Something Good Happened Today.
What was it? Was it a moment of solitude? Connecting with a friend? The feel of the wind on your face? The knowledge of a job well done? Your morning coffee? Holding a child’s hand? A sudden awareness of the fact that a part of your body works perfectly?
I bet that as you scroll back on the events of your day, were there many, many such small moments. Subtle, fleeting moments that are perfect, but easy to dismiss or overlook because they are nothing fancy or earth-shaking. In fact, they are so normal that you may not notice them at all.
Here's some free advice from a life coach and therapist: One of the biggest mistakes that you can make (if you want to be a genuinely happy person, anyway) is to dismiss these ordinary moments as being of no consequence.
Your Thoughts Create Your Reality
One of the toxic mental habits that chronically unhappy or dissatisfied people often fall in to without even noticing that they are doing so is indulging an obsession with things that are wrong. As a result, the inevitable imperfections and problems of life seem to bloom and grow, becoming ever larger and overwhelming.
We know from research and studies on the most effective form of therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, that certain thinking styles are a one-way ticket to despair and depression. (In fact, there are about 10 types of most unhelpful thinking styles that ruin people's moods and makes it hard for them to feel happy, confident, and strong). One of the most insidious usual suspects that many people engage in without even realizing is something called “negative filtering.” This means that they overemphasize negative, unfortunate, or problematic circumstances while discounting the positive.
While dissatisfaction and a strong desire to make a positive change are both good things when they are channeled into motivation, obsessing and feeling terribly about your problems is generally not productive. Why? It's not solution-oriented. There is a huge difference between feeling badly about something, and making a concrete plan of action to change it. It's the difference between flopping around in a disgusting mud puddle (“Agh! I'm in a mud puddle! This is horrible!”) and getting up to go find yourself a shower. (“I don't want to do this anymore.”) While motivation for change leads to transformation, negative filtering will just keep you frustrated, heartsick, and stuck.
Feel Happier Today
I teach powerful antidotes to every single one of the most common toxic thinking styles in my online Happiness Class, but here's one that you can use right now to help yourself pick yourself up and start feeling better if negative filtering has been dragging you down lately: Gratitude.
Practicing gratitude means that you intentionally and deliberately re-direct your attention away from what's not working to what is working. If you intentionally notice your strengths and positive circumstances, and allow yourself to feel gratitude for everyday grace, your heart will begin to overflow with appreciation for your life. Furthermore, by focusing on your strengths you'll feel much more empowered to make positive and constructive changes.
This one small mental shift towards gratitude and appreciation can change the emotional experience of your life. When genuine gratitude is present, you shift from helplessness to hope and feel energized by the blessings being showered upon you in each and every day.
Try it, and see what happens. Here’s a challenge: Practice gratitude for even just today and notice the difference it makes. Keep a “Gratitude Journal:” a mental or literal list of all the things about this day that you appreciate — both big and small — and see how it makes you feel. Every time you start to sink down into the muck of overwhelming problems, whip out your Gratitude Journal and write down your strengths, opportunities, and the good things that you have in your life.<
My bet is that you will feel more hopeful, and resilient, and better able to make real and lasting change in your life.
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby