WHAT IS HAPPINESS?
What did you do to make your holidays the best ever?
It is a new year and I hope things so far are going well. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in life. Some days will be more challenging than others. When it comes to being happy, some people believe this is an attitude that one has or develops (or doesn’t). Some say it is based on life circumstances (i.e. having money, health, family, friends, etc…). Some say it is just luck and some people have good luck and others have bad luck. What do you think happiness is?
My view is that all of the above, and probably several other factors, play a role in someone being or feeling happy. I also believe that happiness, like all feelings, will vary in intensity and amount. As you know, some days are better than others and as such affect the level of one’s happiness. Regardless of the day, there are certain things we can control or influence and others that we cannot. We cannot make it warmer. We cannot magically have a wonderful family or set of caring friends. Such external factors are outside of our control and sphere of influence. There are also internal factors such as how and what we think about, believe and do. These internal factors are more within are control. Although, some days we may not feel or believe this.
If you believe that you cannot control, influence or change your thoughts and subsequently your beliefs, chances are you tend to think on the negative side. You are also likely to struggle more with worries and self-doubt. In order to change such thinking you must first realize that this is a problem. Actually, we don’t need to categorize it as a problem. We can simply recognize this is what I tend to do. Another step involves deciding that you no longer want to think this way. Now comes the hard part – actually changing your thoughts.
One way to do this is by literally writing your thoughts. Split the page in half and use the left side first. Once you have written 4 or more thoughts, take a moment to evaluate them and determine if your thoughts are positive or negative. Decide if your thoughts are ones that contribute to feeling happy or not. If they don’t contribute to you feeling happy, think about what kind of thoughts would. You can ask your supports for help if you want. Such thoughts might sound like the following:
– I’m glad it stopped snowing.
– I feel better being inside.
– I’ve been sleeping (eating) a little better this week than I did last week.
– I am trying to think more positively even though it is hard.
– I feel better when the rest of the family is not home (is home).
– The person behind the counter smiled at me.
– I got out of the house today.
By doing this kind of exercise you are beginning to change the dialogue in your head (which we all have). If you have struggled for awhile, the automatic and “normal” way of thinking might tend to be negative. Changing this will take time and practice. The more you practice it the more comfortable you will become in thinking in positive terms. When you start to think in positive terms, you are likely to minimize and fall into the, “Yea, but” trap. That’s okay. Recognize that as part of the process of change. Keep working on writing the new positive dialogue. In time, thinking in such positive terms will become your way of thinking and the new “normal”.
Talk to you soon.
~ Dr. Lou