Positive states of joy, love, and enthusiasm can overcome and neutralize negative states of anger, hatred, or apathy. Strong determination, action, and effort can develop these positive habits and make them predominant. Setting an intention to be happy and living and acting from your intention can dramatically increase your level of happiness.
About 20 years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a series of lectures on happiness given by the Dalai Lama. According to the Dalai Lama, happiness is not only our right but it is our responsibility because by being happy, we elevate those around us with our contagious happiness. The Dalai Lama said that happiness is a mental attitude, a state of mind, and not primarily dependent on external conditions. We can actively choose to be happy and we can discipline our mind to choose happiness by confronting our negative states of mind and transforming them into more positive ones.
I have found that one thing that stood in my way of my happiness was my desire to be right. I’m now much more aware that “right” is only relative. Each of us has our own preferences and values that we have developed through our life experiences and what we have been taught. The more that I can acknowledge that each of us has our own mental model of the world and the less I can release my ego’s attachment to being right, the happier I can be. And, no doubt, the people around me would say that they’re happier, too!
Another method to move into happiness is to ask yourself, when stressed, if feeling badly is going to make your situation better. It may be that you need to process some feelings to feel better and if this is true, you should process those feelings. But you may realize that feeling badly in response to a situation creates a cycle leading only to anxiety, stress, depression, despair, and resistance to change. Ask yourself in that moment what thought you can have that would make you feel better. Your thought could be anything – the thought of a loved one, the memory of a sunset, music you love – whatever resonates as a good feeling for you. This newly activated thought may only make you feel better for a few moments. If you return to feeling badly, lovingly repeat the process.
Set your intention to be happy. Monitor your internal dialogue and watch when it tries when it tries to lead you toward more negativity. Cultivate happiness by actively working on and changing your mental outlook.
Are you aware of a self-critical voice that has taken up permanent residency in your mind? Do you believe every nagging, mean, outrageous, guilt-producing thing that your self-critical voice says to you? Is it time to change the way you speak to yourself?
The mind is like your house. If its doors and windows are wide open, with nothing to stop or filter out the incoming thoughts, every passing thought is allowed free access to your mind. Any thought can enter your mind, take up residency, stay as long as it likes, and disturb and affect your behavior and actions. For most people, this is the way their minds function. The fact is, though, that our thoughts and belief systems can become our realities. Self-critical thoughts can dampen and destroy dreams, bring down morale, and lead to procrastination and laziness.
The first step is to recognize what is going on. Until we notice, self-criticism can be like background noise that is subtly below our consciousness. This is when its impact is strongest because often it is being accepted without question. Becoming aware of exactly what you are saying to yourself about yourself can help you understand why you react the way you do to people and events in your life.
We all know probably know someone who constantly puts themselves down and criticizes themselves. You may have found yourself thinking, “At least I don’t do that!” You may not do that level of complaining when you talk to other people, but what does your internal dialogue sound like? In your own mind and to yourself, are you constantly complaining and berating yourself?
Creating change always begins with noticing what needs to be changed. Begin to notice what you say to yourself. You probably don’t even realize how often you say negative things to and about yourself or how much that affects your experiences. Make an effort to become more conscious of your internal dialogue and its content.
At random times throughout the day, ask yourself, “What am I saying to myself right now?” Notice what you are saying without censorship or judgment – just notice what you say and notice how it makes you feel. As you witness more and more of these thoughts, try replacing some of your criticism with kindness. If you were talking to a friend instead of yourself, what encouraging things would you say? Treat yourself with the same kindness you would offer to a friend and be a friend to yourself.
Replacing your self-criticism with friendly encouragement and support can help you control your moods, overcome your shortcomings, and create more successes in your life. For more peace of mind and happiness, try being more friendly to yourself!