At a conference I attended years ago I heard a wise man, Denny McLaughlin, discussing happiness. He said that there are four really effective ways to make yourself miserable. Your kids can make themselves feel the same way. With the same kind of thinking.
So, logically, if there are four ways to make yourself unhappy, there must be four really good opposite ways to make yourself happy. How easy can it be?
Take A Look
Wait for others to make you happy. Hope they do the things you think will make you happy. Keep waiting and waiting because even if they try, you find you still don’t feel the way you want. And those people never seem to do exactly what you think you need from them.
Figure out your own happiness. And then go for it! Don’t listen to the nay sayers because they definitely don’t know what makes you happy. They don’t even know what makes them happy.
Blame the outside for your problems. It must be my boss. Or that teacher who just keeps loading on the work, my friends, the election my break-up, or maybe the weather. Or…my parents!
Figure out that you have more control over your life than those outside things do. Those are just events, happenings, circumstances, people with bad attitudes or bad behavior. Who put them in charge of your life, or of the world?
Keep a list – A grudge list, that is. Grocery lists and to-do lists are always allowed! But, how old is the oldest thing on your grudge list? How far back does your resentment go, and how much time do you spend keeping the grudges alive. “I’ll never forget!” “I’ll never forgive!
Burn the list! Write it down and burn it! If you don’t want to forgive, at least forget for your own peace of mind. Forgiveness can always come later. Consider that you have a backpack and every grudge is a rock. Now put all of those rocks in the pack, put the pack on your back, and try to have a nice day!
Compare yourself to others. They will always come out looking better when you are in this mood. Don’t forget to leave out all of their problems that you know nothing about! Just think about how perfect their life is. How much smarter, athletic, popular their kids are. That’s right! For a double dose of despair be sure to compare your children to theirs.
Quit thinking about other people. Think about yourself. What do you like? What do you want to do with your life? How big is your dream and what keeps you from accepting that your dream is just as valid as anyone’s? After all, how did all those other people start looking so good? That’s right. They might have been working on their dream. So get busy building your dream and don’t take your eyes off of it.
Now you are on the lookout for your own thinking, or cognition as we call it in our work . And, how you think will be exactly how your children think because that’s how they learn. You model your way of interpreting the world and they assume you know how the world works because…you are the parents. How do you want your children to interpret the world? How happy do you want them to be?
Decide, and make it happen. It’s not magic.