Your goal is to be happy. But, this again implies that you are “not happy.” Is this true? No, it isn’t because you don’t think that you are sad. You want to feel better than what you are right now.
Then why is this constant search for Happiness?
While sipping on your coffee and feeling at peace with the world, you go on Facebook and see pictures of your friend having a great time. Without meaning to, you start thinking that you are not as happy as your friend appears to be. You are alone in your apartment on a Friday night. As proposed by psychologist Leon Festinger (Social Comparison theory), this instant change in your Happiness is because you have an innate drive to evaluate yourself or make judgements by comparing yourself to others; usually, those who you know or are within your peer group.
Do you wish to modify your mindset?
One way would be to rate your emotions on a continuum or a scale of numbers 1 to 10, where the number ‘1’ symbolizes ‘feeling low’ and number’ 10′ is for ‘feeling good”. It will provide a baseline or starting point for you to understand your emotional state.
Once you know where you are on the scale, you can assess your strengths and weaknesses. You can identify areas where you can work to feel happier.
However, your path to a “new you” may not be that easy, as old habits still play a significant role. To unlearn a maladaptive behaviour needs patience, and for example, you wish to spend less time on social media. One way will be to learn more adaptive behaviours by ‘shaping’ where small steps towards the desired goal are rewarded.
Additionally, look at your thinking pattern to see if there are any cognitive distortions or thinking errors. When you start worrying if you will ever be happy, it displays an ‘all or nothing’ cognitive distortion. In this case, you tend to overlook the moments when you feel good, or in other words, you can’t complain much about anything in your life at that time.
This view of the world, where you can’t think of any negative associations, can be your definition of Happiness. It will help you commit to your desired behaviour change as per psychologist Steven Hayes’ Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Taking control of your Happiness can begin by accepting your failures. For example, when you believe that your partner has anger management problems for your rocky marriage, you will not take any steps to improve yourself. Here, by using the defence mechanism of projection, you blame others for your failures.
Once you take charge of your Happiness, you will be the miracle you have always wanted. You won’t have to wait for a miracle or to win the lottery to “feel happy ‘.
‘Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions’ (The Dalai Lama XIV).
This article was published in the Telegraph-Journal.
The picture is from Mind Matters A.S. Consulting;
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and should not substitute for psychotherapy with a qualified professional.