Learn How to Stay in Your Own Lane to Happiness
What is Happiness? What does it mean to you? How do you sabotage your Happiness? Do you know that you do? Let’s dive into these and other questions about Happiness.
Ask 100 people what Happiness means to them and you’ll get 100 different answers. And many of those answers will be little things in life: A beautiful sunrise; the smell of great coffee; the sound of children playing; the smile on a child’s face after learning something new….
The little things in life tend to make us happy when we pay attention to them.
Science tells us that Happiness is the combination of how satisfied you are with your life plus how good you feel each day. This seems a bit simplistic. But science went further.
Studies show that only 10% of our happiness is based on circumstances in life. These are the things we THINK will make us happy…winning the lottery; buying a new car; getting a promotion. This has been dubbed ‘mis-wanting,’ the act of over estimating how happy something will make you in the future.
So if circumstances or what is happening to us in the moment, don’t make us happy what does?
The data tell us that biology impacts ~half of our happiness. This is how we are wired. Where our brains and minds place attention. The remainder, ~40% of our happiness is dictated by our thoughts, actions and behaviors.
AND through a cool process known as neuroplasticity, our thoughts, actions and behaviors can actually impact our biology by re-wiring our brains. Yes, you read that right. How you THINK can change how your brain works. Therefore, Happiness is a skill and can be learned with practice.
So if we can impact our happiness through practice, and we know being happy is good for us, why don’t we do it?
As Shawn Achor says in ‘The Happiness Advantage’
“Common Sense is not common action.”
We know what we SHOULD do, but we just don’t do it. It’s the same with healthy lifestyles, saving for the future or just getting the laundry done sometimes.
It is not hard to make these shifts, but you do have to pay attention and actually DO the work. So, I’d like to offer ONE simple thing you can start doing today that will directly impact your Happiness:
STOP COMPARING YOURSELF
Comparing yourself to external social norms, other people’s expectations or some ideal you have of yourself is the SINGLE most EFFICIENT and EFFECTIVE way to create unhappiness.
Sounds simple. HOW do you actually stop comparing yourself? With all things of the mind, it starts with awareness. Become aware of when you are comparing yourself.
Here are 2 simple ways to stop self comparison and get started on the path to Happiness:
First: Monitor your negative self-talk.
Catch yourself for phrases that are comparative. Things like:
“I’m not as…” or “I Don’t have…” or “I can’t…” or “I’m too….”.
Become aware of your thoughts and when they are telling you something negative about yourself. This is comparing yourself in some way.
Then ask yourself, “How true is that?”
This will begin to re-wire your brain to catch the negative self-talk and begin to replace it with something closer to the truth.
Second: Limit your time on Social Media.
Studies have shown that as Facebook use goes up, self esteem goes down. And this effect is pretty strongly correlated. For you statistic geeks out there, the correlation is r= -.20.
Set two short periods a day to be on social media. Say 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. Stay off of it during the day.
And while you are on it, keep in mind that you don’t know what’s really going on for and with other people. They can put anything they want out there. Don’t let yourself get wrapped into the ‘story’ someone else wants you to believe.
The moral of this story is to STAY IN YOUR OWN LANE.