You may think that the headline of this article is a joke, or that maybe it was written by mistake and it should be “How to Start Practicing Being Happy.” But even though most of us would never intentionally set out to make ourselves unhappy, we often make a habit of doing it.
To explain further, let’s say our goal is to become as unhappy as possible. What would we do to create that outcome? We would need to spend our time focusing on the negative, thinking lots of angry, stressful and frustrating thoughts. We have to introduce a lot of unhappiness to our minds to feel or become unhappy.
We know this is how our feelings work because of the amazing new brain research that is being published every day on how our thoughts and feelings are connected to our state of well being or unhappiness. We simply cannot get upset unless we are thinking angry, frustrated, fearful or negative thoughts and these thoughts produce the same feelings.
Tal Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., teaches a course at Harvard University on Positive Psychology. The course offers students an opportunity to look at and understand how we can create happiness or unhappiness though our thoughts, deeds and words. It’s the single most popular course on campus, and there’s always a waiting list to get in.
Positive Psychology, a relatively new field, owes its existence to psychologist Martin Seligman, former President of the American Psychological Association, who put forth the theory of “learned happiness.” Seligman’s theory asserts that we can all learn to be happy by understanding how our thoughts and words create emotions and feelings which can make us feel happy or unhappy.
Try starting the day with a positive affirmation. It can be as simple as: Today I am going to feel happy… BECAUSE...
(it’s important to state the reason why)… I am looking forward to working on my project
, or because I am grateful for my family
, or because I am taking good care of myself
, and so forth.
When we create and think of a positive affirmation, and then use the word “because” and give ourselves a reason for believing why we will be happy or fulfilled, we create a positive psychological stat that creates positive emotions and happiness.
Give it a try and see if it works for you!
- Dr. Georgianna Donadio
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