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The 7 Most Powerful Thoughts on Happiness

The 7 Most Powerful Thoughts on Happiness

We’re all in the pursuit of happiness. Some of us find it early, but others unfortunately search for their entire lives. We can reverse-engineer happiness by studying the thoughts of the people who have found the well of happiness and tap into it everyday. Here are 10 unconventional thoughts they have that allow them to experience happiness and contentment effortlessly.

1. “I am adequate as I am.”

People sometimes feel that their vulnerabilities hold them back, that they weaken themselves. In reality, vulnerabilities can be the your greatest strengthsSociety is good at cutting us down to the lowest common denominator, so that we’re all square pegs that fit through the same, uniform hole.

In reality, we couldn’t any more different from one another. Some of us give in and let society do what it wants with us. Others fight to the very end. While the latter does involve struggle, it allows you to feel blissfully happy to be yourself and not have to conform to terms and conditions you had no choice but to agree to.

2. “The thing that hurts me the most is actually my greatest strength.”

Everyone has a weakness — something that throws them right into the gutter when people attack it, or point it out. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” or so they say. This saying was based on the premise that you ignore people who try to rile you up. Secretly, it still hurts you.

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What truly happy people feel is that their weakness can potentially be their greatest source of strength. They acknowledge that it makes them feel weak, but it could also help them become immensely happy — if they are to see it in a new light. Someone who’s overweight can choose to hate their weight and try yo-yo dieting. It’s destructive behavior that actually makes the situation worse.

If they realize that they’re not failures just because they are a bit heavier than other people, they stop caring as much, love themselves more, and might even lose weight due to not having to rely on food as emotional crutches.

3. “Being angry at someone hurts me more than it hurts the other person.”

There is a beautiful, Buddhist story that explains anger as akin to holding a stone that gradually gets hotter and hotter. You somehow want the person you’re angry at to feel the burn and the pain you’re feeling, but as long as they’re not holding onto the stone, they won’t get hurt.

The only person who’s getting hurt is yourself, which is why you should let go of the hot stone before it causes you too much pain. Happy people don’t hold grudges. They know that it not only uses up a lot of their energy, it also hurts them in the long run.

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4. “I have less control in life than I think I do.”

We all live our lives and try to make sense of everything. We see the events that occur in day-to-day not as discrete events, but as a flowing, logical narrative. People write biographies connecting these events together, even if they don’t seem to have any logical connection.

That’s the flaw of us humans. We need meaning in everything. In reality, our very existence is by chance. Every single one of us was brought into this world with no say in where or to who our parents would be. Acknowledging this is immensely emancipating. You feel free from the expectations of your birthright and are free to do whatever you want with your life that makes you happy.

5. “Worrying is literally putting a bet against myself.”

Some people are chronic worriers. They find a way to worry about everything that comes across their mind. They lose sleep over things that, nine times out of 10, either go away themselves or have such a tiny impact in the scheme of things that you wonder what the point of thinking about it is.

Worrying means that you’re believing that something bad could happen. In other words, you’re putting a bet against yourself being happier, healthier, and well off. You think there’s a chance that it’s something that could affect your overall well-being. Think about the last thing you worried about. It’s actually not easy to remember because we all do it so much!

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Worry less, think more good thoughts and watch as your happiness suddenly becomes that much better.

6. “The greater the magnitude of the tragedy, the more I can potentially gain from it.”

This is a particularly powerful thought that only the most zen and emotionally intelligent people can understand and accept. If you take the time to truly process this thought, nothing will make you unhappy ever again.

Bad things happen — let’s not hide from the truth. We get fired; a loved one passes away unexpectedly; we have an unfaithful spouse. Society tells us that it’s normal to overreact and let negativity flood our beings.

How would very happy people react to this? They would be still. They would be calm. They would feel sadness, anger, disgust, yes. But they would take the time to see what good can come out of it. Imagine, taking good from something that’s aimed at hurting you. How empowering would that be? People do it, day in, day out. You can do it too.

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7. “To make ourselves unhappy is where all the crime starts.”

This is a powerful quote from the legendary Roger Ebert, one of the best film critiques in America. For decades, he analyzed films and shared his opinion on what made them works of art. He had cancer toward the end of his career that left him without the ability to speak. Still, he didn’t let this stop him from critiquing.

This quote, I think, is the ultimate truth on happiness. The moment we’re born, society shoves its expectations on us. We’re told that we’re not good enough, that we have to work harder and try harder to succeed. Sometimes, the best thing is to accept that you’re good enough.

The truth is, we all have a well of happiness inside us. We just have to realize that it’s there. It will never go away and will always let us draw inspiration and happiness from it. Simply stop making yourself unhappy, and you’ll see where it is.

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Last Updated on September 17, 2020

5 Practical Ways to Get Over a Mental Block

5 Practical Ways to Get Over a Mental Block

There’s nothing quite like a state of “flow” when you’re working. The rare moments when your inspiration aligns with your motivation likely lead to some of your most creative work. Plus, it feels great to actually check a task or project off the list so you can move on to the next thing. Meanwhile, a mental block — its opposite — can cause work to feel laborious and uninspired. Forget creativity when you have a mental block — it makes it difficult even to start working on what you need to do.

A mental block can manifest in several ways. Perhaps your imposter syndrome is squelching your creative ideas, for instance, or you’re overwhelmed by the breadth of a project and its impending deadline. Maybe you’re just tired or stressed.

Either way, having a mental block feels like being trapped in your own head, and it can seriously dampen your ability to think outside the box. The problem is, you’re so locked into your own perspective that you don’t see more innovative approaches to your problems.[1]

Luckily, jumping over these mental hurdles is simpler than you think. You just need the right strategies to get your flow back.

Try these five practical ways to overcome a mental block.

1. Break Your Project Down

A few years ago, I was working on changing a company product that I believed would hugely benefit our customers. Sounds great, right?

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As inspired as I was to make people’s lives easier, though, the sheer magnitude of the task at hand felt overwhelming. Every morning, I cracked open my laptop to work and felt totally paralyzed. I loved the idea, yes, but actualizing it felt risky. What if it didn’t turn out the way I pictured in my mind? More importantly, where would I even begin?

A former colleague gave me great advice over coffee:

Change how you think. Start by breaking the big project down into small tasks.

When a major project overwhelms you, you only see the entire forest instead of the individual trees. And as you stare it down, you start to feel discouraged by your own lack of progress, thus slowing you down further.

Breaking down a massive task into smaller chunks makes the work feel more manageable. You’ll have multiple clear places to start and end with, which will lend a motivating sense of productivity and mastery to your process. Learn more about it here: The Motivation Flowchart: The Mental Process of Successful People

Think of it as accumulating small wins. When you realize you’re more capable than you have once thought, you’ll develop the momentum and confidence needed to get your big job done little by little.[2]

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2. Change Up Your Scenery

Of course, there’s a time and place for sitting down to get things done. But if you’re experiencing a mental block, switching up your surroundings can make a big difference in your output.

Have you ever noticed how your environment directly impacts your performance and mood?

Your brain associates your physical surroundings with certain feelings and activities. So, if you feel mentally stuck, your mind may need some new sensory stimuli.

During this time in your life, it may not be possible to set up shop at a cafe or move from your cubicle to a conference room, so you may need to think outside the box. If you’re working remotely in a home office, try going to your dining table or couch. If the weather cooperates, sit outside for a bit with your computer or take a walk around the block.

You can also simply rearrange your workspace. Not sure where to begin? Try decluttering. Some studies show that an organized desk enhances productivity.[3]

The point is to stimulate your brain with new sounds and sights. You may find a much-needed dose of inspiration when you work while breathing in the fresh air, listening to city sounds, or staying in the comfort of your own living space.

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3. Do an Unrelated Activity

When it comes to productivity, a bit of distraction isn’t always a bad thing. That’s especially true if your chosen distraction helps you get things done in the long run.

Have you realized how your most creative thoughts tend to bubble up when you’re, say, lying in bed or taking a shower? In their research of the “incubation period,” scientists have discovered that people’s best ideas seem to surface when they aren’t actively trying to solve a problem.[4]

In a 2010 study, participants needed to look for a roommate or new employee based on the profiles that the researchers gave. The people who had a brief “incubation period” — in this case, working on an anagram — consistently made better choices than those who spent more time weighing their options.

If you can’t seem to prime your brain for a project, try doing something completely unrelated to work, such as washing your dishes, working out, or calling a friend. Some experts say finding another low-stake project to work on can help jump-start the creative part of your brain and activate your flow.[5]

The key is to allow your unconscious mind to do its best work: eliciting the new knowledge your conscious mind may be ignoring or suppressing.[6]

4. Be Physical

Feeling antsy? When your mind won’t seem to settle into a state of flow, it may help to swap out your mental activity for a physical one and see how it impacts your perspective.

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While any physical activity is beneficial for your body — and getting up to move can serve as a helpful form of distraction — certain forms of exercise can more directly impact the mind. To be specific, relaxing, flow-based exercises like dance, yoga, or tai chi can create a gentle sense of momentum in your body, which can prime your brain for the same state.

Stress-reducing activities may also be necessary. Meditating or taking slow, deep breaths will also calm your nervous system if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Evidence shows that the logical, creative part of your brain essentially shuts off when you’re stressed.[7]

On the flip side, when your mind and body are relaxed, you can think more clearly, be more creative, and focus for longer periods — all of which will help you overcome a mental block.

5. Don’t Force It

It can be frustrating to fight against your own mind. If your mental block won’t go away after some effort, it may be time to take a break. Forcing creative thoughts only adds to your stress levels, which in turn inhibits your ability to think creatively. And if you sit and stare at a project for too long, you’ll not only waste valuable time but also begin to associate this specific work with frustration and produce work you’re not proud of.

“I know that forcing something is not going to create anything beyond mediocre, so I step aside and work on a different project until it hits me,” the artist Ben Skinner said about his creative process.[8]

If your work isn’t time-sensitive, then it may make sense to step away for a while to focus on something else, be it an administrative task that requires less creativity or a project that you feel motivated to work on.

When the time is right, you’ll find your way back to the original task with a fresh, creative perspective (hopefully).

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Featured photo credit: Jonas Leupe via unsplash.com

Reference

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