On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you right now? What if you could be happier right now? Well, I’ve got good news. You can.
Unlike pleasure, which is a purely physical experience, happiness is something that comes from within. It cannot be gained from anything in the physical world. Rather, it is a state of mind controlled by our thoughts and emotions. Luckily, we have the power to control our thoughts. And if we can control our thoughts, we can control our emotions (this is called emotional intelligence—using your thoughts to control your emotions, rather than allowing your emotions to control your thoughts).
You have the power to control your happiness.
When people are sad, angry, or depressed (negative emotions), they have negative thoughts. When they are happy, joyful, or inspired (positive emotions), they have positive thoughts. In either case, your thoughts build on each other (think snowball effect). Knowing this, all we have to do is be aware of our thoughts and choose which ones we want.
The next time you catch yourself having negative thoughts, stop. Take a step back and look at how you feel in relation to the kinds of thoughts you’re having. This realization is the most important step. After recognizing that you are sabotaging yourself with negative thoughts, take a deep breath, clear your mind, and as cliché as it sounds, start to think happy thoughts. Think about something awesome you have done recently or something you are looking forward to doing in the near future. Take a second to appreciate the fact that you exist and that there is no one else in the entire world quite like you.Simply maintaining awareness of your thought process and appreciating your existence will drastically improve the quality of your life.
If you really want to put this happiness experiment to a test, try the “1 Day Positive Thoughts Only Challenge.” For an entire day, challenge yourself to think positive thoughts only. It’s impossible, of course, but every time you have any kind of negative thought during the day, throw it away (literally imagine crumpling it up and throwing it away), and replace it with a positive one. I promise you will have a great day.
Of course, no matter how hard we try, we can’t be happy and smiling all the time. Bad things happen. We make mistakes. We’re not perfect. And at the end of the day, no one can know happiness without knowing sadness.
Still, every now and then we come across those types of people who just always seem to have a smile on their face and radiate nothing but happiness everywhere they go. It’s fairly obvious that people have different “levels” of happiness. A number of factors may affect your current level of happiness—genetics, living conditions, childhood experiences, etc. While many of these factors may be out of your control, one thing is not—your thoughts. No matter what the circumstances of your life may be, you will always have control over your thoughts. This is all you need to reach a higher level of happiness.
I strongly believe that our happiness level is determined by the ratio between our positive to negative thoughts. “Happy” people have a high ratio of positive to negative thoughts. It doesn’t mean that they never have negative thoughts (and emotions), but that they are greatly outweighed by the number of positive thoughts that they have. They are able to see the good in the bad, learn from their mistakes and continue to move forward rather than dwell on them. “Sad” people, on the other hand, have a low ratio in which their negative thoughts outweigh their positive ones. What does your ratio look like?
Increasing your happiness level starts in your mind, but will expand into all other aspects of your life. Research has shown that happy people are generally more successful in their personal and professional lives. A higher level of happiness ultimately translates into more emotional stability, stronger relationships with others, and an overall more productive and fulfilling way of living. So for now, let’s start trying to be a little bit happier and see where that takes us.