What were you thinking just now? Just before you started reading this article?
Were you thinking that you can relate to the headline? Something about feeling stressed and unhappy? Maybe what happened earlier today has caused you to be melancholy or anxious.
You gained a few pounds.
Your co-worker dropped the ball on something.
Your kid got in trouble at school.
You lost money in the stock market.
A major appliance broke at your house.
And now you’re sitting there, lost in thought, feeling anything BUT peaceful and content. Your thoughts are bouncing around your head like a rubber ball, zapping your energy and bringing you down:
My kid is going to fail in life.
I’m a bad parent.
I should change careers.
I’m too old to do that.
That’s also why I’ll never lose the weight. Age.
Getting old sucks.
I’ll never get a job that pays well, either.
And I’ve lost money in the stock market this year.
Oh, and my partner doesn’t understand me.
They probably don’t even love me anymore.
I guess I’ll never be enough.
Sounds funny, doesn’t it? What a downer!
Even if you weren’t having any of those specific thoughts before you arrived at this article, chances are, you’ve had days when your mood has been brought down by something you’re thinking.
The quality of your daily experience of life is greatly affected by your thoughts.
The problem is, you’re not even consciously aware of this. Your thoughts—like many of the things you do throughout the day—are based on habitual patterns, learned in childhood and perpetuated and reinforced throughout your adult years.
If you want to be happier in life, then you’re going to have to take a closer look at your habitual patterns of thought.
And then work on changing what’s not working.Here’s How
How many thoughts a day do you think the average person has?
According to research, the average person has 60,000 thoughts a day.
And 95% of those thoughts are the same repetitive thoughts as the day before. On top of that, about 80% of those daily thoughts are negative. That’s 48,000 negative thoughts per day!
Those are some disheartening statistics. With all the negative thoughts running through our heads, it can be really hard to stay happy.
Our minds are like old-fashioned record players that are stuck in the same groove, playing the same bad song over and over again.
I’m too old, too tired, too fat, too lazy… My boss hates me, my spouse doesn’t like me, my kids are screwed up…
Our minds become addicted to these bad songs, which isn’t good news for our happiness.
There’s a reason for this, and it’s called…
That constant drone of whining and complaining and pessimism in your head? Psychologists call it the ‘Negativity Bias.’
Simply put, our cavemen ancestors had to remember the negative as a matter of life or death. They had to remember that last week, a predator was stalking an antelope in that grassy area, so they should take a different route today.
In prehistoric times, our very survival depended on our skill at dodging danger, so our brains developed to more easily notice the scary, dangerous, sickening, or risky, so we could respond to it.
As a result, we’ve been wired to pay attention to the negative.
But times have changed. We no longer live in the conditions that require us to spot a saber-toothed tiger around every corner, yet we still have this Negativity Bias.
This causes most of us to walk around unconscious to the habit we’re in about noticing all the bad stuff.
One of my colleagues, Rick Hanson, calls it the Velcro/Teflon Syndrome. He says the brain is like velcro for the negative experiences, but Teflon for the positive ones.
In other words, the negative tends to stick…but the positives just slide off.
I know you’ve experienced this: say you get 10 compliments and one criticism in a day, maybe in the form of a performance review at work. What do you tend to remember? The criticism. Right?!
You notice the three days of rain but don’t comment on the 2 weeks of sunshine.
You’re annoyed that your partner forgot your anniversary one time, but they’ve done something wonderful for you on your birthday every year you’ve been together.
You get the idea.
These thoughts also drain you, physically. How? It’s been shown that negative thoughts flush your body with chemicals that weaken you.
Imagine…at the end of the day, you’ve had 60,000 thoughts with 80 percent of them being negative. How do you think you’re going to feel? Probably exhausted. It’s not that you were so busy doing things. It’s the energy that’s being drained from your system by your thoughts.
And the bummer is that unless you can take charge of your thought patterns and change them to ones that are more positive and empowering, you may find yourself at the mercy of all that negativity bias the rest of your life.
And that means it’s going to be really, really hard for you to feel any sense of lasting happiness, contentment, and inner peace for long.
Don’t worry…even if your thoughts have been focused on the bad stuff, I have good news for you.
There’s hope for increasing your happiness because you can change your thoughts. It’s called neural plasticity.
What this means is your brain has the innate ability to adapt and change itself by creating new, desirable neural pathways and overwriting the other (less desirable) pathways throughout your life. Phew!
Unlike an old dog, your brain can really learn new tricks!
That means that we can change our thoughts and be happier at any time. It takes a conscious effort, but it can be done.
Changing your thoughts produces changes in your brain, and perhaps even in your DNA. When you change your thinking to support your happiness, the negative neural pathways shrink and the positive neural pathways widen, making it easier and more automatic for you to think more positively.
On Day 2 of my 30 Days to a Happier Life program, I’ll demonstrate the habits and strategies that will help you reverse the toxicity of all those negative thoughts, and start having more empowering and optimistic thoughts, so you can start to feel freer, lighter, and happier.
You’ll learn a technique that I call “savoring,” which literally takes less than 20 seconds to do and will quickly rewire your brain to be more biased toward positive experiences.
You’ll also learn a fun game which will affect your “Reticular Activating System” and help you focus on being happier and light-hearted.
The exercises and practices I reveal in the program are based on neuroscience, as well as on research done on positive psychology. Plus, I have interviewed some of the happiest people on the planet to learn what they do in order to have more positive thoughts on a daily basis.
You’ll get all of this risk-free in my 30-day video and workbook program here:Get It Here
Now, if you leave this article and find yourself complaining or thinking those grumpy things, just remember, we all do it.
The trick is not to beat yourself up over something that was meant to save you (back in caveman days).
The trick is to take advantage of what science has discovered and use it to empower yourself to be happier, every day.
With love and happiness,
P.S. Did you know that people complain about once a minute in a typical conversation? Wow!
In my 30 Days to a Happier Life program, you’ll learn a strategy to make you more mindful of when you complain and can reduce or eliminate complaining and whining in as little as a few days, for you and everyone in your family! Check it out here on day 9 of the program:Start Here