In my last few weeks of Wednesday personal posts, I’ve been sharing my journey from being an unhappy office worker to a really happy self-employed writer. The best thing about sharing this has been hearing how many others there are out there who have been or are going through the same thing(s) as me.
Some of you are right at the start of it all, others are in the middle and some of you are getting closer to or are living your dreams. It has been a huge help to me to share it with you as I didn’t realise how much I had to share and how it would help those who needed to know someone else has felt the same way.
One of the biggest changes I’ve made in my journey has been taking control of my mindset and retraining my outlook. No, not my Microsoft Outlook, my personal outlook… on life… and other important stuff.
For the longest time, I would look around and focus on all the things I didn’t have. I would say things like, “Why can’t I have a job I love?” and, “I never have any good luck,” and, “Why can’t I just have something go my way? Why can’t things be easy? Why are things ALWAYS so hard for me? It’s not fair.” I didn’t realise it at the time, but the more I focused on these bad thoughts, the worse things became and the more their toxins wormed their way into my life.
I came across a quote and it read something along the lines of, ‘You are what you believe you are.’ My initial instinct was to try and believe I’m one of those people who can eat whatever they like and never have to exercise, but that didn’t go quite as I wanted it to, so I started with something a little more simple; If I believe I’m happy, then I’ll be happy. I’d been spending so much time believing I was monumentally unhappy, that I was. But if I have enough mind power to think myself sick with unhappiness and worry, I definitely have enough mind power to think myself happy too. So, I chose happily.
This isn’t a quick fix, it’s one of those things you really, really have to work on to actively catch yourself and correct it. Instead of rolling around thinking about all the things I didn’t have or all the things that weren’t happening for me, I started thinking about all the things that were happening for me. I even applied this new school of thought to small, everyday things. If my initial thought was, “Ah crap, this traffic is ridiculous. It’s never clearing up. I’m going to be late,” I would stop and think of something happier to replace the bad thought, like, “My air-conditioning is lovely and cold, how nice, I might put on a 50 Cent CD and listen to it while I’m waiting for the traffic to clear. I just love the 90’s.”
It may sound silly, but selecting my thoughts and choosing happy ones over negative ones changed everything. It gave me control over how I felt on a day to day basis, even when I came into contact with people who frustrated me. It gave me total and complete power over my happiness, which is how it should be. Whether or not you are happy should never be up to someone else, it should be up to you because after all, it’s your happiness.
Think of it this way, you wouldn’t go to your favourite ice cream shop and choose a flavour you hate. You would most definitely choose a flavour you really like and will enjoy. So, start choosing life-flavours you enjoy too. I’m guessing happiness is one of them?!
We all have the ability to change our perspective and outlook, to work on selecting positive or happy thoughts and allowing them to grow in our minds. Once you gain that control back over yourself, you’ll never look back because it’s addictive and feels amazing! Especially when you run into someone who used to really bug you and you can select positivity and have power over the situation.
Instead of walking away from a bad interaction with someone, feeling down about yourself and allowing bad thoughts to swirl around your mind, you can replace them with something like, “I really liked what they were wearing. I might go get a coffee now, I LOVE coffee. What a beautiful day it is!” and end it there. Heck, even telling yourself to smile and think a big, fat ‘Thank You’ at the person will dramatically change how you feel.
Remember that scene in the first Matrix movie, when the kid bends the spoon with his mind? The kid then tells a really freaked-out Keanu Reeves that instead of focusing on the spoon he should focus on the truth, there is no spoon. That’s what I’ve been applying to my life. If something happens that upsets me or makes me feel bad/angry/frustrated, I don’t think about how crap it was, instead, I remember a bad feeling doesn’t exist within me unless I want it to. If I don’t feel bad about it, I don’t feel bad about it. It does not exist.
Sometimes it’s important to take stock of how you feel and where you’re at, do a little internal review or audit of yourself and get rid of old ways of thinking or behaving that aren’t constructive to the life you want to live. You wouldn’t keep hanging onto an old pair of socks that are moth-eaten and smell and have big holes in the toes, right? You’d throw them in the bin and get yourself some new socks. You wouldn’t just keep piling sock after sock after sock into your drawers, at some point you need to throw the dodgy ones out.
If you’re willing to treat your feet with that kind of respect, surely you have to be willing to treat the rest of yourself with that kind of respect too. Take some time out to think about the things in your life that no longer make you happy or feel right and get rid of them. They’re blocking your path to being happy. That doesn’t mean you need to start calling all your shitty friends and breaking up with them, it can be as simple as knowing you won’t be allowing those old situations to come into your life again because you’re choosing how you feel from now on and it’s going to be one big feel-good party.
A good spring-clean helps me too. Matt and I have been known to tear through our entire apartment on a weekend and throw out a significant chunk of what we own because it’s old, worn out or doesn’t get used anymore. Something about clearing out all the physical junk makes you feel ready to clear out all the mental junk too. It probably helps we aren’t very sentimental people and find it a little too easy to throw things away.
Committing to changing my mindset has had a profound impact on how I feel and my journey to happiness. It gave me the confidence to start making important choices to move forward. I used to think I would find happiness from doing things or having things, but it turned out to be as simple as readjusting my mindset and seeing the joy and love in everything around me. There’s no quick fix or instant solution to move from being unhappy in your old/current life and into where you want to be, but there are lots of little things you can do like I did, that make a wonderful start and make it easier to get there.