As human beings, we are natural complainers. It seems to be a part of our genetic makeup. Spend some time listening to others complain, how often you complain back, and how much commercialized complaining we are exposed to. How many commercials start with the phrase, “Are you tired of…?”
What makes our complaining especially comical is just about everything we do, from work to play, our ultimate objective is happiness.
Once you are aware of how much complaining you do (even the justified complaining), try to flip your script and replace that negative behavior with the gift of gratitude. Gratitude is a simple, but effective way to shift our thinking from negative to positive and is the first step toward affecting the happiness in our lives.
Gratitude is an intentional act of positive psychology that encourages us to question our thoughts and actions. Once we become more aware of our thoughts and actions (our contributions to a situation), we can increase and develop more positive emotions, nurture relationships, and improve emotional well-being in ourselves and the people we care about.
Science has proven that working harder and becoming more successful will not make you happier. That is because the harder we work, the higher the success bar climbs, thus creating a happiness goal we can never attain. What researchers discovered is our brains operate in the opposite direction. We must FIRST raise our happiness level, then the positive brain has more advantages such as greater intelligence, more creativity, productivity and more energy. Check out this Forbes article* or the book The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor.
The positive psychology exercises below can bring awareness, relieve stress, or help you become happier. Try as many as you like, but do the exercise for at least one week. If you are feeling particularly daring, follow 5 of the steps below, or the 5 steps outlined by Achor for 21 days.
- Journaling: Journaling provides a snapshot of a moment
in time. Not only does journaling create a healthy habit of self-reflection, it allows us to document positive changes to our thinking and our actions, and it helps us transition from a bad mood to a good one. Try to journal for at least 2 minutes once a day.
- Gift of time: Offer the “gift” of your time to three different people this week. This might be in the form of time spent, helping someone around their house, or sharing a meal with someone who is lonely. These “gifts” should be in addition to your planned activities.
- Counting kindness: Keep a log of all the kind acts that you do in a day. Jot them down by the end of each day.
- Meditate: Watch your breath go in and out for 2 minutes each day.
- Three funny things: Write down the three funniest things that you experienced or participated in each day; also, write about why the funny thing happened (e.g., was it something you created, something you observed, something spontaneous?)
- Write happy notes: Place notes around your bathroom mirror, on your fridge, on your front door to see as you leaving, that remind you of happy thoughts. Find inspirations on the web, create an affirmation, or just write, “You are doing a great job.” Writing the notes are as important as reading them. Taking the time to write them speaks to self-care; reading them is a reminder that you are worthy of the care.
- Gratitude letter/visit: Write a letter of gratitude to someone who has had a positive impact on you. If feasible, you might consider delivering the letter to the person. (It is important to first weigh the pros and cons of delivering such a letter.)
- Three good things: Jot down three things that went well for you each day and give an explanation as to why these good things occurred.
- Write your future diary: Envisioning your future can be a great motivating factor to get you over the slump. Close your eyes and picture your future. Focus on how life will be different and what changes will be in place. Reflect on how you’ll feel and on how others will respond to the new, improved you. Think about how you’ll utilize the habits, skills, and talents you’re learning now to benefit others.
Visit www.StartHereCoachingServices.com for more information about living a happier and more satisfying life.–Renae Cerquitella