Controlling how you feel is a talent that everyone needs to develop in order to be happy and successful. What ever measure of happiness you have now is greatly dependent how well you have developed this skill. It is also the most valuable talent to own, if happiness is your goal…and it is.
It’s pretty easy to be happy and hopeful for the future when things are going well; you’re healthy; just got a raise or a promotion; or had the girl or boy of your dreams fall for you.
It’s quite another thing to feel great when you just lost a job; just received the wrath of a boss; had a serious injury or disease; or the boy or girl of your dreams just dumped you.
So, the question to ask yourself is, “am I happy because of what happens to me, or am I happy because I choose to be?”
As children we are happy predominantly because of what happens to us. Going to bed early makes us sad, while getting a candy makes us happy…. for the moment. When the positive stimulus is gone, we go back to our “standard” state of happiness.
Feelings of happiness, for the normal functioning brain, relies on a few basic things.
Raise your standard state of happiness
First, the number of thoughts about what we already have and how that relates to our happiness and future happiness. The common terms for these are gratitude and hope, but it is even more basic than that. Much of your internal voice is about what you do for yourself, and how what you do makes your internal home a great place to be. The internal voice of gratitude and review always dominates. Controlling this voice and its direction is more critical to your happiness than anything that can happen outside of you.
Second, the quality of the thoughts that you review. These are going be based on how you treat yourself. If you care for yourself by making sure that you have the character qualities that you like and expect, your more likely to have great internal thoughts. You are only as forgiving, generous, and helpful to others as you are to yourself. Anything else creates contradictions that end themselves.
Jump Start The Process
When my children were very young, I would teach this concept with something basic they could do. They had good characters, much more than ample to create a steady stream of good thoughts, but they would get stuck in a rut. I would tell them to “fake till you feel it.” If you fake the outward, the inward will eventually follow up. That’s one of the reasons why dressing well “makes the man or woman”. It’s only partially about what others think of you that makes you happy, and mostly about how you live up to the character quality expectations you have of yourself, and how graciously you appreciate yours and then other people’s. More on this another time.
So, if you are feeling down, then try this:
List 20 things about your life that you are grateful for and how they have made your life better. Include positive characteristics of yourself, because you have them and this is simply honest to include them.
If you’re upset with someone like a spouse or a boss then do the same thing, list the 20 things about that person that you’re grateful for and how they affect your life positively. Totally ignore the bad ones. This is about making you happy and has nothing to do with justice.
You are on the road now to learning to control how you feel. If you practice regularly you will soon not need the paper, except in those very difficult times. You will eventually have a constant stream of good thoughts, the balance of which determines how you feel.
It’s about the people!
John E Tanner