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Hunting for Happiness? Five Ways to Change Your Mind and Be Happier.

Hunting for Happiness? Five Ways to Change Your Mind and Be Happier.

Life can beat us up and suck the happiness out of our days.

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    Relationships, work, loss and physical illness can pile on and make our hearts hurt. But all of us know someone who seems happy even when they’re experiencing difficulty in some part of their life.

    Their secret?

    They’ve learned to control their thought lives.

    If you’re wondering how to find happiness even when life is hard, you might need brain surgery. Not One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest brain surgery, but sometimes a few tweaks in how you you think can make a huge difference in your happiness.

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    If you’re stuck in the doldrums and want to feel better, give yourself a brain transplant.

    Here are five ways to change your mind.

    1. Diagnose your thought patterns.

    Take a quick biopsy of your reactions to situations and people that make you angry or unhappy, and diagnose the thought patterns you’ve formed around them. If your head is full of negative stuff- “Nobody likes me,” or “I’ll never succeed in this job,” etc., then there’s no room for anything good.

    Understanding that your thoughts are negative before you allow yourself to react to them emotionally gives you a chance to decide to replace it with a happier one.

    The result: More happiness.

    2. Identify attitude problems and get rid of them.

    Truth is, a lot of how other people (spouses, bosses, etc.) react to us is largely determined by the things we say and the attitudes we project.

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    If you change your thinking from “I hate this job,” to “I’m going to try my best today to make work a better place,” you’ll be amazed at how things feel different.

    Giving first, serving others and smiling when you don’t feel like it will change how others perceive and react to you, and will make everything seem better to you.

    Having a lousy attitude hurts you more than anyone else.

    “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”

    –Zig Ziglar

    3. Stop thinking about the past.

    If you’re sad or unhappy about stuff that happened yesterday, guess what?

    You’re spending today on something you can’t control or change. Neuroscientists have proven that focusing on regrets from the past harms your brain chemistry and keeps you stuck in unhappiness.

    Deciding instead to making sure you do things differently in the future will improve your outlook and you’ll feel something new in place of regret – hope.

    4. Cut out harmful connections.

    The truth is, there are some people and some situations that are toxic to us.

    If you frequently associate with people whose negativity, abuse, or behavior consistently produces pain and drains your joy, then sometimes the only solution is distance.

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    If you can’t make it better, then save yourself by getting the toxicity out of your life. Your brain will thank you, and your happiness will rise.

    5. Doubt your doubts.

    If you’re stuck in a miserable place because you’re simply too afraid to try something new, have a little faith!

    Believe in yourself that if you take a step towards life change things will improve, and your doubts will start to drain, making room for the possibility of a better life.

    Even if you try something new and it doesn’t work out, your heart will beat stronger with the knowledge that you really tried. You’ll regroup and next time get a little closer to the change you really want.

    If you want to feel happier, you have to tune up your thinking.

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    Change your thinking, and you’ll change your life.

    Featured photo credit: Jessica H. Tam via flickr.com

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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