I say YES, you can, train your brain to be happier! Let me run you through my top tips that make for a happier brain that you can start implementing today!
I believe its not really any different to getting fitter or slimmer. It might take daily effort, but you can achieve a happier state of mind, and a more positive personality, if you persevere. And anyone can be happier because it has nothing to do with what you can buy or what you achieve or how perfect you are. If that was true then only perfect, wealthy or successful people could ever be truly happy. Its about choosing to be happy. Its an inside job! Happiness doesn’t come to you, it comes from you.
Being happy simply takes practice just like everything else. The more you focus on it daily, the better you get at it. It’s all about repetition, and breaking free from habitual patterns of negative thinking. I don’t believe any of us can stay happy all of the time. That’s totally unrealistic! But maybe we can be happier with what we’ve got, or recover more quickly when things aren’t seemingly going right.
How many times have you not appreciated a relationship until its gone, or wished a certain part of your life over quickly and then realised later that it was better than you thought. If you are like me, you probably could of been happier many times, and yet you somehow didn’t allow yourself. You looked at everything that was wrong with the job, relationship or situation, instead of focusing on what was great about it. I could give you so many examples of when I missed the joy in a moment, and then regretted it being gone. These days, I’ve learnt to handle my mind a bit better, and see the positive, where sometimes there seems to be, only negative. Its taken a lot of learning and perseverance, and I’m still working on it, but I am definitely happier.
So how do we go about making these changes? I think it starts by taking responsibility for how you feel, and then staying focused on your thoughts throughout the day.
What has triggered the low mood, and what can you do about it? Is it out of your control and whats the upside of it? Am I making more of this, then I should? Is this really a problem, or was it just that I was maybe expecting more than I got? I guess, if you are reading this, and feeling down, then you might not make sense of these words at all. And I hear you. I’ve been depressed and when I was there, I wasn’t in the mood to be focusing in on the “every cloud has a silver lining”, mindset.
I think the trick with this, is to catch yourself moment by moment throughout the day, and not let yourself spin downwards into the spiral of fear, anger, shame, guilt etc. The Power of Now, (great book by Eckhart Tolle), is about being in the now and seeing it for what it is. If you are lying on the beach, in the sunshine, and worrying about a future scenario, that may or may not happen, then you are not enjoying the happiness of now. Worrying is a waste of time. It doesn’t change anything. It messes with your mind and steals your happiness. Or, if you are one of those people who wont let go of the past, know that its time to turn the page and to stop being afraid to move on. Stop trying to correct the past, and focus on now. Begin the new chapter of your life, by living in the present moment.
To change your mood, start by getting rid of bad thoughts. You begin the journey of change by first observing your thoughts and then making a conscious decision to change them. Seeing the glass half empty or half full, is a choice, which you can apply to everything. When you next catch yourself with a negative thought, I want you to try this simple strategy. Try negating the thought with the word “BUT”. For example, “I’m fed up with being single, BUT I’m not going to stay single because I’m going to meet my dream partner”, or “ I’m always broke, BUT I’m not going to stay like this because there are new opportunities coming my way”. This is a very simple but powerful technique, which really helps you to notice what you are doing, and enables you to flip it straight over, in the moment.
If you are being observant of your thoughts for the first time, you will be amazed at how often your thoughts are plaguing you. Shutting down the inner critic and that voice of doom and gloom, can create a huge upturn in how you feel about life. Start today, by being mindful and catch yourself at it. Then use the “BUT” word and put a smile back on your face. You will probably start to notice the mindset of others in your life too. Are they enjoying life or always finding something to complain about?
I’m guessing it will be the latter, because most people do seem to be programmed this way. Why can’t we look on the bright side of life and be happy daily with what we have? Are we just trained from birth to live our lives, looking for what’s going wrong or is it part of our genetic coding? Is it just that society has told us we need “stuff” to be happy? And that without it, happiness is impossible!
Apparently we are running anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts a day and 98% of them are the same thoughts as the ones we had the day before. But even more troubling, is the fact that 80% of them are negative. Can you imagine, thoughts like, “I can’t”, or “if only”, or “I’m not lucky”, and “why does it always go wrong”, running on a perpetual loop. Stealing both your present moment and future happiness.
When we wait for things in life to make us happy, we are not choosing happiness in the moment. We can never be “there” because we are always “here”. Get yourself into the habit of choosing happiness in every part of your day. Stop thinking about what you don’t have and start appreciating what you do have. You see, if you can’t be happy single, you won’t be happy in a relationship. Other people can’t make us happy, unless we decide to be happy. And if you rely on others to make you happy, guess what, you are probably assigning them too much power over your life.
One of my favourite quotes is by the great Roman Emperor, and great philosopher, Marcus Aurelius: “The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.”
So my final piece of advice on this blog is, choose your thoughts wisely!