My guess is it depends on our outlook. Are we letting negative thoughts control us that day?
While looking for positive quotes for this post on the internet, I came across this really productive article on ten steps to happiness. I hope you find it as helpful and inspiring as I did!
Read steps 1 and 2 below, then click the link for the rest.
Are you happy? How happy would you say you are, on a scale of 1-10?
Our society today is entrenched in low levels of consciousness of fear, desire and pride. Despite the increasing affluence of people in our world, it seems people are more and more unhappy today. From unhappiness with work, unhappiness with their life, unhappiness with the world, unhappiness with themselves. If you think that the people around you seem quite unhappy, let me tell you that this is a common issue everywhere in the world – be it countries/cities I’ve been to in Asia, in Europe, or in America.
In light of this epidemic, I’ve created a guide on how to be happy. The mark of a good life is one that is filled with happiness. If you’re not happy at all, then what’s the point of doing any of this to begin with?
I see this as a timeless guide, with 10 of my universal, timeless principles to achieve happiness. May you find these 10 principles useful in your quest for happiness. Know that at the end of the day, happiness comes from within, not from outside. This is why the guide focuses on intrinsic, permanent steps to achieve happiness, rather than extrinsic, surface-level tips which only have a temporal effect (such as listening to music, going shopping, etc).
#1. Attend to Negative Emotions / Thoughts; Don’t Repress themMany of us in the modern society today do not know how to properly deal with our emotions. Just look at what most of us do when we are unhappy/angry/upset/stressed/fearful. We either (a) sleep it away (b) eat it away (emotional eating) (c) drink it away (alcoholism) (d) smoke it away (e) bury ourselves with other things, usually work and/or (f) ignore those emotions altogether.
So what happens when we do not deal with our negative emotions appropriately? Our emotions / thoughts are unaddressed and get repressed. It may look like the unhappy emotions / thoughts are gone the next day, but no, they are never gone – they are just buried beneath the surface.
It’s a matter of time before they re-emerge in the future – usually when we face a situation that triggers latent memories. During which we can either respond via avoidance again, hence repeating the cycle all over again, or by dealing it the right away this time. To do the former is to live an unconscious life, no different than a sleepwalker. To do the latter is to take the path of courage and start living consciously.
How should we deal with unhappy emotions / thoughts then?
- First, unload your mind, especially if the incident just occurred and you’re faced with a big influx of negative emotions. I find the brain dumping exercise very helpful for this purpose. Meditation also helps in calming your mind. It’s okay to use destressing methods like playing games, taking a break, taking a walk, venting, listening to music, etc – as long as you return to the issue at hand after you are done destressing.
- Identify your source of unhappiness via asking yourself: “What’s making me feel unhappy?“. The answers can be very revealing. If you’re someone who has never questioned your emotions/unhappiness before, this will point you in the right direction, because rather than take your emotions as they are, you’re now making an effort to understand them. If you are a conscious individual, with high awareness of your emotions, this will bring you a step further.
- Create a list of steps that will help you address the source of your unhappiness above. See next step.
#2. Take Action on What’s Making You UnhappyI’d say I’m by and large quite a happy person. It’s not because I don’t feel unhappy emotions. Like everyone, there are times when I’m unhappy. There are times when I’m angry too. And there are times when I can be downright miserable.
What do I do during these times? Do I let myself sink in the negative emotion? No, I don’t. That’s pointless and a waste of my mental energy.
What I do is this – Whenever there is something making me unhappy, I fix the issue right away, in a 3-step approach. Firstly, I identify the issue at hand. Secondly, I locate the action steps that will resolve it. Then, I execute those steps immediately.
A simple example : I was recently in New York City (Nov-Dec ’11), as part of my US travel. While NYC is terrific and I love the city, its winter climate is too cold for me, since I grew up in a tropical country (Singapore). It got so cold that I would much rather stay in than go out. It was quite miserable.
Rather than let the situation perpetuate though, I checked the weather in west coast, and realized the southern west coast has a much conducive climate for me. So during Jan ’12, I traveled on to Los Angeles, California, where it is much warmer. Problem solved, and I became a much happier person.
There have been many other situations where I wasn’t happy and took action to address them:
- Quitting my previous job because it was not my passion
- Parting ways with my best friend because our friendship was no longer making us happy
- Working on my relationship with my parents because it wasn’t where I wanted it to be
- Working doubly hard on growing Personal Excellence (thereafter reaching 1 million pageviews a month) because it wasn’t growing as fast as I wanted it to
- Addressing my emotional eating issue because it was causing me so much anguish, both in life and in terms of staying true to my weight loss plan.
- Fix the issue right away. No point waiting. The longer you wait, the more unhappy you are.
- Focus on what you can effect, not what you can’t effect. This includes (a) things in the present (b) your thoughts and actions. Not (a) things in the past or things that have yet to take place yet or (b) thoughts and actions of other people.
- Remember that every problem has a solution. You are only limited by the confines of your mind. It’s up to you to expand your frame of thought and find the best-fit solution.
- Once you have done everything within your control, let go and let things run their course. You have already done what you can. Now it’s up to the others and the universe to do what they must.
How do you stay positive?