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Choose to Be Happy
Don't Worry, Be Happy
Pessimism vs. optimism. A clash of two worlds. Two mindsets involved in a never ending battle of who has the right idea. Each one's biggest supporters hold strong to the ideals of their favored mindset. Forever an optimist. Forever a pessimist. (Or are they?)
I equate optimism with happiness. And therefore, I'm an optimist. I want to be happy...who doesn't? Optimism is such an annoyingly overused word though, so instead I'll say that I'm talking about positive thinking. And instead of pessimism, we have negative thinking. Forget "the glass is half full" nonsense. This is real stuff about how and why you should be happy.
There are myriad reasons to be happy. But here, I'm going to give you solid proof. I'll share with you some phenomena that I learned about while studying psychology in college- it's compelling evidence, I tell ya. So open your minds and prepare to think positive. Then later, I'll share with you some ways in which you can start to be happy. That part is at the bottom, so if you're already convinced why you should be happy...go ahead and skip to that part.
Did you know...
...that your thoughts about the world actually shape the world you live in?
In college, I had a psychology professor who would always go off on random tangents in mid-lecture. Believe me, it was greatly appreciated. He gave us some great side knowledge that had nothing to do with the class, but everything to do with living life. This was one of my favorite tangents of his.
When it comes to living your life, the truth (or reality, as it's often called) doesn't matter. It's your perception of reality that matters to you. Say you lost your job. (A lot of us can relate to that lately.) You become insanely depressed about this, feel like a failure and sit on your couch while the bills pile up. You blame the government, your boss, society at large- why should you be kicked out on your rear when you worked at this company for 15 years devoutly? Clearly there's something wrong with the way the world operates. So you continue to sit on the couch and eventually lose your home. The world sucks!
Essentially, you've perceived losing your job as a horrible thing, and reality confirmed that. Your reality is that the world sucks--solely because you perceived it to be that way.
Say your best friend also loses his job. He sees it as an opportunity to do something different- a blessing in disguise. He thinks it might be fun to start at a new company and be met with new challenges. He doesn't become depressed, but instead works diligently to find another job. And his life goes on like usual. He doesn't lose faith in humanity or think the world sucks.
Same situation as above. Yet, your best friend chose a different perception of the exact same event (losing a job), and his reality ended up differing a whole lot from yours. His reality is that the world doesn't suck but has presented him with a new opportunity. And there you are on your couch, being presented with nothing.
For all ye seekers of reality, what do you make of this? Same thing happened to both people. But, these two interpretations of the same event made two people look at the world in completely different ways. Perception altered reality.
Happy Reading Materials
More psychology-related terms
Positive thoughts are very powerful. Ever heard of the placebo effect? This term makes a great case for thoughts directly affecting reality. The placebo effect is simple: during clinical trials, some patients are given the real drug, others are given placebos (often a sugar pill, with no real medicine in it). Patients don't know if they're on the real drug or the placebo- but patients on the placebo often show a slight improvement, without any real medicine, because they believe they're getting real medicine. And most people believe that medicine makes them better.
How crazy is that? The mere thought that medicine makes you well can create a physical, medical improvement in sick people who are not taking any real medicine. It's the thought of wellness that alters their body's state. Again, perception altering reality.
Here's another phenomenon thrown around in the psychology world. Self-fulfilling prophecy. This explains perfectly how thoughts can affect reality. It's a term describing how people can essentially "jinx" themselves by thinking something about themselves, and so that's what they become. For example, someone believes to their core that they're a crummy friend. And it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy- in reality, they become a crummy friend. [A more concrete example that's used is someone who believes they're going to flunk a math test- then they actually do.] Essentially, you can psych yourself out of having positive things by thinking negative things are going to happen.
But self-fulfilling prophecy can also be a positive thing. If you believe instead, for instance, that you're a worthwhile human being, you can become a worthwhile human being. Or start small and believe that you're going to ace a test. It is possible to psych yourself out of having positive events happen to you.
If you're still not convinced...
Think about the most negative person you know. Even if you're a Negative Nancy, you've got to know someone who's more negative than you. When this person goes on negative tirades, how does that make you feel? I'm guessing it makes you depressed just listening to them.
When you're always thinking negative thoughts and being negative in general, it not only affects you. Everyone around you is affected by your negativity. And they're probably sick and tired of it. By being negative, you're bringing everybody down around you as well.
And here's my most logical argument against negative thinking. Most of the time, these thoughts creep up before you even do anything, start anything or go anywhere. So if you think something's going to be bad, why would you try anything? If a friend invites you to Disneyland and you start thinking, Oh geez, it's going to be so crowded...and there'll be nowhere to park...and I hate waiting in lines, and man Mickey Mouse bothers me...you're sure as heck not going to want to go after all that negative thinking! Negative thinking can prevent you from doing a zillion fun things because you're already thinking it's going to suck.
And last but not least...How to Be Happy:
Happiness is a choice. I'm sure you've heard this before, but it's 1000% true. You choose to be happy, every day of your life. It's not something that you're automatically blessed with when you're born. It's not a genetic trait. And even if you're genetically screwed and predestined to be depressed all your life, you can still choose to be happy. Here are some tips on how you can start being happy today:
1) Don't think negative thoughts. Seriously. As soon as you start down that negative train, those negative thoughts are going to compound themselves until your entire reality is negative. So cut the thoughts out at the pass. If you start feeling negative, push those thoughts away and replace them with positive thoughts.
Here are a few (somewhat cheesy) positive thoughts to keep in your mind instead:
- "I can do it."
- "Everything will work out perfectly in the end."
- "This is a temporary setback- things will go my way soon."
- "I have the strength to get through this."
- "Anything is possible."
- "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and gosh darnit...people like me!" (Ok, that's from SNL but you get the point.)
2) Fill your life with good people. The people around you have a huge influence on your life. So make sure that you have good friends, good family and no Negative Nancys knocking at your door. If you don't already have good friends, now is the time to go find them! Don't be afraid- life is about taking chances and changing your life for the better.
The Best of Wayne Dyer
3) Keep yourself busy. Lots of idle time gives your mind plenty of time to think negative thoughts. One of my favorite examples from Dr. Wayne Dyer's lectures (he's amazing, look him up) is one he gives of a single mother who had 7 kids all living under one roof- and she tells Dyer that she's due for a nervous breakdown any day now, if she only had the time to have one. She's the perfect example of someone who would be justified to start thinking negatively, BUT she doesn't have time. She's too busy! Fill your life with lots of activities and you won't have time to be negative.
4) Do things that make you happy. Life gets busy, and we get distracted from what we think is fun. Example: I used to go to concerts every month, play bass guitar and loved finding new bands any chance I got. Now, I'm an adult. I have bills to pay, and I still listen to music- but I don't have the time to get excited about a new band anymore. Well, I recently made the time to go back to some of that. It made me sublimely happy, and bringing that excitement back into my life--of finding concerts to go to and finding new bands--has seriously given a boost to my days. Make the time for the things you love.
5) Talk about happiness. Think about happiness. If you're into The Secret, I'm kind of talking about the same idea. Bring happiness to your life, even if you don't have it right now, by thinking about it. Talk about being happy. Convince yourself that you have happiness in your life, and it'll come. Our thoughts are powerful, as I've hopefully displayed above. If you're having trouble being happy on your own, start picturing your idyllic situation in your head on a daily basis. You might be surprised how your thinking changes after some time.
No really...Don't Worry Be Happy!!
And just because I can, I want to leave you with one of the funniest music videos in existence. When I was a kid, my parents actually had this on tape...we used to put it on any time we needed a good laugh. I dare you to watch this and not smile!