For many years I fooled myself into thinking that once I got something I’d be happy.
- Once I find a girlfriend I’ll be happy
- Once I finish college I’ll be happy
- Once we move into our dream home I’ll be happy
- Once I get the promotion at work I’ll be happy
- Once I’ve got a new phone or a new car I’ll be happy … you get the picture!
It took me a while but many years later I finally made the realisation, and here it is for you in case you haven’t made it yourself yet … if you aren’t happy before you have something, and I mean anything from the best job in the world, the most money in the world, or the best wife in the world … then you won’t be happy once you get it either!
Getting something doesn’t instantly change your peace of mind or your long term contentment. It may give you a short term buzz or a quick feeling of happiness … but unless you’re truly contented before you had it that feeling will quickly fade and you will return to your normal state. It is inevitable! It may buy you a short term high but with anything it fades.
If you really want to develop a positive attitude and start living a happy life then you have to find a way to be grateful for everything you have … right now! If you realise that you aren’t really happy then you have to find ways to change your perception on life, you don’t need to buy more stuff, overhaul your life or move to another country. You just need to find ways to value what you already have and create an inner contentment.
It is OK to work hard and push yourself towards promotions. It is more than OK to like the idea of getting a new car or having more money or even winning the lottery … as long as you don’t think that once you get what you want you will all of a sudden become complete and happy. I’m afraid to say that’s just not how it works.
Here are some things you can try:
- Start a journal (it helps you gather your thoughts and put things in perspective)
- Write a daily gratitude list (list 5 things each day you are thankful for)
- List your strengths (list 5 of your strengths each day)
- Highlights/Successes (list 5 good things you accomplished or did each day)
- Create a personal advert (write or even record an advert that lists how great you are – sell yourself!)
- Positive Outlook (look on the bright side of every situation – you’ll always find something positive)
- Stop Negative Talk (if you start to moan or talk negative stop yourself and change the subject)
- Spend time with positive people (the ones who make you feel happy & don’t put you down)
- Be proud of yourself (accept and be proud of who you are and don’t try to be something you’re not)
Some years back I used to fall regularly back into down moods and negative slumps but once I discovered the above techniques I found if I returned to these when required it was sure to lift me from whatever negative slump I had gotten myself into.
Now I have made so many positive changes in my life that the negative slumps are few and far between, and when they do arrive they are slight dip from a daily 8 or 9 out of 10 feeling to a 5 or 6 out of 10 (in the past I would drop as low as 3) and these days the dip only lasts 30 minutes or so whereas in the past they used to last several hours or days.
To get back on track I give myself a quick reality check by thinking about or writing down all the things I have to be grateful for. I usually follow this up by taking some constructive positive action and this brings my mood back up.
The key and challenging thing is to stay positive long term but the good news is if you feel yourself slipping into a negative, downbeat mood you just have to do a few of the above techniques.
If your normal state of mind is negative or down or you simply feel that should be happier please try 2 or 3 of the above techniques daily for one month. If you don’t feel any better after a month then by all means stop but I’d be very surprised if you’re not feeling a whole lot happier about yourself and your current situation.
My personal favourites are the Daily Gratitude List and the Daily Successes. These really change how you view what you already have and they get you looking for the positives around you.
One thing from the list above you MUST do immediately is stop the negative talk. If you feel yourself getting involved in a moaning / whining conversation stop yourself and point out something positive about the situation.
If you whine and complain you will just attract more and more negative things into your life. You will be feeding your mind a whole load of negatives over and over, which only paves the way to even more negative thinking and low moods. Stop the negative and find the positive – there are plenty of good things around if you start looking for them.
If you are reading this and think “what a load of rubbish” then congratulations, you must be in the % of the population that don’t have down days or haven’t suffered from anxiety or stress. I honestly applaud you, consider yourself lucky and blessed.
For everyone else, I hope the above techniques help you as much as they have helped me.