Tag Archives: how to be happy

Why you’re unhappy

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Why you’re unhappy

There can be many reasons for why you’re unhappy. In the post I will list the most common reasons for unhappiness. These come from stories and examples that my clients have related to me.

Overthinking

I wholeheartedly agree with the saying, “when you’re in your mind you’re in enemy territory”. We tend to default to the negative and spend time worrying over things that may never happen. Limit your “what if” thinking and remember thoughts aren’t facts.

Denial

Facing the truth can be painful and threatening and many of us suppress the reality of what is going on around us. Thing is, until we face up to things we will still be unhappy even when we pretend everything is fine. Cognitive dissonance (when we possess conflicting beliefs, attitudes or behaviours) will emerge when we are in denial and not living the life we feel is the right one for us.

Negative filter

When we only focus on all that is wrong we tend to see a very bleak picture of the world. Learn to be more appreciative of the good things too, no matter how small.

Playing it too safe

When we live in our comfort zone and never try new things, it can lead us to feeling stagnant and without meaning or purpose. Get out there and experiment. Set yourself some goals…Be brave.

Living by too many ‘rules’

When we have too many rules for living we tend to be more unhappy. The more rules we have the easier they are broken, causing stress and anxiety. Learn to identify your rules for living and challenge them. They often take the form of “if this…then that”, For example: If I don’t please others, no one will like me. Some rules for living create utter misery. The less you have the better.

Taking life and yourself too seriously

A sense of humour is a great weapon to alleviate unhappiness. See the funny side, try to relax and enjoy life rather than seeing everything as a catastrophe.

Trying to control things beyond your control

There is a huge distinction between what we can and what we can’t control. Make sure you know the difference.

Remember the serenity prayer:

grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Non acceptance of uncertainty

No one has 100% certainty in life – learn to work with it rather than against it. Acceptance and tolerance of uncertainty is helpful for happiness levels.

Comparisons

When you buy into the image others let you see, you can end up feeling inadequate. What you see on the outside though is an incomplete picture of the full reality. Don’t be taken in by what others show you – Facebook is the worst platform for this. Learn to focus on your own life and where you want to be rather than loking at false comparisons.

As you can see, there can be many reasons as to why you’re unhappy….the above are just a few. Learn to be psychologically flexible, laugh more and live in the moment for increased happiness and contentment.

Mandy X

Tips for happiness

 

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Focus on what you can control, forget the rest

Follow this “Serenity Prayer” – it’s full of wisdom:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.”

It’s not events that upset you, it’s your beliefs about them

Most of the bad feelings you have are caused by irrational beliefs. Challenge your belief system regularly – there is always a rational alternative thought available.

Learn acceptance, stop resisting ‘what is’

The greatest source of misery comes from the gap between how life is and how expect it to be. Learning to accept how life is doesn’t mean being passive and/or giving up. It means we acknowledge the problem and work with it rather than against it.

Act ‘as if’

Think of someone you admire – a family member, friend or celebrity. Imagine how they would act in certain situations (especially those that cause you anxiety). Changing behaviour automatically shifts our thinking and often, acting confident can help us to feel confident as well.

Build structure into your life

A basic structure helps keep order in life. An underlying framework is always a good place from where to go forward and deal with the world. Have a morning and evening routine, make some things a fundamental activity that you do regularly – such as exercise, a healthy meal etc

Create goals

Goals help to add meaning and purpose to life and we all ned to have some sort of direction in life. Create short and long term goals that are as specific and measurable as positive. Eg: I will lose 5 pounds/kilo by the end of the month.

Gratitude

It’s human default mode to look at all that is wrong in life – make an effort to look for what is good in your life and do this daily. when we focus on all the good, e automatically feel happier. Gratitude and appreciation are powerful emotions that can lift a mood instantly.

Do you have any other tips for happiness or contentment? Send a message and let us know!

Mandy X

8 ways to be content

 

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8 ways to be content

  1. Let it go

    Don’t bear grudges. That allows those whom you hold a grudge against to have power over you. Learn to let it go. Life is too short to hold on to negative energy that is unnecessary. Yes, there is injustice in the world but sometimes acceptance is the key to freedom. It doesn’t mean you have to like it but it means that you can hold on to a peaceful mind instead of letting the injustice of the world ‘pickle’ you and change you into a bitter, twisted person.

 

2. Be flexible and open minded

Those who hold rigid rules about the world will find that their ‘rules’ are broken very often thereby creating tension and unhappiness. Research has shown that those who are psychological flexible are the happiest people. Learn to be adaptable and get into the habit of looking for rational alternatives to explain life and why people do what they do. Perhaps what is happening to you is nothing personal…

 

3.Be yourself

Like and accept yourself for who you are. It feels amazing when you can be brave enough to let the real you shine through. We all fear rejection if we act ourselves but most people are willing to accept us far more than we think they will.

 

4. Laugh often

Never take life too seriously. A sense of humour can carry you through all sorts of life challenges. Life is tough . No one escapes life’s lessons but when you try to see the bigger picture and learn from it, it makes a massive difference. Being light hearted and learning to detach on some levels can mean maintaining your sanity for that bit longer.

 

5. Dismiss negative or self critical thinking

Negative self talk will make anyone feel miserable. Why do it? Be kind to yourself, be your own best friend. You owe it to yourself to believe in yourself.

 

6. Don’t compare

Comparing your life to that of others in a negative light is the quickest shortcut to misery. Stop it! Be proud of where you are in your life – we are all different with varied things to learn. We all have an original path to take and what others are doing should have no bearing on what we do in our own lives.

 

7. Connect with others

Happiness definitely comes from being around others and feeling connected. In fact this is probably the most important way to feel happy and content. Make an effort. Never underestimate the power of connection with others.

 

 

8. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Learn to pick your battles. Life is complicated and not every injustice deserves your attention. Have goals and keep perspective. Stat grounded and don’t be distracted by menial things.

There are many routes to feeling content and happy, the above points are only a few ways to help you find contentment. We are all different and find solace in varied ways. Only many levels though we are all similar, we want to be loved and accepted. Love and accept yourself – others may not always see how amazing and wonderful you are. Nurture self belief – it really does help you to manifest the right kind of reality (law of attraction).

Mandy X

10 ways to increase happiness

 

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A female enjoying a day at the beach.

10 ways to increase happiness

Accept responsibility for yourself

When you accept that you are where your are in life due to your own choices and stop blaming others for your situation, you begin to feel back in control of your life. You, and you alone must be responsible for your own life. If you are doing things that make you unhappy, look at why you are doing them – what is the pay off? Do you like seeming like a victim? You don’t have to be a victim, you can choose to create a better life for yourself by changing what you are doing and making new decisions. Be hopeful about where this new-found power can lead you.

Be flexible towards life

“Musts” and “shoulds” create inflexible rules for life and the more rigid our rules for living are, the quicker we stress out when they don’t remain as we wish. Instead of using “must” and “should” in your vocabulary, try “could” or “it would be preferable”. The minute you adopt a more easy going approach to life, is the moment your stress levels reduce. There are very few things in life that MUST be a certain way…always ask yourself why it MUST be that way. Who said? Where’s the big rule book of life that tells you so? You will find you have a lot more choice and freedom as to the “musts” and “shoulds” you want to live by in life. You do get to choose.

Accept reality

Acceptance plays a big part in our levels of contentment and happiness. We don’t have to like reality but dealing with what is rather than resisting reality will save a lot of unnecessary effort in the long run. Instead of lamenting endlessly with statements such as “why me?” or ?It’s so unfair!”, look at ways to problem solve. Fair enough – we all deserve a little bit of ‘poor me’ time but put a time limit on it and then try to find ways to improve what is happening..or just wait a while and it might pass all on it;s own. The point is – stop resisting what life throws at you. If you’re stuck in a traffic jam, you’re stuck in a traffic jam. You can work yourself up into a froth or you can chill and listen to some music. There’s not much else you can do. Always distinguish between what you can and can’t control and then let go of what you can do nothing about.

Develop a high tolerance for frustration

If you procrastinate, lead an undisciplined lifestyle, frequently fail to stick with tasks that would be in your best interests to complete or go out of your way to avoid hassle in life, you may be someone with a low tolerance for frustration. Perhaps you have become caught in the “comfort trap”. Ask yourself whether your current approach is likely to get the best out of you and help you find out what you are really made of? It may feel okay now as long as you don’t want to be someone who wakes up one day and wishes they had engaged more in life. You will be left with a lot of “what ifs” which isn’t conducive to happiness or contentment. Challenge your “I can’t stand it” philosophy. You may not always like it but most likely you can stand it..that temporary upheaval for long term satisfaction. Don’t hide form life. See frustration as proof that you are really living and engaging.

Love and respect yourself

I love the personal statement “Always wear your invisible crown”-it’s a reminder to me to like myself and see myself as a good person who deserves love and care. You teach others how to treat you whether you realise it or not, vocalise it or not so it pays to treat yourself well – other will follow your lead.

Allow yourself to be feel negative emotions

How many times have you watched the runner up in a competition say “Well I am so grateful just to get this far..blah blah”. Sure – if that’s genuine, but it really is okay to be fecked off when things don’t go your way. We can’t always be positive, we can’t always be dynamic etc and that is okay. Watch those “musts” and “shoulds” again – I must always be happy, I must always cope – not necessarily. It is a normal and healthy part of life to be fed up, to have had enough and to want to check out and go live on a desert island somewhere. Feel the emotions – they are normal, don’t suppress them. It isn’t healthy to always put on a brave face irrespective of how you feel.

Be a critical thinker

Be a healthy sceptic. Don’t believe everything you are told.Whether that’s what parents and authority figures told you about who you are or whether it’s a media outlet trying to persuade you to think something new. Does the new message fit in with how you see yourself? A famous American psychiatrist, Aaron Beck – the founder of Cognitive Therapy argued that when people are in distress, they frequently show distortions on the way they think. Some of the major distortions we engage in which can be very unhelpful are:

black and white thinking (all or nothing thinking – nothing in life is ever all or nothing); mind reading – where we make assumptions about what other people think and feel (actually we don’t really know unless we ask them directly); catastrophising – when we make a mountain out of a molehill and work ourselves into a froth unnecessarily and personalising – where we blame ourselves for things that often have nothing to do with us.

Develop a problem solving attitude and get comfy with making your own decisions about yourself and your life. You don’t need the approval of others.

Be curious about the world and others

Be adventurous and be true to yourself when it comes to following your interests. A fulfilled, happy person is a kinder and more tolerant person and we could definitely use more of those on this planet. Make time for your own pleasurable pursuits and learn every day.

Focus on relationships

As I explained in one of my recent blog posts about oxytocin – the cuddle drug is wonderful when it comes to providing feelings of contentment. Oxytocin is produced by our bodies when we engage with others. Learn to trust others and let them in – you may be pleasantly surprised. Those with a supportive network tend to cope better in life when they are stressed and seem to be more resilient. Take a genuine interest in others – we all want to be loved and accepted and if you welcome others, you will find they seek you out. We really aren’t all that different from one another.

Personal change

Do you ever say to yourself, “I will do X/Y/Z when I have…” ? Get into the habit of just doing, instead of waiting for the right moment – there is never a better time than right now. Sometimes we need to engage in the behaviour before it feels right – acting as if we are confident can often lead the confidence to emerge. Try not to think fearfully about your option – be curious and adventurous and embrace the trial and error nature of life.

There is no foolproof formula to be happy but the above ten pointers will definitely help to increase contentment if you get used to applying them!

Mandy X

12 Positive habits for a better life

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12 Positive habits for a better life

I wish there was a fool proof method for a fabulous happy life. There isn’t such a formula but there are definitely some good habits that can increase your chances of a better quality of life:

Stop making assumptions

We willingly put ourselves into a mental prison of chaos when we make negative assumptions about other people’s intentions. One thought leads to another and we soon spiral downward. If you don’t have clear evidence – lose the assumption.

Focus on what you can control

We spend to much time worrying about things we have no control over. Make sure that your worry check list includes the question – “is this something I have control over?”. Learn to let go of things you cannot control. It’s a part of life – embrace uncertainty.

Focus on gratitude and positive things

The more we look for happy events and kindness in the world, the more it naturally lifts our spirits. Make a point of doing this every day. Some people even have a “gratitude journal” and write at least 3 things in it each day to remind them of the good things in their lives as well as things they like about themselves. Humans tend to default to the negatives and this is a good strategy to counteract this.

Don’t overthink

Sometimes when we worry, all we do is worry – there is no problem solving going on and this is the worst type of worry. Learn to set aside “worry time” if need be – half an hour a day and use it to make lists and come up with solutions. Overthinking is usually an unproductive habit.

Talk to yourself as you would a best friend

Never ever put yourself down. Treat yourself like royalty. This one is so important. We all have negative thoughts about ourselves but get into the habit of identifying this negative inner talk and replace it with healthier, more supportive inner chatter.

Stop living in fear

Get out of your comfort zone regularly – it’s the only way to challenge and quieten the scary thoughts that stop us from reaching our true potential. Do a risk assessment and then go for it. Even if things don’t go according to plan, you will probably find the reality isn’t half as scary as you anticipated and you will learn that you are far more capable than you ever thought. But you won’t know this until you try -test out your fearful thoughts…

Take responsibility for your own life and happiness

When we blame others for our place in life we effectively hand over all our power to them. Take it back and take responsibility for where you are. You have the power to change things, to alter the course of your life – it is never too late. Every journey starts with that first step – you can do it. No more procrastinating.

Stop comparing

What a waste of energy comparing your life to that of others. You never really know what’s going on for others and we tend to see other people’s lives through our tinted perceptions and insecurities. If we feel we haven’t achieved financially, we will compare ourselves to those who we feel have made it in this area. Still – you never know for sure – they could be up to their eyeballs in debt. Besides, is financial success REALLY what you need to be happy?

Give up on perfection

Learn to relax a little and stop trying to control everything – it’s a losing game. Learn to work with the force of nature and the natural ebbs and flows of life. Too much perfectionism might stem from insecurity. Learn to see yourself as good enough.

Reject pressure from others and society

Part of living in a society, going to school etc is that we are taught to conform, be conventional and behave like good citizens. Be aware though of when you let your personal boundaries be destroyed by too much societal indoctrination. Learn to be a critical thinker and follow your heart not the main consensus – it dilutes our personal identity in the long run.

Be true to yourself

Do what you love, and be yourself even in the face of possible rejection. Yep, I know that’s a scary concept but oh-so liberating if you can practise it a bit more often.

Take time out

Life’s all about balance. Too much of one thing is never good. Learn to be good to yourself without the guilt. A bit of selfishness is fine now and then. Look after yourself and cherish yourself. There will never be another person like you…

Mandy X

 

 

The 9 secrets of optimists

 

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The 9 secrets of optimists

They like themselves

Optimists have a good relationship with themselves. Their inner dialogue is not self-deprecating or critical. They regularly look for reasons to like themselves and remind themselves of their strengths and achievements.

Optimists possess a ‘self serving bias’

Optimists, unlike pessimists see the world in a way that bolsters their positive view of themselves. When something goes well they chalk that up to their own skills and competencies whereas pessimists tend to blame luck when they are fortunate. When things go wrong optimists tend to look at the situation rather than blame themselves and pessimists, predictably, see failure as being their fault.

Optimists nurture hope and watch their thoughts

Optimists protect their sense of hope at all costs. Hope is a driving force when it comes to an optimists motivation. They have a “can do” attitude to life and look for ways to make things happen rather than focusing on everything that might go wrong. Optimists have mental buffers that allow them to see the brighter side of life. They are less inclined to catastrophise or see the world through a negative filter. They choose thoughts that keep them balanced and are able to rationalise when life throws them a curve ball.

Optimists expect others to like them/they are more outgoing

Optimists see the world in a positive frame of mind. They see themselves as good company and automatically expect that others will like them. Because optimists have such a positive view of themselves and how they fit into society, they tend to be more outgoing.

Optimists feel more in control of their lives

Much research has been done on happiness levels related to how much control a person feels they have in their life. It has been found that the more control a person feels they have, the happier they are. Optimists take responsibility for where they are in their lives and feel a great sense of control over their futures. They know that they cannot control everything and that there may be problems along the way but optimists tend to believe in their own capabilities to cope and find a way forward.

Optimists know how to be assertive

Optimists tend to have healthy self-esteem and as result they do not shy away from being assertive and asking for what they want. They tried to achieve a win-win situation where everybody’s needs are met. They do not automatically expect others to know what they want and are happy to express their needs.

Optimists are self aware

Optimists tend to be people who are quite self-aware. They clearly understand their strengths and weaknesses and they capitalise on their strengths and minimise their weaknesses. They are not afraid to try new things and don’t allow fear to paralyse them.

They possess an attitude of gratitude/appreciation

Part of being happy involves having the ability to appreciate what we have instead of constantly comparing ourselves to others that are more fortunate. This serves no other purpose than to make us feel deprived. Optimists enjoy striving to improve themselves that they are also fully aware that making comparisons with others is a dead-end road. It is far more effective to compare how far they have come on the progress they have made for themselves. Optimists empower themselves.

Optimists have positive expectancy – about  life and other’s intentions

Optimists have a very healthy view of the world. Generally, they are not bitter and twisted and they can happily enjoy the success of others. They do not see success as a finite resource. They expect good things in their life and they also expect that other people are generally well meaning. They tend not to have negative preconceived ideas about strangers and tend to maintain an objective approach.

I am aware that this blog post portrays optimists as superhuman. This isn’t the case. Optimists are just normal people who have learned to choose their thoughts carefully and to replace negative thinking with more objective possibilities. Some people are naturally more optimistic than others and this will be down to their genetic make up but we can all CHOOSE to be happier.

How to be more optimistic

Act as if

Every time we act we reinforce the idea tendency behind it. Our behaviour can change the way we see the world as well as our thoughts. It is just as easy to act into a new way of thinking as it is to think yourself into a new way of acting. Use the phrase “fake it to make it”. Sometimes we have to pretend in order for something to become real.

Going through the motions can trigger the right emotions. Getting out there and being sociable forces us to behave as if were happier and this can in fact free us from feeling unhappy and pessimistic. Learn to stretch yourself little bit by little bit. Think about a role model that you particularly like-this could be a family member or a well-known celebrity. Imagine how they would act and behave in certain situations and try to emulate this. There are many routes feeling happier and more optimistic.

Mandy X

Recommended Reading – The pursuit of happiness : David Myers

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Photo by symphony of love

Photo by symphony of love

 

References:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200910/the-secrets-happiness

How to Build resilience and happiness within you

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How to build resilience and happiness within you

If you want to be unhappy, make sure that you gain your self esteem and validation from external sources and temporary pleasures. The most insightful and wise way to improve contentment is to build a strong inner core within yourself of self acceptance – a core that cannot be taken away by something external. How precarious will your confidence be if it relies upon someone treating you a certain way? How sad it is if a person lacks the necessary skills to comfort you and connect with you – internalising another person’s lack and personalising this lack so that you end up blaming yourself is a true pity.

You can’t control others so never base your worth on their behaviour. If someone does not treat you in a loving way, it does not automatically mean that you are not loveable. Never jump to this conclusion. Take complete responsibility for your own happiness and don’t expect someone else to make you happy. If they do see it as a bonus but not as the only way to feel good about yourself.

You can choose to feel happy now. Watch any talk that goes like this: “I will be happy when I am in a relationship” or “I will be happy when I am rich, thinner, more popular etc”.

Happiness is an inside job – you carry it around with you by the way you see yourself and the interpretations you make about the world and people around you. We all have insecurities and other people can be huge triggers for our feelings of self doubt.

Here are suggestions to help you build you inner self-love-core:

1) Remind yourself regularly of your strengths and achievements.

2) Make a list of things you like about yourself and keep it nearby – read it regularly.

3) Don’t compare yourself to others. Instead compare yourself to where you have come from. Look at how far you have progressed in your life. We are all on our own path of enlightenment.

4) See yourself as separate from how others treat you. Never associate your level of worth and love according to how others treat you – especially when their behaviour is negative. Their bad behaviour is more likely to be about them and their lack, than about you.

5) Regularly talk to yourself in a positive way – examples: “I am good company”, “I have a great sense of humour”, “Why wouldn’t anyone want to spend time with me?”. We all find it easy to look at our faults – stop doing that. It won’t help you, it will just make you feel sad. We all have faults, just focus on the good stuff. Watch the negative self talk – it is so destructive.

6) “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. – Eleanor Roosevelt. Other people will have their opinions and you will not be able to please everyone, so be true to yourself and follow your heart. There will always be the ‘judgers’. Be happy, be in your bubble. Protect your happiness and self worth at all costs. No one is worth taking that from you.

Mandy X

Accidental Happiness

 

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Accidental Happiness

The harder we try to engineer happiness the more elusive it can become. Often, what we think will make us happy isn’t quite what the experience turns out to be in reality. So how can it be that our ideas of what we think will make us happy in the future can be so wrong?

Millions of years ago the first type of humans experienced a massive increase in the size of their brains in a relatively short space of time. Most growth was in the frontal lobe region, above the eyes. Frontal lobe damage affects planning and if a person is unable to plan there is a reduction in anxiety. Both anxiety and planning involve worrying about the future. The ability to move forward and backward across time in our minds is perhaps humanity’s greatest evolutionary achievement.

The brain is very clever at creating shortcuts to access as well as store information. As a result, memories aren’t preserved perfectly, they are preserved in part and as we initially interpreted them, not as they may really have been intended.

Why our thoughts of future happiness are flawed

In the same way that our memories and our perceptions can be faulty, when it comes to imagining the future, the details that we imagine happening frequently do not give us the whole picture. It is not so much the things we do imagine happening that are incorrect, but more that we leave out things which do happen. As many psychological experiments have shown, the human mind is not well structure to note absences of things. But our brains do such a brilliant conjuring trick in making us believe that our interpretations are fact that we accept what it gives us without question.

Our personal future forecasts are a mixture of what our brains have invented, based on past experience, and an absence of details that our brains have conveniently ignored. Is it any wonder, then, that our predictions of what is likely to make us happy in the future will be wrongly based?

When we imagine things in the future, we use the same sensory parts of the brain that we use to experience real things in the present. We are generally not rational about future events, carefully weighing up the pros and cons, but run them through in our mind to see what emotional reaction we get. What we imagine happening is defined by what we are feeling now.

In short, the human brain is set up to imagine the future quite well, but not perfectly, and this accounts for the gulfs we often experience between what we thought would make us happy, and what actually does. This means that we can spend all our lives making money, then decide it wasn’t worth it, but it also means we can be pleasantly surprised when people, situations or events which we were certain would make us miserable turn out not to be so.

So how do we find reliable happiness?

The best way to find out how we will feel about a particular future course of action (a certain career, a move to a particular city, having children) is to ask people who have already done it how they felt. Given the human lust for control, this seems a bit unsatisfying – we feel we should make up our minds fully about our destinies, not ask other people. And yet, the best decisions may forever lay beyond our grasp if we are not willing to draw on the fabulous wealth of experience other members of the species can provide. As individuals we have enormous belief in our uniqueness, but it is also true that everything you consider doing has been done by someone else. Such a strategy, while not particularly exciting, is the best available to deliver us life satisfaction and well-being, whereas the happiness from relying purely on ourselves may only ever be stumbled upon.

Mandy X

Source: http://psyclassics.com/book/gilbert-stumbling-on-happiness

 

Photo by LyndaSanchez