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10 Unusual Things That Can Actually Make You Happy

10 Unusual Things That Can Actually Make You Happy

I’m currently doing #100happydays and that’s what prompted this article. All the below things, at some point, have made me unhappy. However, being happy is a much more fun alternative. Bearing that in mind, I thought I’d explore how some things that seemed overwhelmingly and unequivocally negative could actually be positive. Here we go:

1. Traffic

Could you look at it as annoying? Sure. An inconvenience? Absolutely. But, yes, this has made me happy. And no, I’m not insane (okay, debatable). I love listening to music in my car and singing and rapping along, and traffic gives me time to listen to more songs. I’ve been in traffic on roads that have beautiful views either side. I looked outside and just appreciated it. The more standstill the traffic, the better. I can switch off from driving for a bit and chill. How often have I gotten angry over traffic? A fair few times. Being happy about it is more fun. Trust me.

2. When it rains

The weather seems to have a real effect on people’s happiness even though it’s out of our control. When it rains, I can sit inside and read. Watch Netflix. Catch up on my group chats. Spend time with my parents. And, one of my favourites, write articles.

3. When people complain

I used to find this so annoying. And I still do, to an extent. The more I hear it, the more I cringe. I just can’t believe how negative some people are. They can’t be enjoying life. They just can’t. To jump straight to the negative like that is unhealthy. And just plain boring.

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However, it does make me realise how grateful and happy I am. I would love to be able to help everyone whose first reaction is to complain (and maybe one day I’ll find a way), but, for now, I’ll just let it help me be even happier.

4. Spraining my ankle (while playing basketball)

Every athlete is thinking I’m an idiot right now. Let me explain. Every time I’ve been injured it’s forced me to sit on the sidelines. To watch the game. To study our team. Where are we going wrong? What do we do well? How can I make everyone better? It’s helped me be a more intellectual player. A calmer player. A more effective player. In my first game back from my last injury I was relentlessly assertive. I was fired up. I wanted to make up for lost time. I just played brilliantly. It was, arguably, my best game of the season and we demolished the other team.

See, all you athletes, I was going somewhere with this.

5. Girls rejecting me

This is something I used to be really embarrassed by, and I’m sure most people can relate. Rejection doesn’t feel particularly great. You put yourself out there and you get shot down, for lack of a better cliché. I remember walking up to girls, being really nervous, and then having those nerves justified by her being totally uninterested. Awesome. What I didn’t see coming was that this made being rejected easier, not harder. I started thinking that if I was rejected then she probably wasn’t worth my time anyway. And it actually became kind of fun. I started to realise that it’s a part of life, much as I was trying to deny that, so I might as well just enjoy it and be happy that I had the courage to approach her in the first place. And, surprisingly (or perhaps not), I’ve had more success since.

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6. When I ruin a song

This can definitely be one of the most annoying things. But this happened to me the other day, and I smiled when I realised what I’d done. I was confused at first. Why was I smiling? Then it hit me. It was a song I used to always, always listen to with my friend. I’ve no idea how many times we played it, but if I had to guess, I’d say around 32,593. It just made me think of those memories and how much fun we used to have. It really took me by surprise. In a good way, though.

7. Getting locked out and playing I spy

When we first realised we were locked out, I was pissed off. It was late. It was raining. My friend’s mum wasn’t going to be home for a while. We’d bought snacks to have while watching a film. The best laid plans of mice and men were going awry. At least we had the car to retreat to. Usually we would’ve all taken our phones out and started checking our “social” media. However, my friend’s wife didn’t have her phone, and she didn’t want to feel left out. My friend suggested we play I spy. At first, because I was annoyed about being locked out, I wasn’t massively enthusiastic. He said he’d go first. “I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with … S.” Then, it was like we were children again. “Satellite dish!” “Streetlight!” “Storm!” It was awesome. Even at the time I didn’t appreciate how fun it was. Looking back, it really was. I can’t even remember what the thing beginning with S was. Details never seem to matter in end.

8. When my phone has no signal

Again, initially, this is annoying. I need to go on the internet! I need to check all my group chats! I need to Snapchat back! I’ve only recently realised how easy it is for me to let my phone dictate to me. To grab my attention whenever it wants. To be in charge, if you will. (I know. Bad pun. Not sorry.)

Recently, I didn’t (couldn’t) check my phone for a few hours. And you know what? Nothing happened. Nothing. And it was then that I thought that so much of what I do on my phone is unnecessary and just out of habit. Reply on WhatsApp, scroll on Twitter, check Facebook … it just doesn’t matter. Most of it’s just boring. It felt good to get away from the noise. From the clutter. I switched off my mind from social media and felt relaxed. Does your phone control you? What would happen if you switched it off?

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9. Saying goodbye to my best friend

My best friend lives in China. He came to visit England recently and we had a fun old time. Clearly, there’s the inevitable moment where we have to say goodbye to each other. What made things worse this time around was that his wife started crying. We were fine (kind of). But that almost got me.

When I got in the car to drive off, something strange happened. After my sadness subsided (which didn’t take long), I felt genuinely happy and started smiling. It was a bit weird, initially, but then I realised that, yes, we had to say goodbye for now, but I was going to see him again. Of course I was. We see each other less than once a year, but every time we do it’s as if we’re roommates in college again, blowing off assignments, not going to class, and playing video games until 2 a.m. This happened often. Sorry Mum and Dad. All those memories flooded to my brain, as well as all the more recent ones – his wedding in China, for example – and I was just happy. Another cool surprise.

10. Getting complimented

Getting a compliment feels amazing. The person didn’t have to say it. They could’ve stayed quiet and I would’ve probably been none the wiser. But, out of all the things they could’ve chosen to do, they chose to compliment me. They chose to notice something about me, make me feel significant, help me be happy for that moment. It’s such a selfless thing to do.

You might be wondering why I’ve put this on here. You might not think it’s unusual. It is. It’s really unusual. Don’t believe me? Give a few people a compliment today and notice how many of them try to brush it off. Try to ignore it. Almost try desperately to not let themselves believe it. Why? My (somewhat educated) guess is that they don’t feel they deserve it. They don’t feel worthy of it. That’s really sad to me. If you don’t think you’re “good enough”, it’s really difficult for other people to see that you are. When someone compliments me, I say thank you. They’ve selflessly given me a compliment, and hell yeah, I deserve to be complimented. I know there’ll be some of you reading this who’ll think I’m arrogant for thinking that. That’s cool. Would you advocate that I start thinking that I don’t deserve to be complimented? Don’t deserve to be liked, or loved?

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To finish …

It’s all about how you think, and why you think that way. We all think things are positive and negative as a gut reaction, but get hold of this reaction. Don’t just mindlessly believe it. Why do you see it as negative? Because society told you to? Because your parents told you to? Is it actually what you really think? If you could look at the world in any way, how would you look at it? Would you see positive instead of negative? Fun instead of boredom? Opportunities instead of problems? What view would make you happy? What view of the world would you tell your kids to have? One that suffocates them? Or one that sets them free?

Featured photo credit: jessicahtam via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

How Do You Change a Habit (According to Psychology)

Habits are hard to kill, and rightly so. They are a part and parcel of your personality traits and mold your character.

However, habits are not always something over-the-top and quirky enough to get noticed. Think of subtle habits like tapping fingers when you are nervous and humming songs while you drive. These are nothing but ingrained habits that you may not realize easily.

Just take a few minutes and think of something specific that you do all the time. You will notice how it has become a habit for you without any explicit realization. Everything you do on a daily basis starting with your morning routine, lunch preferences to exercise routines are all habits.

Habits mostly form from life experiences and certain observed behaviors, not all of them are healthy. Habitual smoking can be dangerous to your health. Similarly, a habit could also make you lose out on enjoying something to its best – like how some people just cannot stop swaying their bodies when delivering a speech.

Thus, there could be a few habits that you would want to change about yourself. But changing habits is not as easy as it seems.

In this article, you will learn why it isn’t easy to build new habits, and how to change habits.

What Makes It Hard To Change A Habit?

To want to change a particular habit means to change something very fundamental about your behavior.[1] Hence, it’s necessary to understand how habits actually form and why they are so difficult to actually get out of.

The Biology

Habits form in a place what we call the subconscious mind in our brain.[2]

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Our brains have two modes of operation. The first one is an automatic pilot kind of system that is fast and works on reflexes often. It is what we call the subconscious part. This is the part that is associated with everything that comes naturally to you.

The second mode is the conscious mode where every action and decision is well thought out and follows a controlled way of thinking.

A fine example to distinguish both would be to consider yourself learning to drive or play an instrument. For the first time you try learning, you think before every movement you make. But once you have got the hang of it, you might drive without applying much thought into it.

Both systems work together in our brains at all times. When a habit is formed, it moves from the conscious part to the subconscious making it difficult to control.

So, the key idea in deconstructing a habit is to go from the subconscious to the conscious.

Another thing you have to understand about habits is that they can be conscious or hidden.

Conscious habits are those that require active input from your side. For instance, if you stop setting your alarm in the morning, you will stop waking up at the same time.

Hidden habits, on the other hand, are habits that we do without realizing. These make up the majority of our habits and we wouldn’t even know them until someone pointed them out. So the first difficulty in breaking these habits is to actually identify them. As they are internalized, they need a lot of attention to detail for self-identification. That’s not all.

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Habits can be physical, social, and mental, energy-based and even be particular to productivity. Understanding them is necessary to know why they are difficult to break and what can be done about them.

The Psychology

Habits get engraved into our memories depending on the way we think, feel and act over a particular period of time. The procedural part of memory deals with habit formation and studies have observed that various types of conditioning of behavior could affect your habit formations.

Classical conditioning or pavlovian conditioning is when you start associating a memory with reality.[3] A dog that associates ringing bell to food will start salivating. The same external stimuli such as the sound of church bells can make a person want to pray.

Operant conditioning is when experience and the feelings associated with it form a habit.[4] By encouraging or discouraging an act, individuals could either make it a habit or stop doing it.

Observational learning is another way habits could take form. A child may start walking the same way their parent does.

What Can You Do To Change a Habit?

Sure, habits are hard to control but it is not impossible. With a few tips and hard-driven dedication, you can surely get over your nasty habits.

Here are some ways that make use of psychological findings to help you:

1. Identify Your Habits

As mentioned earlier, habits can be quite subtle and hidden from your view. You have to bring your subconscious habits to an aware state of mind. You could do it by self-observation or by asking your friends or family to point out the habit for your sake.

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2. Find out the Impact of Your Habit

Every habit produces an effect – either physical or mental. Find out what exactly it is doing to you. Does it help you relieve stress or does it give you some pain relief?

It could be anything simple. Sometimes biting your nails could be calming your nerves. Understanding the effect of a habit is necessary to control it.

3. Apply Logic

You don’t need to be force-fed with wisdom and advice to know what an unhealthy habit could do to you.

Late-night binge-watching just before an important presentation is not going to help you. Take a moment and apply your own wisdom and logic to control your seemingly nastily habits.

4. Choose an Alternative

As I said, every habit induces some feeling. So, it could be quite difficult to get over it unless you find something else that can replace it. It can be a simple non-harming new habit that you can cultivate to get over a bad habit.

Say you have the habit of banging your head hard when you are angry. That’s going to be bad for you. Instead, the next time you are angry, just take a deep breath and count to 10. Or maybe start imagining yourself on a luxury yacht. Just think of something that will work for you.

5. Remove Triggers

Get rid of items and situations that can trigger your bad habit.

Stay away from smoke breaks if you are trying to quit it. Remove all those candy bars from the fridge if you want to control your sweet cravings.

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6. Visualize Change

Our brains can be trained to forget a habit if we start visualizing the change. Serious visualization is retained and helps as a motivator in breaking the habit loop.

For instance, to replace your habit of waking up late, visualize yourself waking up early and enjoying the early morning jog every day. By continuing this, you would naturally feel better to wake up early and do your new hobby.

7. Avoid Negative Talks and Thinking

Just as how our brain is trained to accept a change in habit, continuous negative talk and thinking could hamper your efforts put into breaking a habit.

Believe you can get out of it and assert yourself the same.

Final Thoughts

Changing habits isn’t easy, so do not expect an overnight change!

Habits took a long time to form. It could take a while to completely break out of it. You will have to accept that sometimes you may falter in your efforts. Don’t let negativity seep in when it seems hard. Keep going at it slowly and steadily.

More About Changing Habits

Featured photo credit: Mel via unsplash.com

Reference

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