Some people seem to have all the luck. They have a great job, make good money, have great friends and somehow seem to have hit the lotto when it comes to happiness. What’s up? Are they lucky? Do they possess amazing talents? Perhaps they’re freakishly brilliant, funny or [fill in the blank]? What is it that makes some people happy and content, while leaving others to consistently struggle?
If you ask a hundred people this same question, chances are you would get many different answers. The truth is, there isn’t just one thing that makes people happy. However, there is one characteristic that gives anyone and everyone who practices it a tremendous jumpstart on happiness—mindset. The more in control we are of our mindset, the more likely we are to be happy. You see, sometimes it’s just about the angle from which we see things rather than the things themselves. When we get more skilled at controlling our lens, we increase our happiness quotient. For example, let’s say you’re struggling in your marriage and feeling sad about the distance between you and your partner. Which mindset below do you think is going to deepen that struggle versus help to reduce that struggle?
• My partner doesn’t care about me or our marriage, so why should I?
• I’m tired of always being the one making us a priority. If s/he won’t make plans, then neither will I.
• Wow, everything my partner does is about him/her. S/he doesn’t care about anyone, but her/himself.
• I’m feeling distant right now and sad that we aren’t as connected as before. Ha, this is one of those dips that relationships go through. Let me brainstorm what I can do to help close the distance.
• Hmm, distance can happen so easily, what a great reminder for us to keep our fingers on the pulse. I think I’ll surprise my wife/husband with a night out.
The first three thoughts are going to bring anyone down a very dangerous rabbit hole of negativity. They can result in interpreting even the slightest behavior through a negative lens and create a self-fulfilling prophecy. The last two, however, leave room for change. They’re a more generous lens, which will lead to more kindhearted actions and a greater likelihood of positive feelings and change. Too often, though, we allow ourselves to fall into negative thought patterns like the first three options. These patterns often occur as a way of us protecting ourselves from being hurt or disappointed or vulnerable. And, they also increase the likelihood that we will be hurt or disappointed.
If you’re unhappy in any area of your life, play with your lens. Do you think life is unfair, people are jerks, work is stupid, and your loved one is selfish? If so, change your lens. Perhaps life is filled with good times and hard times, people are imperfect, work is challenging at times and your loved ones are stressed? Maybe, just maybe, the lens you’re looking through is foggy at best? When you have a foggy lens, it always dims the view. Don’t dim your view; change your lens and your thinking.
Challenge: Pay attention to the stories you tell yourself about life, friendships, the world and your circumstances. Practice building your mindset muscles by intentionally filtering these stories so that you can see them more positively (not fake) and more inspiring versus hopeless. Change your lens; change your world. Share what happens when you change your lens in the comments below. And here’s to greater happiness coming your way!