What Happy People Think
Do you wish you were happier? Our country is built on the thought that happier is better! In the first section of the US Declaration of Independence we speak of our inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As if, it is a place to arrive at or a state of being that is permanent.
Undoubtably we place a lot of emphasis on happiness and yet, as a coach I see this pursuit accompany a lot of unhappiness and discontent. We are a bit misguided as a nation of what happiness is and depending upon how we define happiness, we can experience a lot of physical and emotional pain.
Happiness vs Contentment
Society these days gives us many opportunities to numb out or distract ourselves from the lives we’re living which leads to the pain. Rather, the more comfortable we can get with being uncomfortable the grander our life will be. If you’re happy more than 50% of the time, studies show you’re either buffering or avoiding doing the challenging things in your life.
For example, many of us say we want our kids to be happy. Do you though? I’m a mom of 5 sons and they are pretty happy eating Pringles and playing video games. If my goal as a mom was for my kids to be happy, job done. Complete. Finished. No need to do the homework – that would make them unhappy. Further, no need to ask them to clean up their Pringles crumbs, that would make them unhappy. Obviously we can see how a goal of being happy all the time is misguided and, can be, inappropriate.
That said, here I am with a podcast episode titled what happy people think and I run a super popular course called Happiness Habits! I have studied happiness for decades and now teach and support people as they learn the top four habits proven to raise our overall happiness set point. So yes, I’m all about feeling more happy in everyday life. I want to be clear in pointing out it’s a “both and”.
Happiness is a wonderful state that I help people be more open to, to feel more of, and this podcast episode will help you with that. I did want to start though by reminding us that happiness is not a goal for 100% of the time. We are either growing or shrinking and if you’re a listener of this show, I imagine you have signed up for that elite path of growth. Accompanying growth is discomfort. We know that.
This episode for today is all about looking at the thoughts that happy people think so that we can practice and adopt ones that are right for us when happiness is appropriate. There are so many articles of “Top 5 Things Happy People do”. Heck, I have even written some of those articles! We are eager to know: what those people do because if I do what they do then I’ll be happy too.
However, that’s where the thought drama begins. Remember the thought model – our brains don’t work that way. External circumstances don’t create our feelings. Our thoughts create our feelings. This is why some people can have a similar experience or circumstance and feel completely different. It’s their thoughts that make them feel what they’re feeling.Thoughts matter!
So instead of looking at what happy people do, I wanted to do an episode on some things that happy people think. Looking at what happy people think, how their brains work, how they see the world, is a powerful and impactful way to cultivate happiness.
What Happy People Think Thought Number One
“I’m capable of growing and changing.” This is the backbone of author Carol Dweck’s work where she teaches a growth versus a fixed mindset. People who think with a fixed mindset way tend to be less happy.
The fixed mindset thinks that you just are either good at things or not good at things. It is what it is. People who engage in this sort of thinking are either unaware of neuroplasticity or they choose not to believe in it. They think you are born a certain way, capable of certain things, with a certain amount of intelligence and it is what it is.
Thinking a thought like: “I’m capable of growing and changing” or “I’m capable of learning” is much more uplifting and happiness provoking. Further, science and neuroplasticity show us it is the truth. There’s nothing you want to know or do that you’re not capable of knowing or learning to do.
Happy People Think Thought Number Two
“Everything keeps getting better”. Happy people think some version of this thought; things keep getting better or everything keeps getting better. Often when I share this thought I get pushback from people with specific examples of negative events in the world. Yes, there’s a lot of evidence that world is getting worse, the world is getting harder. I agree with that. The world is expanding and that means it’s getting both more challenging and more awesome. Both and.
The world will always be and has always been half amazing and half horrendous. And those halves will expand as we expand and as our world expands. It’s up to us which half we focus on…
If you find your head going to thoughts of: the world is getting worse, things are getting harder, the world is getting more challenging; you not going to generate the maximum level of happiness for you. I invite you to look at in what ways is the world also getting more amazing. In which ways is everything working out for you? How is it also getting better?
Look for the both and. Are people struggling more than ever? Are they more anxious and depressed? Yes AND… we have more resources and tools and people to support them than ever before. Both exist. Choosing to focus on the thought “things keep getting better” will generate more feelings of happiness. The world is getting better: it always has and it always will. Furthermore, there will always be challenges too. What do you want to focus on?
What Happy People Think Thought Number Three
“Nothing has gone wrong here”. I love this one. And…get a lot of pushback on this. Obviously it’s easier to think nothing’s gone wrong on a beautiful 80 degree day when your kids are content, your spouse is supportive, and your house is clean. Sure Susie, nothing has gone wrong on those days.
But what about a different day, what about a day when things didn’t work out the way you thought they were going to, the weather isn’t what you thought it was going to be? And something got cancelled or someone got hurt, or somebody lost a job, or things just don’t appear to be going the way we thought they would go.
Do you know which thought could also be true? Nothing’s gone wrong. Nothing’s gone wrong because maybe it was never supposed to go that way in the first place.
The Power of Surrender
This is where I like to remind myself that I am not the ruler of the universe. I don’t know all things. Maybe things not going the way I want them to go will end up being for the best in the long, metta view of things. Maybe life going the way my small brain things it should go isn’t the big plan.
What if our best life doesn’t come from ease and everything going the way we thought it was going to go? What if our happiest life comes from us having challenges and surprises and then figuring out how to overcome those obstacles?
Sometimes I like to pause when I’m in the thick of thinking that everything’s gone wrong and ask, “What if nothing’s gone wrong?” It’s a really valuable question to ask and leave it open in the brain. I think of our brain like a super computer and put a lot of value in leaving questions unanswered in my brain. Allowing my brain to search for answers to the questions I leave open like “what if nothing’s gone wrong?” or “what if it’s supposed to happen this way?”
What Happy People Think Thought Number Four
“Everything works out for me and my family”. This is one of those thoughts that feels great on those sunny, 80 degree days and is more challenging to think on those days when someone gets hurt or doesn’t make a team. That said, I still deliberately practice thinking it. When I think that thought, I’m able to have a lightness to my thinking and let go of my need to control everything. Even when things stink. Especially when.
Further, this is another opportunity for me to remind myself that I’m actually not the master of the universe. While I may not have picked for this to happen next in my life, I’m letting go of the need to understand everything with a greater faith and belief in the thought things work out for us.
What Happy People Think Thought Number Five
I’m here to live a life I love. Happy people think they’re here to be happy. They’re here to live a life they love. Happy people don’t think they are here to suffer, to toil, to be sad, or to be miserable. Rather, happy people believe we are here to enjoy our lives.
We are here to use our super computer brains to fulfill our dreams. The desires we have are ours for a reason. It’s our job to feel the desire and take action towards their fulfillment. We believe that we are here to have the grandest most amazing experience ever. That the point of life is for expansion and growth, not smallness, suffering, and suckery.
We are not here to tolerate ho hum marriages or for things to be good enough. If you want more, that’s the universe telling you to go after more. We are here to live lives we love.
One thing is for sure: happiness doesn’t just happen. As I said at the beginning of the episode and I’ve said over and over on my podcast, happiness comes from our thoughts. Happy people think deliberately and on purpose. They practice deliberate thinking. There is a way to make it easier and that’s what I’ve mastered in my happiness habits course, open now.
Let me help you make this easier. One of the things I hear more than anything else is that I help people feel better. I want that for you. Being upset, and worried, and stressed, and anxious is not a requirement to create the life that you want. You worrying and over functioning does not control the world. It’s not preventing problems. It’s just punishing you. So what if you made this the year to do something different and sign up for the Happiness Habits Program to allow yourself to be just a little bit happier?
It’s open for you to sign up now. It is a small time commitment to learn how to train your super computer brain for more happiness. To raise that happiness set point. If you’re ready to feel better with less effort, check it out today!