Blog, Self

The Happiness Habit

‘Be positive’, ‘Look at the bright side of life’ or ‘Be grateful’ are one of the very common phrases that we hear from our friends and family who are trying to help us and make us feel good about our life challenges. Sometimes it works, and other times, no matter how much we try and convince ourselves that ‘all is well’, we still end up feeling sad, bitter or upset about things.

The good news is, that being negative or being positive is a matter of habit which can be cultivated through following certain steps consistently. But before I give you the steps to overcome negative behaviour, I want to take you on a journey to explore where this negativity is coming from and what makes us feel negative, bitter or pessimistic about events, people and life in the first place.

Let’s take the example of Sarah, who lost her job and failed in the last 3 job interviews. No matter how much she tries to convince herself about staying ‘hopeful’ and ‘positive’, she still cries herself to sleep and is afraid to look at her bank account. The real challenge Sarah is facing here is NOT her negative behaviour, it is the MEANING she has put behind the event of losing her job that is making her think negatively about future jobs, subsequently resulting in her failing in her interviews.

The truth is that the only meaning any event has is the meaning we put behind it

It is that meaning which determines if we feel negative or positive about that event. In Sarah’s example, the event ‘loss of a job’ meant ‘I am not good enough’ and the chances are that because of not feeling good enough she ended up not performing her best.

The question arises, “what can Sarah do to change this downhill spiral”?

The answer lies in the meaning she put behind the ‘loss’ of a job. Now imagine, Sarah was told at work that due to economic crisis, the company has to let her go. Hearing upon which, she sympathises with the company’s positions and understands that everyone does what is best for themselves. So she immediately works on her CV and looks for a job that is best for her. With this mindset her likelihood of passing the job interview is more than the previous one. Even if she doesn’t get through to the next interview, she will make these events mean that something better is in store for her and will continue trying.

With this attitude, chances are that she sleeps at night knowing that she is good enough and it is only a matter of time when she gets a job. And, again, chances are her self-prophesy is fulfilled, because her positive mindset creates positive connections. When we further explore the allocation of meaning behind the events, the importance of environment becomes apparent. Because the meaning is given by the environment a person is surrounding themselves in. If the environment says, “working late hours means that you don’t love your family’, then this will result in negativity in relationships because partners will feel unloved as a result of their significant other working late.

Awareness is the key to all changes in life. Once you become aware where these negative behaviours are coming from and what meaning you have associated to them, you can choose to change the meaning to something that makes you feel empowered and hopeful towards the events. This will result in positive behaviour and actions that will lead to change of circumstances.

You can apply the following three steps to any negative situation and turn it around so that you can be at peace at all times:

Change the meaning
As we have discovered earlier that it is the meaning you have given to a particular situation that is resulting in negative thinking and feeling stuck. Therefore, the first step to overcome negative behaviour is to question the meaning that you have put behind it.

For example, your boss is always criticising your work and it’s affecting your work performance. Now the meaning you might be currently giving to your colleague’s behaviour could be, ‘if they are criticising my work, it must not be good enough’ – which is affecting your current work performance. When you change it’s meaning to ‘if they are criticising, they must have different standards or different expectations’, then this meaning will keep you open to communicating – perhaps asking their opinion and coming to a mutual agreement over expectations.

Use the following exercise to change the meaning of a challenging event:

 

Find a quiet spot. Take a pen and a piece of paper.

Write down the situation you are currently going through.

Think of what meanings you have given to it and write them all down.

Then ask the following questions:

What else does it mean?
What is right about this situation that I am not getting at the moment?
What is the opposite meaning to what I have given?

Now jot down all the possible reasons and keep going until you’ve identified all the possible reasons.

Pick the one that makes you feel good about the event.

By looking at other meanings, you’ll be able to expand your awareness and see all the other possible meanings of the event.

Get a bigger perspective
We respond to negativity with negativity because we feel that it’s directed at us. This is because a lot of times we get upset and feel negative around things because we are seeing it from only our point of view and only know our side of the story. For example, you were in the middle of the conversation with a friend where she just left and slammed the door behind her. This might make you feel upset because her behaviour was ‘rude’ and ‘disrespectful’ towards you. But that is only your side of the story. What if she had a rough time before meeting you and was trying to keep a brave face for you, but it got too much so she left the room to avoid embarrassment? When you know the full picture, instead of feeling disrespected, you might feel empathy for your friend and even give her a call to make sure she is ok.

I suggest reading the exercise before you start. Use the following exercise to get a bigger perspective.

Find a quiet spot.

In your mind, imagine that you are leaving your body and entering the other person’s body. Start to get a sense of how they are seeing the world. Think about what thoughts that are going through their mind. What meaning have they ascribed to this situation?

Look at yourself through their eyes.

Once you’ve gotten a picture of how they think and feel, just allow yourself to leave their body and rise above the entire situation. Imagine that you are looking down and can see everything happening in front of you like a movie. Get the full story of the event.

 

Just observe how everyone is acting in that situation.

Once you feel you have noticed everything, just imagine coming down back into your body. Take a deep breath and open your eyes when you are done.

Now take a pen and paper and write down how do you feel about the same situation after having point of view from all parties.

Stay in neutrality
The final and the most important step is to ‘stay in neutrality’. This means that even if the first two steps are not working you can still overcome your negative behaviour by not making the event mean anything. When we make an event mean anything, good or bad, right or wrong, we are judging that event and causing the emotional reaction as a consequence. The truth is that we can only judge events based on our past experiences or on someone else’s experiences. Nobody really knows how the event will unfold in the future. The only time we can actually see how the event contributed to our life is when we look back and connect the dots. Being in neutrality means being curious. It means to allow ourselves to surrender to the unknown and being open to whatever may come.

The beauty of life is that it is constantly changing. Days turn into night, Summers turn into winter, bad times turn into good times. That is how nature flows, in waves, cycles and rhythms. The reason why we feel stuck for a long period of time is because of judgement of that situation. Judgement keeps the event stuck in our subconscious mind and stops us from moving forward which is the main reason for negative thoughts and behaviour.

I suggest reading the exercise before you start. Use the following exercise to stay in neutrality:

Find a quiet spot.

In your mind, imagine that you have gone 3-4 years forward in life. Get a sense of what you look like. Notice how you are standing and talking. Now from that perspective just turn around and look at this event which is unfolding in your life. Ask yourself:

How has it made you the person that you are?
Does it even matter?
What can you learn from this?

Once you feel you have noticed everything, just imagine coming down back into your body. Take a deep breath and open your eyes when you are done.

Now take a pen and paper and write down how do you feel about the same situation

The more you use these steps to change your attitude towards challenging situations, you will find the situations gradually changing themselves too. You might think to yourself, ‘How will they change?’

In the words of famous author Wayne Dyer, “When you change the way you look at things, things you look at change.”

Sidra Jafri is an author, medium and Awakening Facilitator. Sidra transforms people’s out-dated core programming and the beliefs in their lives that have been keeping them stuck in areas such as wealth, relationships and wellbeing. Her Global event The Awakening has moved thousands of people to activate their own unique soul signature in order to create more of what they want in their lives, including wellbeing in their body, mind, and spirit. Check out her recently release new book: www.sidrajafrilive.com/changeyourlife. For more info on her next FREE live event check out: www.sidrajafrilive.com/the-awakening and to book your place on her next 6 Day Soul Spa retreat: www.sidrajafrilive.com/soul-spa. Follow her at @sidrajafrilive.

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