Tag Archives: optimism

8 Tips to increase happiness and optimism

 

optimism photo

 

8 Tips to increase happiness and optimism

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”-Eleanor Roosevelt

I love the above quote as it suggests that no matter what negativity is aimed your way, you still get to choose whether to acknowledge the negativity and believe it, take it on board or whether to dismiss it as nonsense. I deal with many teenagers who are bullied at school and the constant daily nitpicking damages self-esteem and confidence. I often tell these clients that no one else can define them, only they get to define themselves. Whilst it is not easy to remain positive when you are bombarded with negative messages, you still get to choose whether to believe these messages or not. Positivity and happiness are within your reach.

1) Freedom to choose

We are born and eventually we die. In between we can choose exactly what we want to believe about ourselves. We can, and have the right, reject pressure from others, media and society and follow our own paths. Tuning into the essential part of ourselves, that person who existed before others tried to shape and mould us into what they wanted us to be is an important step in finding peace and contentment. It is not easy to resist pressure from others but continually ask yourself whether you are doing things for them or for yourself.

2) Be true to yourself

Positivity and happiness begins to emerge when we stop comparing ourselves to others and we honour our own wishes, needs and desires. I always thought that there was something wrong with me because, at school, I resisted the idea of an office job. The thought of being stuck behind a desk for eight hours every day filled me with dread. Instead of accepting the fact that I was a free spirit and working with that, I tried to fit myself into a mould that was of other people’s making. I ended up miserable and eventually realised when I was older, that it was okay to be different and not want what everybody else seemed to want. Only when I honoured my true inclinations did I begin to find my essential self again.

3) Gratitude

We are a planet of anxiety ridden communities. The very nature of our brains allows us to empathise with others as well as anticipate the future, unlike other mammals. If we’re not careful, our thoughts can run riot and create all sorts of catastrophes in our minds that may never happen. When we hone our thinking and start focusing on what is good in our lives, it is almost as if the brain begins to operate on a different wavelength. We start to notice more acts of kindness and begin to see the world in a more positive way. Try writing a gratitude journal every day. This is a simple process of writing down 3 to 5 examples of things that made you happy that day. It could be as simple as the sun shining or a stranger smiling at you. If you find that you are gravitating towards negative thoughts about your spouse or romantic partner, force yourself to think about their positive attributes. This jolts us out of our negative spiral of thoughts and increases positivity and happiness.

4) We receive what we expect

When we sit and fester about all that is wrong in our lives or in the world for that matter, it is like marinating in poison. We begin to only notice the negatives in life and the suffering of others. This serves us well in an ironic way as it confirms our beliefs about the world. When we expect negative things to happen it can become a self fulfilling prophecy. What are your views about your future? Do you anticipate good things happening or are you fearful of the future? Ask yourself how it helps you to maintain a fearful and negative attitude about your future It doesn’t. Make a conscious effort to look for the good in the world and to expect the best for yourself for greater levels of positivity and happiness.

5) Egocentrism

To a degree we are all egocentric. We do not experience the world directly, rather we see the world through our individual filters. This is made up of our past experiences, how our parents treated us and early life lessons. Most of the time we worry far too much about what others might think of us. The funny thing is, that others are  thinking about us far less than we realise. We are all more worried about ourselves than about how others appear. Whilst we are sitting there worrying about whether our bums look big in our outfits or whether we have spinach in our teeth, the people we are with are probably also worrying about their own issues-the cellulite they spotted whilst getting dressed that morning or the argument they had with their partner before leaving the house. I recently visited a friend unexpectedly and found her house to be in disarray. Instead of judging her, I realised that the fact that her house was untidy had served to bolster my view of my own home which was also messy but slightly less messy than hers. What I’m getting at is that I did not judge her for being an untidy slovenly person. Instead I used this experience to feel better about myself. Learn to let go of your fears about what other people think.

6) Reduce rigidity

So often I have clients come to me in great distress. The problems occur when there is a difference between the way life is unfolding and the way they wanted it to, or expected it to unfold. We create endless stress unnecessarily. It is common sense that if you have many rigid rules about life they are more likely to be broken thus causing anxiety. Learn to pick your battles in life and ask yourself how important it is that certain rules are adhered to. The more rules we have, the harder it is to maintain positivity and happiness. The more flexible, tolerant and open minded we are, the happier we tend to be.

A good example of this relates to me and my teenage son who is now 18 years old. I watch parents engaged in daily battles with their teenagers over untidy bedrooms, spending too much time on their computers and not doing as they are told (for example not contributing to household chores). Initially I was like every other parent-trying to do what I thought would make me look like a ‘good’ parent. The emphasis was on me and my expectations rather than on the bigger picture of how this was affecting my son. Parents often mistakenly believe that they can instil their rules on to their children. This is a misconception. The only way a teenager, or adult for that matter, will successfully adopt certain rules is when they consider the rules to be important for themselves. As a result I gave up counting on my son to clean his room constantly and I also let him choose the hours that he would like to spend on his computer and Xbox. Perhaps this may not work with every teenager but in my son’s case it has taught him to self regulate and he is more likely to compromise and negotiate with me rather than display anger or resentment. In fact, he takes responsibility for his own actions as he hasn’t been forced into adopting my priorities. As he matures, he naturally begins to adopt priorities for himself.

If you find that you have black-and-white thinking about life, consider areas where it may benefit you to live life more in the moment and spontaneously. Often rigidity is a “safety behaviour” in that it helps us to falsely believe that we are in control of our lives and acts as a maintaining factor. Take small steps towards reducing the rules that you have in life and you will soon see that you will feel freer.

7) Happiness and Internal Dialogue

Realise that your happiness starts with you. Your happiness is not dependent upon your relationship status, your job, your car, your accommodation or money. Happiness is an inside job. It may sometimes feel impossible to find happiness within yourself but trying to find happiness through external means is definitely impossible. Irrespective of your circumstances, you can still choose your attitude. (Read Viktor Frankl’s book – Man’s Search for Meaning for a good example of what I am referring to). Your thoughts are incredibly powerful and they can make or break your life. Make a habit of choosing thoughts that work for you not against you. You really can choose to believe anything that you want to about yourself and your life. If you really want to, you can think of yourself as a loser. I am not sure how that will benefit you in any way but you are free to do this. You can also choose to see yourself as someone who has good values, who is good to others and who lives a life that they are proud of-this includes making mistakes, feeling stupid and not feeling good enough at times. Don’t be hard on yourself, you are human just like the rest of us.

8) Limiting beliefs

The past does not make you who you are today. You can reinvent yourself at any time. We all have baggage, yes all of us, and this is what makes us part of the human race. No one has all the answers and we are all learning as each day passes. It is time to give up the beliefs and habits that are holding you back. Respect yourself enough to let go of anything that no longer works for you. Listen to your intuition and not your ego. Life is not linear, we can be successful (whatever success means to you personally) and lose it all. At times we can renew that success, at times not. I have also witnessed couples get married in their 20s and divorce in their 30s. I have  had clients come to me in their 20s explaining how they feel inadequate because they are not yet married with children. When we delve a little deeper it often turns out that rigid beliefs and limiting beliefs have choreographed this person’s views. When we let go of preconceived ideas and accept our lives as they are, we often feel as if a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders. We can be happy with the way our lives are turning out rather than constantly be comparing our lives to something we imagined we would have had. Examine your beliefs and get rid of any that hold you back in anyway. Sometimes it takes a while to even begin to identify these beliefs but when you are aware that you have them they begin to crawl out of the woodwork.

It may seem that there are many things in life that detract from our positivity and happiness. It is okay to have down days, I still have “duvet days” and I’m getting better at enjoying them rather than feeling guilt all day long. Life is odd, life is weird. Never lose your sense of humour and always remember that this world is a crazy tapestry where one size definitely does not fit all.

Mandy X

It will all be okay

 

smiling face photo

It will all be okay

Sometimes you just need someone, somewhere to tell you it will all be okay. When you feel lost and lonely, read this quote below – it’s one of my favourites.

Mandy X

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The danger of Self fulfilling prophecies

 

self fulfilling prophecy

self fulfilling prophecy

The danger of Self fulfilling prophecies

We all have a tendency to use ‘confirmation bias’ to help us make sense of the world around us. Confirmation bias can lead to self fulfilling prophecies. Let me explain. Confirmation bias is the human tendency to look for evidence of our thinking. If we believe that, for example, all tennis players are arrogant, we will be looking out for examples and instances in life that confirm this belief rather than refute it. When we see anything related to a tennis player being arrogant, it makes us feel safe and gives us a sense of security that our beliefs and the way we see the world is accurate.

The problem with confirmation bias is that we tend to overlook/ignore evidence that contradicts our beliefs. In this way, our thinking can lead to self fulfilling prophecies. If we have a belief that we aren’t good in social situations, we will think about all the times we embarrassed ourselves in a social situation and this will reinforce our negative thinking. When we think and believe something, we tend to act in accordance with that belief. Our body language may change and we can give off signals that show us in an unapproachable light. Not making eye contact and avoidance will lead to others not talking to us and this then confirms our negative beliefs and the self fulfilling prophecy will be in full swing.

Watch your thinking, make sure that you challenge beliefs (see the blog post on the “cause of anxiety” for more info on conquering your fears) and don’t allow negative thinking to create self limiting beliefs and unwanted situations that you may inadvertently have created through your own thinking!

Mandy X

 

Feelings follow behaviour

 

 

Feelings follow behaviourbehaviour photo

When we act in a certain way, our bodies send messages to our brains about how we are feeling. Research has shown that putting a pencil between your teeth tricks the brain into thinking you are happier as you are smiling!

If we are feeling lethargic, we tend to adopt a depressed,stooped posture which leads us to feel depressed. When we are light on our feet and moving freely, we will feel free and optimistic.

How are you feeling?If you are content and satisfied, you are probably behaving in a way that is working well for you – stick with it.If you are down about things, remember that you create your own reality (in terms of your perceptions/attitude) and that you do have a choice.If you took a different approach to what you do, you would start to feel different and in turn this would have a positive knock-on effect on other areas of your behaviour and your life.

Maybe you are doing what you have always done.We are creatures of habit and when things don’t go our way, we often get caught up in doing more  of the same thing in an effort to get the result we want. The trouble is that then we end up feeling the same, only more so.

What could you do differently right now? How could you ACT differently? As soon as you change your physiology, by moving in a new way, and change your actions and the way you look at things, you will feel different.

If you want to feel happier, act happy. If you want to feel confident, act confident – sometimes we have to “fake it to make it”. If you want to feel motivated, behave in a way that someone who is motivated would behave. We can wait forever to feel in the mood to do something and that mood may never come, but if we just get up and get started the feelings will usually follow the behaviour and the mood for doing what we are doing will come upon us as if by magic.

The fact that feelings follow behaviour is an incredible and useful reality. It means that the power lies in a positive action – no matter how scared or resistant we may feel. Use it to your advantage and you can find a resolution to most issues.

Mandy X