Research tells us that only 10% of our happiness levels come from external sources, which means our internal thoughts, attitudes and feelings have the biggest impact on our mood. The old saying ‘you get what your focus on’ rings true in that when we focus on all the things that are wrong or that are making us feel unhappy then we actually only perceive things in the external world to reflect that.
We have far more control over our perception of things and the way we filter and respond to our external world than we think, and when we choose to focus on the best of things then this activates what is known as the Reticular Activator System. This essentially means that if we purposefully choose to look for the best in things and focus on more positives then we actually notice more and more of them.
So, here we go, five tips for being happy right now…
When we fall into familiar habits of looking for the negative, we create a pattern which keeps us feeling permanently down. While it is never a good idea to simply put a plaster over our bad feelings and just think and say happy things, it is however important to consciously try to focus on the positives in any situation. When you are feeling down try pausing and deliberately turn your focus to what is good around you. Every situation has a positive even if it is just a lesson we can learn for the future or a means of creating more clarity as to what we dislike in our lives and what we would prefer instead. So, pause and change your focus by asking yourself questions like: What is the possible good here? What can I learn from this? What would I prefer to happen instead? What can I do to make that more likely? It can take a lot of practice but the key is to consciously ask the questions, Who do I love? Who loves me? This instantly focuses us on feeling more secure and confident and gives us a positive focus by appealing to our sense of and need for certainty and for love and connection.
As said, simply glossing over our feelings doesn’t change our mood or habits of thinking long-term, so develop the habit of keeping a daily journal to let all your feelings out and don’t feel bad about writing the negative things! By writing things down, this opens us up to examining what we are really feeling and can give us clarity as to what we really need. We might discover that actually we are feeling a bit lonely so need to create more opportunities to connect with others or perhaps are simply a bit bored so need to find ways to create a bit more fun and variety into our lives. This exercise then raises the question of ‘what about my situation is in my control? ‘ If there isn’t anything, it is easier then to put it into more perspective and let it go.
Too often we get caught up in negative cycles and patterns of thoughts and behaviours, particularly when we are connecting negatively with others through gossip or by watching too much superficial messages on tv or in the media! The fastest way to feel better is to stop and think about all the things in your life that you are grateful for, starting with the fact that you actually woke up that morning and that you have your basic needs met in terms of food and shelter! This then leads to being grateful for the people and things we love in our life and how differently we would feel if they weren’t there. Being appreciative naturally makes us more aware of other positive things around us and has a positive impact on others which then amplifies our good feelings even more. So every day, count your blessings and consciously look for things and people to appreciate as you go through your day.
This is a really simple thing to do and follows on from counting your blessings. Giving to others doesn’t necessarily involve giving money though of course it can do. Giving your time and attention to someone makes a really positive difference. Really listening to someone demonstrates interest and showing appreciation for when you receive a service makes a huge difference not only to the person you appreciate but to your own feelings of well being. Even bestowing a smile or saying thank you more often makes a real difference to how you and others feel!
Too often we get caught up in being busy we fail to stop and actually appreciate our unique strengths and how much we accomplish in our rush to finish the next task or race to the next activity. If our sense of happiness is linked to our success then it is hard to feel when we don’t stop to acknowledge what we have achieved, and research shows that the more we succeed, the more our goal posts for what success looks like shift, which leads us to statements such as ‘I’ll be happy when…’ True happiness comes from appreciating where you are now and what your unique talents and strengths are. This then prompts our brains to be more open and creative leading to more opportunities to feel good. Get in the habit of acknowledging your accomplishments both big and small to remind yourself of your unique talents and confidence and capacity to be happy in yourself.
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