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Dismissing Sadness Will End up Making You Sadder

Dismissing Sadness Will End up Making You Sadder

No one wants to be unhappy. We can mostly accept this as an universal truth. We often actively seek to avoid unhappiness even though it does come for all of us: breakups, school failings, disappointments in personal relationships, frustrations at work.

In the last 5-10 years especially, there’s been an increasing amount of discussion about happiness, the importance of happiness, how to seek happiness, where to locate happiness, and anything else you can think of. The self-help industry is massive — about $11 billion in the U.S. alone.[1] When Disney modernized their theme parks a few years ago, they even called the project “reinventing happiness.”[2] It’s on many minds, and you can find the topic in dozens of TED Talks.

This approach is problematic.

As writer Emily Esfahani Smith has pointed out in a TED Talk, the focus should be less on happiness and more on finding some degree of meaning in your life. Meaning is a mix of purpose and behaviors with intent; it’s akin to finding your passion and yourself.

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One of the problems with this whole discussion is the interplay between sadness and happiness. In a world without sadness, there can’t be happiness either. It’s just a straight line of emotion. How would you even know you’re happy if you’ve never experienced being sad?

Happiness is relative. Think about it in terms of peaks:

    Why is this a peak? Only because of a difference in height between this and everything around. Flat ground isn’t a peak, correct?

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    Happiness and sadness work the same way. Without one, the other can’t be defined.

    When you avoid sadness, then, you reduce happiness in your life too. Life is ultimately about experiencing different aspects and locations. Avoiding sadness often means avoiding experiences. As you avoid sadness, you paradoxically also avoid happiness — and you drown your thinking in things that may not actually happen.

    A better approach is to think about life this way…

      Perfection is essentially unattainable, as is any form of “truly perfect happiness.”

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      This entire concept is called “The Progress Principle“. Celebrating small wins helps you create your own system of instant gratification. Your brain needs to feel happy. And it needs to feel happy often. By looking at life as a journey instead of a short-term goal, you start to see the bigger picture and see the ups and downs as part of the progress.

      Ups and downs are part of the journey

      No one has a perfect life. Everyone has their own challenges and problems.

      When you feel negative, you’re focusing on the current level while the peak level is yet to come. You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.

      Monitor your emotions and rack up small wins along the way

      When you reach a disappointment in life, it’s likely you only see it as a big fluctuation. But in the long-run, it’s a small dip on an upward-trending pathway.

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      Be aware of your everyday emotions, you will realize that you’re happier on some days and sadder on others. A bad day happens only occasionally. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment right now, flash back your memory to when you feel happier. This memory keeps you going during your down times.

      Getting started with the Progress Principle

      You can start by tracking your emotions. This will increase self-awareness. Find out more about how to do it here: The Magic of Marking down Your Mood Every Day

      You can also write down your achievements every day, or do a “3-1” model where you write down 3 positive things and 1 constructively negative thing. At the end of a week, you have 21 positives and 7 things to work on. It gives you a good baseline for next week’s progress.

      If you want to stay motivated despite occasional down times, read How to Stay Motivated Even Though You Can’t See Yourself Moving Forward

      Featured photo credit: Alphacolor 13 on Unsplash via decaf.kouhi.me

      Reference

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      Brian Lee

      Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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      Last Updated on April 7, 2020

      How to Use the Law of Attraction to Make Your Dreams Happen

      How to Use the Law of Attraction to Make Your Dreams Happen

      People seem to believe that they can simply think their way straight to success. They mistakenly believe that if they just think about their dreams often enough and vividly enough that–poof!–They’ll just seem to come true.

      But life is not a magic trick.

      If you told a starving child in Africa who had not had a single meal in five days to use the Law of Attraction to manifest a meal for themselves, how well do you think it would work out for them?

      Clearly, there’s more to it than envisioning what you want.

      If you want to know what it really takes to achieve your greatest goals and ambitions, then here’s a list of steps that will outline how to use the Law of Attraction the proper way.

      1. Focus Your Thoughts in the Direction of Your Dreams

      If you were to take a pebble and toss it into a pond, what happens?

      As soon as the pebble strikes the surface of the water, you get a series of ripples or waves, which spread outwards in a circular direction, until they get to the shoreline and seem to stop.

      The larger the pebble, the larger the ripples. The larger the pebble, the higher the waves.

      Two stones of different sizes and weights tossed in at the same time, at different places but in close proximity, will both create a series of ripples, which will eventually merge with one another…

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      When the two sets of ripples converge, there seems to be a bit of a struggle as to which one overcomes or passes the other.

      As far as the human eye can see, if the ripples are the same size, both seem to stop or merge when they collide.

      But if one set of ripples is larger than the other, the larger set sweeps over the smaller set and creates waves in the wake of the smaller ripples.

      Let’s consider this analogy in relation to our own thought-patterns and mental impulses…

      Imagine you’ve got two stones in each hand.

      • The stone in your left hand is labeled, “failure”
      • The stone in your right hand is labeled, “success”

      The weight of each stone is in direct proportion to the amount of *thought* you give its label.

      So… How heavy are your stones?

      If your “failure” stone is heavier, then its ripples will simply stop or take over the ripples created by your stone labeled “success.”

      But if your “success” stone is heavier, then that will be the one that takes over.

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      It’s important to keep this in mind as you put the Law of Attraction to use towards making your dreams happen: ensure that you focus your thoughts on successfully achieving those dreams more often than you focus on the fear of failure that you might experience if you don’t.

      2. Get Specific

      What do you want? What do your dreams look like, specifically?

      The other day, my three-year-old daughter lost one of her toys. It was a little brown tiger with a red sweater. When she couldn’t find it, she freaked out. She loved that little tiger with a red sweater.

      Of course, being a loving dad, I tried helping her find it – but to no avail. We looked all over the place, and it was nowhere to be found.

      Eventually, I stumbled upon a little tiger. Yes!

      I ran over to my daughter, Nora, and enthusiastically said, “I found it! I found it!”

      She popped her head up from looking under the couch and joyfully ran over to me with her hands extended…

      But then, as she got closer, the glimmer in her eyes disappeared. “That’s not it, Dada!” she whined.

      Then she took the tiger and held it up for me, “This tiger is wearing a pink sweater, it’s a girl-tiger, and her fur is light brown. My favorite tiger is lost and it wears a red sweater, it’s a boy-tiger, and he’s dark brown!”

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      So, we searched and searched, and searched some more.

      And eventually, we found that tiger.

      Nora found exactly what she was looking for, because she refused to settle for anything less.

      And even though this can be annoying sometimes, even though it doesn’t always make sense to be so exacting about what you want, I can’t help but respect the hustle.

      The key take-away from the story is this: if you want to make the Law of Attraction work for you, you have got to get specific. What is it, exactly that you want? Figure it out down to every specific detail and write it down.

      Once you’ve done that, it’s time to start taking action towards making it happen.

      3. Put Some Actions Where Your Thoughts Are

      Many people make the mistake of looking at the Law of Attraction as if it were a stand-alone solution to making their dreams a reality. They believe that they can make a vision board and use positive thinking to achieve success.

      But these folks need a wake-up call, because positive thinking is not enough. It will never be enough.

      If we THINK positive, but we still FEEL negative, then how will we ACT?

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      Your thoughts, actions and feelings are like a three-legged stool. Positive thinking is powerful, but only when we think of it as one of the three necessary legs that reinforces the stool we’re sitting on.

      If we don’t want the stool to wobble or break, we’ve got to make sure we give each leg the care it needs to keep us from falling down and getting hurt.

      The key here, with making the Law of Attraction work for you, is to focus on being as congruent as possible between your thoughts, feelings, and actions.

      What’s the best way to do that?

      First, remember that the way you THINK has got to be in line with the way you ACT. Because the way you act is going to have an impact on the way you FEEL.

      And the way you feel is going to help reinforce the way you think, or it’s going to help you re-examine the way you think. Which is going to circle right back around into helping you decide the way you choose to act in any given situation.

      See the feedback loop these three end up creating?

      The Bottom Line

      It’s not the Law of Attraction or positive thinking alone that drives our success in life — it’s about being in positive congruence between the way we think, act, and feel that drives our success in life… And at the very least, keeps us from falling off the stool.

      If we want to make big things happen, we’ve got to take action.

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      Featured photo credit: Nathan McBride via unsplash.com

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