Have you felt like insults stick more than compliments? The answer is that it is just how our brains work. Nastiness makes a bigger impact on our brains than happy thoughts. It is due to our brains ‘negativity bias’, a phenomenon by which we have a greater sensitivity to unpleasant news and bad experiences. When we experience negative stimuli, there is a greater surge in electrical activity in our brain. In turn, our attitudes are more heavily influenced by negative news than good news.
The good news is that you can still stand up to your negative thoughts and learn the habit of happy life thinking. Using the following techniques, you can rewire your brain to think more happy thoughts.
Teach your brain to see the positive. Remembering the bad things will make you miserable. But if you will teach your brain to see the positive in every situation, it will make life easier for you. Showing gratitude for the good things is perhaps the most powerful happiness boosting activity. Not only will it make you happier, but it can also make your life better and for everyone around you.
Do what you are good at. The secret why starving artists are happier is because they use their ‘signature strengths’. These are the things you are uniquely good at painting, playing instruments, and the like. Using your signature strengths often increases happy thoughts. So, think about what you are good at and do it often. It is the secret to experiencing more ‘flow’ at work and in life.
Spend time with people you like. Happiness is more contagious than unhappiness. If you spend time with the people you love – family and friends, it will bring about happy thoughts. The happiest people are those who have strong relationships. So, make the most out of your life and spend it with them. Not spending more time with people, we love is something most people regret the most.
Give a lot. Have you noticed that when you give, it makes you feel good? It is because giving makes us happier than receiving. You don’t have to give money; it can be anything. You can give time, effort, doing nice things; it can create a feedback loop of happiness in your life.
Get busy. Sometimes, you don’t usually do what you love. We just do what is convenient and easy for us, for example, sitting on the couch watching TV does not really make us happy. When you get to work and do what you love, you are happier. It’s because when your mind and hands are busy, you are focused. A wandering mind is not a happy mind because it can lead to negative thoughts. Thinking and working can beat sad feelings.
Now, these were some of the techniques using which you can train your brain to think happy thoughts. Again, here are a few ‘happy thoughts’ which can help you get out of a negative thinking slump.
The difficulties are not permanent. By thinking that “this too shall pass and life will go on,” you are redirecting your focus away from the negativity of the situation. This is an excellent thought to entertain to counter all the other thoughts that are arising.
Good things will happen. Life is not all negativity. When bad things happen, it is certain that good things will come soon. You may think you are battered with trials and tribulations, but the rain will stop soon. Remind yourself that there will be better days. Doing so will help you to keep going and to keep searching for the light at the end of the tunnel. By entertaining happy, positive thoughts during these black days, you are rising above the negativity.
I am loved. When you are down and feeling lonely, remember that there is/are someone(s) in this world who love you. There are a lot of people who think about you, care about you, and want the best for you. They are your friends and families. Allow yourself to savor how powerful and breathtaking that is. Let the feeling of being loved give you a sense of warmth, peace, and happiness.
I am intelligent and capable. All of us are born unique. No one can be you except you. You were born with the ability to think, to problem-solve, to create, to analyze, to achieve, and to survive. Do not listen to the lie that you are worthless. You have plenty of natural and learned talents and skills. So rather than focus on what you cannot do, focus on what you can do to be successful.
Everything happens for a reason; everything leads to something better. If you are a person who believes that your life is predetermined, then good for you. However, this thought has nothing to do with destiny. Instead, it is a brilliantly encouraging thought that will bring happiness. It will help you accept the bad things that happened and look forward to the lessons it brings. It will also open yourself up to start searching for meaning in the difficulties you faced as well as being optimistic about what will happen in the future. When faced with a bad experience, it is easy to blame ourselves. But if we entertain this happy thought, it encourages us to shed off our role as a helpless victim. Once this process has kicked in, our mindset will go from victim to victor.
Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. You’re always best when things are the worst. We must remember that setbacks and difficulties cannot be avoided. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, we must use these experiences as opportunities to grow and become a better version of ourselves. As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. So, whatever happens to us will ultimately help us become a stronger and wiser person. There are a lot of people who have started shining in the brightest light during times of great despair. In fact, without the challenging hardship, they wouldn’t be the person they are today. They’ve come out with great characters and unshakeable willpower.
When one door closes another door opens. Sometimes, life closes a door and we can never open it again. We experience “bad season” – our business fails, we get fired from our jobs, or our loved ones leave us. It can also be in the form of missed opportunities but remember for everything that is taken from your life, you will gain something new. What you do is not to remain standing in front of the door that closed because it will bring resentment. Instead, try to seek new opportunities and be positive about the future.
You are the only one you can compare yourself with. The problem about comparisons is that they are unjust and can make you feel insecure. Most of the time, you lack the right metrics to compare the accomplishments of your life with those of other people. We also tend to compare our weaknesses with other people’s strengths, our poverty to other people’s affluence, and our incapability to other people’s power. The truth is that you are unique – you can do what others can’t. Just like an axe that cannot cut hair and a scissor that cannot cut wood, we all have different strengths.
Comparisons cause dissatisfaction, discontent and great levels of unhappiness. Instead of comparing yourself to other people, compare your own progress with your former self. See how you have grown and developed as a person. When you compare yourself to your previous version, you will realize the important accomplishments of your life, instead of letting other people’s accomplishments drag you down.
When you train your brain to look for the silver lining in every situation, you’ll notice that you quickly catch yourself in negative thinking. With that, it will be easier for you to automatically reframe your thoughts to something more positive.
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