Happiness in a change of mind!
As a life coach, my job is to help and motivate people to make positive changes to their lives. I truly believe that mind-set is the key to happiness. So I believe that the biggest and most crucial key to making a positive change in your life is to change your thinking about the perceived “problem”.
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!”- Henry Ford
It’s very hard to change a situation if you are stuck in a negative mind-set. Let’s use the situation of being single as an example. If you hold the belief that “there are no decent men / women out there” or “no one will want me with three kids and a post- baby body”, then chances are your wish will come true. You’ll be unconsciously projecting an attitude and vibes which back up your thoughts and beliefs.
So how to switch? Here are some ways to switch your thinking which can have immediate benefits to your life without actually having to “do” much at all!
Flip your belief on its head
The first thing you can do it simply to flip your belief. Many limiting beliefs are completely unfounded so think carefully about whether your beliefs are positive or negative. To challenge negative beliefs write them down on paper in the opposite form e.g. “there are plenty of decent men / women out there” and “many, many women with three kids and a body with a few extra curves are in very happy relationships!” To strengthen these new beliefs, re-write them out daily. Before long, you will open your mind to new possibilities!
Focus on the positives in your life
We usually begin a coaching relationship with an exercise called the “Wheel of Life” which is like an instant life audit. A circle (wheel) is divided in to eight segments, the broad areas of life: Health, Career, Family / Friends, Finances, Personal growth, Romance, Environment and Leisure.
The client rates their level of contentment in each area on a scale of 0-10 (10 being amazing and it couldn’t’ be better and 0 being the worst it could possibly be). I ask the client to tell me about the things that are going well before focusing on what it would take to improve that area and get closer to or reach 10/10.
Often, people are surprised by what is actually going well! It’s so easy when you feel “stuck” in one area of your life to allow this to take over your thoughts and sap your energy. At times like these, it can be very helpful to take stock of what is going well and put things back in perspective.
OK you may be single but you may have a fantastic family and friends for support, be in good health and live in a lovely home with children and /or pets who surround you with love and a job which pays the bills! Being single is also an opportunity to re-discover yourself, take up new activities and make choices and decisions without having to consult another person.
Keeping things in perspective by focusing on the positives can make a real difference to improving overall happiness and contentment.
“Is that really true?”
Countering this powerful little question is an exercise which has had more impact on my decisions than any other and I challenge you to use it now. Pick something you have considered doing or want achieve in your life, but it seems out of reach. It could be anything, big or small, from taking a very round-the-world trip to becoming a beekeeper, writing a book, changing your name by deed poll, taking up highland dancing… whatever it is write it down.
It’s easy to procrastinate and think of objections but you will soon realise that the objections can nearly always be overcome and are mainly fear based barriers rather than real. Think of your objections and then ask “Is that really true?” Common objections include: I’m too old (there is seldom an age limit except in the mind), I don’t have the money (maybe not yet - money will flow once you commit to something), I don’t have time (we always find the time for things which are really important to us), I have too many responsibilities (learn to delegate), my mother / spouse / kids would never forgive me (that’s his / her / their issue, be empathetic to the concerns of others but firm in your decision), it’s too dangerous (most accidents happen in the home!).
Be happy in the moment
I lot is being splashed on social media and in magazines about “mindfulness” (being present or aware in the moment). For the purposes of finding happiness, quieting your mind to the present can be a huge relief. The past cannot be changed and the future cannot be fully predicted, yet we spend so much time and energy going over what has happened or might happen.
Human nature is to want more. Some of us postpone happiness until certain criteria are met – ‘I’ll be truly happy when I get the perfect (job / relationship / car / house / flat stomach etc.)’. Actually, we could simply chose to focus on the good things we may already have – people (friends, family, children, partners), health, pets, clothes, jobs, even what most of us deem essentials such as clean running water and food on the table. We already have so many good things in our lives our lives and by changing focus we can get more happiness if we choose to gratitude and take pleasure from that.
Also, it’s easy to get into a constant state of anticipation – you’re thinking about what’s for dinner while you’re in a business meeting and when you’re cooking dinner, you’re looking forward to the kids being in bed so that you can crash on the sofa. When “relaxing” on the sofa you are thinking about the 50 things you have to get done at the weekend!
Mindfulness is about focusing fully on each activity during your day and really living and making the most out of each moment. It may seem obvious but you really will have more productive meetings, feel more relaxed and happy and will form better relationships with your children or those close to you if you are present rather than distracted.
Slowing down and focusing on the present moment this can actually alleviate a lot of stress. Worry is simply picturing things in our heads which may or may not actually happen and more often than not is completely unfounded. There is certainly a need for planning ahead but not if it prevents you from enjoying the only thing that any of us truly has – the present moment.