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Instant Happiness: Using Triggers to Improve Your Mood
Break the Negative Cycle: Be Happy Now!
Stuck in a negative cycle of self defeating thoughts? You’re not alone! Even the happiest people among us fall prey to negative thoughts that sabotage their confidence and leave them feeling emotionally isolated.
What many people do not realize is that negative emotions (sadness, jealousy, anger, frustration, feelings of scarcity) all begin with a negative thought that builds on itself. And if repeated often enough, this behaviour will become a habit and go as far as to entrench itself so deeply in the psyche and the body as to manifest as clinical depression which usually requires medical intervention. So what should you do? Nipping those negative thoughts in the bud before they overwhelm you will help to stop them from becoming habitual. If you already have negative thinking as a chronic habit, you may be unwittingly addicted to it even to the point of creating a lifestyle around it—the job you have, the friends you keep, the people you interact with on a regular basis and how you interact with them, and most importantly, what you think of yourself will all have a certain self-defeating theme of unworthiness or victimization.
Here are some tips to help you break the negative cycle!
Option 1: Fight Negativity head on!
Consider your emotions. Anytime you find yourself feeling down, ask yourself “what are my thoughts right now?” You might realize that you were day dreaming about a problem at work or an issue with a relationship in your life. Now to turn things around, ask yourself, “If I were a counselor who’s primary job is to show myself the silver lining or to think positively about this situation, what would I tell myself?” This method will help you to tackle your negative feelings head on. If you need to bring in reinforcements, call on someone you know who can help you serve as such a counselor, or write down all of the positive arguments or a list of pros and cons to create objective distance from the issue so that it is easier to come to a conclusion about what to do.
Option 2: Deflect Negativity with Triggers!
Another method of dealing with negative thoughts an emotions is to shift the focus away from them. The most immediate way to do so is to use positive triggers. A positive trigger is a thought, action or activity that you can immediate call on to lift your mood. An example of a positive trigger is a song that you love (i.e. one with which you have a lot of positive emotions associated). Whether you can sing or not, singing a song you love will raise your spirits. If you can’t sing it (because you don’t know the words or because of your circumstances e.g. you are at work surrounded by co-workers, hum it quietly, or sing it in your mind. Keep the lyrics in your wallet if it helps. Have a few songs for different occasions). Other fast triggers can be a funny joke, circumstance, image, or scene from a movie or show that never fails to make you smile or laugh. These can also be handy to keep a list of on a piece of paper in your wallet/purse.
The best triggers are ones that you can use anytime, anyplace. A popular one is to consider developing a “happy place,” or a “dream vision.” A scripted daydream that you have created of where you would like to be in your life five years from now, or an ideal vacation, or an idealized moment in your past. The more often you visualize your dream vision and the more details you include, and the more real it will become, and the easier it will be to call it to mind and eclipse any negative thoughts that you are feeling. Further, the more you actively practice this dream, the more your subconscious mind will seek a means to make it come true. So I do recommended the “5 years from now” dream. Read my article on Dream Visions here.
Another trigger is to use biofeedback. Take a deep breath (diaphragm breathing), smile and nod to yourself, spread your arms out, throw back your shoulders and straighten your arms as you inhale. This open posture will help to send positive thoughts to your brain that will facilitate you switching gears from negative thoughts to positive ones. Combine this with a powerful, positive mantra (repeated word or statement) such as “I am a strong and worth person,” “I deserve happiness,” or “I am a victorious champion,” and you further enhance the power of this trigger.
Option 3: Prevention: Long term solutions.
Triggers are great when you don’t have much time, but when you have more time, it would be best to work on long term solutions to shifting your mindset to one that is more positive, expansive and connected to the world around you to help you achieve a higher base level of contentment on a daily basis. Doing so will make you more resilient to negative thoughts. Two powerful ways to enhance lasting happiness are 1) regularly appreciating what you have, and 2) daily meditation to mitigate stress. 3) take responsibility of your experiences in life.
More on these in another hub (coming soon)!
Disclaimer: If you try these techniques or have tried others to help you cope with chronic depression and have not met with success, I advise you to seek professional counselling or see your family doctor for advice.
Read my article here about instant stress management using biofeedback!
Please feel free to share what method works best for you in the comments below!