“It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” – Dale Carnegie
I’m happy. Not enough people can say that and mean it. I haven’t always been happy. I can remember a few years ago hating how my life was going. My parents were living their lives through me, I didn’t have many friends, and I’d spend most nights watching tv and surfing the web, seeing pictures on Facebook of people enjoying themselves. I was jealous and I wanted that.
Wanting something, I’ve learned, is not the same as actually getting it (obvious, I know). I became sick of being unhappy, lazy, and frustrated, so I took action!
3 Steps to Increase Your Happiness
I’m happier now than I’ve ever been but I want to be happier. According to Marci Shimoff, Author of “Happy for No Reason“, everyone has a set happiness level. No matter that happens, whether good or bad, you always go back to that happiness level. For example, if you get fired, you’ll be sad for a little while, eventually time will pass and opportunities will come and you will go back to that level of happiness.
The awesome thing is that, wherever your happiness level is at, you can increase or decrease it. I would like to share the ways I’ve been increasing my happiness levels and maybe you can try them for yourself and see if they work. This is what life’s all about – being happy.
Action Step 1: Carry Around a Gratitude Journal
It is a known fact that people who are grateful for that they have (even if it’s not the greatest) are happier people. Being grateful doesn’t mean accepting all of the bad in your life, it’s paying attention to the part of your life that is good. The law of attraction says that whatever you think about, you attract. If good things are what you pay attention to, you will get more of, and vice versa. Happy people think about happy things.
My gratitude journal keeps my attention on the awesome things in my life. Not only do I write in it anytime I think about something great in my life, but also when I’m feeling down. It write anything from my awesome light rail ride to work, the beautiful day, something nice someone did or said, the food on my plate, the roof over my head, etc. The more things I wrote, the more that came to mind. My attention slowly started changing from the negative to the positive. I don’t like exaggerations, but this was truly transformations for me.
Spongebob has taught me a thing or two about happiness.
Action Step 2: Meditate and Practicing Awareness
Meditation is a wonderful wonderful thing to get into. When I first started practicing meditation with my partner, it is was super difficult for me because I couldn’t concentrate that well. My mind was all over the place. When I tried to focus on clearing my mind, my thoughts continued on without me noticing. I wasn’t aware of my thoughts. This meant that they went off into dark places without me knowing. That wasn’t good and I bet you do the same thing. I needed to learn how to meditate and that’s where guided meditations came in.
I prefer guided meditations because there is a guiding voice that kept my thoughts in check. Sometimes they would go off to their own little world but I would hear the person talking and stop thinking to focus on the voice. I do it mostly when I go to sleep, however, I’ve been practicing doing it on a daily basis by only paying attention to my breathing wherever I am. This increases my awareness and helps me keep track of my thoughts. Straying thoughts can cause a lot of harm but through meditating and practicing awareness, you can heal yourself and find what’s been holding you back from happiness. You got this!
Action Step 3: Stop Believing All of Your Thoughts
You may not believe this, but your thoughts aren’t always right. For me, that statement was hard to come to terms with. Our thoughts are a mixture of beliefs that you were either raised with or based on experience. Our beliefs are our reality. For example, when someone’s been hurt by many people or a close relative, they have a belief built around that experience (i.e. “everyone is going to hurt me at some point”). You can say that statement isn’t true for you but for someone else, it’s their reality. It’s what they’ve always experienced. This includes limiting beliefs of oneself (“I’m not as pretty/handsome/strong”), oneself life situations (“I don’t have enough money”), or beliefs about others (“they’re so dumb/mean/boring”).
Whenever I notice myself thinking a negative thought, one way I combat that limiting beliefs is by asking myself “Do I know for a fact that that statement is true?” Most of the time it’s a “no”. Then I ask, “How do I feel knowing that it isn’t true?” This opens up my heart and calms me down. Instead of being negative about myself or others, I notice that those statements aren’t necessary and they vanish. I’ve noticed that this happens often and It’s something I’m working on the most. It’s been tremendous with increasing my self-love and self-esteem. It has also strengthened my relationship with those around me because my limiting beliefs aren’t giving me a skewed perception of those relationships.
What’s your next Action Step?
There you have it! Three easy steps that you can do TODAY to become a happier person. Remember, if not today, it will always be tomorrow. Try practicing one or more of these habits and you’ll start noticing the amazing things that are happening in your life, because there are a lot. Trust me. Your life is amazing and you have beauty all around you. Even the darkest times have a silver lining. Focus on that and watch it grow.
I definitely have seen a tremendous change in my attitude throughout the years. I know that as I continue my journey, there’s only more waiting for me. All of my adventures are leading me to that point of no return. That’s the goal – pure happiness.
What are some self-limiting beliefs that you tell yourself? What are some phrases you can use to combat those negative thoughts?
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