people will naturally be repelled from you while negative people will be drawn to you. Which would you prefer?
It’s all about awareness and intent. Most of us really aren’t aware of the things we say because we’re so used to thinking negatively about ourselves. These negative beliefs may have come from past experiences or what our parents or peers said to us but they are untrue. For everyone.
Start noticing your level of self-love and the way you look at the world through the daily language you use. Let it be an indicator of where you’re at. This will be a powerful start in turning your awareness towards more positive words and therefore experiences in your life 🙂
Life is full of challenges and each one of us deals with them in our own way. The majority of us can get hit to the ground and find it hard to pick ourselves up. The idea of happiness can feel a lifetime away during these times so is there a better way of looking and responding to challenges that could get us back on track more quickly?
Challenges allow us to grow and expand. There are some that make us feel unlucky, hard done by or dejected, but ultimately every challenge is there to help us grow positively in some way. It could be happening in order to get something out of our way, to make us realise something that we can apply to the rest of our lives moving forward, it could be to move us to new circumstances with new people. Whatever it is, there’s usually a purpose within it that isn’t clear to us in the moment.
What purpose are you giving to your current challenge?
The challenge you’re facing is neutral. As humans, we have a need to give everything a meaning – and it’s either a positive charge or a negative charge. Our challenges inherently cause us to focus on the negative so we choose to think we’re being punished or not worthy or beat ourselves up for making a ‘wrong decision’.
So the purpose we give that challenge penetrates us on a deep emotional level.
It can shape our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us in a negative way.
So what can we do differently? Ideally you can shift the way you look at a certain challenge in your life to a more positive one and start to question why you think it’s happening. Training the way we look at challenges helps the brain see beyond the short term negative impact challenges can seem to have. Just like our muscles need tension and stress to grow, so does our human spirit and the challenges that we face are opportunities for us to expand and learn.
Changing your perspective
What we focus on the most is what we’ll see the most. This is why it’s so important to choose to see the good in something rather than the bad. Believe it or not, there’s good in everything but for a lot of us (especially when we’re slap bang in the middle of it) it can be hard to hear.
Instead of asking why is this happening to me? or what have I done to deserve this? Ask yourself what is this showing me?How can I grow from this experience? It’s important to anchor yourself and believe there must be some good in this situation even if it’s hard to see in the moment. How many times have you gone through something that felt so awful at the time but with hindsight you realise the message, growth and positivity that came out of it? Choose to try to feel this ‘hindsight’ even before you figure out its ultimate meaning in your life. This will create an inner strength.
By doing this in any challenge you face, you’re connecting to the inner strength that is found in every one of us and is the foundation to the way we forge through life.
You will learn to move through the challenge with more self-empowerment knowing that everything is happening for good. We all have a choice on how much charge and emotion we put into seemingly negative situations so choose the positive. Happiness isn’t always a constant but it’s always there waiting for us to choose it. Train yourself in allowing the idea that the world we live in isn’t as negative as it appears to be and your challenge is ultimately there to serve you.
If anything, this can give you a little sense of relief and open up the crack of hopefulness which is the start of getting back on track 🙂
There’s immense power in writing things down. It’s very easy to think about our hopes and dreams, or positive and negative emotions but in the act of writing them down, our brain is forced to process the feelings more intentionally. It’s this process that can generate a type of therapy or create a sense of excitement within us that helps towards that all-important happiness.
There are several ways the power of writing things down can increase our happiness.
Keeping a Gratitude Journal – The combination of writing and feeling gratitude is extremely powerful. The act of doing this allows us to think back through our day in a positive way. Our brains are wired to look for the negative in order to survive and keep us safe so we need to make that extra effort to think about the positive aspects. Physically writing our blessings down means you’re able to look back over what you’ve written and further make you realise the wonderful things currently in your life. So each night write out the best thing that happened to you that day (even if it’s as simple as a free coffee or a smile from a stranger!) and then list out 10 more things you were grateful for happening. Keep this up and you will feel it getting easier and easier to find things to be grateful for 🙂
Lists – We can often feel overwhelmed with the amount of things we need to do each day so writing these tasks down is a wonderful way of organising them in our mind. Crossing each one off helps the feeling of productivity and raises your feel-good worthy vibes.
Writing Out Affirmations – Each morning get out a pen and paper and write out a few meaningful affirmations and use them as your mantras throughout the day: I am worthy, I am loved, I am a successful person, I am capable of anything!Keep them in your wallet, write them on your mirror, or stick them on a post-it note to act as reminders. Take the time to really think about what you need to hear from yourself – it may feel corny as you write them out, but they feed you that little bit of positive reinforcement throughout your day and slowly creates a more positive mindset from within rather than validation from other people.
Keep a Daily Journal – You might associate journals with teenage girls but journal-keeping has come a long way since the 80s! Writing down how you feel is a good therapy session. If it’s negative it can help get it in the open because physically writing it out and re-reading can give you further perspective on the subject. It allows you to really reflect on why you feel that way and find a way to change it. You can also just use a journal to set out your positive intentions for the day and helps keep tabs on your productivity keeping you aligned with your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. I personally use The Daily Greatness Journal but even just getting a plain notebook and doing it ad hoc is still very powerful.
Writing things down helps with awareness. Most of the time we’re on autopilot and don’t structure our daily routines. This means we aren’t always being mindful of how we live our lives. By writing things down, we can start to understand how we think, why we think the things we do, challenge these perspectives, know ourselves better and see the world in a more positive light. So get out that pen and paper and harness the power of writing things out 🙂
There’s a lot that man’s best friend can teach us. Not only are they loyal companions but they have the ability to be mindful in the moment. This means less overthinking, less negative emotions and more appreciation for the world around them.
Here are 10 things we can learn from our canine companions!
Enjoy the Present Moment. Dog’s are simple creatures which is probably the main secret to living a happy life. They’re able to focus on one thing at a time and enjoy it whether it’s a nap, eating their dinner or their morning walk. They can go from sleeping one minute to barking at the postman the next showing the ability to let go and move on from each moment and being present in each one of them.
Don’t Hold Grudges and Love Unconditionally. As humans, it’s easy to hold grudges and judge others for their actions but this only comes from our fragile ego. Dogs, however, even when they’re left for a few hours, don’t hold it against you. Instead they’re more focused on being happy to be reunited with wagging tail and nothing but love.
Celebrate Success. Acknowledging our successes is really important to leading a happy life and dogs do this all the time. Doing what their owner tells them to and getting a treat for it is their way of celebrating a positive success.
Be Excited About the Little Things As Much As The Big Things. A walk, a new person, a bit of chicken, seeing you come home, a different smell – it’s an endless attitude of gratitude in a dog’s mind. Being thankful and finding the wonder in the small things is what happiness is all about.
Trust. Dogs put their entire trust and faith in us to look after them and they do it with endless love. There’s no doubt or judgement in our capabilities which is something many of us struggle to do with each other. Having a little more faith in others builds a better connection and less resentment in relationships.
They Show Themselves Compassion. When dogs are tired they’ll sleep. This may seem obvious but how many of us will work ourselves to exhaustion not looking after our health and minds. Dogs know what’s best for them and they do it because they instinctively rarely go against their needs for optimum survival.
Don’t Judge Others. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your skin colour is, your religion or what job you have (unless maybe you’re a vet!) a dog doesn’t care or judge. They see everyone as the same. Dogs feed off peoples’ energy just like us but humans sometimes let preconceived ideas get in the way too. We all need to be more like a dog and be more accepting.
Mindfulness. Dogs are so in tune to everything around them whether it’s a leaf falling or a squirrel running across the garden. They are aware and mindful of what’s going on and usually without the overthinking and hundreds of distractions we have. Mindfulness is another important key to being present in the moment and appreciating one thing at a time.
They Enjoy The Journey. We’ve all been told happiness is the journey not the destination and dogs are a great example of this. They don’t tell themselves that they’ll be happy once they get to the park. They are enjoying the car ride there, the getting ready to go, the anticipation of knowing the park will eventually turn up. They enjoy each moment right up until they see that park through the car window. This is what a happy life is all about.
Don’t Take Things So Seriously. Dogs live like every day is their last. They will have fun, spend hours playing with a stick or an old tennis ball – they aren’t worrying about what they’ll be doing tomorrow. Fun is the aim of their life.
We can’t all live a dog’s life but we can learn from how they choose to perceive the world around them and inject more of these principles into our attitude and daily habits. Next time you see a dog, let it be a reminder to you to be more like them!
I was a bit hesitant on writing a post about the things people do wrong when it comes to happiness – I’d rather write about the mindsets and perspectives we should adopt to live a happier life – but I think sometimes it can be easier to spot what we aren’t quite doing rather than be told what we should be doing! 🙂
As humans, we can sometimes get into habits that we pick up from an early age or we can be easily influenced by what our parents think or thought, what society thinks or just general opinions that people we come across have.
1. Devaluing happiness
There’re so many articles about how to be happy that a lot of it has become quite cliché. We can roll our eyes and dismiss it all. But in doing this we can devalue the potential of creating happiness in our lives. Our ideas of happiness can be misunderstood – happiness comes in the form of the big achievements rather than in the walk to work or the conversation we had with the postman or neighbour. By doing this, we’re never really that happy and we devalue happiness in the process. Never find yourself in a position where you feel happiness is overrated and you should just accept the crap going on in your life. This will just keep you from experiencing the joy of happiness altogether.
2. The need to be superior to others
How many times have you argued with someone and you have the overwhelming urge to be right. You absolutely have to prove that they’re wrong! This comes from a place of superiority. Accept that everyone essentially thinks they’re right. Accept that what you think isn’t ‘better’ than someone else. Everyone has different perspectives based on their life experiences – let it go. Recognising that trying to prove your point is essentially, well, pointless! It only generates feelings of frustration and lessens your happiness.
3. The need to be loved
We all want to be loved but the problem comes when we feel we need to be loved. This indicates a lack of self-love within ourselves because if we truly think we’re awesome there is no need to be loved because you already feel it. If you feel this need to be loved you may want to look at possible low self-worth issues or the idea that you’re not enough unless you’re loved by people. Happiness comes from within and this starts with the love you have for yourself.
4. Being overly controlling
The need to control, again, comes from a lack of self-worth. You feel that things must be a certain way for you to be happy. But true happiness comes when you release control and be happy with whatever the outcome will be. Once you do this you instantly feel more at peace and realise by controlling outside factors you were actually restricting your own ability to be happy.
5. Lack of trust in others
We do live in a untrusting society but this doesn’t mean we have to buy into being untrusting ourselves. The majority of people are honest and sincere at their core. Believing otherwise stops you from experiencing that trust and also stops the other person experiencing being trusted. It’s a wonderful feeling to choose to believe you can rely on other people to do something without worrying. Learn to trust and your happiness will grow.
6. Lack of trust in life
Faith is massive when it comes to happiness and by ‘faith’ I’m not necessarily talking in a religious sense. Trusting the direction of your life and believing whatever happens is for your higher good in the long run will give you that sense of peace that comes with being happy. The problem comes when we spend precious time worrying that our life isn’t how it should be or we must be doing something wrong every time something ‘seemingly’ goes bad. Relax and trust it’s ultimately all good.
7. Ignoring your inner-energy
We are extremely powerful beings. Our thoughts shape our beliefs which, in turn, shape our lives. We have the ability to change how we think. We have the ability to change our beliefs and our mindsets. We have gut feelings that steer us in the right direction if only we wouldn’t ignore them. Dismissing our inner-energy and walking around disconnected with it, is a sure-fire way to know you’re not reaching your full happiness potential. Meditating even for a few minutes a day can help you connect with your own unlimited supply of happiness. Everything you need to be happy is found within you.
How often do we just accept our perspectives on things?
Our perspectives come from our beliefs – the beliefs that are formed from the people around us or the experiences we’ve had. But we hang on to these perspectives for dear life believing that how we see things is the correct way.
I think if we want to be happy we need to question the way we choose to see the world around us.
Everything in this world is neutral. Every situation, circumstance, object or person is neutral and it’s only the label we put on these that cause them to mean something to us.
I can’t remember where I read this but there’s a good analogy about a rainy day. A rainy day is not good or bad. A couple on their wedding day will see a rainy day as bad yet a farmer wanting his crops watered will see a rainy day as good. Neither is a right or wrong perspective but you can guarantee which set of people will be experiencing a more stressful day as a result!
The importance of this is that it can be applied to anything in our own life. We can choose to see a positive perspective or a negative one. We are the ones doing the labelling and whatever we choose will also condition and train our mind over time to see these different situations and circumstances in the same way.
Once we label something it has the tendency to stick. If you always associate a rainy day as ‘bad’ then there’s more chance of you always associating a rainy day as a negative in the future.
So how can we use this to increase happiness in our lives? Every time you choose to label something happening to you as ‘negative’, stop and question yourself. Is it really negative? Could it just be the way I’m choosing to look at it? How could I spin it to a positive? Even doing this in a small way will condition your mind to see the good in even dire situations and you will start to see more positivity around you and feel it within yourself.
Once we do this we can also start to understand other people in a more empathetic way. We can realise others are seeing things and reacting to things based on their limiting beliefs, their current life circumstance, thoughts they’ve created from other people, or the culture and society they live in. Understanding this means we can detach ourselves from getting upset or offended so easily by others.
So remember, everything is neutral and you are the one giving it meaning. To live a happier life, start to see things in a more positive light and question why you are giving certain negative meanings to things. It can be a good step towards leading that happier life 🙂
Life is full of ups and downs and the way in which we react to them are very different depending on our mindsets. But something we can all be guilty of is feeling sorry for ourselves.
While it’s normal, natural and healthy to feel our negative emotions to a situation, when it becomes too persistent and prolonged – even a habit – then it can have a detrimental effect on our happiness and well-being.
Do any of these describe you?
You tend to complain about life not being fair
You feel like you always have bad luck in life
You often think and feel the world or other people are out to get you
You think people who have great lives are the ‘lucky ones’
You struggle to find anything to be truly grateful for
As human beings, we are always drawn to the easier route and in this case it’s easier to feel sorry for ourselves than to pick ourselves up and face our problems. We can let our overwhelming feelings of pity get in the way of moving forward, creating a better mindset and better perspectives.
The problem with this is, we never really allow ourselves to reach our true potential of happiness.
It can blind you to the good that is right there in front of your face. You can push people away with constant ‘glass half empty’ chatter because, sometimes without knowing it, negativity can spread like wildfire to others around you.
None of us are perfect and we all throw ourselves a pity party every once in a while but to be more consistent in our personal discovery of happiness it’s really important to make a conscious effort to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and move forward.
More often than not, negative emotions will breed more and more creating an everlasting circle and it’ll become a destructive habit. We believe it takes too much effort to start changing our thoughts, beliefs and perspectives – that they’re too ingrained in us and something we have no control over – but it’s not true and to change our thoughts is never as hard as you think it is.
Next time you notice a prolonged period of time where you feel nothing ever goes right for you, just stop and take note of it. Make a conscious choice to see the opposite perspective. The people out there who are ‘lucky’ are no different to you and me other than the way they choose to see the world.
Make your happiness a choice…it’s not always something that just magically appears but does needs cultivating and consistent habits in order to achieve it 🙂
It’s probably become a bit of a cliché to say that you should be yourself no matter what. But authenticity is a major factor in achieving a more peaceful, happy way of life.
We all have our little insecurities and hang ups whether it’s the way we look, certain parts of our personalities, how we sound or the way we walk. We often harbour beliefs about ourselves that can stop us showing others how we really are but by doing this and not embracing ourselves warts and all, we are shutting ourselves off from a lot of happiness potential.
Being yourself attracts more authentic people. When we are our true selves we are putting ourselves out there – we are being vulnerable and doing it anyway. We attract what we give out so by being as authentic as we can will attract others who are being authentic.
We will attract the right kind of people because they are seeing who we really are. By not fully embracing ourselves we can’t be fully embraced by others and the relationships and friendships that will bring us the happiness we need.
It will also deter the people who won’t fit into our lives and this isn’t a bad thing. Never worry that by being yourself others will see you and all the faults that you see in yourself – these are only a figment of our paranoid imaginations anyway!
Loving yourself is the best thing you can do. To be your authentic self you need to learn how to love yourself. Some people may need more work on this than others depending on the false beliefs and perspectives they have of themselves but you have no idea how many of the negative problems that occur in your life can be resolved by just seeing how amazing you are.
You don’t have to be successful, rich, give all your money to charity and help everyone but yourself until you’re stretched and exhausted, to be an amazing person. You are unique and wonderful just for the sheer fact you are alive and the sooner you realise this the better 😉
Learning not to be a people pleaser. How many times do we say yes to people out of politeness or not wanting to let them down? While this is good sometimes, you are putting yourself at risk of lowering your authenticity every time. You are going against what you truly want to do or say which only keeps up the pretence and illusion and may even cause you stress in the process.
Learn to say no and love and respect yourself more to not chase after people in order to please them. That doesn’t mean being rude and offhand – it’s about respecting your boundaries and asking others to respect them too.
Make peace with how your life is in the present moment. We’re all guilty of chasing after the happiness that will come when something happens and a lot of the time that something either never comes or doesn’t bring us the happiness we craved.
To be authentic means to live in the present moment; to appreciate right now and not be constantly living in the past or the future. We are not the person we were in the past nor are we the person we will be in the future. Embrace how you are right this second, go with the flow of how you’re changing and adapting to life’s experiences.
Don’t be who other people want you to be. Society has managed to inflict rules upon us that cause us to act, speak and often be people we feel others think we should be. By bowing down to a way of life that doesn’t truly match our inner selves and passions, we are shutting off our full potential.
Life is too short to live according to how others feel we should. Most of the time the beliefs that others have are from their own limited idea of the world and it’s these limitations that have the potential to stop you from showing yourself as you really are and reigning in your happiness in the process.
Don’t compare yourself to others. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, comparisons are only detrimental to you. You can’t compare yourself to someone else – a completely different person with different perspectives, beliefs, thoughts and limitations. Doing this damages your ability to embrace who you are in the present moment and making peace with your own unique journey in life.
So remember, for your happiness to truly flourish you must make yourself your number one priority.This isn’t about being selfish, it’s about going to the source and creating the means to living a life you want. Loving yourself and being authentic can only affect others around you in a happy and positive way so it’s the least selfish thing you can do 🙂
We’ve all heard that it’s all about how we respond to a negative situation that determines how we deal with the outcome but what about our negative thoughts?
I wrote a post a while ago explaining why negative emotions are crucial to happiness. To live a happy and fulfilling life doesn’t mean you need to be positive and upbeat every minute of the day – we need negative emotions to help us work through difficult times and to show us where we may be focusing wrong.
It can be frustrating when you’re having a good period and all of a sudden your mood changes, someone says something offensive to you, something happens that makes you feel you’re back to square one again. It could even be something really serious like illness or suddenly losing your job.
But there’s a difference between negative emotions and negative thoughts. Negative emotions are our reactions to big events or situations – they are there to help us work through the tough times and come out the other side.
Negative thoughts are much more important when we consider our happiness and mental well-being. Our beliefs are a result of our thoughts and when it comes to the beliefs we have about ourselves or the world around us, we can have a whole plethora of negativity going on in our minds. The same negative thoughts can go round and round until we don’t even notice them – they become a negative belief and this is where it gets dangerous.
It’s these thought patterns that can stunt the growth of our happiness and a lot of the time we don’t even realise we have so many of them. We then give them permission to grow by allowing them to come back over and over again cementing the negative belief. So the answer must be to get rid of our negative thoughts, right?
Actually, no. Your goal isn’t to get rid of negative thoughts, it is changing your response to them.
We’ll never truly get rid of our negative thoughts so there’s no point putting unnecessary pressure on ourselves to rid them altogether.
Instead, when you next have a negative thought – either about yourself, someone else or a situation you face, just stop, acknowledge it and choose your response. You can either choose to change the thought and therefore react in a different way or choose to continue the negative thought until it affects your mood and even contribute to your core negative beliefs.
This is why meditation is so wonderful for teaching you how to notice your negative thoughts and giving you the space to do this. It teaches you to:
Be more aware of your thoughts both negative and positive.
Notice when a negative thought arises and don’t pass judgement on yourself or blame yourself for the thought. (remember self-compassion!)
Acknowledge the negative thought and note it.
By getting into the habit of doing this, you’re gradually giving yourself the power to respond to these thoughts – whether that’s getting to the root cause or changing it to a more positive thought. After a while you will actually start to notice the negative thoughts start to fall away more easily and you will definitely notice a difference in your mindset.
So next time you have a negative thought, stop and acknowledge it. Ask yourself how this is contributing to your overall happiness and choose to take the power back 🙂