Change your focus.
It’s a vicious cycle. Something terrible happens, you feel bad about it, more terrible things happen, you think this is always going to happen, and so you feel even worse. It’s human nature to experience frustration, anger and fear, but it’s become so inherent in our daily lives that we’ve created a highway to stress and a dirt path to happiness.
So, how do we change our focus? When things are going well, it’s easy to feel good. But how do we stay positive when it seems the world is crashing down? Even if it’s just for a moment.
There are ways we can ‘trick’ our brains into thinking we’re happy. (Although, before I go on, I have to point out that it’s literally impossible for the brain to trick…itself).
- We get better answers if we ask better questions. The language we use with ourselves can create false interpretations and damage our mood very quickly. For example, something didn’t work out how you planned. You find yourself saying ‘Why do I always stuff things up?’ and because the brain is desperate to answer questions, you answer ‘Because I’m an idiot’ or ‘Because I’m not good at this’. Next time, what if you were to ask yourself ‘Why did it go wrong today?’ or ‘What can I do to make this work?’. The answers are guaranteed to be more empowering, and more useful.
- What do you have to be excited or grateful for? I want you to take a few deep breaths. Then, in your mind’s eye, picture something you are really excited about, or something you’re really grateful for right now. Imagine how it looks, how it sounds, how it smells. Really bring the vision to life. And now, I want you to think about how you feel. Better? Even just a little? When we think about the amazing things we already have, it’s easy to change our focus from the negativity at play. For example, you find yourself at work really frustrated because someone else has just taken credit for your work. You’re at your desk, just fuelling the anger that’s building up inside. What if you just considered in this moment: you have a job! you get paid! You wake up everyday with somewhere to go and in most cases, people appreciate what you do. (If they don’t, time to find a different job!)
I know, it all sounds much easier than it will be. But remember the first time you ever played a game? Or the first time you cooked a dish? And now, how it’s just completely natural that you do a million things in a day that you couldn’t do before?
If you take one key thing away from this post, I want it to be this: changing your focus and taking control of your conscious thinking is a skill that you can learn, if you practice, believe in yourself, and draw on every inch of your incredible willpower.