Happiness and feeling good is more a state of mind than it is a state of circumstances. And yes, I know it's easier to make such a statement than it is to pull it off.
Sometimes it's even easier to believe that how we feel at any given moment is directly dependent on the nature of our circumstances. That's what most of us have been taught from an early age. If you weren't, you're the exception.
We are used to thinking we feel good when times are good and we feel bad when times are bad. But I bet you can remember a time when some things weren't going so well in your life and you felt pretty darned good. Even if for a brief time. Or maybe you remember a time you were talking with a friend who was down in the dumps and complaining nonstop. But then you distracted him or her with something, changed the direction of the conversation and all of a sudden they were laughing.
How do you explain that? What happened is you shifted their thinking. They shifted from thinking thoughts of misery to thinking thoughts of something much better. Whatever circumstance they thought was making them miserable or overly worried didn't change. But something changed, so what was it?
What changed was the person's thoughts.
What we are focused on at the moment determines our mood. Our thoughts lead to our feelings. In other words, when we shift our thinking, our feelings and emotions shift as well.
Even if we keep thinking about a situation that "made" us upset, when we think about the same situation in a more constructive way, we immediately feel better. The situation doesn't change, but our how we think about it changes and along with it, our mood.
It's true our circumstances influence our thoughts, our thinking and our beliefs. It's not true circumstances dictate and control what is in our mind and how we use our mind. That part is a choice. The problem comes when we allow our mind to run on autopilot, whether what we are thinking and imagining is helpful or not.
In 1902, James Allen wrote the now classic book "As A Man Thinketh." Of course, now the book's title would reflect gender equality and might be titled "As You Think." Aside from that, the insights you will find in the book can alter the course of your life. For instance:
"A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances."
I don't know of anyone who is perfect or who has a perfect life. We all have our times, moods or actions we wouldn't want broadcast to the world. We all have circumstances we want to improve. Maybe you are in some very tough circumstances right now.
It's during the toughest times what Allen wrote can be hard to believe. And even harder to put to use. It's also during the toughest times what can be of greatest use. It's kind of ironic. What can be the most helpful to us can be the last thing we want when we're feeling miserable. How do I know? I know because I've worked with clients for over twenty years...And I know because I've been there before. I've been in a place before where I didn't want to read what I've written today. So, if you're in a place where what I've shared isn't helpful to you know, put it away and come back later when you're feeling better.
Let me know what you think. Leave a comment now or feel free to e-mail me anytime. I appreciate you reading this blog and would love to know what you think.