Think Yourself Happy: Five Changes In Thinking That Will Immediately Improve Your Life.
Regularly I attend live events to learn new ideas and paradigms that can be used to improve overall. One such event was held over several consecutive days in Santa Barbara, where I live. Being open to new processes, both Rocky (my wife) and I were committed to doing all the exercises without prejudging.
There were about a hundred of us in the class, and the facilitators put us into pairs. Then everyone was led through a series of questions and some interesting exercises. Some of the exercises to me felt unnecessarily uncomfortable, but still I continued to participate fully.
On the second night of the session, our homework was to fill in the blank in this phrase: “Life is ___.” To me, this was easy, because at this point in my life, things matter. Every minute matters, and I’m purposefully, crafting, designing and really living life happily every single day. Now I know that living with purpose isn’t the normal way most people live, but I thought that my answer to this question about what life is couldn’t be too far off of normal, right?
Morning came and since I believe that with a new seat in the room comes a new perspective, I sat in the center of the back row. The facilitator asked for the hands of the people who had done their homework, and nearly everyone raised their hand. He said, “So let me ask you, what is life? I’d like to hear your answers.”
My hand went up with about 30 others, and he started calling on people.
“Pain!” someone yelled out.
“Disappointment,” said the next girl.
Then he pointed to me and I yelled, “Life is fucking awesome!” I meant it — I wasn’t trying to be the funny guy, it was totally heartfelt.
The facilitator’s response to that was, “Too broad.” And he moved on.
The next person he pointed to said, “Life is heartbreak.” The next person said “Sadness.” The next person said, “Waiting to die.”
Wait, what? Life is waiting to die? Who are the people in this room? Are all these people that are clearly hurting inside an accurate representation of how the normal population of the world feels?
My heart was hurting because there I was feeling grateful and lucky for how amazing my life is in every area, and there were so many people around me in pain. I didn’t even realize how bad it is out there.
He said with a big smile, “Nope, you are all wrong. Life is dangerous.” Then in case didn’t get it the first time, he repeated, “Life is dangerous.” He told us that we were all afraid, that we were scared of the people sitting next to us, in front of us, at work, at school, the people on the streets, and the people we don’t know, everywhere in the world, all of them. We are frightened of them and they are frightened of us.
For some reason the word “dangerous” wasn’t too broad of a concept, but “awesome” was clearly over the line.
At this point I was thinking to myself, This is complete bullshit. I turned to the girl next to me who was in her mid-twenties, and said, ”I want you to know that I’m not scared of you, and I hope you aren’t scared of me either because I’m not a scary guy and this world is an amazing, beautiful place and is rarely dangerous.” She smiled and assured me that she was definitely not afraid of me either.
That session illustrates one of the most important lessons I have learned about happily achieving…
IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD!
Whatever dominates your thoughts: that is how you live your life. In other words, you get whatever you focus on with intensity, for prolonged periods of time. This works all the time, every time, good and bad, for everyone. You say that life is dangerous? You’ll see danger everywhere. You say that life is heartbreak? Even in your best relationships, you’ll probably be looking ahead to the moment your heart will inevitably be broke.
Have you ever known people who are “victims”? They expect bad things to happen, and they do. Bad luck seems to follow them around. If you listen to these people, they are asking themselves questions like, “Why do bad things always happen to me? What terrible thing is going to happen next? Why can’t I catch a break?”
You get what you focus on, and you also get answers to the questions that you ask. What do you think might happen if these people asked themselves questions that they actually want the answers to — questions like, “How can I make this happen? What if things worked out perfectly, what would that look and feel like?”
If you are consumed by the thought of terrible things happening, they will continue to happen. If you want to change what happens to you, it starts by changing how you think.
Over the next few blog posts, let’s take a look at the five ways that right-thinking alone can immediately improve your life. It starts with visualization.