Does your brain produce happy or unhappy thoughts?
Sometimes we think it’s our genes that make us the kind of person we are. However, that’s not the whole story. Sometimes we are so preoccupied with the status quo that we forget we have the power to become the person we want to be.
So if happiness is what you’re after, know that by training your brain you can program your mind to make you happy. And let’s face it, who is not looking to be happy?
1. You choose how happy you are.
How? By the type of thoughts you make. Positive thoughts make you happy, while negative thoughts make you unhappy.
“I’m so fat.” – That’s a negative thought that makes you feel helpless.
“I will never achieve this.” – Another negative thought.
“I like spending time with my spouse.” – A positive thought that brings you good feelings.
“Let’s go on vacation, babe!” – Now that’s excitement! Happiness is here!
So far so good. But how can you produce more positive thoughts so that you’re happier?
2. You can train your brain to think happy thoughts.
By training your brain to think more positively than negatively, you’ll become happier. Here’s an example.
Have you noticed how some people feel bad about themselves when someone criticizes them, while others never seem to care?
What most people don’t know is that how you react to criticism is a habit – a thinking habit.
So some people habitually take it personally and feel unhappy, while others are habitually indifferent and keep being happy.
That isn’t true just about criticism. It’s true about everything: how you react to compliments; how you react to bad drivers; how you react when you feel threatened or taken advantage of.
By actively choosing different thoughts, you can reinforce the habit of thinking positively and decrease the habit of thinking negatively.
But what about occasions that are indeed negative? Does this mean you should deny the truth and wear rose-colored glasses? No.
3. You can think positive and still be realistic.
Some people equate “thinking positively” as wearing rose-colored glasses. That’s not what I am suggesting.
“I’m so unfit” – a negative thought that brings in bad feelings.
“I’m so unfit but I am now exercising and I’m getting fitter every day!” – started out as a negative thought, but got twisted into a positive thought. The result? One step closer to happiness!
You see, the word “but” is magical: it keeps your thoughts realistic, but they no longer make you unhappy!
4. Add a “but” to turn your unhappiness into happiness.
If you could just add a harmless “but” to every negative thought you produced, you could transform all negative thoughts into positive ones.
The result? You could transform all your unhappiness into happiness! A few examples:
“I feel like will never lose weight” becomes “I feel like I will never lose weight, but I know there are other people who used to be exactly like me and made it happen!”
“I will never find love” becomes “I will never find love if I keep staying at home just like I am right now. But if I start going out more, my luck might change.”
“I will never pay off this debt” becomes “I will never pay off this debt, but I could pay some of it if I start saving $100 more every month.”
See how powerful the word “but” is? It’s like having a happiness magic wand!
5. The more you get used to adding a “but,” the better happiness results you get.
At first you’ll need practice. Adding a “but” to your negative thoughts does not come naturally when you’re just starting out.
However, the more you do it, the more your brain creates neural pathways that build the habit of thinking “but” automatically every time you think negatively.
This “but” technique will literally change the structure of your brain and elevate your happiness level dramatically. Being happy can be that easy.
6. Why affirmations can make you unhappy.
Many people try to jump to the happy thought directly from the unhappy thought. So instead of thinking “”I’m so unfit, but I am now exercising and I’m getting fitter every day,” they’ll think “I’m fit”. They jumped from “I’m so unfit” to “I’m fit”.
Just like poor people make “I’m rich” affirmations.
The problem is that usually those “happy thoughts” are not really happy thoughts. They instead make you unhappy. Why? Because you don’t believe them.
If you believe you’re unfit, you cannot fool yourself into believing you are fit. However, you can believe that you can get fit.
And that’s why the “but” technique works so marvelously. Just like the “what if” technique, it accepts where you are, but shows you the road ahead.
So, what’s a negative thought that you can turn into a positive one with the simple use of a “but”? How will you start training your brain to be happy today?
Thich Nhat Hanh was right. You don’t have to wait to be happy in order to feel happy. 5 Ways to Bring Happy into Your LifeFeatured photo credit: EEPaulvia Flickr