Virtual Reality?

digital-binario

Photo: Binary Digital by Marcos Tulio

The penny dropped for me, while watching the BBC documentary “Wonders of Life”. The programme explained how different animals perceive the world in completely different ways. The Catfish, for example can “smell” the chemicals in the water to help orientate itself. Each species has its own way of making sense of its surroundings, and experiences life in its own way.

It occurred to me that we do a similar thing. Our brain interprets the signals it receives, to give us our individual picture of the world. But is it “reality”? Can there actually be an objective reality, when all our experiences are self-filtered?

If we don’t experience a “standard” reality, then our experiences should be open to change. In the same way that we can literally change the images we see by wearing sunglasses, we can consciously change our outlook by changing our thoughts.

How we view what happens in our life is really only our perception anyway. So if you don’t like what’s happening to you, “go within” and change your outer world.

Gratitude Attitude

smiley   

 Photo: Smiley by Paul Lloyd

One way to feel good is to have a gratitude attitude. Make it part of your routine. Every day and often. Nothing to feel good about? Use your imagination. It’s about putting things into perspective.

We all have endless things to feel grateful for. Take a walk in nature and see the beauty around you. Think about the technology and access to information that we take for granted. If you live in the developed world, you’re richer than most people on the planet. Wherever you live, you can still choose to view life your way. Of course people may say that you should be more “realistic” with your thinking. But who are they to say what is realistic for you? We are each able to frame our own thinking. Every day, or every moment can be a fresh start. You can only ever experience in this current moment, so why not make it feel the way you want it to.

Is it really selfish to put yourself first? Even if it goes against everything we’ve been told, how can you give to others if you’re running on empty? If you make a habit of taking some “me” time, it allows you to recharge your batteries and be more able to live and full life.

You are totally unique. Out of 107 billion people who have ever lived, there will only ever be one “you”. Start from where you are and use what you have. Don’t put off want you want to do. If the task seems daunting, take one step at a time. The only perfect time to start is NOW!

Positive Action

woman-and-bicycle

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.