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!
Michael writes at effortlessabundance.com. Sign up for his newsletter and get the first 10 chapters of his new book, Thirty Days to Change Your Life, for free.
Photo by clspeace
This is a great post – the “take a walk” makes the hugest difference for me – my dog is like my guru in helping make this happen, and I so look forward to getting out in the air (working from home is such a blessing – I get to see outside my window even as I’m writing), and I’m also blessed with the “optimism” gene. I would love to read more and talk more about how exactly a person who’s habitually used to being a pessimist can switch gears while staying authentic and in touch with real feelings…that seems to me to be the key. It’s easy to whine, easy to quote statistics…more difficult to make changes in yourself without a guidebook and map. Thanks, Sarah
This is a great article.
I agree with you that consciously directing your thoughts is a skill that is hard to master. I’d tried telling myself I feel good when I was sick but the thought just don’t sink in.
This is something I’d wanted to master because I’m always down with flu (really bad flu) ever since I was a kid, and it’s really frustrating as doctors say there’s no cure for it.
Nevertheless, I’m still trying whenever I’m down with a bad flu and feeling really sick.
[…] Four Ways to Feel Good […]
Michael has captured the primary function of the conscious mind – Focus!
Whatever we focus upon and believe to be true, the subconscious also believes it and begins to deliver that to us. It can be instant as in an emotion or later when a circumstance presents itself to us for action.
I built a successful TV News broadcasting career through the power of conscious focus and subconscious delivery of opportunity.
I gave this a Stumble!
Thumbs up to this article! Rather than allow external events to rule our day, we should take more charge by directing our thoughts. I enjoy the quote “between stimulus and response there is a gap, and in this gap lies all our freedom”. It’s beautiful!! It has deep meanings on several layers. Thanks for sharing!
[…] Four Ways to Feel Good – Life Optimizer “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.” […]
Thanks to all for your comments! Actually, Sarah, I used to be a pessimist, but I’ve turned things around and am often accused of being too optimistic about things! This is a fault I’m glad to own up to!
Thanks to Donald for putting up this post.
Thanks for sharing these four tips. If we can grasp that we are pulling the strings, the rest are a slam dunk.
Thanks for contributing a useful post!
These tips are Michael’s. All I did is hitting the Publish button 🙂
[…] onto this amazing Life Optimizer website. At a first glance, I particularly found useful the 4 Ways to Feel Good entry and the 15 Tips to Stay Positive in Negative Situations. Check it out, it’s worth […]
Really like the Victor Frankl quote regarding the gap between stimulus and response being the area that decisions are made our destinies created
A great post Micheal,
I totally agree with having an optimistic outlook and you would have an healthy longer life, you hit the nail on the head with that one.
Great tips Michael. Finding a chance for routine exercise can make such a tremendous difference for people, it’s amazing. And a walk is something that we all can do where we can allow ourselves to take a break and reflect on our day. It helps with both the fitness/endorphins part of the equation as well as a meditative element to healthy thinking. When we get too worn out by our day to take time to think, we can get particularly overwhelmed. And that’s when we need those positive thoughts the most!
It is really helping specially when my love is planning to go away from me. The thought of him going away from me burns my soul all day though he is still around me. I am a pessimist and want to be optimist right now.
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