Can You Can Convince Yourself To Be Happy?

“A man is as unhappy as he has convinced himself he is.” – Seneca

A brief observation about man and his ability to think opens a door of empowerment worthy of exploring. It’s easy to be happy when things are going well, isn’t it? But what about those times when things are going badly? What do we do? Some of us brave on with a stiff upper lip and breeze right over the trouble as if there wasn’t any at all. Some of us cave in under pressure and behave pretty miserably. What makes us different? Seneca reveals a secret power of the mind when he observed that some of us convince ourselves to be in a certain state of mind.

Why would anyone do such a foolish thing as to convince themselves to be unhappy? There are plenty of reasons; but let’s leave that to the psycho-analysts and therapists to work out. I am interested in the fact the man can change his state of mind. Can people change their state of mind by sheer will power? Yes you can! You know you can! Haven’t you as a child put on a mask of pretence and played the role when you had an incentive.

How do we convince ourselves to be happy? Here are the 5 simple steps:

1) You must have an incentive. You need a burning desire. Think about the goal. What will “acting” happy do for you? Well it will make people around you nicer for one thing. Having happy people around you will make you happy because a positive state of mind is catchy. You can turn a situation around.

2) Remember it’s an act. You are playing a role. Fake it till you make it! Even if you are not happy, act as if you are. Keep talking to yourself. Keep telling yourself the reasons why you need to be happy. Sell yourself on the outcome. Make it real. Details make stories real. Think of details.

3) Ignore the negative self-chatter. Your mind will continually try to interrupt your play by reminding you about the reality of things. Don’t listen to the negative tapes that tell you that you won’t succeed and you are a failure. Just act happy.

4) Use positive triggers. Everyone has a trigger that makes them happy. Maybe its whistling, maybe it’s singing a song in your head.

5) Remember that time heals all wounds. In time your trouble will pass.  Look at how you have moved on and overome previous challenges.  What seemed significant at the time is just a memory now.

Let’s face it; we sometimes have to convince ourselves to be happy when we are not in the mood. Just knowing we have the power to do that is empowering enough for me. Taking the action to convince yourself to be happy is even more empowering. Try it on the next time your day goes bad. You may just be surprised about the outcome!

Further Reading

Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill by Matthieu Ricard

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler

The Rough Guide to Happiness: Practical steps for all-round well-being (Rough Guide Reference) by Nick Baylis and Rough Guide

Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realise Your Potential for Lasting Fulfilment by Martin E.P. Seligman

The Book of Happiness: Brilliant Ideas to Transform Your Life by Heather Summers and Anne Watson

Happiness: Unlocking the Mysteries of Psychological Wealth by Ed Diener and Robert BiswasDiener

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