At the beginning of 2014 I made a pact with myself to become a happiness guru. I already consider myself an expert on being happy so the guru just means I can share my happiness secrets with anyone else who wants a more joyful life.
Whether we want a new home, the perfect partner, a baby, or a new job, what we really want is the happiness that we think these things will bring to us.
If we reverse it and look at the causes of unhappiness some common answers might be tension at work, being late, not having enough money, or even the death of a loved one. The common theme in all the examples of unhappy stories I hear is the loss (or perceived loss) of power. If I am divorced I might choose to be unhappy when my children spend time with the other parent. I might feel powerless when my access to my own children is ordered by a judge and I cannot easily change it. In a separate example, if I develop arthritis I may feel powerless- as though my body has betrayed me.
So after I learned that feeling powerless was a choice I had to learn when the answer to happiness was changing my thoughts and when the answer was changing the choices I was making. Confusing? You bet. So let's continue with the example of a divorce. I can choose to fight to change the custody OR I can get comfortable with the current arrangement.
This is where I got stuck for many years. Input is processed by humans in a stimulus-belief-response manner. Two people can encounter the same stimulus, for example, a car accident. The first one is angry at the other driver. The second is thankful for the seatbelt and not sustaining injury. Which response is right? Both! It is our belief that we were lucky or unlucky that triggers our response. So if we can learn to choose the 2nd response. We will have a happier life.
So how do we start retraining our brain to think in this pattern?
The beginning of January is a time of reflection and goal setting for many people. I live a very intentional life so reflection and goal setting are part of my everyday process. To make the new year more meaningful, rather than creating a to do list, I have made a "how I choose to feel list" that is reflective of my current goals.
I want to feel loving & loved
I want to feel awed
I want to feel joyful
I want to feel generous
I want to feel affluent
I want to feel healthy
I want to feel fit
I want to feel peaceful
I want to feel sexy
I want to feel playful
I want to feel connected
I want to feel creative
I want to feel respected
I want to feel intelligent
I want to feel blissful
The great thing about this list is that I am empowered to change the "I want to feel loved" to I feel loved". I don't need to wait for someone else to do something before I attain my goal. It's all about me. I am not giving up my power and listing a bunch of stuff I hope to get. I have a list of how I want to feel, I control my feelings so it's all up to me now. I will let you know how it goes!