Are the winter blues getting you down?
Don’t let the weather – or any other outside event – determine your level of happiness. If there is one primary insight revealed by recent research into the psychology of happiness, it is overwhelming evidence that happiness is a choice; it’s within our control, regardless of outside circumstances.
But general knowledge is one thing and practical tools quite another. To help you prove this to yourself, here are a few happiness tools that are guaranteed to work:
1. The Happiness GPS
Have you ever wandered off the beaten path without realizing it? Slowly it dawns on you that nothing looks familiar and you must have taken a wrong turn. That’s when you bring out the good ol’ GPS.
Happiness is our natural state. When we feel anything but happy – anxious, irritable, sad, stressed – we’re off track. Fortunately, there’s a GPS for happiness to get us back on the right track.
G = gratitude
P = present moment
S = smile!
As soon as you notice any degree of upset, think of something specific to be grateful for and fill your heart with gratitude for that one thing (or person, or experience…)
Then bring your mind back into the present moment (which is the only moment we really have, right?). Being in the present moment is a necessary element of happiness because only the present moment is real. The tendency of the mind to wander to the past or future is a great cause of unhappiness (because these are not real, and therefore are very anxiety-producing).
Then – smile! A great big wide one is best. Even a fake smile sends a message to the brain that it’s happy. And if repeated often enough, the brain just becomes happy more and more often of its own accord (since happiness is our natural state).
The best way to remember to use your happiness GPS is to put a little sign on the dashboard or the bathroom mirror or anyplace you’re likely to see it often.
The happiness GPS is easy to use, costs nothing, and really works, so give it a good workout.
2. Follow That Thought…
Every feeling comes from a thought, and we create all our thoughts. That means we have control over our feelings just as we do over our thoughts.
When I first came across this idea (in Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s book, Conversations with Yourself), I was shocked. It seemed too good to be true that I no longer had to be controlled by my own out-of-control feelings, that I could occupy the driver’s seat of my own life. But it is true.
Next time you have a feeling you don’t like, stop and think, “What was the thought that came before this feeling?” The answer is usually obvious and will jump right out at you. When you let go of this thought, the feeling automatically disappears. Letting go of a thought is much like dropping an object you’re holding: simply relax the mind and the thought will disappear of its own accord.
3. Don’t Believe Everything You Think
Since we create our own thoughts, we tend to be very attached to them and to believe them, unexamined, almost all the time.
Thoughts are the mind’s attempt to interpret reality; they are not the voice of Truth. As hard as the mind tries, it gets it wrong a lot of the time. So, to believe what we think without examination is a big mistake that causes a lot of misery and unnecessary suffering.
If you think, “She really doesn’t like me because she hasn’t returned my phone call yet,” and believe that thought simply because you thought it up, you’ll soon become upset. If you have the same thought and don’t believe it without further proof, you will stay calm, centered, and much more in touch with reality.
Take all your thoughts with a big grain of salt and you’ll be much happier.
4. Jump for Joy
You don’t generally find depressed people at the gym or on the walking trail. Exercise is a natural anti-depressant (clinically proven). Even a little bit is very powerful, sending strong positive messages to the brain.
We sometimes think of the brain as being all-powerful and impossible to train. In fact, research shows that the brain is extremely suggestible and readily responds to whatever message we, the owners and operators, send it. With a little perseverance, your brain will come along with whatever message you suggest to it. So if you tell the brain that you’re strong, active, and happy, eventually the brain will agree and will start creating that reality on its own. The easiest way to start doing this is to smile (GPS), but the more exercise the better.
Try this exercise, no matter how cynical your initial reaction is to it: jump for joy. Literally. Go somewhere and start jumping for joy and see what immediate results you get. Doing something concrete and physical is very helpful in changing thought patterns that create unhappiness.
All of the happiness tools above are guaranteed to work if used! Pick one today and get happy.
Visit HappinessClub.com to find a Happiness Club in your area or to start one of your own. There’s nothing like regular reinforcement and inspiration from others to help one stay on the happiness track.