I want to talk to you about happiness.
I want you to know that it is a choice.
I want you to realize that you are the one that decides.
So what have you decided?
For me, everything is anchored in perception.
If you are to distil everything down to its core, I can guarantee you that HOW YOU SEE YOUR WORLD will dictate 90 percent of your happiness.
Because nothing on this earth has inherent meaning only the meaning we decide to give to it. Only how we CHOOSE to see it. Only the story we decide to give it.
As the saying goes: You see the world as you are, not as it is.
If we see the world as we are, then we need to know who we are?
We need to know our core values, our beliefs, the stories we tell ourselves. We need to tune into the voices in our heads, we need to be aware of the constant narration and we need to take responsibility for it. We need to recognize that we are choosing to see our life a certain way and because of this, we are dictating our happiness levels. We can see the glass half full or half empty, but we must also accept the consequences.
Here are my five tweaks to your perception that may help you feel more happiness. You may find them clichéd, you may find them unsurprising, perhaps you may even find them helpful. The truth is, happiness is not a new invention. What I will say, will not be said for the first time. But, as with often the most important information, you may need to hear it a number of times before it truly sinks in. Read, read again and then make your choice.
- Do the helicopter test
Since we are 'ourselves' and wrapped up in our own bias and skewed view of the world we need to create an opportunity to see things differently. By this I mean, look at the big picture, from 1000 feet up. Take you, your emotions, your complications and biases out of the picture. See it how Buddha would see it. Try and see what else is going on. Ask yourself - what might be happening here that I can't yet see or that I don't yet know. What might be another explanation for what is going on here.
- Know that the context of the situation is biasing you
If you are tired, hungry, sick, moody, you will see your world in a negative light. If someone told you something negative about the person speaking in your meeting, you will hear their words differently. You need to be aware of the external forces which may be influencing your perception. Research has proven that context effects can be nullified by simply being aware of them. Then, you need to adjust for them, like a golfer would adjust for the wind. What does this mean? It means if you always have a short temper before lunch remember this and don't have important meetings then. Check in with yourself before you react, if you realize you are tired then respond when you are not tired. This will lead to a happier life.
- Recognize that you don't have control over events or people BUT that you do have influence.
If you want to control the outcome of events in life, good luck, you'll win some and you'll lose most. Why? Because you aren't a wizard. Accept it. But you can influence the outcome of some events. Take a look at your world and raise your own awareness of what is out of your control and what you can influence. Release your energy from the things out of your control. Influence what you can, but remember that you still don't have control. Give yourself a break, roll with the punches and adapt yourself for round two.
- Accept that the only control you have is over how you will let events affect you.
Viktor Frankl rests his whole Logotherapy on this premise. People do not make you angry, neither do events, it is you that selects that emotion. You can equally select another. I know at times it feels like we have no control over our emotions, you can feel that swell of anger build in your stomach. But you do indeed have control. Don't give other people this immense power over you. Consciously take the control back. Speak to yourself, remind yourself that you choose the emotion, it is not to be inflicted on you by some exterior variable.
- Stop blaming other people There is nothing more appealing than someone who is capable of accepting responsibility for their outcomes in life, the good and the bad. Dissolving yourself of responsibility is like ignoring the fact that you exist. How and why do things have to be other peoples fault? Blame is not helpful and it perpetuates a 'victim' attitude, which is always an unhealthy psyche. Take responsibility, response - ability - your ability to respond.
Try to apply these tweaks to your perception. Even if you only start with one, try it on for a week. I guarantee you, you still start to see your world differently.
It doesn't have to be so complicated. You don't have to feel so powerless.
You can decide what you decide to see.
What have you decided?
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