People often ask what’s the secret to happiness. I can tell you for sure that it all depends on developing a positive attitude and not clinging to bad experiences.
I remember not so long ago when answering a friend of mine about the most challenging habit that I had to overcome. I jokingly uttered “giving up late night snacks can be quite the challenge. But in all seriousness though, I had a hard time with keeping my rants and complaints to a minimum.”
That is true. I was the kind of person that would not miss a chance to complain about anything and everything. There was always something that demanded my incessant rambling about. Neighbors, the weather, traffic, a newly elected official in a country to which the whereabouts were unknown to me, you name it!
My mother always warned me not to do the same mistake my late father did. He spent most of his life obsessing about other peoples affairs. If one of my uncles buys a new car he’d assume that it was at the expense of the children’s college funds.
Unsurprisingly as it were, I myself geared personal attacks in the smallest of disagreements with my friends, or when I felt left out from any of their plans.
No matter how powerful and satisfying it felt at first, guilt and remorse quickly followed.
It wasn’t until middle school that my teacher opened my eyes to the truth. With words so simple and yet so profound she said to me once “count your blessings and live the happiest of lives”.
In other words, Ms. Cameron showed me the secret to a happy life. Gratitude. And this was an important catalyst that made fall in love with positive psychology.
By way of reflecting on which thoughts and actions we can have more control over, positive psychology teaches us to be masters of our happiness.
This highly introspective outlook on things encourages oneself to stay positive, nurturing, and kind.
If you are to follow these 6 simple steps I guarantee you that you’ll not only have control over your emotions, but you’ll spread peace and happiness to people around you.
Step 1 : Locate the fun
We all find ourselves in funny situations or witness them before our eyes on a daily basis. All you have to do is note down at least three per day, and be sure to mention some detail as well, as if you were a stand up comedian writing down material for an upcoming show.
This is one way of taking things lightly and not being too hard on yourself. Plus, you can always have a go at stand up comedy once you have enough material and make people laugh.
Step 2 : Have a journal
Keeping a journal is one the healthiest things you can do. It is a great introspective tool, and can serve as an outlet thereby improving our mood.
For instance, if I got promoted I would keep these points in mind while journaling :
– How (I persevered and developed a daily routine of reviewing my work at the end of the day)
– Why (I saw an opening for the promotion and I didn’t hesitate to apply for it)
– In what way (I pitched my proposal for a 10% productivity increase by investing on office ergonomics)
– For what cost (I cut back on my gaming time and updated myself on the latest research in office management strategies)
And equally as important, you have to write down something that you did on that day that needs to be improved. For instance :
“I yelled at my neighbour for having guests staying late which and couldn’t sleep”
Solve it :
– How am I stuck (I didn’t get to sleep well that night because I got angry and couldn’t rest)
– How can I get unstuck (I can keep my cool, yelling doesn’t change anything and is only making things worse. I can have my neighbor for dinner sometime and explain my situation to them nicely or just get me some earplugs)
Step 3 : Write your plan
Whatever goal you set to reach, you can easily lose your drive and energy for not getting an instant reward. This is human nature. However, the key is to set easily attainable milestones over short intervals while striving for the bigger picture.
Think of each milestone as a stair case. By getting through one after the other you’ll eventually get to your ultimate goal. Think of how accomplished you’ll feel once you’ve mounted all the stairs and look down to where you came from from where you’ve become.
You will not know how humbling it is to climb those staircases until you do, which will make you want to pass on every you learn along the way to others.
Step 4 : Have a kindometer
Keep track of every kind gesture you give, receive, or witness. Gestures like helping the elderly with groceries, bringing food to stray cats or dogs, or complimenting your loved one just because.
Step 5 : Gratitude contact
We all have someone that is not a family member, partner, nor spouse, but who did something very kind or was very helpful to us.
Think of how his / her help or gesture has impacted you and how touched you were by it. Assemble all of that in a neatly written letter.
Now contact that person and arrange a meeting. When you get together read what you have wrote them and give it as a present to them.
You can go the extra mile and maybe accompany the letter with a meaningful gift.
Step 6 : Stay positive
No matter how bad things can get, always remember that we are in a safe place.
Seek to find the good out every situation. That’s the only way to bounce back no matter the pain and suffering.
Having a positive mindset gives you the strength to believe in yourself. It gives you the ability to make a wait out of every pain and heartache.
Just last month, I dropped my daughter off for school trip and I started getting all worked up and worried for no reason. “What guarantees her safety? I texted her 2 minutes ago and she hasn’t texted back, is she okay?”
I was well aware that I was only overthinking the situation, yet it was difficult to chase the thoughts away as I started missing her from the time she got on the school bus.
I got hold of myself, took some deep breaths and looked at my thoughts for what they really are. Just mere thoughts. There was nothing actually going on to which I had to get anxious about.
I took a moment while driving back home and played some Chopin while taking a little detour to see the falling sun into the sea.
As I saw the sun plunging into the water to the coda of Chopin’s impromptu number 1, I had a eureka moment: people who don’t complain have every bit of appreciation and gratitude for what they have at the moment.