Beth and I chose to be happier by following a simple three-step process.
1. We first decided we wanted to be happier
2. We started paying attention to how often we were happy
3. We chose to change our thinking when we were not happy
This three-step process is foolproof.
Decide to be Happier
The first step is super easy. Hopefully, you’ve already chosen to be happier. Maybe that is why you are reading this post. You’ve accomplished 33% of the work even before we begin!
There is a bit of a catch here though. Some people say they want to be happier, but don’t want to change.
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
― Andy Warhol
Change, even with the expected benefit of being happier, is still a challenge for some people. We become accustomed to how things are; we continue to react to the world the same way, we say the same things, we expect things to continue as they did yesterday. We grow comfortable with our current state.
While change can be daunting, change can also be fun. The most exciting times of my life were when I was making a change.
The second step is to pay attention to how often you are happy. We talked about this earlier. You can use a timer or reminder to catch yourself throughout the day and determine if you are happy. After a while, this will become automatic. Beth and I don’t use a timer, but we have become very attuned to our state of mind.
Either you are happy, or you are not. Only you can tell.
Choose to Change
The third step is to make a change if you catch yourself unhappy. If you are not happy, focus elsewhere until you can get happy.
Now, I have to admit some of the time when I catch myself unhappy; I’m not in the mood to change. I call this my cranky mood. When I catch myself cranky, I might just stay there for the rest of the day. I’ll just wallow in it until I go to bed and wake up the next day (hopefully) in a better mood. I don’t try too hard to change when I’m cranky because I realize it’s just temporary and will go away after its run its course.
I’m not usually cranky, but sometimes I find that I’m just not happy. Maybe I’m thinking about something I did yesterday or have to do tomorrow.
For example, the other day I was driving in the car on the way to the gym and traffic was crazy. There is quite a bit of construction going on, and the going was super slow. I noticed I was getting agitated with the slowness and the cars that were constantly shifting lanes around me.
I was thinking about traffic and idiot drivers and idiots in general. This went on for several minutes before I caught myself. It was not like I was going to be late for anything.
I changed my thinking and started noticing all the cars around me. I appreciated their colors and designs. Noting in particular, but I was being more present and appreciating what I saw. Then I started imagining how wonderful it will be with autonomous cars and let my mind wander.
Next thing I know I’m at the gym. Maybe traffic cleared up, or maybe I just didn’t notice it. Either way, I was able to spend more time happy and, I got to the gym with a great attitude.