The Four Mental Outlooks for a Happy Life
Happiness varies from person to person and contrary to what most think it doesn’t really depend on how much money you have. Money does affect happiness if you’re struggling to eat and pay the rent but researchers have found once you start getting an income over $70-80,000/year then that extra income has no bearing on your happiness. Once you have your basic needs met then there is much more to what makes a happy, fulfilled life.
Many millionaires fall into a life of unhappiness, depression and despair leading to addiction, erratic behavior and sometimes even suicide. It doesn't matter how many toys they have or how much they have in their bank account. Happiness is personal and rooted deeply in our emotions because a lot of people who have way less money than Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain or Robin Williams are perfectly happy and content.
What's going on? Happiness comes from inside. Happiness cannot come from outside of you. It is dependent more on mental, emotional factors like feeling loved, feeling wanted, feeling like you are a part of something. Feeling like you belong. It’s these internal factors that really drive us and ultimately determine our happiness. Money, possessions, status, power, sexuality, are all external factors that can make us happy in the short run but deep down don’t really drive us and give us fulfillment. Even if they do make you happy you can’t rely on these things. You lose your looks as you age. You might lose your job and your income. But you can always love yourself. You can always find pleasure in the little things in life. Enjoying a beautiful sunset can be done by anyone. Regardless of how you define it, happiness can be greatly enhanced by changing how you think and react to the world around you. Please understand that these are not necessarily easy steps. But if you are really serious about becoming a happier person, see if you can apply these steps and make them a habit. Look on the bright side Most things in life have 2 sides. What if I told you that when things are going right for you it might be a disaster for another person. Why? There's always another side to the story. Take the stock market. When the stock market goes up, it's easy to assume that everybody is happy and making lots of money. But what about the people who are betting against the market? These are the short-sellers. So when the market goes up, they lose because they only make money when the market goes down. Often times they lose a lot.
Similarly, when the market tanks, it's very tempting to think that this is a disaster. But there's a silver lining as well because believe it or not, a lot of fortunes are made when the stock market crashes.
Also, as the market goes up and you make money the market might get overvalued and the bubble will pop one day and all of those gains might go down the drain. The key thing is to not get too excited about your good fortunes and not get too depressed when things don’t go well. There is always an ebb and flow to life. A yin/yang that occurs like periods of high tide and low tide.
You might get fired from your job and it feels terrible and you feel crushed and your life is a disaster but then a few months later you find an even better job and now you are on top of the world. When you understand the ups and downs of life then you can have a more detached perspective where you don’t necessarily choose to view things as positive or negative but more cyclical and sometimes you’re in the down part of the cycle but soon you will come roaring back into the positive. If you are determined to be stuck in negativity then you will continue to struggle and be frustrated and you will lengthen the down cycles.
When things are going well by all means enjoy it and celebrate but don’t get too high in the good cycle and don’t get too down when things don’t go well. When you’re in a down cycle learn your lessons and anticipate and prepare for the positive things ahead of you. This is how you build natural optimism. It is not a fantasy nor is it wishful thinking but understanding how life has it’s peaks and valley. Know this and expect it and you will be better prepared for both parts of the process. View failure as a necessity. What if I told you that success is a lousy teacher? You'd probably laugh. You'd probably think “No way! Isn't success what everybody wants? Isn't success the gateway that leads to the life that you desire for yourself?” Success is great but we don’t tend to learn from it however when we fail there is always a lesson there. We learn and most importantly we grow from it. Most successful people had multiple failures before they became successful. Many had multiple bankruptcies beforehand. But they learned from it and it made them who they are. It makes them tougher and more resilient and more appreciative of the good times. However many don’t learn from their setbacks and they tend to repeat them. Failure is a great teacher but you must be willing to learn and apply the lessons.
If you are successful right out of the gate oftentimes you don’t know why you were successful or maybe you just got lucky. Nothing wrong with that and be thankful however in your next venture you might struggle to repeat your success since you don’t really understand how you got there. With failure you know what not to do. You also are aware of your shortcomings and how to compensate for them. You know who to work with and why. You know the potential roadblocks and obstacles that lay ahead and you are ready for them. Gratitude is the right attitude If you want to be happy, don't focus on what you don't have. Instead, turn your mind to the things that are going right and the things you already possess. The more you focus on the things that are already within your grasp or already in your hands, the less likely you develop a “more more more” mindset. When you focus on what you don’t have or compare yourself to others then you fall into a trap where you never have enough. You lost sight of what really is “enough”. You just want more because there's this hunger within you that really can’t be satisfied and it can be quite self-destructive.
Even if you catch up to your neighbors and your friends there will always be someone who has more. Who outwardly seems to have a better life. Your constantly chasing the next level and the next level and its exhausting. Why? If you have everything you want and need who cares if someone else has a bigger house or a more expensive car. That is the precise opposite of happiness.
By choosing to be thankful even if you live in a shack, struggling with rent, sick, your partner walked out on you, or people think you're an idiot, by finding something to be thankful for, you remain grounded. You end up training yourself to focus on being happy with whatever you have now. You stop looking for that magic bullet that somehow, someway, will turn things around and convert you from being an unhappy and miserable person to someone who's happy. Forget about that. That's not going to happen because ultimately, there is nothing existing outside of you that will do that job. That something can only come from within. Choose the right self-talk People are always talking to themselves. I'm not talking about in a schizophrenic way where you're obviously babbling to yourself, but you're always keeping this internal dialogue. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you're doing something and then you end up hurting your finger or stubbing your toe? Where is your self-talk at that moment? If you're like a lot of people, you're probably saying “I'm an idiot!” or “I'm a loser!” Be careful what you tell yourself because that self-talk is really self-programming. When you assume conscious control of the things that you think about to the point that you're constantly telling yourself empowering thoughts, you can become happier. Why? You have taken control of your personal narrative. The reason why so many people are miserable is that they're trying to grapple with demons of the past or they're trying to live up to somebody else's expectations or they're beating themselves up with all sorts of impossible demands. None of these lead to happiness. So when you allow yourself to engage in self-talk that celebrates your strengths and gives you hope, you become happier. You're no longer your own worst critic. You're no longer sabotaging or undermining your own personal contentment.
Start loving and appreciating yourself. This can happen in many ways but the most powerful way to start is with your own self-talk. Monitor how you talk to yourself and make a conscious effort to turn that around and only say positive, loving things to yourself. Be your own best cheerleader. If you don’t do it who will? Start now. Stop worrying about what others think There’s an old saying that goes along the lines of: “When you are young you worry about what others think about you, then we you become an adult you start to say I don’t care what they think about me and the when you get to middle age and older you realize that no one is thinking about you”
So often we worry that people will think we’re dumb or ugly or lazy or whatever negative attribute you want but more often than not people aren’t really thinking about you. It doesn’t mean they don’t care or their self-centered but in reality everyone is really consumed with their lives and the issues that they have. Everyone has their own battles and life lessons so they aren’t really too concerned with what you have going on.
Now there will be people who have a negative view of you but so what. Who cares? Let them have their opinion. You can’t please everyone. All you can do is do your best, work hard, treat people with respect and if you make a mistake apologize and move on.
If someone is negative towards you well that is their problem not yours as long as you didn’t really do something that caused them harm. If you did then do your best to remedy the situation and apologize and learn from it.
We’re all human and we make mistakes. We all realize that and the people that are truly our friends will see the best in us and if they don’t then it’s time for new friends.
What matters is what you think and how you feel about yourself. That’s it. Love and respect yourself and let that be your guiding light.