By Sarah Jeanne Browne
Are you using these 6 simple steps?
“The most important thing is to enjoy your life, to be happy. It’s all that matters.” —Audrey Hepburn
You can choose to be happy right here, right now, as you are. It’s not an easy choice, but it’s worth it. You can find happiness by not looking for it, by simply Being and appreciating the moment. You can find happiness by finding what you most value, what you most care about and going for that. The point is that you can find it, that it is possible.
Happiness is about perception. It’s seeing the glass as half full and reaching for that fullness. It is a mindset that can turn it all around. The aim of anyone is to be happy. After all, what else is it all for?
Positive reframing is changing the way you think to be more positive. It’s taking a negative thought and challenging it. For example, it’s identifying a cognitive distortion such as overgeneralizing, mind reading, catastrophic thinking and more (full list Here) and asking yourself- what is the purpose behind this thought? Usually, the thought’s intent is to protect you and what you want. So, what do you want? Find a more productive thought or goal towards the outcome you want. Replace the negative thought through reframing.
This is cognitive behavioral therapy, where you take a thought and break it down and try to make it more positive. Set the intention for yourself with a new more positive thought, rather than letting your mind go into default and derail you. You can do this with any thought and any situation.
If you are stuck in traffic and think, “Everything is always like this or horrible,” you’re overgeneralizing. Instead, think, “This is inconvenient, but I know life is still good because…” Fill in the blanks with what motivates you towards happiness. Then, reframing will lead you to peace.
Positive reframing questions you may also ask yourself for some healthy self-talk are:
Reframing is simply rethinking. This time, instead of letting your negative thoughts take over, you decide what you think. If you find the good, you will create more of it.
A negativity bias means that you have a tendency to focus on the negative more than the positive. Negative events or memories take precedence in your mind over positive ones. Negative emotions overwhelm positive emotions. Negative self talk is the norm before you talk to yourself with self-compassion. Criticism is considered more than kindness. You respond more strongly to negative events and discount the positive. So, what can be done about this? Recognize this about yourself, and know that everyone can be more naturally negative; You must purposefully find the positive. Aundi Kolber, therapist and author of Try Softer, says, “emotions give us information- not identity.”
If you are experiencing negativity, know that you may not be seeing everything. There is more to the story; there is more to you.
If happiness is rooted in anything, it is appreciation. Appreciation of what you have, where you’ve come from, what you love, what’s around you. And you’ll find it starts with the simple things that can make a difference the most.
Don’t let life pass you by. Ultimately, you have the ability to pay attention to the positive. It’s up to you what you see. While you’re here, be awake to what is. Create a gratitude list of your life. Be mindful. Ground yourself in the good. Take notice of simple things that bring you joy. It could be conversations with someone you love. Or it could be enjoying some alone time. It could be walking outside in nature. It could be buried in a book or watching, for the millionth time, that movie that you love. It doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary. It could be completely normal. Whatever it is, find it. All it takes is opening your eyes.
You’ll find you don’t need much to be happy. You just need to hold onto the right things.
If you’re constantly thinking the grass is greener on the other side, you forget to water your own grass. It’s not productive to live in a state of self-defeatist thoughts. Look at how much you have done, overcome and can do. Be your own ally! What matters is the story you tell yourself. Are you telling yourself you are good enough or telling yourself that you are unworthy? The positive or negative self-talk is up to you.
Remember, people are only showing you what they want you to see. If you look at people closer, you’ll see more imperfection. You’ll see more humanness. That maybe it took grit to get to a certain point. That no one comes from having it all, and if they do, they may take things for granted. Be the best you by acknowledging where you come from and still reach for it all. Then, you will lift others up along the way because you won’t need their input. You only need the inspiration you feel. And that comes from within. Life’s too short to stay focused on others’ successes or failures. Look to your own goals, and compete only with yourself.
“When you shut down emotion, you’re also affecting your immune system, your nervous system. So the repression of emotions, which is a survival strategy, then becomes a source of physiological illness later on.” – Dr. Gabor Mate
Emotional dysregulation is about an inability to process and respond to emotions. This affects your overall wellbeing. When you deny difficult emotions in the pursuit of being happy, you enable emotional dysregulation to occur. That’s because denying negative emotions or just being positive all the time (toxic positivity) is not going to stop emotions from existing. Denial doesn’t work. Don’t disconnect from your emotions. You need to process them, not simply push through them. The insights gained from being engaged with your emotions and guiding yourself through them with self-compassion can lead to a greater understanding of yourself and your needs, and therefore, happiness.
Robert Holden, PhD. came up with the term “destination addiction.” What he meant by it was that people are so caught up on trying to become happy that they miss what happiness actually is. If you just live your life waiting, that’s all you’ll be doing. When you are constantly thinking of the next thing- whether it be a project, finding a new relationship, traveling, making more money, perfecting your brand or image – none of which are wrong in and of themselves, it’s easy to get caught up in it all. It’s not about the next thing. It’s about the Now. There’s no destination other than the choices we make right now, and the most important choice is to choose to be happy. Searching for it makes it more elusive. What happens in life always has some measure of uncertainty. Don’t waste your time waiting for happiness to happen. Make it happen!
But not everyone finds it. Why? They look in all the wrong places. You must look to yourself, most of all. You have the ability to choose how you spend your days and whom you spend them with. Happiness is not out of reach; it’s yours if you let it in. Choose happiness, and the rest will fall into place.
Sarah Jeanne Browne is a speaker, writer and activist who has been published on Lifehack, Tiny Buddha, Thrive Global and more. See @sarahjbrowne.