There’s a lot to be said for being happy. It makes you healthier, better at your job, more likely to have good relationships and you can even extend your life. If you’ve been happy you already know what unhappy is like. Being happy is much more fun.
Yes, there are times in our lives when it’s normal be feel sadness and we shouldn’t try and talk ourselves out of it. If you’ve lost a live one, gone through a breakup, lost a job, or some other adverse life event, feeling unhappy is natural. But being unhappy for a long time isn’t.
Happiness is a habit that we can cultivate. That’s because, thanks to evolution the human brain is designed to pay more attention to negative thoughts and stimuli that positive ones. We can learn how to pay more attention to the positive thoughts in our brains and stimuli in our lives because our natural tendency is to down play them, and that makes us unhappier than we should be,
I will show you some tips I used to change my negative thoughts and increased my positive ones.
1. Ask Yourself If You’re Thinking Positive
Every time no matter how often, Ask yourself “Am I thinking positive?” If a negative thought pops into your head, think of a positive one. This simple act will help you start thinking more positive thoughts. It’s a phenomenon called metacognition, a fancy word for thinking about thinking, which is a powerful memory aid. Asking yourself regularly whether you’re thinking positively will help you remember to focus on the positive. Which is a huge first step.
1. Memorize A List Of Happy Words
It may sound silly that simply memorizing a list of word associated with happiness would be enough to make you happier, but it can.
Because when you force your brain to use positive words frequently you make these words and their meanings more accessible, more connected, and more easily activated in your brain. So when you go to retrieve a word or idea from your memory, the positive ones come to the top more easily,
I’m guessing you can come up with plenty of words that you associate with happiness. Use words like love, joy, blessed, excited, pleasant, optimistic.
Ivan Pavlov famously trained his dog to drool whenever he rang a bell, by associating the sound of the bell with food. You can train yourself the same way, creating associations that you can use to your own advantage.
Here’s one I use. I am not a morning person, I usually stay awake until 1 or 2 AM and then sleep in. When I have an early morning meeting. It’s sometimes tough. I began buying my favorite flavored coffee that I enjoy drinking. So, I have learned to associate this delicious coffee with getting up early. You can learn to associate words or things to change your mood. I have a fascination with crows, I love watching these intelligent birds. Seeing them makes me smile.
4. Practice Gratitude
There’s plenty of evidence that being grateful for the good things in your life makes you happier. Everyday think of 3 things to be grateful for,if you have to write them down, for those especially tough days. I used to every night at dinner ask my children what they were grateful for that day. And then I would tell them, what I was grateful for.
5. Spend A Few Minutes each day writing about something that made you happy.
Write in a journal every night about a positive experience you’ve had that day. This exercise gives you greater levels of happiness. So it’s well worth the time to spend a few minutes writing about something that made to truly happy. I used this when I facilitated a mental health group. Each day they would write down what made them happy, and then on the day of the group they would bring what they wrote to the groups and shared it.
6. Each Day Look For Beauty Around You
Even though times are tough right now, we can still look and find something beautiful in our lives. Whether it’s the sunrise or sunset, the flowers in your yard (or your neighbors). When your having a hard time being happy you can bring to your attention back to the beautiful thing you saw and dwell on that .
7. Celebrate Your Successes, Even The Small Ones
We often do not appreciate ourselves enough. Our human tendencies is to berate ourselves. Say you went to the gym today, or went for a nature walk. Celebrate that you did that, fix yourself a healthy smoothie. I set a goal each morning and if I meet that goal for the day, then I celebrate. Some days there will be detours or missed opportunities and we will fail to meet our own expectations. But don’t stop celebrating those successes.