Happiness from without makes your emotional well-being subject to all of the complexities of your external environment. It’s like putting a video game joystick in someone else’s hands and hoping for the best. It means someone else controls your emotional health.
Happiness from within shapes every aspect of your daily encounters. Everyone encounters stress, but it is how each person deals with the stress that brings out the emotions, positive or negative.
Cognitive dissonance is a fancy psychological term for an emotional filter. If your internal landscape is positive, your filter lets in positivity and tends to block out or at least stifle negativity. If your internal landscape is negative, the opposite occurs. Your filter lets in negativity, but tends to block out positivity. Our filters block those things that are cognitively dissonant, different, from the way we feel internally. When a person with a positive filter encounters good vibrations, she/he allows them in, but when negative vibes come at her/him, they tend to get blocked out or stunted. However, the opposite is true of a person with a negative filter. When negativity approaches, she/he allows it in because it matches her/his internal landscape, but when positivity comes along, she/he rejects it because it does not match her/his internal landscape. This acceptance of negativity then acts as the filter for everything else that is encountered.
So the real question is, “How do we change our filters?”
Using money as an analogy, you can spend all your time hoping to find a $100 bill or even win the lottery, OR you can pick up loose change when you find it and accumulate that $100. Considering the odds of winning the Powerball Lottery are 1:292,000000, you might want to rethink your strategy of waiting around for your life to change. You would be surprised at how fast those little bits of change begin to mount up if you just take the time to pick them up. If you try to change everything all at once, you will be waiting a long time.
So instead of waiting for the “pot of gold” to help you through difficult times, change things “fifty cents” at a time by using some of the following:
• When you wake up each morning before getting out of bed, think of all the things from the previous day for which you are grateful no matter how small.
• Think of something that recently put a smile on your face, and allow the thought to linger a bit.
• Stand up, close your eyes, and take a really full breath before doing anything else
• Consistently accomplish one small goal each morning. Even something as simple as folding your towel or straightening your bed sets the day’s tone.
These are all part of a mini meditation and should be the start of every day, seven days a week. It is your foundation for regenerating your filter each day. Without a solid foundation, everything is unstable.
• Accept that there are times that no matter what you will do, you will not achieve your goal. Having a tantrum about life being unfair is a waste of precious emotional energy. Put on your big girl/boy pants, and deal with it. As the lyrics of the Kenny Rogers song say, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, when to walk away, and when to run.”
• Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s part of how we learn. Dr. Seuss was turned down 29 times by publishers before someone realized his genius. Persistence is most often rewarded.
• There is an old African saying, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Find your teammates. Surround yourself with people who will always have your back.
• As the toxicity of each day builds, those without the ability to flush at day’s end are in trouble. Whether it’s meditation, exercise, or something else, find something that allows you to “flush” the toxins of each day. Without this you will become toxic physically, mentally, and emotionally.
• Respect everyone until they prove they don’t deserve it. Listen to others, even if they disagree. You can always disregard what is said, but if you don’t listen, you may miss one of life’s golden nuggets.
• Learn to laugh at yourself. It has been proven by studies that it is highly effective in promoting both physical and psychological health. The added benefit is that it serves as a “flushing” mechanism.
• Compliment at least five people each day. This simple task has been shown to increase positive thinking by the feedback it generates.
• Thank your mentors, and pay it forward. One of the real keys to happiness is helping others.
• Do something nice for yourself each day no matter how small. Be your own cheerleader.
Taken by themselves, these are each cheap “Fifty-Cent” solutions, but there is a synergistic effect when they are done together. Change your filter fifty cents at a time.
Until next time, this is Dr. Andrew telling you to “Be kind to yourself.”
Tikkun Olam- heal the world. Leave it a better place when you leave.
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