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Last Updated on August 1, 2019

9 Mindset Shifts That Will Help You Live Your Dream Life

9 Mindset Shifts That Will Help You Live Your Dream Life

Do you have a big dream or goal for your life? Wondering how you’re going to get there or what could get in the way? Chances are, it’s your mindset.

There’s one common theme that underpins many theories about living your dream life: your mindset, beliefs and the way you think override everything.

I asked Steph Purpura, Co-founder of Powerful U,[1] what topic she felt was most important in the area of personal development and growth, she instantaneously responded, ‘mindset’.

‘Mindset is how you choose to approach any situation. When you have an open and positive mindset, you are able to see the possibilities in any situation. When you go in with a closed or negative mindset, you are severely limiting your experience to the most negative aspects of any given situation. Positivity opens the realm of possibilities, while negatively closes down.‘

In his TED talk, Happiness Psychologist Shawn Achor shares,

‘It’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. Ninety percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world, but by the way your brain processes the world. And if we change our formula for happiness and success, we can change the way that we can then affect reality.’

Bottom line: Mindset is everything.

The story we tell ourselves is the story our mind believes. Our perception creates our reality. Our beliefs create our outcome.

Therefore, the quickest way to live the life of your dreams is to shift your mindset. The question then becomes, how? How do you change your underlying beliefs and thought patterns?

Here are 9 mindset shifts to help you live your dream life.

1. Believe in Yourself

From “I’m not enough” to “I am awesome”

So much of what holds people back is the belief they have about themselves. And one of the most common beliefs? Feeling you’re not enough, not worthy, not deserving.

Steph, mentioned above, talks about her biggest mindset shift — learning how to question the lies she had told herself her entire life.

When she was 8 years old, she was sexually abused. She remembers standing in front of the mirror and telling herself how dirty, ugly and awful she was. She blamed herself for what happened and didn’t tell anyone about the abuse until she was an adult. She spent a lifetime telling herself lies about herself and believed them. It wasn’t until she was able to speak her truth that she was able to question the lies and shift her life.

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For whatever reason you feel you’re not enough, know this: You were born enough. You are awesome, worthy and deserving of love, happiness and success. It’s not by chance that you have arrived here, on this planet, at this very time. You are not a mistake. There is only one you and people need what you bring to the world.

You are uniquely you. That is your superpower.

You are enough. You may not be able to believe this yet, but some part of you, deep down, knows this to be true.

Make the Shift
  • Seek to understand and silence the inner critic. What are your underlying reasons for not feeling ‘enough?’ Is the inner critic your own voice, or that of a parent or authority figure? What story are you telling yourself that is not true? This might take some deep work including therapy, coaching or counseling, but it’s worth it.
  • Check out Marisa Peers’ book, Mark Your Mirror and Change Your Life and this video
  • Read this article full of insights and strategies to help you build your self-esteem.

2. Empower Yourself

From “I don’t have a choice” to “I always have a choice”

How many times have you felt trapped or that you didn’t have a choice?

You may not have control over the circumstances, and life will likely bring many challenges and difficulties, but you always have control over two very important things: your choices and attitude.

My favorite account of this shift is Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust. In his book, he shares,

‘Everything can be taken from us but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.‘

If Frankl can choose, when faced with those treacherous and unfathomable circumstances, surely we all can choose ours.

Make the Shift
  • Choose. When you find yourself in a situation where you feel you have no choice, identify your options. What choices do you have? You can choose to complain or act. Choose to change or accept your circumstances. Choose to take one step forward or stay stuck. Choose to speak up or stay quiet. Choose to look forward or continue to look back. Choose love or stay in anger and fear. So, what do you choose?
  • Identify what you are in control of. A lot of stress, frustration, fear and anger comes when things are – or feel – out of our control. When you feel out of control, take a step back and identify what you can control. This could be one small item or a shift in your energy or attitude.
  • Read Man’s Search for Meaning.

3. Believe in What Is Possible

From “It is impossible” to “It is possible”

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right. – Henry Ford

If you don’t wholeheartedly believe you can achieve something, it just won’t happen. Therefore, if you want to live your dream life, you first must believe that’s possible.

For many years, everyone believed it was physically impossible to run a 4-minute mile. They said the human body was incapable and your heart would explode.

In the 1940’s, someone ran it in 4:01, a record that stayed for nine years. Then, in May 1954, Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute barrier, running the mile in 3:59.4. This didn’t happen solely by sheer hard work, training and passion. It happened because Roger believed that it was possible. He knew he could do it. He trained by visualizing the outcome.

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Less than six weeks later, Australian John Landy ran it in 3:58. Every year following, more people began accomplishing what was once thought impossible. Now, more than 1,400 individuals have run the 4-minute mile.

Once Barrister broke the perception of what people believed was possible, it opened up others’ minds to believe the same thing. When they thought they couldn’t, they couldn’t, and when they believed they could, they did.

The same is true for each of us. That goal, vision or intention you have for your dream life, do you believe it’s possible? If so, you are well on your way to making it happen! However, if there’s doubt or skepticism flooding your mind, the likelihood is low of you achieving your dreams.

Make the Shift
  • Change your language. Shift your thinking from There’s no way to There’s always a way. From It doesn’t work to How can we make this work? When you find yourself finding problems, switch to a solution mindset. Edison is famously quoted, “I learned 10,000 ways not to invent a lightbulb.” He saw each failure as a step closer to his end goal.
  • Visualize the outcome. Our minds believe what we show and tell them; if you can visualize it happening, just like Banister, your mind will believe you. Imagine your dream life as if it’s already real. What do you see, hear or feel? Put yourself in that state of mind.
  • Have a little faith and believe anyway when logic fails.

4. Believe in the Good

From “looking for the bad” to “looking for the good”

Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may actually be falling into place. – Tony Robbins

Belief in the good comes in a couple forms. The world and people.

Let’s start with the world. Studies on confirmation bias have proven we find what we’re looking for. People tend to (often unconsciously) look for things that reinforce what they already believe to be true. If you’re looking for what is good in the world, you’re going to see that. If you’re looking for what’s wrong, or believe the world is out to get you, guess what you’re going to see?

Instead, what if you believed that everything was happening for your greatest good? Even if it doesn’t seem that way. What if you assumed that everything was working out exactly as it should and that the world/universe/God has your back?

Now, let’s look at people. One of the key principles I use in all of my leadership and team development work is to ‘Assume Positive Intent.’ We often make assumptions and judgments about others based on their behavior, without understanding their underlying motivation. Assuming positive intent requires us to consider another’s intention before we judge that behavior. This might lead you to ask questions or seek to see things from their point of view.

Everyone is dealing with something you have no idea about, and sometimes what seems like an attack or slight against you is simply someone having a rough day, or just a different style than yours. How many fights have you had in your own head with someone who has no idea they even hurt or upset you – only to find out later it was just a miscommunication or misunderstanding?

Make the Shift
  • Replace ‘Why is this happening TO me?’ with ‘Why is this happening FOR me?’ or ‘What is this going to teach me?’ When you look for the good, the lesson or the intention, you will find it.
  • Assume positive intent. Next time someone does something that upsets you or makes you angry, take a step back and assume they had a good intention. What were they trying to achieve? Suspend judgement and seek to understand why they might have done what they did.
  • Change what you’re looking for. It’s time to start looking for those things that support your dream life. Look for the good. Find the positive.

5. Live in the Moment

From “life is a destination” to “life is a journey”

It’s true what they say, life is a journey, not a destination, so we might as well enjoy the ride.

If we are always trying to get ‘there’ (wherever ‘there’) is, we’re missing out on where we are now. The gifts, beauty and the joy that each moment brings. When you stay in the present, you can see opportunities, take advantage of the unexpected, go with the flow and listen to that little voice inside you.

On the flipside, when you are attached to a particular outcome or the way things should be, you can become disappointed about the way things actually are. But they are what they are! If you can take each moment to accept, learn and grow, and not wish things were different, you’ll find greater happiness and fulfillment.

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People often get stuck in the when/then trap. They say, ‘When I meet someone, I’ll be happy?’ or ‘When I get the promotion I’ll be satisfied at work?’ or ‘When I have more money, I’ll make the change.’ You can choose to be happy today. You can find what you need to be satisfied at work. You can make the change without the money.

Make the Shift
  • Be. Here. Now. Being present is powerful, especially when it comes to anxiety and stress. Our minds are often worrying about the past or anticipating the future. Being present helps calm your mind, center your thoughts and bring greater peace. Get present by practicing mindfulness or meditation.
  • Get out of the when/then trap. When you hear yourself saying, ‘when, then’, stop and think about what you can do now. Are you waiting for someone or something to be satisfied or fulfilled? Can you find that now? Decide to be happy with where you are now, with what you have today. You can always choose happiness, joy or gratitude in any moment.

6. Switch Your ‘What Ifs’

From “what’s the worst that can happen” to “what’s the best that can happen”

We spend so much life fearing the inevitable…and how much of what you fear actually comes to light? How much energy do you waste wondering, ‘what if…’, anticipating consequences, complications, risks and what could go wrong?

All those what-ifs are like an app running in the background on your phone. They drain your battery. And since worrying will never change the outcome, why not do something that will?

I see so many people paralyzed by all the what ifs and potential ramifications of their actions. But the people I’ve seen be most successful are those who focus on the possibility, the opportunity, the potential. That doesn’t mean you ignore the risks or potential challenges; it just means you don’t let them stop you from moving forward!

Make the Shift
  • Identify the best that could happen. Identify the positives in any situation. Instead of identifying what could go wrong, identify what could go right. If you’re thinking ‘What if I don’t make the team?’ Switch it to ‘What if I do?’ Instead of wondering, ‘What if I speak up and lose my job?” Consider, ‘What if I speak up and get a promotion for my ideas, honesty and courage?’
  • Remember this. If you’re having a tough time, feeling stuck in a rut, or going through something challenging … it’s all good in the end. If it’s not good, it’s not the end.

7. Be True To Yourself

From “I must fit in succeed” to “I must be myself to succeed”

Do you know what the number one regret of the dying is? A wish to have… “Had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me”.

Throughout our lives, we are taught who we have to be in order to fit in and be successful. But what others need and expect from us isn’t always how we thrive at our best. Often, by trying to fit in, we lose our unique gifts, talents and even our sense of self.

You can’t compare yourself to others. We think we are competing against each other, yet we are all running a different race. Frankly, the only one you really need to compete against is yourself.

True and lasting success comes from authenticity, congruence and becoming the best version of YOU.

Make the Shift
  • Identify and honor on your strengths. Everyone seems to be trying to fix or improve something. We are all flawed. What if you spent as much time using your strengths as you do to fix your weaknesses? That’s what those who are living their dream life do – harness their unique gifts and talents. They know they have faults, but they don’t dwell on them or waste time and energy trying to change themselves. Try this: for the next 30 days, write down 3 things you like and value about yourself. This might be talents, strengths, skills or personality traits. Then figure out how to use those traits more often to build your dream life.
  • Find out who YOU are. It’s easy to get caught up in the expectations of the world. When you are clear about your values, beliefs, passions and what’s important to you, you are more confident and self-assured. Get to know yourself at a deeper level. Self-reflection and self-awareness are the first steps. Identify what your dream life is, not everyone else’s. When you know yourself well, you can stand strong in a world full of competing expectations.
  • Stop comparing yourself. You are running your own race. You are not ahead or behind. You are exactly where you are meant to be. As Teddy Roosevelt said (and my mom emphasized to myself and my twin sister growing up), Comparison is the thief of joy.

8. Where Awareness Goes, Energy Flows

From “watering the weeds” to “watering the flowers”

You’ve all probably heard of the Law of Attraction and how to manifest your best life. So much of that knowledge and wisdom comes from where you put your energy.

Many years ago, I was running a training session for a group of coaches and consultants. At one point, I was feeling insecure and doubting myself. It was stressing me out and more importantly, I wasn’t serving the group best.

During a lunch break, I confided in my co-facilitator about my doubts. He was an experienced trainer and a mentor of mine and shared something with me I have never forgotten.

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‘Tracy, think of your attention like a garden hose. When you are in front of others, and you’re worried about what they’re thinking, your attention is not on them. When you’re thinking about how you sound, if you’re doing a good job, or anytime you’re in your own head, then the hose is pointing inward and you’re watering the weeds. But when you put your energy out, your appreciation on them and you focus on what the group needs, you are turning the hose towards the room…then you’re watering the flowers. So, you have a choice, do you want to water the weeds or the flowers?’

Was that a trick question? Of course I wanted to water the flowers!

Make the Shift
  • The grass is always greener where you water it. Want greener grass in some area of your life? Water it with love, energy and positive attention.
  • Stop watering the weeds. Remember, what you feed gets bigger. Water the flowers you’ll get more flowers. Water the weeds you’ll get more weeds. Feed your goals you’ll reach your goals, feed your fears you’ll get more fear.

9. Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

From “what’s missing” to “what you’re grateful for”

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance – Eckhart Tolle

Being grateful is one of the simplest, yet most powerful things you can do to live your dream life.

Studies continue to prove the benefits from expressing gratitude; ranging from how it improves relationships, physical and emotional health, and sleep to mental stamina, energy and overall happiness.[2] Did you know that it’s physically impossible to feel fear and gratitude at the same moment?

The next time you feel you’re lacking in your life, the next time you feel jealous of what others have or unsatisfied with what you have, try switching to gratitude. Acknowledge all the good in the world. Recognize all that you have and that you are grateful for.

Make the Shift
  • Start a gratitude journal. Write down 3 things you’re grateful for each day. Studies have shown that in just 21 days, your brain will hold on to this pattern and start finding the positive on its own. Being grateful invites even greater abundance into our lives.
  • Set a gratitude alarm on your phone: When it goes off, find something for which you are thankful. You can acknowledge this silently to yourself, or better yet, send a note thanking somebody in your life.

It’s Time To Ask Yourself …

As you read these shifts, what did you notice? Which one(s) resonated with you the most? Which do you believe will help you live your dream life? Which strategies will you try?

Now, take it a step further. Stop scrolling and before you move on to the next thing, ask yourself a few more questions…

  • Consider your dream life. What thoughts, beliefs or mindset shifts do you need in order to create that life?
  • That goal you’ve been trying to achieve: do you believe you can? If not, what would it take to believe it?
  • What assumptions are you making about yourself or others that are getting in your way?

Are You Ready?

If you’re ready to live your dream life, then it’s time to shift your thinking.

Shift your thinking, shift your life.

You decide who you want to become. You decide how you get there. Create the vision you have for yourself and your dream life and go after it. Remove all the barriers in your way, especially those in your mind.

Remember, in order to change your story, you must consistently tell yourself a new story. In order to change, you must be willing to change. In order to shift, you must have an open mind and desire to grow.

‘Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.’ — Gandhi

Are you ready to live your dream life? Great, let’s get going!

More About Living Your Dream Life

Featured photo credit: Adrianna Van Groningen via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Tracy Kennedy

Lifehack's Personal Development Expert, a results-driven coach dedicated to helping people achieve greater levels of happiness and success.

9 Mindset Shifts That Will Help You Live Your Dream Life How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment What Am I Doing with My Life? Find Your Answer Here How Self-Reflection Gives You a Happier and More Successful Life 30 Self Care Habits for a Strong and Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

Why Am I Not Happy? 5 Steps to Figure Out the Reason

Why Am I Not Happy? 5 Steps to Figure Out the Reason

In our diverse world, where everyone wants to stand out from the crowd and has their own opinions just about everything, there is a rather universal idea we all – regardless of age, race, location, gender — embrace…

We all want to be happy.

We want to feel that we matter, are loved, appreciated, problem-free, care-free, and financially secure. And this has become one of the most obsessive quests of our society—to be happy, at all cost, by all means.

Happiness has undisputed benefits—supported by countless studies—to about pretty much everything in our lives—from our mental or physical state, to careers, relationships, finances.

Although the self-help industry is still having a sunshine moment with its advice on how to get to this coveted state, no one (that I’m aware of) has come up with The Magic Potion—that one thing or action or thought—that can make us all content and whole for good.

Of course, we also all are knowledgeable enough to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. And that it’s often a combination of things that each one of us should intentionally do daily in order to reach that enchanted place where everything is intensely bright and upbeat.

The reason that there are multiple antidotes to feeling gloomy is that there may be a million different explanations and their nuances of why someone is unhappy. It’s pretty much a different cause, path and experience for everyone.

Top this with the “hedonic treadmill” phenomenon[1] —and you end up with an incessant (and rather tiring) pursuit of something that, quite frankly, no one has been able to define in concreate measurable terms.

The second problem with happiness is that all of us become so hung up on the goal itself—that utopian state that we want to get to “one day.”

Naturally, you can spend your whole life waiting for happiness to finally come knocking on your door, hoping, anticipating, existing in perpetual discontent—and the moment may never come.

And then, looking back, you may ask yourself—was I truly that miserable or did I fall a victim of the happiness craze?

That is—how can you know if you are really unhappy, if happiness means different things for everyone, it’s impossible to measure directly, and it’s rather fleeting?

So, let’s start from the beginning— and examine the cause of why you’re unhappy, the symptoms and the treatment.

Symptoms of Unhappiness

According to the wellness site Mind Body Green, some of the most common manifestations you are not happy are:[2]

  • Feeling like you’re not as good as other people
  • Feeling like a victim of circumstances that are beyond your control
  • Feeling like your daily life is meaningless and task-driven
  • Feeling helpless, hopeless, or pessimistic
  • Protecting your heart with steel walls
  • Trying to fit in and belong, but rarely feel like you do
  • Feeling beaten down by the challenges you face in life
  • Feeling depressed, anxious, or chronically worried
  • Feeling like you’re not appreciated enough

If this sounds like you, on a regular day, then you are not a happy fella, my friend.

Reasons for Feeling Unhappy

The most important indication that things are not great (at least in your mind) is the sense of “something missing.” You may not know what it is, but you feel hollow, incomplete. And you are aware that something needs to happen to make you come alive again.

Of course, finding the reason for your woes is vital to prescribing (to yourself) the right steps to make it all better.

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So, here are some of the most common reasons why you may feel heavy-hearted, or “like the joy has been sucked out of my life.”

Lack of Meaning

Everyone who’s someone in the happiness-advice trade will tell you that this is one of the main causes (of not THE biggest) of feeling blah. Especially relevant for our professional lives, lack of significance can be a dream-downer.

An excellent piece in the New York Times talks about Harvard graduates who make $1.2 million a year in salary, but still feeling miserable and trapped in what they describe as “wasting my life” existence.[3]

Simply put—you may feel unhappy because you need the “Why” in your life, as I also wrote in a previous post How to Get Unstuck in Life and Live a More Fulfilling Life.

Happiness Disruptors

Even perceived problems can feel quite real to many of us. Undeniably, though, any personal, financial, career, physical complications can make your happiness aspirations plummet.

The constellation of all the issues or walls you can run into can be quite vast. For instance, you don’t like the way you look, you don’t make enough money, don’t have any friends or significant other, your health is fragile.

All these can be serious impediments to an undisturbed-joyfulness type of life.

Lack of Self-Esteem and Self-Respect

Few years ago (2003), a paper by the psychologist Roy Baumeister rocked the science world. Titled “Does High Self-Esteem Cause Better Performance, Interpersonal Success, Happiness, or Healthier Lifestyles?” it presented the idea (supported by research) that self-esteem and happiness are linked.[4]

Specifically, high self-esteem leads to greater happiness.

In addition, according to the famous American author and speaker Gary Vaynerchuk, the main reason people are unhappy is because they lack self-respect—that is, they value others’ opinions above their own. Of course, it makes sense—and surely, it rings true with many of us too.

Personality

Linked to the above is another hindrance to becoming relentlessly upbeat, which may prove slightly challenging to overcome, if even possible—your personality.

Of course, not per the self-help industry which thrives on the assumption that you can, with your own willpower, become a different person altogether. Namely—a much better version of the current you.

But what the Wise Men also tell us is that you are either born to be a silver-lining kind of person or you are not.

You can, of course, work on yourself to start seeing the glass half-full (vs half-empty). But you may never reach the gregariousness of someone who is just born with a more care-free temperament.

Unreasonably High Expectations

Having high expectations of yourself can be beneficial, according to research.[5] It leads to higher performance—a phenomenon called the Pygmalion effect.

Having too high expectations of yourself, though, may be counter-productive. You can run into all slew of mental health issues—depression, self-sabotaging, self-punishment, etc. And it can spill over all areas of your life.

It’s certainly a case for future investigation.

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It will take perhaps at least few articles to list all the reasons why we can feel unhappy (a book even!).

So, some of the other causes of being disgruntled with your life can be: long hours at work, “always-on” culture bread by the internet, increased screen time,[6] or boredom with one’s life (i.e. lack of excitement).

Addiction to Unhappiness

Apparently, you can also develop an addiction to unhappiness[7] —that is, some people like negative feelings and are “happy to be unhappy.” Rather disturbing, indeed.

Unexplainable Reasons

Or, sometimes, you just can’t put your finger on one thing, or on anything, for this matter—you don’t know for sure what makes you feel unhappy, nor what will make you happy. It feels like it’s everything—your whole life is a mess.

But that’s not the end of the story. The most important questions you should be asking yourself are:

Why? What’s the cause of my unhappiness?

Because you can’t fix it when you don’t know what’s broken, right?

5 Steps You Can Take to Figure Out The Why

So, if you tick most of the symptoms above, it’s very likely that you are not living in Dream-land right now.

Here is my advice on how to find your lumps in the batter.

1. Mull over What “Happy” Means to You

Happiness can take different shapes—hedonic pleasure, life satisfaction, desire fulfillment.[8] All of these—separately or together—can deliver to us sprinkles of joy.

And because our lives are so diverse, the above will translate into different pursuits for each one of us.

For instance, my hedonic weekend happiness means reading a book or writing, while for someone else—it’s socializing, taking a walk, or going on a shopping spree at the mall.

Or, my life satisfaction can be to have a big family and leave a mark in the world this way. For others, it may be going after fame and fortunes. But either way, don’t fall for the society’s “narrative traps”[9]—that a bigger pay check, house, a certain job, person, etc. will give you a never-ending stream of bliss. It won’t, science confirms over and over.

So, once you know what your happiness vision board looks like, you will have a better idea of what’s “missing” in your life.

2. Re-Visit Your Expectations

As I already mentioned, unreasonable expectations you or others have set for yourself can be deterring you from feeling gleeful.

For one thing, aspirations often can become outdated. What you wanted ten or five years ago (or even six months ago) may not be relevant to your situation today and will need to be filed into a mental cabinet.

Another issue is that our culture is putting an exponential pressure on all of us to perform more and better, to try and stretch the 24-hours a day into 30, to chase kudos and recognition. Any outcome that has earned less than the gold is punishable by exclusion for the cool crowd, by receiving less in perks, bonuses, and appreciation even.

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As a result, anxiety, depression and all their dark friends start creeping into our minds and tint everything else that may be giving us joy and satisfaction.

So, taking periodic audit of your expectations—their validity and importance place on your happiness list, is pivotal to stopping unhappiness spread into your life.

3. Examine Your Way of Thinking

At the heart of the so-called Rational Emotive Behavior Theory (REBT),[10] which was established by the American psychologist Albert Ellis in 1956, is the idea that it’s never the actual event that upsets us.It’s our interpretation and thoughts about it. By inference, changing our thoughts will reduce (and hopefully remove altogether) our anxiety.

Let’s take this a stretch further. Positive (not delusional) thinking has been long proclaimed to be a winner when it comes to mental health. If you find yourself going down the spiral of negative inner dialogue, you must stop yourself immediately. It’s unhappiness trap.

But it’s not easy-breezy, of course, to do such conscious policing all the time. It can become a habit, though, psychologists tell us. We can teach ourselves to quell negativity, and there are many things that can be done: How to Have Happy Thoughts and Train Your Brain to Be Happy

And don’t forget to be grateful. It’s the best happiness shot there is.

4. The Good Old Pros and Cons

Although it may appear to be a less fascinating way to figure out whether you are unhappy or not, the pros-and-cons list has been around for a long time—and it’s still an excellent tool to let you examine things closely, evaluate alternatives and come to satisfactory answers.[11]

Interestingly, as history tells us, this invention is credited to Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century. Notorious for his productivity, he applied the pros-cons exercise to almost everything in his life.

The beauty of the method lies in its simplicity too. So, go back to the drawing board and start penciling down the things that you like and don’t like (make you unhappy) about your life, and the things that you know with certainty to make you happy today.

Of the “things-that-make me-unhappy-about-my-life” subset, have a think what you can do to move these along the continuum—to the brighter side.

You may be surprised to discover that you have much greater say in the building of your own happiness than chance, circumstances or others.

5. Mental Cleansing

Mental health is in the limelight quite often these days. And rightly so.

The way we care about our bodies and minds directly links to many of our life outcomes.

Mental clutter can become a well-being stumbling block. Overthinking, old grudges, past events, can all make it very challenging to feel elevated and content.

Doing a mental cleanse once a month can be the remedy to set yourself on the path to happiness recovery.

Pay a visit to the past to confront your fears, get rid of the people who bring you down, free yourself from any emotional baggage. It will help you silence the bully in your head.

Take a periodic stock of all the things that make you anxious and declutter. Why hold on to the things that you know to bring you grief anyway?

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Unless you are one of those unhappiness addicts I mentioned above (which calls for a more radical intervention), carrying emotional baggage without doing anything to unload it, is a anti-glee behavior.

Bonus Advice

Finding our Achilles’ heel of happiness can sometimes be a tall order. It takes time, conscious efforts and an honest desire to make it better. It also alludes that we are ready to take the plunge into the self-help territory and take actual steps to improve our situation.

But it’s not a lost cause, the research tells us. It’s possible to make yourself happy on a consistent basis.

Here are few universal suggestions:

One of the things you can do is to inject some meaning back in your life. And the best way to go about this is to flip the narrative. Case in point—the story of John F Kennedy’s visit to NASA in 1962. He ran into a janitor and when asked him what he was doing, he replied: “I’m helping put a man on the moon.”

The happiness guru Gretchen Rubin tells us that there are two major path that lead a more fulfilling life:[12]

One way is through our relationships—having strong bonds and feeling that we belong.

The other route is through developing better self-knowledge—i.e. what things make us us, or glad, or sad. And base our way of living on our own values and goals, not others’.

The feeling that we are not making progress is a definite joy crusher. We should compare wisely, find our passions, and diversify our experiences. These are not magic pills but more so opportunities to make our time here worthwhile and fulfilling.

Final Thoughts

Happiness is notoriously hard to pin down.

There is no one definition of contentment, nor one way to ‘fix’ it. It’s one of those things that you can’t quantify and it’s idiosyncratic.

More and more we hear a murmur from the science world that perhaps the best way to happiness is acceptance—of your failings and shortcomings, of the fact that life is imperfect.

Knowing what makes us disgruntled is, of course, needed to find the right remedy for each one of us. Feeling constantly unhappy is not good and necessitates closer examination.

Finally, beware of the narrative trap that if you are unhappy, there is something wrong with you. It may be normal, for a while at least. Otherwise, how would you appreciate the highlight moments of your life if you don’t see them against the backdrop of the gloomy times?

Or, as the great singer Leonard Cohen tells us:

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

More About Staying Happy

Featured photo credit: Andrew Le via unsplash.com

Reference

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