Most of us want to be happy, and yet, too many of us are consumed with our crankiness, fear, depression, feeling unloved, insecurity, being miserable, feeling inadequate, feeling betrayed, etc., essentially being wrapped up in chronic unhappiness!
In addition, I am often struck with the large population of people who are persistently stuck in unhappiness. These malcontents are often whining, bellyaching, criticizing, obsessing, bleating, condemning, catastrophizing, awfulizing, and complaining.
I believe that people will keep choosing familiar routines like this simply because they are familiar, regardless of whether they like it or dislike it. Some examples of this are below.
You go to the same restaurant and order the same item on the menu. This routine is common and it is a great habit if you really like that restaurant and that particular item on the menu. Some of us do!
On the other hand, you may be mixed on how much you like the restaurant and/or the item on the menu. You may have impulses to try new items and a new restaurant yet this restaurant is familiar, as is the same menu choice. It is okay and it will do. It is good enough rather than being terrific.
The above example is certainly familiar to many of us. We often prefer predictable food even if it is just okay simply because we want to avoid something unpredictable… though it might be OUTSTANDING. It sometimes seems that avoiding being MORE unhappy is MORE important than seeking out MORE happy!
Think about people you know who have been married for a long time. How many of them seem to be really happy?
Many are either unhappy or resigned (blah, beige, surrendered). Somehow they have lost their smile. You can often spot these couples at a coffee shop while having breakfast. You can tell right away they are unhappy because they ignore one another and look miserable. They eat in silence, waiting for life to be over, all while being addicted to their phones.
It could be concluded that they behave as if they are going to same restaurant, ordering the same menu item, and are resigned to being underwhelmed with their choices and lot in life.
Many married people become resigned with the following chronic thoughts or remarks:
- This is all I can expect anymore.
- I have to just lump it.
- I have long since given up trying to get his/her attention.
- It’s cheaper to keep her.
- I’m too old to change. He/She doesn’t care anymore.
- I don’t care anymore.
- Who would have me at this age?
- It is unrealistic to want more.
- I guess this is the best I can expect.
- He doesn’t listen. He is wife-deaf.
- She simply wants nothing to do with me.
- We are roommates.
Gee, this is beginning to sound very similar to our perspective about the restaurant; avoiding being more unhappy is MORE important than seeking out MORE Happy!
If you follow these examples you will be STUCK with the insane belief that PREDICTABLE UNHAPPINESS IS PREFERABLE TO UNPREDICTABLE HAPPINESS!
If you are like most people, you will blame everyone but the person in your mirror.
The restaurant — “They don’t care about customer service anymore. The food quality has deteriorated. The coffee is cold.”
The marriage — “He doesn’t take me anywhere anymore. She only pays attention to me when she wants to criticize me! He/She ignores me all the time and watches TV.”
The result is that you start focusing on UNHAPPINESS, become resigned, and wallow in it. You end up passing your life with time instead of passing your time with LIFE!
What do you do?
Let’s suppose you want to find more HAPPINESS in your life. First, you have to conclude that if things are going to get better, YOU have to make the first move. YOU have to take responsibility for your own contribution. And, you must remember that YOU have MORE power over YOUR behavior than anyone else’s! Moreover, take a look at the OBVIOUS; there is a direct relationship between HAPPINESS and GRATITUDE!
Ask yourself this question. Which is more likely:
#1 You become MORE happy and therefore MORE grateful?
#2 You become MORE grateful and therefore MORE happy?
You will probably conclude that #2 is more likely. Why? Because when you take the initiative to be more grateful, you become happier automatically. So, when you appreciate more often, what you focus on expands. MORE GRATITUDE CREATES MORE HAPPY EMOTIONS!
Another way to look at it is this. What works better and faster:
- You quit criticizing and then reinforcing remarks start emerging?
- You become more reinforcing and the criticism begins to shrink?
If you believe #1 you may notice that when you quit criticizing, instead of reinforcement emerging, silence takes over. Remember the classic advice, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!”
On the other hand, if you believe #2, you may notice that what you focus on expands. When you point out what you like, admire, appreciate, respect, or find attractive, you start noticing more what you like. Also, when you reinforce others, they feel better and become happier in turn.
When you deliberately point out to your spouse what you like, love, admire, appreciate, or respect, you become happier because you actually start noticing the good stuff to appreciate. Then what you dislike begins to shrink because the reinforcement shoves the criticism out of the way.
THEREFORE, MORE GRATITUDE AND REINFORCEMENT EQUALS MORE HAPPINESS!
It is really simple to significantly and regularly increase your habit and demonstrations of love, respect, appreciations, reinforcement, and gratitude.
Replace the resignation and criticism with gratitude and reinforcement!
I am reminded of how grateful I remain that as a child, my mother required me to write thank you notes and put them in the mail; I have been writing them routinely ever since. When I share my gratitude it touches the lives of others. I develop more happiness and so do they. Maybe it’s a good idea for you (and your kids) to start (or restart) the practice of thank you notes.
I also encourage you to start (or restart) the habit of telling your partner and family how much you like, appreciate, respect, love, and care about them. Ongoing reinforcement is the single most powerful way to improve and repair your life’s happiness and the relationships you value.
Remember to take the initiative to regularly deliver gratitude and reinforcement. When you do, you’ll be happier… and so will they!
What are your thoughts?
Remember, assume the position and your emotions will catch up! Embrace the obvious and practice Common Sense… and Common Sense is very Uncommon!
Check out the video below. Here is an outstanding examination of the obvious by Dennis Prager of Prager University. This guy nails it! It will likely get your attention!
The Key to Unhappiness