think happy thoughts
What is the no.1 thing that the majority of people desire? You may answer “money”, “respect”, “love”, “success” – but all of these things are but means to an end – and that end is happiness.
It’s happiness that we’re all striving for, and for most of us we achieve it only fleetingly, the stresses of modern living – financial problems, job problems, relationship problems, health problems – keep most people relatively unhappy most of the time. Therefore the majority of people only ever experience circumstantial happiness, they’re happy when the circumstances permit.
Can you imagine however, being happy most of the time- regardless of the circumstances? Over two and a half thousand years ago, Buddha said .”We are shaped by our thoughts. We become what we think.” So if you wish to be happy, think happy thoughts. This really does work. Pick a thought which fills you with happiness, a special memory, a special person, something humorous – anything which makes you feel happy – and the next time you catch yourself thinking unhappy thoughts, quickly think about that thing which makes you feel happy, and just watch how quickly your emotional state changes.
Pets are a great source of happy memories. Just thinking about walking with Barney fills me with happiness.
This may be difficult at first if this is the first time you’ve tried to consciously choose your thinking & emotional state, but after a while it will become second nature – you’ll begin to take note of your emotions, and you’ll become very aware of the fact that your emotions are set by your thinking.
You see, external forces actually have absolutely no control over our emotional state, it is our internal reaction to circumstances which affects us – so you have the choice, you can choose to react to something by feeling unhappy – or you can choose to feel happy as a reaction to almost any circumstance or event. I say almost, because there are certain events in life which we will ultimately be negatively affected by, such as the passing of friends & relatives, so I am not suggesting for a minute that there are no situations in life which can make us unhappy – however the majority of events & circumstances in life need not affect you negatively if you continually make the effort to think happy thoughts.
It also helps to remember that usually for the majority of circumstances & events which make us unhappy, we’re usually exaggerating their importance & making mountains out of molehills. Whatever the circumstances are – try to gain some perspective & realise just how small the issue actually is in the grand scheme of things, and then think happy thoughts, don’t allow yourself to be controlled by circumstances..
For example, many people in this moment in time are unhappy due to economic conditions. Financial issues are currently one of the biggest causes of stress & unhappiness. If you’re struggling financially, as many are, gain some perspective by realising that you’re in such a better position than many other people – think of people who live on the streets, or who are born in parts of the world where children do not eat for days at a time, and where the drinking water is dirty & polluted, and where people die from basic illnesses that we can just pop to the chemist to treat. Also gain perspective in terms of the fact that the problem is temporary, and that financial problems are inevitable. Just about any very successful person you can think of, has had financial adversity – realising this will help you to feel better about the situation knowing that the issue is only temporary.
Once you have this perspective – think happy thoughts, and you will feel happy. This does not mean that you will ignore the causes of the problem, and bury your head in the sand. If you have debts, then happily go about sorting them, make repayment plans & work on making more money from your job, or becoming better at what you do & getting a promotion or a better job, but whatever you do – do it while thinking happy thoughts – and you will become happy. Thoughts are things.
So – force your mind to imagine the places and sights that make you smile.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit so many of the world’s most beautiful cities, and I make sure I always remember them – the domes and spires of Moscow and Istanbul, the canals of Venice and Amsterdam, the skyscrapers of New York and Tokyo. Jet-setting costs nothing in the imagination.
Increase your SQ – Smile Quotient. A great way to do this, is to create more happy events – and one great way to create a happy event or memory is to create happiness for another person. Here are some of my favourite tips, and remember… we’re doing this together.
Buy a bunch of flowers for a friend… and keep one bloom for yourself. Everyone feels a surge of joy at an unexpected bouquet. A simple handful of daisies or tulips is guaranteed to make someone’s day, and to keep them smiling as the flowers impart colour and warmth to a room. And every time you see your single stem, you’ll be reminded of your friend and of how you made them happy.
Whenever I get the chance, I act on the advice of one of my favourite singers, Louis Armstrong, and walk on the sunny side of the street. For that matter, I never miss an opportunity to catch some sunshine, even if it just means going to a window and basking for a minute or two. At this time of year, when we’re emerging from a long winter, it’s especially important to get out of the shadows and into the light. It literally wakes our brains up.
The Thames runs behind my house, and when I’m walking with my greyhound, Barney, I often do a little river-dance of my own. The cows in the nearby meadows must think I’m mad as I caper along the towpath with my feet flying. But dancing sends the spirit soaring. Try it! Your mind will automatically create music to match your movements, and your mood will be caught up in the swirl of the moment.
Saying hi to a Swan during a recent walk with Barney on the Thames.
Before long you’ll be laughing out loud. It’s no coincidence that I choose to dance beside water. A flowing river or a bubbling brook helps to sluice your inner energy. For an even more dramatic effect, try dancing to your mind’s music on the beach, along the seashore. The immensity of the tidal pull is guaranteed to lift you – even the thought of a dance at the sea’s edge is filling me with happiness.
One more tip to bring a smile of sure-fire happiness: get your hair done. I don’t care if it’s just a trim round the short-back-and-sides, or a full-blown perm-and-dye, there’s something about sitting in the hairdresser’s chair that makes a perfect palliative for all the world’s ills. Give your head a treat!
Another important trait to develop to maintain this feeling of happiness, is gratitude. Cultivate and develop an attitude of gratitude, as I have done. I realised many years ago that when I felt grateful, I better attracted the things into my life that made me feel even more grateful . Just as feeling happy makes you happy, feeling grateful will give you more things to feel grateful for.
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