What’s Your Personal Happiness Style?

Personal Happiness StyleOne man’s happiness is another’s  ho-hum.  I learned that lesson forcefully when I was helping my friend Jan redefine her personal happiness style.

Jan was recovering from major surgery.  She was depressed because she didn’t have the energy to enjoy her previous active lifestyle.

Jan loves to be on the go.  She’s always meeting friends for golf, for lunch and shopping, for an hour at the gym, an afternoon at the movies.  She takes classes and attends workshops and loves to entertain.   And now it was all she could do to get dressed in the morning and stroll around the block.  She was frustrated and bored.

As we played with finding a way to reframe her situation so she could more easily embrace it, I asked her how she felt about the trying to adopt a mindset of contentment.

“I hate it!” she spat out such vehemence that I laughed in stunned surprise.  Personally, I love contentment.  It’s one of my favorite feelings.  It had never dawned on me that anyone could find it as distasteful as Jan apparently did.

Eventually we came up with the phrase “joyful ease” to represent a mindset she could enjoy cultivating.  She could learn to go slowly buoyantly, she decided, floating with ease on her way to greater stamina and strength.

The Flavors of Happiness

That experience with Jan showed me that, just as we all have our own set of personal strengths, we have our personal preferences for particular flavors of happiness, too.

Dr. Barbara Fredrickson In her landmark book, Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life identifies ten primary positive emotions.  Each of them has the power to make us feel upbeat or uplifted.  In other words, they’re the different flavors that we group together in the big category, “Happiness.”

Read through the following list of the primary positive emotions slowly, and as you do, try to sense how each one feels in your body.  Notice which ones seem to hold a special attraction for you, which ones shine more brightly or resonate more clearly with you.  Which ones make your happiness taste buds tingle?

  • Gratitude
  • Serenity
  • Interest
  • Hope
  • Pride
  • Amusement
  • Inspiration
  • Awe
  • Love
  • Joy

Finding Your Own Brand of Happiness

Your happiness preferences aren’t inborn, fixed traits, and you’re capable of enjoying every one of the positive emotions.   But you’re likely to experience some of them more frequently or more deeply than others.

I have a cousin, for example, who meets life with enormous humor.  He has a real talent for finding fun in almost any situation.  And he creates fun in unexpected ways, too.   At a family wedding, he once gave a loud wolf-whistle right in church as the mother of the bride walked down the aisle.

No doubt, he would find himself strongly identifying with the emotions of amusement and joy.

Identifying which flavors of happiness feel most natural or familiar to you will help you notice them more often.

All of the positive emotions have in common that they don’t linger long.  They’re like brief passages of music that play on our inner radios and then float away.   They may impact our mood and color the feel of our day, but they’re fleeting in themselves, all too often gone and forgotten before we consciously registered their presence.

However, when we notice them as they’re happening, we can choose to savor them, to give them our full attention and to immerse ourselves in them.  That makes them more vivid and allows their particular harmony to reverberate inside us with greater richness.

When you know what kinds of happiness you most enjoy, you’re also in a better position to create experiences that will produce them.  You can intentionally make time to spend doing the kinds of things you’ll genuinely enjoy.

How to Build More Happiness

The key to experiencing more happiness is to simply pay more attention to those times when it dances into your life.

Start by deciding which of the ten primary flavors are your “signature” happiness feelings.   Focus on those for a while, using as many of the activities below as you like. Then, over time, experiment with  adding more flavors, one or two at a time, until you’re fully aware of them all.

  • Try beginning each day with a conscious intention to notice when you’re experiencing one of your signature flavors of happiness.   Notice what triggered it.  And in the evening, take a moment to replay your happiness moments, savoring the memory of them.
  • After you’ve identified your preferred flavors of happiness, pick one or two to focus on for the next week or so.   Focusing on one of them at a time, think of a time when you were feeling that feeling.  Let yourself recall as many details of the situation as possible—the physical surroundings, who was with you, what the weather was like or what the room was like, the colors and sounds around you.   Make your focus feeling as intense as you can.  Then notice how it feels in your body, and say to yourself, “This is [name the feeling].”   Pay special attention to how your face feels.   Then, as you go through the week, let your body signal you when it is feeling the same way and you’ll be able to enjoy the current happiness more fully.
  • To broaden your awareness of your signature happiness feelings, you may want to look each of them up in a thesaurus (thesaurus.com) and scout out other feelings that fall in the same family.  My favorite, “contentment,” for instance, is a member of the “serenity” family.
  • If you want some variety in your happiness practice, write each of the ten primary emotions on a slip of paper, fold it, and put it in small basket or bowl.   Draw one out at random each morning and let it be your focus of the day.  Watch for it, and enjoy it when it appears.
  • Play with keeping a happiness log or journal where you jot down what positive emotions you experienced during the day and what triggered them.
  • Create a family ritual where each member shares his or her happiness stories with each other over a meal.  Or enlist a friend to be your happiness buddy and exchange happiness stories on a regular basis.  (Research shows that simply sharing happy stories increases happiness, by the way.  This one is truly a win-win.)
  • Share a happiness experience on your favorite social media site every day

Expanding Happiness

What we focus on expands in our experience.   Let yourself play with your signature happiness feelings daily and they’ll grow by leaps and bounds.

Research shows that happiness is contagious by at least three degrees.  When you’re happier, so are your friends, and your friends’ friends, and their friends.  So by expanding your own experience of happiness, you’re literally making the world a happier place.  You can rightly consider being happy a public service.

Most of all, expand your happiness because it adds richness and health and well-being to your life –in all the flavors that are most delicious for you.   As Houston auto dealer Tommie Vaughn says, “You only get one go at it… might as well Rock it.”

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Remember, sharing happy stories boosts your level!  If you enjoyed this article, pass it along to your network.

You might also enjoy:

Scavenger Hunting for Positivity Souvenirs
and
Why Happiness is Job #1

photo by hortongrou

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The Wow Factor: Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence

Swallowtail on White BlossomsWhat sets off the Wow inside you?  A breathtaking sunset?  An extraordinary sports play?  A masterpiece of music or art?  Witnessing an act of surpassing kindness and generosity?

The appreciation of beauty and excellence finds its focus both in nature’s beauty and in every endeavor known to man.  What brings it forth in you may be entirely different from what triggers it for me.  But whatever its focus, the feeling of it is universal – a thrilling sense of elevation and awe.

It’s no accident that positive psychologists classify the personal strength of appreciating beauty and excellence as one of the transcendent strengths.

When the Wow Factor strikes us, we’re momentarily swept into a world that’s higher and headier than simple emotion or thought.  In fact, it’s the kind of peak experience that’s often beyond words.  Beauty and Excellence speak to the very best in us; they raise us up.   Experiencing them with full appreciation adds more joy and meaning to our lives.

Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence Defined

Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman,the developers of  the personal strengths classification, define the appreciation of beauty and goodness as “the ability to find, recognize, and take pleasure in the existence of goodness in the physical and social worlds.”

They go on to describe three types of “goodness” that can trigger this strength:

  • 1. Sensory beauty, such as a natural scene or a symphony, a work of art, or dance or architecture.
  • 2. Skill or talent, such as we might see in a sports performance, or in any field of human endeavor.
  • 3. Virtue or moral goodness, such as the dedication of Mother Teresa.

You may personally be drawn more toward one type than another.  Or, if this strength is one of your top strengths, you may find that your sensitive to all three.

How to Enhance Life’s Meaning

In our high-tech, achievement-oriented society, it’s easy to turn into “a head on a stick,” and to be so caught up in our internal, intellectual worlds that we overlook the beauty and excellence that life has to offer.

But cultivating the strength of appreciating them makes our lives more meaningful and worthwhile.  It allows us to get back in touch with our sense of wonder.

That’s not to say that we can’t find beauty and excellence in the intellectual world as well, if we choose to look for it.   In his book, Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder, Richard Dawkins says,

“The feeling of awed wonder that science can give us is one of the highest experiences of which the human psyche is capable. It is a deep aesthetic passion to rank with the finest that music and poetry can deliver. It is truly one of the things that make life worth living and it does so, if anything, more effectively if it convinces us that the time we have for living is quite finite.”

The time we have for living is indeed finite.  So why not fill it with all the richness and beauty we can?

Yeats said, “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”  We can intentionally sharpen our senses and the strength of appreciation for beauty and excellence in many ways.

The key word is “intentionally.”   Each of us possesses all of the personal strengths to greater or lesser degrees, and by paying attention to any one of them, we can raise its degree of functioning in our life.  The first step is to make a commitment to yourself to look for beauty and excellence.  Remind yourself when you wake in the morning that this is one of your intentions for the day.

Psychologist Ben Dean, founder and CEO of Mentor Coach, suggests that you can increase your appreciation for beauty and excellence by keeping a nightly journal in which you record  “something you saw during the day the struck you as extremely beautiful or skillful.”  Or visit a museum and hunt for something that especially touches you because of its aesthetic value.  Afterwards, write down your impressions.

Dr. Clare Wheeler has some suggestions for increasing your appreciation for beauty and excellence, too.

  • Take a mindful walk, she says, where you stroll slowly, opening all your senses to the world around you.  Even if you do this for only a short while, say, from your house to your car, it will enrich you and clue you in to all that can be observed and enjoyed.
  • Add variety to your daily routine.  If you take a different way to work, for example, or to the store, you’ll be more apt to notice new things.
  • Create more time in your life for the things that you find beautiful and moving.  Buy yourself flowers or plant a garden.   Surround yourself with coffee table books about the things that you enjoy and find inspiring.  Read biographies of people who have excelled in their fields.  Attend more concerts and sporting events if they draw you and watch for the moments of high skill and artistry.
  • Use the camera on your phone or a compact digital camera to capture the beauty you spot in your daily life.  “Make a deal with yourself to take one photo of something you think is beautiful every day for a month,” she says.  “Before long, you’ll find yourself seeking, and finding, beautiful people places and things every day.

I have to admit that the last one is my personal favorite.  I started doing it three years ago and the result is my daily blog, “High on Happiness,” where I share my photos and the thoughts they inspire, just for the joy of it.  And I can attest that the activity has indeed added more happiness and meaning to my own life.

However you choose to develop it,  and whatever aspect of life’s goodness creates a Wow moment for you, the time you spend cultivating appreciation for beauty and excellence will enrich you beyond measure.

If you found this article worthwhile, please do pass it on.  And while you’re here, subscribe and get your free copy of the Quick Start Guide to Fabulous Well-Being, along with my Sunday morning letters – both special ways to add more uplift to your life.

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This article is one in a continuing series on positive psychology’s 24 character strengths.  To find the others, go to our Article Index and scroll down to, “Strengths, Individual.”

You may also enjoy How to Live a Meaningful Life

 

Photo: c. 2013 Susan K Minarik

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The Hidden Strengths of Modesty and Humility

Modesty and HumilityIn today’s celebrity culture, where glamour and fame ride high, the traits of modesty and humility seem more like throwbacks to some dusty, forgotten age than qualities to be desired.

But don’t let their unassuming nature fool you.  The hidden strengths of modesty and humility sing to our hearts and appeal to our highest nature.

Modesty and Humility Defined

To understand why, let’s start by defining them.  If you look them up in the dictionary, the two words generally describe the same kinds of attitude and behavior.   “ Modesty” applies more to the way we express ourselves in our speech or dress.  It’s concerned with standards of decency.  “Humility” focuses more on the way we value ourselves compared to others, including the level of authority we have in a given situation.   But both of them are about freedom from arrogance, showiness and excessive pride.

The developers of positive psychology’s VIA Character Strength Survey say this about someone who ranks high in modesty and humility:  “You do not seek the spotlight, preferring to let your accomplishments speak for themselves. You do not regard yourself as special, and others recognize and value your modesty.”

In other words, you don’t need to be the center of attention and you have a sense that your personal qualities and abilities, while they may be exceptional in some way, don’t make you more special as a human being.  You recognize that we all have our worth.

Humility’s Essence and Depth

Writing about humility in the now discontinued magazine In Character Wilfred M. McClay calls humility “foundational to the very possibility of human flourishing.”  That’s a pretty big statement to make.   But he may be right.  He describes humility’s task as one that allows us to “reorient ourselves to our proper place in a larger reality, which, for all its vastness and unfathomable mystery, is the ground of any genuine human happiness.”

What that means is that humility is the quality that lets us see ourselves honestly, as small sparks in an endless stretch of time and space, as one of several billion human beings who share this one particular moment on this one little planet.   It means that we keep things in perspective, that we recognize our limitations as well as our strengths and don’t overestimate either of them.

I like the way that Brett and Kate McKay put it in their article at the Art of Manliness:

“The definition of humility need not include timidity or becoming a wallflower. Instead, humility simply requires a man to think of his abilities and his actions as no greater, and no lesser, than they really are. Real humility then mandates that a man knows and is completely honest with himself.  He honestly assesses what are, and to what magnitude he possesses talents and gifts, struggles and weaknesses.”

In essence, humility is keeping a balanced view of ourselves and of our place in the larger whole.

Because the whole is so large, someone somewhere will always be better than we are at some things, worse than we are at others.  That means there’s no need for arrogance about what we do well or for shame over what we can do only poorly.  It also means that we give credit to others where it’s due.  It means we can genuinely celebrate others’ achievements without feeling personally lessened by them in some way.

The whole is not only large, but it’s interconnected.  It’s all once piece, and we, individually, are just its parts.  We’re dependent on each other for all that we are.  All the material goods and services we enjoy come to us through the efforts of other people.  All that we’ve learned, we’ve been taught or led to by others.  Other people shape our cultures, our institutions, our world views and our beliefs.  Humility is the conscious recognition and appreciation of the contributions of others.  It’s a kind of gratitude for our fellow man.

What’s So Cool About Humility?

Humility makes you more likeable.   When you’re focused on seeing that other people get what they need instead of only looking out for your own interests, people develop trust in you.  When you sincerely applaud their achievements and contributions, people feel acknowledged, validated and seen.

Lately, humility has been identified as a top quality of strong leaders.  According to leadership expert Jim Collins, a great leader loses his or her greatness when it becomes all about that leader. In almost a biblical sense, greatness comes when those who could be first decide to be last.

“We found that for leaders to make something great,” Collins says, “their ambition has to be for the greatness of the work and the company, rather than for themselves.”

Humble people tend to be confident and to have a strong sense of purpose.  Research
shows that people who rank high in humility seem to have “a sense of security grounded on feelings of self-worth.”   They’re “less driven to impress and dominate others” and “to collect special benefits for themselves.”

Because they’re confident in their self-worth they tend to be flexible in their opinions and open to the viewpoints of others.

Self-Worth vs. Self-Esteem

Self-worth is different from self-esteem.  Self-esteem is ego-centric and competitive.  It measures how good you are compared to others.   It can be boastful and arrogant, and it’s sometimes built on a less than honest appraisal of your true attributes, talents, authority, or skills.

Self-worth, on the other hand, acknowledges that you have deep-rooted, built-in value – just because you are -while respecting the value of others as well.  It holds onto its perspective of the larger whole.

What’s so cool about humility, in the final analysis, is that it’s about love and respect.  It’s about loving and honoring yourself, just as you are, so fully that you love and honor others as well.

And that, I believe, is why it’s the foundation for all human flourishing.

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This article is one in a continuing series on positive psychology’s 24 character strengths.  To find the others, go to our Article Index and scroll down to, “Strengths, Individual.”

 

If you found this article of value, passing it on would be a prudent thing to do.  Just click a button.

You may also enjoy How to Develop Your People Smarts
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The World-Changing Power of Kindness

Kindness
Photo: Heath Brandon/Flickr.

Tucked away in positive psychology’s list of character strengths is one, little gentle one that, when applied, has the power to improve your day, build healthier relationships, slow aging, improve heart functioning, and make people happy.  That’s what the research shows about kindness.

But the positive power of kindness is even wider and deeper than that.  Embracing, as it does, our inborn empathy for one another, our compassion for suffering, and our longing to contribute in some, small way to the well-being of others, kindness speaks of the best in us.

It’s a quality so profound that the Dalai Lama even named it as the basis for his entire belief system.  “This is my simple religion,” he said; “There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophy.  Our own brain, our heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

Mark Twain said, “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can read.”   It’s a universal language that speaks to us all.

The Contagious Nature of Kindness

One of the characteristics that positive psychology researchers have recently demonstrated about happiness is its tendency to spread among people.  Reporting on a recent study conducted by James H. Fowler and Nicholas A. Christakis, an article in Wired magazine said,  “In findings sure to gladden the heart of anyone who’s ever wondered whether tiny acts of kindness have larger consequences, researchers have shown that generosity is contagious.”

Dr. David R. Hamilton explains the contagious nature of kindness this way:

“I believe that kindness is contagious in three ways. The first is that we feel elevated when someone helps us. We’re on the crest of an emotional wave for a short time and from this state we feel inspired to help other people.

“Depending upon the situation, we might also feel relieved when someone helps us, especially if the situation we’re in is stressful. This reduces the stress or worry and we feel a surge of relief. Stress and worry often obstruct our real nature, which contains strong undercurrents of compassion and kindness. When stress goes away and is replaced with a feeling of relief, we’re more likely to act on opportunities to help others.

“The third way is that when we see someone being kind, something inside tells us that this is what we should be doing and so we are inspired by the observation of another’s kind behaviour. This is called social contagion.”

As Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip said, “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness  Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”

We do ourselves good with kindnesses given as well.  Acts of kindness increase the happiness of both the person who does the kindness and the recipient of the act.

How to Increase Your Kindness Quotient

You can increase the amount of kindness you spread by simply setting an intention to be kind.  Opportunities to help others are everywhere.

You can find a wonderful list of ways to be kind at Random Acts of Kindness if you need some inspiration.

And here’s a description of a kindness activity from Positive Psych. Webs that you can try out just to see how expressing more kindness impacts your own life:

Perform a new act of kindness each day for a week. Create a list of potential acts of kindness you can do. Use this as a guide but feel free to change it as long as you do a new and different act each day. Reflect upon how you feel after doing each act of kindness and the reaction of the receiver, if applicable.

Note: research has found that the good feelings produced by doing acts of kindness actually last longer if you do all 5 acts in one day rather than spread out throughout the week. (If you do only one a day, it may start to feel like a chore.) Try it both ways and see if this makes a difference for you.

What science is finally confirming is wisdom that, in our hearts, we’ve always known.  Way back in the 4th Century, Saint Basil, Bishop of Cesarea, said, “A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

Put the power of kindness to work in your life, beginning right now.

One way to do that would be to pass this article along to your friends.  Do share!

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You may also enjoy: Self-Compassion: Being Your Own Best Friend  – how to be kind to you.

Photo: Heath Brandon/Flickr.

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Are Your Words Poisoning You?

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” –Rudyard Kipling

Kipling was right.  Words carry and color the concepts that form our knowledge, beliefs, and understanding about everything in the world, from who we are to the nature of the reality in which we function.

Ask yourself, then, what kind of word-drugs are you passing through your mind? Are they drugs that heal or drugs that harm?

Every word you think, speak and hear affects you, and when it comes to toxic words, Alice, from Alice in Wonderland, had some sage advice:  “If you drink too much from a bottle marked ‘poison,’” she said, “it’s almost certain to disagree with your sooner or later.”

So what are poisonous words?  They’re the ones that discount your worth and your abilities, the ones that tell you that you are less than you are, that your potential is limited, that your abilities are incapable of expanding.  They’re the ones that tell you that you don’t measure up and that say you embody undesirable, despicable, or unchangeable traits.

They’re also the ones that find the faults in others, and in situations.  They’re the words of criticism, complaint, and blame.

More Than a Metaphor

It turns out that Kipling’s comment was more than a metaphor.   We think in words, and Dr. Joe Dispenza describes how our thoughts interact with our bodies this way:

“Every time you have a thought, there is a biochemical reaction in the brain – you make a chemical.  The brain then releases specific chemical signals to the body, where they act as messengers of the thought.  When the body gets these chemical messages from the brain, it complies instantly by initiating a matching set of reactions directly in alignment with what the brain is thinking.  Then the body immediately sends a confirming message back up to the brain that it’s now feeling exactly the way the brain is thinking.”

Dr. Dispenza then goes on to describe how the brain will search for more thoughts to match the feeling state the body created, thus setting up mood.  When practiced often enough the mood becomes a belief and a state of being.

In other words, your thoughts are literally pouring into your body the chemicals that contribute either to your well-being or to dis-ease.   

Are All Negative Thoughts Destructive?

Does that mean we should never think negative thoughts?  Of course not!  As Charles Darwin pointed out, “All emotions have adaptive benefits.”  One of the interesting findings of positive psychology is that negative thoughts and emotions serve many constructive purposes in our lives.  Sadness, for example, can help us  pay more attention to details in our environment, to be more convincing and alert, and to care more about what people in a group we’re in are saying.

The key is not to get so lost in negative emotions that they turn into conditions like depression or anxiety.

The Dangers of the Default

But whenever we’re not specifically focused on a task or consciously choosing our thoughts, our thinking goes into a “default mode” that’s a kind of daydreaming.  In her program The Neuroscience of Change: A Compassion-Based Program for Personal Transformation, Dr. Kelly McGonigal describes the four kinds of default thinking we do and how they lead to a state of constant dissatisfaction.

  1. We engage in a running commentary about the world, describing to ourselves how we would be more comfortable or how things would be better if one little thing would change.
  2. We time travel, escaping the present moment by visiting the past or imagining the future, and by doing so reinforce our subtle sense of dissatisfaction with the present and creating a barrier between us and the full, rich, more rewarding experience of the immediate moment.
  3. We reinforce our sense of ourselves  as a distinct person having a fixed set of abilities, qualities, talents and desires and we feel comfortable that we know who we are when we think of these.  But this solid, rigid sense of self distances us from our connection with others and from the present moment.  Feel threatened when anything in reality contradicts sense of self and we feel a need to defend it.
  4. And finally, we compare ourselves to others, furthering our sense of separation from them, rather than seeing what is common to us all.  Especially when we feel that we’re not measuring up or that we’ve failed or are fundamentally broken, these comparisons cause us pain. The idea that we’re fundamentally different from others can create suffering, especially if we feel that we’re fundamentally broken, that we alone are failures.

According to Dr. Dennis Gersten, psychiatrist and diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, we think about 15,000 thoughts in a day, and, surprisingly, half of them are negative.   While some of these negative thoughts are, in fact, adapative, warning us to be careful in potentially dangerous situations—“Don’t text and drive!” or “Eewww, that fruit is spoiled!” – many of them are the kind that McGonigal describes as contributing to our subtle dissatisfaction with our lives.

In order to create a greater satisfaction with ourselves and our lives, one of the things we can do is to train the content of our default thinking to fall into more constructive patterns.

Refocusing the Default

We can alter the content of our default thought by intentionally creating more positive thought patterns.   “Current neuro-scientific theory tells us that the brain is organized to reflect everything we know in our environment,” Dr. Dispenza says. Our brains are altered by what we think, say, and experience—and these are the areas we need to focus on to impact our default thought content.

One big part of that is learning to pay attention to how we talk to ourselves—about ourselves, about others, and about the situations we find ourselves in.

The goal is to drink in more tonic and less poison.

The Mayo Clinic suggests that you start by following one simple rule: Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and respond with affirmations of what is good about you.

Here are some examples of negative self-talk from The Mayo Clinic and how you can apply a positive thinking twist to them.

NegativeSelf-Talk

Positive Thinking

I’ve never done it before. It’s an opportunity to learn something new.
It’s too complicated. I’ll tackle it from a different angle.
I don’t have the resources. Necessity is the mother of invention.
I’m too lazy to get this done. I wasn’t able to fit it into my schedule but can re-examine some priorities.
There’s no way it will work. I can try to make it work.
It’s too radical a change. Let’s take a chance.
No one bothers to communicate with me. I’ll see if I can open the channels of communication.
I’m not going to get any better at this. I’ll give it another try.

Another key to altering your default thought content is to begin to watch, too, the words that you are speaking out loud—both those things you say to yourself and the things you say to others.  Your spoken words have even more power than those you think because you’re using your voice and hearing as well as thought.  If you need to make a criticism – of yourself or someone else – do so constructively, in a manner that offers helpful suggestions for alternative ways to do things.  Work on decreasing the amount of complaining and blaming you do.

Finally, pay attention to what you’re listening to and reading.  Surround yourself with positive people, be open to humor, listen to and read things that inspire and uplift you.  Decrease the amount of violent or argumentative entertainment you absorb.  As the famous computer programming phrase says, “garbage in-garbage out.”

“The truth,” says Dr. Dispenza, “is that we are marvels of flexibility, adaptability and a neuroplasticity that allow us to reformulate and re-pattern our neural connections to produce the kind of behaviors that we want.  The truth is that we have far more power to alter our own brains, our behaviors, our personalities, and ultimately our reality, than previously thought possible.”

Make an effort, beginning right now, to increase your awareness of the words and thoughts that you are experiencing in your world and to say no to those that aren’t contributing to your being the best that you can be.

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For more ways to transform negative thinking, see:

Complaints, Comparisons and Blame: Is One of These Positivity-Busters Killing Your Joy?

Cowed by Overthinking Negative Thoughts?

Making Ants Dance: The Practice of Overcoming Negative Thoughts

Making Ants Dance, Part II: Breathe Your Troubles Away

 

Graphic, stock-xchng

 

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