Happiness is a habit
Simply put, happiness is a habit. So can we train ourselves to be happy?
According to Wray Herbert as stated in the Newsweek- “research shows that our brains have certain hardwired propensities that might be exploited. For example, our brains tend to register frequently heard facts as true, even if they are patently false. As a result, our memories and beliefs are highly malleable and unreliable. We also tend, if unchecked by the conscious reasoning mind, to focus overly on risk, inconvenience, hassles—anything negative. “ Does it not therefore make sense to change our thinking to change our habits and thereby change our life?
Read the following paragraph
Cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed whotuit a pboerlm
I think most of you were able to read it, why ? .
Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh?
What this proves is that our brains get used to the way we think. Our brain has a mind of its own that it develops due to the habits that we form. If we are constantly thinking negative thoughts, our brain circuitry gets hard wired to think in the negative realm and on the other hand optimists who think positively tend to hard wire their brains in a positive frame. The glass half full or half empty!!!!!
Also it has been proven that our unconscious/subconscious brain takes in about 80% of the information around us and our conscious brain can hold only 20% of the information at any given time. Therefore the more we surround ourselves with positive motivators such as positive people, positive messages, positive actions, books, programs the better it is for our brains to develop a positive outlook .
Take a look at the following box, a few diagonal lines with a red dot on the left side and a little + sign on the right.
Now, cover your right eye with your hand, then (using your left eye) look at the small cross to the right side of the image. Slowly moving your head towards the screen, while looking at the cross, at a certain point, the red dot will disappear.That's because the red dot is now in your blind spot, where the optic nerve joins the back of your eye. But here's the cool bit: the space where the red dot was gets filled in with the blue lines around it. Your brain fills in the space with what it thinks should be there, using whatever is around it!
Isn’t that interesting?
Your brain fills in the space with what it thinks should be there, using whatever is around it!
Yet again, we see how our brain reacts. It automatically finds solutions to its perceived problems. Once again it digs into its data bank to find the correct solution.
Now, let’s put it all in perspective. Let’s say you are the kind of person that sees the glass half full. You wake up and realize that you are 20 minutes late and now have to rush like a maniac and you will probably miss your 8.00 o-clock bus. Instead of cursing and panicking ( because that is just the way you are), you decide to enjoy your morning coffee and take a taxi to work instead. After all you don’t do that all the time so you see it as a luxury. You call your office and explain that you may be 15 -20 min late but you will still be there. You go out to hail a taxi and see a huge queue, you panic momentarily, but your sunny disposition does not allow that for long and you stand there listening to your iPod and smiling. Suddenly you feel a tap on your shoulder. You turn around and the person points you to someone who is waving at you. It is your colleague who is driving to work offering you a lift. Viola, problem solved. You are at work on time and you did not even pay for the taxi. You have a great day at work and the same colleague offers you a lift back.
Take two- same scenario, but you always see the glass half empty, the world is a miserable place and people are all out to get you. You wake up 20 minutes late, you curse and panic and inadvertently tip the lamp. It shatters to the floor. You curse more and scream at your spouse, helper, whoever is around to take your abuse. You have no time for breakfast so you rush out without even a cup of coffee. You have missed the bus and the taxi queue is long. You are angry, hungry and cursing. You don’t smile at anyone and keep cursing under your breath. People around you can feel your negativity and move away from you. Your colleague drives past, tries to get your attention, but you don’t seem to notice him and no one taps your shoulder, he drives away. You are hungry and irritable. You are massively late to work and your boss is really angry because you forgot to inform him/her about your tardiness. You have a miserable day at work and you feel like sh…t.
What a difference a day makes! But hold on, was it the day that made a difference or was it your attitude? Your attitude determines your next move and thereby changes the energy around you leading to a favorable or an unfavorable outcome.
You therefore have control over your circumstances. Many times however, we feel that we do not have control over the outcome. We may not have control over the outcome but we always have control over our outlook. Our habits form our attitude and our attitude forms our outlook, which in turn creates circumstances.
So, it makes sense to change our habits and thereby change our circumstances. Get into the habit of seeing the glass half full. It is after all a matter of perspective and training your brain.
It was thought that at around the age of 30 our brain capacity has been maximized and it is all downhill from there on . It has now been proven that the brain is highly malleable and trainable. It can be trained right till the day we leave this planet. Research is constantly being done to show the brains capacity to synthesize new brain cells and form new patterns. It is never too late to change your circumstances and become happier by adopting a happier attitude.
The next logical question would be, how to become happier? Well there is no hard and fast rule or a pill that can be taken. However there are things that we can do to become happier.
Start with a thank you journal. Every day find three things that you are grateful for. It could be as simple a steaming cup of coffee , a beautiful sunny day, a hug from your child, a compliment from a stranger , a request for friendship on MySpace or face book or as exotic as winning a million dollar lottery, a promotion at work, getting married to your dream partner and so on. Whatever you think you could be thankful for. Limit it to three a day, so that you have something for every day. This way you get into a habit of appreciation and gratitude and thereby start changing your brain pattern. Slowly and surely you brain starts developing new neural pathways that start looking out for things that give you reason to be happy and grateful. Your habits form your attitude and your attitude creates your outlook and you outlook creates your circumstances.
So get into the habit of being happy.