What happy people don’t do
We spend a lot of time here talking about how to be happy, and what happy people think and do to be happy. Looking at which beliefs, attitudes and behaviours constitute happy. The more we know that the more we can mirror the mindsets and actions that resonate and be happier ourselves.
For the next little while I thought it would be fun and equally useful to flip that round a bit and look at what happy people don’t do, so we know what to omit from our repertoire. First up is a biggie.
Happy people don’t let their circumstances define their happiness.
Happy people are not life’s complainers. They have an inherent realisation that pouring more energy on to something that they don’t like simply amplifies it. That we get to choose what we think about a particular circumstance and how we experience it, rather than be a victim of the circumstance. That the power to define the tone of our daily lives is in our heads, not at the mercy of the traffic flowing easily or the boss’s praise at the staff meeting.
Happy people know that the thoughts in our heads are not facts but stories.
Not cast-iron truth, but one of numerous possible perspectives. They know thoughts might feel like truth, but they are not truth. If that all sounds a bit cryptic and you are muttering “thanks for sharing, Yoda” at this, please bear with me and let me break it down a little further. For example — one circumstance, two thought patterns:
Let’s say, the circumstance is that the traffic slows down to a crawl on a Sunday night heading back into town after a weekend away.
An unhappier person might think “and this is why I hate Auckland traffic. Why is it always like this? We are going to be so much later than we should be, so annoying”, and will sit and seethe.
A happier person might think, “so many people have been away for a long weekend, this queue is inevitable. It’s just the price of living in the biggest city in the country, where I also get to enjoy the best of everything else. Hope everyone else had as good a weekend as I did. Now let me think … what was that hilarious thing Mum said about …”
Both scenarios could be “true”, yes? And that’s the thing. The traffic crawling — that is an external fact. It’s not up for debate.
However, what happy people know is that the first thought that pops into their head about it isn’t necessarily the truth. That there are a number of different, essentially arbitrary, thoughts they could think about it, and verbalise about it. It’s not about being in denial. The “bad” story isn’t more or less true than the “good” story. They are both essentially made up. It’s just that one will make us feel happy, content, calm, in control, happy. The other will not. It’s also important to note that neither thought fixes the traffic. It’s just, do you want to be happy in the traffic or annoyed in the traffic? Happy people want to be happy.
Happiness is a highly desirable state.
Happy people don’t expect happiness to just magic itself out of thin air. Happy people know that happiness comes directly from the thoughts you think about the thing that’s occurring right now. And by knowing that essential truth, they do not allow the random thoughts in their head hold all the power.
They select their thoughts, especially in annoying/frustrating/scary situations, with the same care with which they select what clothes to put on in the morning, or which foods to put in their body at lunchtime. They select the thoughts about the circumstance (facts), which are going to make them feel happier.
It’s that simple. Happy people think a lot more happy thoughts by both deliberate choice and habit.
Next week … more things happy people don’t do. #happypeopledontdo
Find one circumstance today where you can change your thinking, deliberately, to a slightly happier story about whatever the circumstance is in front of you. Start with something small and manageable like the traffic rather than your nightmare boss/ex, and work up from there. Choose your thoughts about it with the same care you choose your clothes.