When’s the last time you felt truly happy? Do you remember where you were? What you were doing? Who you were with?
Many people believe that they’d be happy if only they could win the lottery or they were lying on a beach somewhere. But the truth is it’s not the external events that have the biggest impact on your happiness, it’s your inner dialogue – how you narrate your life to yourself. Reframing a negative narrative so it’s more realistic and positive can help you live a more satisfying and, fulfilling life.
By viewing negative events and thoughts through a lens of self-compassion and openness, you can start to live a more joyful life. Here are seven ways to transform negative thoughts into optimism and self-compassion.
Turn To Friends and Family
Loved ones can be perfect for both tough love and compassion – the key is knowing what you need and asking for it.
Sometimes simply asking a friend or loved one to be a sounding board can be a great reminder of the positive things in our lives and of our true self-worth.
Use Happy Feelings To Reevaluate A Scenario
Using powerful emotions, such as love, happiness, and joy can help pull us out when we spiral into negativity. Watching your favorite comedy or calling a friend who makes you laugh can help put a smile on your face and fast-track you out of thoughts that don’t serve you. Once you’re in a more positive state of mind you can re-assess situations and events more realistically.
Rewrite The Script
If you’re always telling yourself certain stories – “Bad things always happen to me,” or “I’ll never have XYZ” – negative thoughts will become an embedded pattern.
By shifting your mindset and the words you use, this creates a subtle shift in your mood, your body, and how you react to positivity. For example, when someone asks you how you are, instead of saying, “I’m ok” or “getting by,” flip it to something more positive, like “couldn’t be any better” or “I’m great, thanks!” This change in how you think and speak will almost guarantee better, happier outcomes in your life.
Reframe Your Observations
Learning how we communicate with our inner critic will help with how we relate to ourselves long-term. Reframing the observations made by your inner critic in a friendlier manner lets you look at the thoughts more objectively and compassionately.
Mindfulness can help you know when to be gentle with yourself and give up the harsh, judgmental approaches that simply aren’t effective.
Role Play The Part Of Your Best Friend
Most of us would be shocked if someone else talked to us the way our inner critic does. But for some reason, it’s ok to say these things to ourselves.
The next time you’re struggling, take a moment to check-in with yourself to see if the things you’re telling yourself would be the something you’d say to a good friend or someone else you care about.
If not, see if you can take the approach of helping a friend and talk to yourself in that same way – with compassion and understanding. In fact, the next time you’re going through something difficult and you’re engaging in supportive self-talk, try wrapping yourself up in a cozy, familiar blanket. The physical gesture of warmth and care will release oxytocin, sometimes known as the “cuddle hormone” or the “love hormone,” because it is released when people snuggle up or bond socially.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
When you’re tempted to base your sense of self-worth on being better than other people, you may ultimately suffer from a lower sense of self-worth. When you do this, you tend to stop seeing people clearly and respecting them for who they are. Instead, you evaluate what about them boosts or threatens your sense of self.
Fortunately, mindfulness can help break this cycle of comparison. When you’re being mindful, you’re centered in your own experience. There’s no room for comparison. Instead, you’re more receptive to what’s most needed and how best to respond in the present moment.
Increase Your Daily Pleasure
Sometimes we just get so bogged down by the endless demands of life that we start to lose touch with our natural capacity to experience joy and pleasure. But we can reclaim it by simply allowing ourselves to enjoy our imperfect lives – to pause, soften, and accept what is without judgment. The smallest, seemingly insignificant moments can have a profound effect when you allow yourself to relax and soften into the moment.
I recently read a great article about ways to increase pleasure. Check out 5 Practical Ways to Increase Your Pleasure in Daily Life in its entirety here. The excerpt below really resonated with me.
“We experience pleasure when we are in a state of receptivity. In order to receive, one has to pay attention to the details. In that sense, pleasure has a lot to do with mindfulness. When our awareness is on the physical sensations in our bodies, we become alive again. This aliveness is what creates our pleasure.”
I also love what she has to say about cats being the masters of pleasure and how we could learn from them about surrender and living guiltfree. I’ve often thought the same thing while observing my own feline friend basking in the sun, enjoying life!
I hope you’ll begin incorporating some of these tips into your “happiness toolbox.” And tomorrow, begin again.
You got this!
What are your favorite tips for boosting happiness and pleasure? Please share with us!