Photo: Woman-on-Bicycle by George Hodan
Studies have shown that we each have an individual happiness level. Remarkably, even after life-changing events, the vast majority of us tend to return to that same level within twelve months. No matter what we’ve been through. Whether it is winning the lottery or experiencing one of life’s traumas.
How many people dream of winning the lottery, in order to feel happy? But it’s not having money that makes you happy. It’s your attitude towards the money – or anything else for that matter. As author Anaïs Nin wrote, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
You set your own happiness level, either consciously, or subconsciously by default. Our brain is structured to think in certain ways. Until recently, scientists thought that once you reached adulthood your brain programming was permanently set. But research has shown that it is possible to literally reconfigure your brain’s wiring by changing your thinking.
Habitual thoughts strengthen associated neural pathways. If you think positive thoughts about yourself, those pathways will grow stronger, while the pathways associated with negative self-image will weaken. And vice versa. So, if you generally see things negatively, your brain is essentially hard-wired to make those types of thoughts ‘stick’.
If you want to change your thinking, how do you raise your happiness level? It’s not enough just to want to be happy. You need to take habitual action. This may seem like hard work – but this is about feeling good. It should be fun, or it won’t succeed. As with many forms of taking action, often it’s the starting that is the hard part. But once you’re in the flow, it feels great.
But in the same way you wouldn’t go the gym once, and expect to have a chiselled physique, it takes regular workouts – or habitual thinking.
Over time, the positive self-image will replace the negative one. This is true for positive and negative thoughts. You are changing how you “see” yourself or the world in general. Using your senses and emotions, you can “feel” your desired experience. The more this is repeated, and the stronger you link your emotions to it, the greater impact it will have.
Sing to your favourite tunes, go jogging, have a lie-in, watch a movie or read a book. Again, how you improve your mood is your own choice.
Why not give it a try? All you have to lose is your negativity.