Reality isn’t something we experience directly. We experience the world around us through our filtered perceptions.This is why several people can simultaneously experience the same event yet have very different reactions to it. For example, two people sitting in a room could have very different reactions to a dog entering the room. One person could have had a bad experience with dogs in their past and be frightened whereas the other person might be delighted to see the dog.
So, it isn’t necessarily what happens to you but rather what you think about what happens to you. An event can often be seen or interpreted in many different ways but we usually have certain habits in the way we look at the world around us.
You can start to alter the way you experience the world around you by being more selective about what you think. When we make assumptions with little evidence of when we think we know what others are thinking, we can make ourselves miserable witht the stories we tell ourselves.
Look for alternative explanations
Our imaginations can run wild and can often be the source of a lot of unhappiness. Remember that every thought you have isn’t necessarily the truth. I can choose to think that the world is against me and that others don’t care or I can choose to see the world as more supportive and look for examples that support this thought instead. One thing we often to is “catastrophise” when we feel upset. We think up the worst case scenario when often the reality isn’t that bad. Always try to find another way to look at something that allows you to feel less upset. There are always many valid possibilities for reality.
Try to see the world in a neutral way
We often tend to have a “negative mental filter” when we look at the world. We look for all the things that are wrong rather than what is going well. Psychologists say that this negative filter is built into us as we need to survive and be on the lookout for danger. Yet the nature of dnager has changed. we still need to be careful but we far safer than we used to be as cavemen running around in the savannahs, being chased by predators. Modern day danger still exists but we are often in far less real danger than we think we are. Modern day anxiety is mistaken for real damger. Learn to interpret the emotional content separately and see it in context.
It really does help to focus on what is good in your life. You will find there is a lot to be happy about and this can help balance out the negative thinking.
Don’t believe every thought
Thoughts keep coming and most of them are ‘nonsense’ thoughts that aren’t useful or helpful. Learn to dismiss thoughts that aren’t helpful. Ignore the self critical ones or the “what if…” type thoughts. They will lower your mood and serve no other purpose.
Learning to become a more effective thought-manager takes time but it absolutely makes a huge difference to your happier levels.
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