Note: This is a guest post by Michael of Effortless Abundance
We are all looking for happiness, and feeling good is the key to a successful and meaningful life. But how many of us make it a priority? How often do we commit to making ourselves feel good? I believe that happiness is so important, it should not be left to chance.
Realize that you are pulling the strings
In ‘Man’s Search for Meaning,’ Viktor Frankl writes ‘between stimulus and response there is a gap, and in this gap lies all our freedom.’ Frankl came to this insight after spending several years in Nazi concentration camps, during which time he discovered that those who believed they had some control over their lives were more likely to survive.
Of course, we do not experience such extreme conditions, but the message that we are in control of our own thoughts and how we respond to situations is a vital one to internalize. Happiness is a choice. Operating from this knowledge, we have a surprisingly powerful locus of influence in the world.
Consciously direct your thoughts
This is not easy for most of us, since we have been conditioned to believe that our thoughts and feelings reflect our own inner world. In fact, our thoughts come first, and our experience follows. Consciously changing our thoughts is an amazing way to change our feelings and, inevitably, our experience of life.
For example, suppose you feel unwell. Most people will dwell on this bad feeling and start to run through a mental routine of negative thinking. But if you start to play a new tape in your head, you will be surprised at the change in the way you feel. Replace your negative thoughts with something like, ‘I feel good and good things are coming into my life.’ Repeat it over and over again. Within a short time, you’ll start to feel better.
It’s not easy at first, but this is a skill which, like any other, can be practiced. If you are diligent, you will improve and positive thoughts will become second nature.
Be an optimist
Studies have shown that people with a happy, optimistic outlook live longer and healthier lives. Did you know, for example, that …
… optimistic heart-bypass patients are half as likely as pessimists to be re-hospitalized?
… happy people have lower blood pressure?
… the most pessimistic men are more than twice as likely to develop heart disease compared with the most optimistic?
Being optimistic is not about being a Pollyanna and ignoring problems. It’s about believing that solutions can be found, living with enthusiasm, being creative and always open to new possibilities.
Nobody knows the future. The only thing we can be fairly sure about is that things never turn out the way we expect. So why worry about worst case scenarios? Things can be seen in a good light or a bad light – problems can be opportunities; failures can be learning experiences; pain can lead to growth. Where you put your focus is a choice you must make.
Take a walk
The health benefits of walking are undisputed, but there are also psychological benefits. Studies have shown, for example, that walking can help alleviate the symptoms of depression. A long walk will put some emotional distance between yourself and whatever problem you’re experiencing, and it will help to clear your head.
I especially recommend taking a walk at the end of the day. Instead of collapsing on the couch, watching TV, going to a bar or whatever else you do to unwind after work, go for a walk instead. You’ll be getting some good exercise, it will help with your digestion and you’ll be able to sleep better. Try it. Walking can contribute to your happiness.
Feeling good is so important – in a sense, it’s the whole point of being alive. So don’t waste time on negativity. Take control!
Photo by clspeace