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3 Things We Should Remind Ourselves of Everyday (But Often Forget)

Written by S.O.

Posted on February 10, 2015 at 8:31 pm

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In today’s world, happiness seems to be at a premium.

We’re working harder to produce more. We don’t feel like we have enough money or enough free time. Most of us are dissatisfied with our jobs. Upward mobility seems limited or nonexistent in many sectors. As a nation, many of us are overweight, unhealthy, stressed out, addicted, and depressed…

And all the while, we’re tapped into media (social and otherwise) that sends us down a comparative rabbit hole, convincing us that we’re not good enough, not smart enough, not attractive enough, or somehow less than the celebrities we idolize or the people whose finely crafted social media personas seem so much more interesting than our own lives.

We’re poisoned almost daily by systems of our own invention – and most of us don’t even notice.

Sounds pretty dismal, right?

It is… if we let those factors define our reality – but that’s actually the heart of the issue: they don’t have to, and more importantly, they shouldn’t.

All of those problems mentioned above, from worrying about the size of our bank accounts to worrying that the person next to us is living a better life – it’s almost all an illusion we create for ourselves, and by doing so, we paralyze ourselves from making the improvements that will actually increase our overall happiness.

We can, however, change the way we think – about our lives, and about life in general – to change the way we feel.

So, with that in mind, here are 3 simple principles to remind ourselves of every single day that can make a humongous difference in the way we see the world – and the amount of happiness we experience.

1. Every Day Is An Opportunity

Each day when you wake up, you have a whole new opportunity to make a positive difference in your life. You aren’t stuck, no matter how stuck you might feel – even if you make a single step, it’s progress, and those steps add up over time.

Whether you want to kick a bad habit, improve a skill, grow a relationship, find a new job, get in better shape… whatever it is you want to accomplish, each and every day is a chance to move toward it.

It’s all too easy to get sucked into the status quo, to accept that wherever you are in life, that’s where you are and there’s no changing it…

But that’s a MYTH! You can always make changes for the better by way of courage, willpower, and raw action.

It’s all about understanding that differences can be made, and using that simple fact to help spur you to action. It might be scary, it might be tough, but it’s not impossible. Even if you try and fail – or try and don’t feel like you’ve made any progress – the effort itself was a step in the right direction, and you have tomorrow to try again.

When you truly believe that each day is an opportunity to become the person you want to be and to build the life you want to lead, you’ll realize that there’s nothing stopping you… but you.

2. Happiness Is A Choice

This is an idiom that gets thrown around a great deal these days, but it’s true!

For starters, where you place your mental focus is going to define the way you see the world. If you are constantly looking at the negative – at the world’s problems, from disasters and widespread injustice, to much closer-to-home issues like the drama among your friends or who’s talking bad about whom – that’s the kind of picture of reality you paint for yourself.

If, however, you let yourself see the positives – like the good deeds people are doing in your own community and around the world, the healthy relationships in your own life, even little things like being grateful for a roof over your head or having all of your fingers and toes – you paint a very different picture.

You can choose to dwell on the unpleasant things, or you can guide your attention toward the things that fill you with good feelings about the universe. It’s true, the world can be a dark and scary place – but there is (and always has been) an awful lot of good among the bad. You just have to look for it.

Even simply acting the part can make you happier. Studies show that the simple act of smiling actually improves your mood, that hugging other people help produce oxytocin (which builds trust, care, and interpersonal connections), and that giving others your forgiveness, gratitude, and benefit of the doubt helps you be more tolerant, more relaxed, and a generally happier person!

Again, though, these are things that you have to choose to do – they don’t happen automatically. Just like the opportunities discussed above, it’s something that takes a little time to get the hang of, and every tiny attempt is worthwhile.

When life is bearing down on you, shifting your perspective toward the positive will make a world of difference. Instead of wallowing and feeling bad about where you are, what’s happened to you (or what hasn’t), or feeling down on yourself – think about the things you enjoy, think about the best moments of your life (and why you should be thankful for them), think about the wonderful things you can do, about the people you love (and the people who love you) – and if nothing else, just try a smile!

3. Hard Work Pays Off

This is one we can have a particularly hard time with in our modern, hyper-connected lifestyles…

Our “vision” of the rest of the world is clouded – either because we make assumptions about people’s stories, or because we only ever see the final product (especially on social media). It’s easy to feel inferior when you see a picture of someone’s new house or awesome vacation when you can’t afford those things. It’s easy to feel jealous of someone’s happy relationship when you’re struggling to find love. It’s easy to be envious and chalk things up to “natural ability” when you see someone who’s “better” than you at a particular skill…

But in all of those situations, you’re only seeing the very top layer.

  • You don’t know what financial sacrifices lead to a big purchase, what extra work went into saving the money or earning the raise that led to that moment…
  • We never see couples’ arguments that happen behind closed doors, or fully understand the work two people might be putting into a relationship to make it work, or even understand each person’s individual journey toward the qualities they need to maintain that particular relationship…
  • We don’t see the painful and frustrating hours of practice – over the course of years and years – that a pro athlete or master musician has endured to hone their skills; we only see the amazing plays or hear the virtuosic music. We don’t think about all the training, the time invested, the sacrifices made to be where they are when we finally see the finished product and respond with envy. The same concept is true of all skills – they take time and effort.

The point isn’t to dissuade you from achieving those things…

In fact, it’s quite the opposite, but you have to understand that achieving anything – from losing weight to building a stock portfolio, from developing a golf swing to playing the cello – takes TIME and EFFORT, and that with those two ingredients, you will ultimately see a reward.

There are plenty of other factors at work, of course, but those two main components are at the heart of any endeavor you choose to pursue, no matter how large or small, and keeping that at the front of your mind helps you break through moments of laziness, difficulty with motivation/purpose, or feelings of inferiority.

As mentioned in the first point: each day is an opportunity for growth and development, but it’s up to you to put in the effort!

Plenty of signs point toward our collective unhappiness, but so many of those problems stem from the way we think about the world around us…

Social media wouldn’t make us unhappy if we gave those people the benefit of the doubt, and decided to be inspired by their hard work instead of envious.

Our jobs would be more satisfying if we combatted stress with confidence and showed our fellow employees more compassion and gratitude.

Our personal lives would be more fulfilling if we understood that every moment of “free time” is a chance to pursue our own goals and grow as individuals.

Collectively, we’d probably get along much better if we understood the importance of empathy and connection…

If we all really wanted to make the effort, we’d eat better, sleep better, exercise more, connect with our loved ones, chase our dreams, nix our bad habits, and stroll through life grinning from ear to ear.

But it won’t happen on its own…

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