Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. ~ George Bernard Shaw
You have a lunch date with a friend. Your friend is late. You wonder why she is always late. You get angry. Between the lateness and the anger is a belief. The belief might be that your friend doesn't value your time. It might be that she is self- centered and thoughtless. But without knowing which is true, the real question is why are you choosing anger?
You have an exam. Your stomach starts to churn and you feel anxiety. Between the thought of the exam and the churning stomach is a belief. Maybe you think you aren't prepared. Maybe you were told by your first grade teacher that you weren't a good student. Maybe your parents compared you to your older siblings who were A students.
Recognizing that in both examples YOU are the source of the emotion. You control the belief. This is the key to positive thinking. Accepting that not only do you control your happiness, you also control and sadness, anger or fear.
What is a belief?
A belief is an assumed truth. It is something we have learned or heard or chosen. They come from influencers like parents, teachers, peers, culture, or religion.
How Do I Know If My Belief Needs Changing
How Do I Identify a Belief?
I use a series of questions that can be as simple as:
Why do I believe that?
Who taught me to believe that?
What proof do I have that that is true?
or as advanced as
What do I think would happen if I didn't believe that?
How Do I Decide What to do Next?
If the belief I have uncovered feels good and is working for me, I keep it.
If the belief feels uncomfortable in any way I can choose to dig deeper to see if there is an underlying belief or I can decide to change it.
How Do I Change a Belief?
This is the best part! How long do you think it takes to change a belief? A day, a week, 21 days, a year? You get to decide what you believe about that too. Science has shown that 21 days is a good average. Some people think it takes as long to break a pattern as it took to make the pattern. I have experienced changing a belief instantly. In the second I decided I wasn't going to believe something anymore, I stopped believing it. It's kind of like climbing a mountain to see the view from the top- the person who gets there first gets the same view as the one who arrives last.
Men are not prisoners of fate, buy only prisoners of their own minds. ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt
Humans Are Designed to Be Happy
Our brains are wired to help us be happy. We have complex nervous systems that include mirror neurons (the thing that causes you to smile back when someone smiles at you), the ability to vocalize, touch & make eye contact as well as complex chemical reactions that release oxytocin (the nurturing chemical), dopamine (the habit former) and seratonin.
What Does This Means in Plain English?
Humans are wired for happiness. We have JOY, GRATITUDE, SERENITY, INTEREST, HOPE, PRIDE, AMUSEMENT, INSPIRATION, AWE and LOVE as our most common positive emotions
If Happiness is so Simple, Why Are So Many People Unhappy?
Humans are wired to be happy however, we have a few factors that can make happiness a challenge to achieve. First, we have a negativity bias- powerful negative emotions pack a stronger chemical release than positive emotions. This mean that we need approximately seven good things to counteract each bad thing.
We also have a happiness set point. This is how happy we are on average. And when we encounter something really great OR something really terrible, we usually wind up back at our set point within a calendar year. This means that winning the lottery or getting a divorce affect your overall happiness in the same way. After the initial surge of excitement or anger, you return to your set point.
Can I Change My Set Point?
We need to "train out" negative thought patterns like
1. Perfectionism (inappropriate levels of expectation)
2. Social Comparison (striving to compete with others)
3. Materialism (the belief that material accumulation will make you happy)
4. Maximizing (continual searching for better options even when satisfied)
Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body ~ George Carlin
Simple Ways to Change Your Set Point
What do YOU do that boosts your mood? I'd love to hear in the comments!