By Tom Gnagey
We all know people who dwell on the unhappy events in their lives and in the world in general. What a drag they are on those around them. One factor sets them apart as habitually sad, while others are generally happy. Want to know the ‘how to be happier’ secret?
The simple, yet profound answer to the ‘how to be happier’ problem is this: Refuse to even contemplate the possibility of being unhappy. Some explanation is in order. Worriers, for example, expect bad things are going to happen – or at least that good things probably are not going to happen. They anticipate the worst and during all that worry-time, while anticipating the worst, they can’t possibly be happy. The mere process of worrying forces one to be less than happy and that typically translates into something between sad and distraught.
In contrast to worriers, are the planners. When planners see less than happy situations occur or figure they are about to occur they say: “OK, that’s how it is now. What steps can I take to fix it?” That immediately moves them out the helpless, frozen, worrier class into the confident, take-charge, planner class.
The worrier spends his life replaying over and over again, all the bad stuff (and even possible bad stuff that hasn’t even happened). Each replay adds unhappiness to his life; it paints an ever more vivid picture of a bleak, helpless, existence, which reinforces his unhappiness. By moving immediately to planning solutions you turn on your inner positive power and optimism. (Habitual worriers are always pessimists.)
In essence, worriers focus on how to be (and stay) unhappy. Planners focus on how to be happier through finding solutions. I stumbled upon a magnificent trick many years ago. I was disturbed by the fact that when I greeted others with the typical greetings – “How are you?”, “How ya doin’ ?”, “Things going well are they?” – a significant number of folks gave me replays such as, “Not so good,” “Terrible”, “Had better times,” etc. I figured by asking those seemingly harmless questions (by which I really meant, “Hey there, I recognize your existence and hope life is good,”), I was allowing them an opportunity to verbalize and thereby reinforce the unhappiness in their lives. I needed a ‘how to be happier’ approach, instead.
So, I developed a series of more life affirming greetings: “What a wonderful day, don’t you think?”, Can you believe this fabulous weather?”, “Hey! You’re looking great!” Each requires an affirmative answer before they can really think about the greeting. If they greet me first with a question like, “How are you?”, I answer, “I am fantastic and fully expect to get better as the day goes on.” The alternative is to listen to the downers other people spew back at us. Just don’t provide opportunities for other people to suggest negative, self-defeating, statements. Those not only reinforce their unhappiness but tend to burst our joyful bubble as well.
When we approach others as if we are having or contemplate having a happy, successful, uplifting day, our own subconscious mind hears what we are saying and sets us up to believe it. It therefore becomes a reasonable self-fulfilling prophecy. When we say we feel great, we actually begin to feel great. When we say things are bad, we allow unhappiness to get its grip on our life. How does this come about?
Your Deep Mind (subconscious) tries its best to help us feel and behave in the manners it believes we want to feel and behave. It determines those things by listening to our words and watching our behaviors. Choose to make your relationship with your Deep Mind a powerfully helpful one. Show it how to be happier and in return it will support you as you seek your answer to how to be happier.
How to Be Happier: Five Hints
How To Be Happier: Hint #1- Never contemplate the possibility of being unhappy.
How To Be Happier: Hint #2- Never replay unhappy situations (or their possibility). It marks you as a helpless worrier.
How To Be Happier: Hint #3- Become a planner and focus on solutions.
How To Be Happier: Hint #4- Tell others and yourself positive, happy, things.
How To Be Happier: Hint #5- Don’t give others the opportunity to suggest unhappy possibilities to you.
About the Author
Tom Gnagey is an educator, psychologist, social philosopher, and writer. He has practiced clinical psychology for 30 years. For information about his successful, proven, self-help and personal growth program, Deep Mind Mastery, go to www.TomsBookNook.com