Taking Personal Responsibility for Your Happiness

If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month Theodore RooseveltPersonal Responsibility is Crucial for Happiness-Maximization

As those who have embarked on the quest for happiness know quite well, a crucial milestone on the path involves taking personal responsibility. Taking personal responsibility means not blaming others for your unhappiness. It means figuring out ways in which you can be happy despite others’ (negative) behaviors and despite the external circumstances. A person who has taken personal responsibility recognizes an all-important truth about happiness: your happiness depends much more on your attitude than it does on objective, external circumstances.

Does this mean that one can be happy no matter what the external circumstances? Can one be happy despite intense physical or psychological pain?

This is the question many of my students ask when I talk of taking personal responsibility for happiness.

Theoretically, it is possible to be happy no matter what the external circumstance. How? Because one’s emotional state is a function of how one interprets events, rather than what actually happened, as reflected in Milton’s famous saying, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” Findings from cognitive theories of affect support Milton’s saying. Generally speaking, our happiness–in fact, any emotional state, including a negative one–is generated by interpretations of events, as I elaborated in another post. When we interpret our negative boss as an obstacle, for example, we feel angry and frustrated; if, in contrast, we view our boss as “exactly what we need in order to become a better person,” we experience a sense of calmness, perhaps even gratitude.

Of course, most of us do not believe that we can be happy no matter what the external circumstance. When confronted with the idea that happiness is ultimately in the mind, many of us immediately entertain extreme examples that falsify the theory: could we be happy even if we break a bone or lose our job?

To me, those are the wrong questions to ask. The right question to ask is whether we can be happy given the types of negative events that routinely occur in our lives. In other words, rather than ask yourself if you can be happy even in extremely negative circumstances, ask yourself whether you can be happy in the more moderate circumstances in which you find yourself on a day-to-day basis. Can you, for example, entertain the possibility of being happy despite the fact that it’s raining outside? Can you be happy if a meeting with your client did not go as well as you would have liked?

Why is asking yourself whether you can be happy in extremely (vs. moderately) negative circumstances the wrong question? Because, by asking such a question, you undermine the confidence you need to develop the ability to be happy under all circumstances. Just as a child cannot imagine being as physically strong as an adult, those of us who haven’t developed the ability to interpret moderately negative events in a happiness-enhancing fashion cannot imagine being happy in extremely negative circumstances.

It is useful to think of the ability to control your emotional responses to events as a muscle; just as your biceps become stronger only when you exercise them using the appropriate weights–weights that are neither too light nor too heavy–, your ability to control your emotional response to events gains strength only when you take on challenges that are commensurate with your current ability. If you are currently someone who lets relatively minor events–like an encounter with a rude waitress–spoil your mood, how can you expect to maintain your happiness when a more extreme event–like a week long visit from a unpleasant relative–unfolds?

The point is: just because you currently lack the ability to maintain emotional positivity in the face of extremely negative events doesn’t mean that the theory–that the key to your happiness ultimately lies in your hands–is false. Rather, what it means is that you don’t, at present, possess sufficient control over your mind to feel happy regardless of the circumstances. You may ultimately desire to be like Gandhi or Jesus–who were remarkable in their ability to maintain good cheer even in the face of extreme adversity–but you can’t get there by biting off more than you can chew right now.

This brings me to an interesting irony about taking personal responsibility. Seeking mental control, it might appear at first blush, is similar to seeking control over others or over the circumstances. Quite the contrary! If anything, your ability to control your own mind is diminished by seeking to control others and the circumstances. Indeed, a critical element in developing mental control is a willingness to accept whatever outcomes you are dealt. If you cannot fully accept your outcomes–including, for example, the presence of a toxic boss, or poor health–you will not be able to interpret these outcomes in a positive light, and hence, you cannot be happy.

So, taking personal responsibility for your happiness involves, ultimately, adopting a “surrender mindset”–which refers to the willingness to fully and unquestioningly accept the outcomes you are dealt in life.

But how does one develop the surrender mindset?

Before answering this question, let me briefly discuss a commonly held misconception about the surrender mindset. Surrendering isn’t the same as capitulating. In other words, a person with a surrender mindset is not a weak, rudderless individual who has “checked out” from this world; rather, he is someone who, like the rest of us, has desires and goals and pursues them. However, whereas the rest of us cling to our desires with feverish desperation, a person with the surrender mindset does not. Thus, a person with the surrender mindset may dream of breaking the world record in the 100-meter dash, but if he were to discover a physical condition that prevents him from achieving this dream, he will be able to discard his dream, and move on to other goals without hesitation.

In other words, a person with the surrender mindset is like the rest of us in many ways, but only until the moment the outcomes unfold. Whereas the rest of us ruminate and moan when our favored outcomes don’t unfold, the person with a surrender mindset is able to move on, emotionally unscathed.

Let me now return to the question I had raised earlier: How does one develop the surrender mindset?

The most effective way to develop the mindset is one that those with a scientific orientation will likely find unappealing: it involves faith in a larger intelligence or force. Specifically, those who believe that there is force larger than oneself, and that this force is benign, will find it easier to surrender. The reason for this is straightforward: if you believe that the Universe is shaped by a force more powerful than you, and that this force has your best interests at heart, then you will find it much easier to make peace with the outcomes you are dealt. Even if you are unable to see how an outcome is beneficial for you in the moment, you will at least be willing to look for ways in which it opens new doors and opportunities. In contrast, if you are convinced that the outcome you have been dealt is bad for you, you are more likely to ruminate about the past than to move forward.

Ultimately then, surrendering has to do with trust. Just as trusting the people with whom you interact on a day-to-day basis is indispensable for being happy, so it seems that trusting that the Universe is taking care of you is crucial for being happy too.

This may be one reason why findings repeatedly show that religious people are, on average, significantly happier. Developing the surrender mindset, however, doesn’t mean you need to become religious. One can entertain the belief in a benign (rather than malign or indifferent) Universe without subscribing to any other religious tenet.

So, the logical thing to do, if you want to take personal responsibility for your own happiness, is to do something that might sound illogical: to have faith and adopt the surrender mindset.

Isn’t that wonderful?

Today’s article was written by Raj Raghunathan, Ph.D. and is shared from the following website: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sapient-nature/201112/taking-personal-responsibility-your-happiness

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10 Gratitude Principles to Live By

When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears Tony Robbins

About five years ago now, my financial security was threatened by circumstances in my life over which I had absolutely no control.

As a single parent, I had spent years scrimping and saving and just getting by. While I had managed to build a small financial cushion, the idea of dipping into my savings to get by each month terrified me. When I allowed myself to turn towards the dark alley of fear that seemed ever present, I’d feel overwhelmed worrying about what might happen when the cushion was gone.

As the months went by and my savings diminished, little mantras that revolved around gratitude began popping into my head. I recorded these gratitude principles in the front cover of my 2007 journal. I am not quite sure where these principles came from as I had definitely grown up in a family that emphasized and fretted over the half-empty glass. I had never learned how to foster a positive attitude, much less how to express gratitude. Yet from somewhere came the guidance to foster gratitude instead of fear.

As I look back on that year, I am amazed by the amount of peace that I felt in spite of my difficult circumstances. It was a year that taught me so much about trusting my path; about the absolute futility of worry; and about the amazing power of gratitude.

The “Gratitude Principles” that kept me afloat during that difficult year were as follows:

1. Gratitude is awareness that, as things come to you, they are exactly what you need – be it people, circumstance, or challenges.

2. Worry is the opposite of gratitude; it is the failure to understand that you have been and will continue to be provided for each day.

3. Whenever fear over your future encroaches, stop to observe a tree. Consider how the tree continues to stand tall and grow throughout the various cycles and seasons of its life span.

4. Worry is an action. Gratitude is an action. Both are optional. By choosing gratitude you drive out the space and time for worry.

5. It isn’t hard to do; gratitude is simply noticing the good stuff in your life.

6. What you pay attention to, or notice, tends to expand and grow.

7. Each day brings a multitude of opportunities to feel gratitude and appreciation.

8. When you neglect the action of appreciating, you limit your potential for joy and contentment in the present moment.

9. Worry does not prevent bad things from happening; it only prevents you from accessing joy in this moment.

10. The present moment is the only place where joy and contentment can exist.

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How To Use The Power of Gratitude; An Easy Way To Feel Happier Everyday

Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy Fred DeWitt Van Amburgh

In my book Nothing Changes Until You Do, I tell the story of a simple but powerful conversation I had with a cabdriver a few years back that had a profound impact on me. I was in Houston, Texas, on my way back to the airport to fly home after speaking at a conference. The driver and I began talking. He had a beautiful accent. Based on how he looked and sounded, I assumed he was from somewhere in Africa, but I couldn’t tell exactly where. It didn’t come up in what we were talking about, so I didn’t ask.

Right before we got to the airport, however, there was a pause in our conversation, so I inquired, “By the way, where are you from originally?”

“I’m from Ethiopia,” he said. He then proudly stated, “I’ve been here in the U.S. for twenty years. I’m an American citizen now; so are both of my boys and my wife.”

I’m not exactly sure what prompted me, but I then asked him, “What’s your perspective on American culture, given that you didn’t grow up here?”

At first he didn’t say anything, and I thought maybe I had offended him. We were just arriving at the airport. He pulled up to the curb, put the cab in park, turned around, and looked me right in the eye.

“Can I be honest with you?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said.
“Well,” he said, “I think most people in this culture act like spoiled brats.”
“Why do you say that?” I asked.
“Look, I’m from Ethiopia,” he said. “Every day here is a good day.”

I was taken aback by the simplicity, wisdom, and power of his statement. And, I was grateful for the reminder.

Gratitude is a Practice, Not A Concept
I’ve been speaking and writing about gratitude for many years, and I’m still amazed at how challenging it can be to focus on what I’m grateful for at times. We live in a culture that has an obsession with negativity, and it’s easy for us to get caught up in how “bad” things are, as well as in our own personal and insatiable desire for more, thinking that what we have and how things are in our own lives is never quite good enough. However, regardless of the specific circumstances of our lives, even and especially when they’re difficult, if we stop, pay attention, and look for it, there are always so many things we can be grateful for—if we choose to be. Gratitude is a practice, not a concept. And, like any other practice, the more genuine and consistent we are with it, the more valuable and beneficial it is.

Most of us, especially those of us on a path of personal growth and discovery, know that gratitude is important. We’ve heard about it, read about it, and been taught about it for years. In the mid 1990s a wonderful book called Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach came out. Sarah was a featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and Oprah talked about how Sarah’s suggestion to keep a daily gratitude journal—to write down five things each day that you’re grateful for—had a profound impact on her life. Oprah became a passionate advocate for the power of gratitude and since that time has continued to encourage millions of people around the world to keep their own gratitude journals.

Create A Gratitude Journal
Like so many other people, I took Oprah’s advice and started my own journal many years ago. I found it to be fun, inspiring, and empowering to look for, find, and write down things I was grateful for. When I started speaking, coaching, and writing, much of my work focused on gratitude and appreciation. The technique of the gratitude journal was something I often suggested to people. However, over time it became one of the many things that I “know” and even “teach,” but had stopped practicing consistently in my own life.

A few years back, as a New Year’s resolution, I recommitted myself to the practice of my gratitude journal. I bought a new, beautiful journal and decided I was going to start using it. It took me a little while to get back into the practice of writing in it consistently, but once I was in the swing of it, it was pretty easy. Later that year I had a few months where things were going really well in many important areas of my life. As I sat down to write in my gratitude journal one morning, I decided to look back at some of the things I’d written over the past few months.

As I turned the pages, I realized that I hadn’t missed a day of writing in over three months. I was amazed. It was less about the consistency of my writing, and more about the consistency of my excitement to do this exercise and the benefits I got from it. Things were going so well in my life, and the positive turns seemed to be directly connected to my use of the gratitude journal. I said to my wife, Michelle, “I’m not sure if things are going so well because I’m writing in my gratitude journal every day, or I’m excited to write in my gratitude journal every day because things are going so well. I bet it’s a combination of both. At some level, I don’t really care—I’m just grateful for how things are going and for my journaling practice.”

The way gratitude works is that the more we focus on feeling grateful, the more we have to feel grateful for. And while many of us have experienced this personally, recent scientific studies have concluded that gratitude can have significantly positive effects on our health, our moods, our productivity, and our relationships.

In one specific study, conducted by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., at the University of California at Davis and Mike McCullough at the University of Miami, participants were given one of three tasks. Each week, they kept a short journal. One group was asked to write down five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week, another was asked to record five hassles from the previous week that displeased them, and the neutral group was asked to list five events or circumstances that affected them, but they weren’t told whether to focus on something positive or negative specifically.

Ten weeks later, the people in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole, plus they reported fewer health complaints, and exercised more.

Like many other things in life that we know are good for us (exercise, eating healthy, sleeping enough, drinking lots of water, telling the truth, and so on), it’s not the knowledge that will benefit us; it’s the practice. The amazing thing about gratitude is that there’s no “right” way to practice being grateful. Whether you choose to keep a journal, thank the people around you, use positive affirmations, ask other people what they’re grateful for (one of my favorites), focus on gratitude in your quiet time of prayer or meditation, or simply remind yourself to slow down and breathe—taking time to focus on what we’re grateful for is one of the easiest and most effective ways to empower ourselves, calm ourselves down, and remember what matters most in life.

Today’s article was written by Mike Robbins and is shared from the following website: https://www.healyourlife.com/how-to-use-the-power-of-gratitude

 

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How to Brighten Your Morning (and Whole Day): 7 Powerful Habits

Let nothing trouble you let nothing worry you everything passes away expect God God alone is sufficient Norman Vincent Peale

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
Marcus Aurelius

The alarm bell goes off. You slowly open your eyes. A new day lies before you.

A day of unexplored potential and opportunities. How can you make it more likely to become a positive and good day?

Today I’d like to simply share 7 habits that I have used to make my mornings and whole days better.

1. Have a reminder on your bedside table.

How will you start your very first moments and minutes of the day?

One good way to get off to a good start is to have a note, a reminder on your bedside table that will be one of the first things you see after you have woken up.

A couple of suggestions for what to write down on your note:

  • A low bar for happiness. Write down: “Today I will set a low bar for happiness”. Read it and try to keep it in mind during the day. This one helps me to appreciate things more. The food, my work, the weather, the people and the small events of the day becomes not everyday stuff but something I feel happy to have. The small things or what may be something one takes for granted becomes something I now often pause for a moment or two to take in and appreciate.
  • Your top 3 priorities in life right now. To keep your attention in the right place it is essential to remind yourself every day of what is truly most important. So what is most important for you this year? A project at work? Your family? Improving your social life? Your blog, photography, soccer or debt? Think about it and reduce what is important in your life to the top 3 most important priorities.

2. Give one genuine compliment.

Giving one genuine compliment to your partner, a family member, friend or co-worker during your morning can not only lift his or her day but also make yours a little brighter and happier.

So tap into what you can appreciate about a person in your life. Then tell him or her that.

If you can, make it something that may be a bit unexpected and something that person hasn’t heard a hundred times before. For example, a compliment about her great taste in music or his wonderful way with animals may be more appreciated and powerful than a compliment about looks and other more superficial stuff.

3. Positive information intake over breakfast.

Instead of watching the news or reading the papers and getting a negative and perhaps depressing start to your day do something that will inspire you.

  • Read one or a couple of new posts from positive, funny and uplifting blogs or websites.
  • Read a chapter from a book that inspires you.
  • Or simply have a fun and warm conversation with the people around your kitchen table.

4. Start your workday with your most important task of the day.

If you do then the rest of the day will feel lighter and easier. You will feel better about yourself and more confident as you move on to other tasks.

If you have trouble getting started with the most important task then just make a deal with yourself to work on it for 3 minutes. Then you can stop if you like. But you may not want to once you have gotten started. That seems to be the case for me most of the time.

Getting started is most often the hardest part. So make that part easier for yourself.

5. Go slow.

When I go a bit slower it becomes easier to fully focus, to keep the stress down and I most often do a better job with something the first time around.

I work with more clarity and I do not get stuck in doing busy work very often.

It may feel like I’m not getting enough done but at the end of the day I usually get more quality work done than if I tried to maintain a high speed throughout the day. Partly because the lower stress levels keeps my mind fresh and energy up even through the last few afternoon hours of the workday.

Try going a bit slower. See how it works for you.

6. Work out.

Often mentioned and for a good reason. It has many positive benefits.

I workout several times a week and by doing so I boost my energy, inner doubts and tensions lessen, I feel more decisive and my mind becomes more optimistic. And all of that makes the rest of the day lighter.

I highly recommend doing some kind of exercise in the morning. If you can’t go to a gym or work out from home early in the day then maybe you can walk or bicycle to work or school.

7. Do the right thing in some small or big way.

This one boosts your self-esteem. It puts a spring in your step and it at least makes me feel happier.

So do what you deep down think is the right thing.

A few examples that may resonate with you:

  • Perform a random act of kindness. Hold up the door or point out the way for someone who seems lost.
  • Help someone out practically or just by listening.
  • Get started with putting a dent in the most important challenge in your life.

Build upon just a small step, a small thing if you like. Start building an upward spiral of positivity and good feelings within. And then take further steps upward.

Towards what you know you really want and you know are the right things for you in your life.

Today’s article was written by Henrik Edberg and is shared from the following website: https://www.positivityblog.com/brighten-your-morning/#more-8400

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50 Things Money Can’t Buy

If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can’t buy Unknown50 Things Money Can’t Buy

1. Respect
2. Well-adjusted kids
3. Work-life balance
4. Natural beauty
5. Manners
6. Common sense
7. A clear conscience
8. Purpose in life
9. Integrity
10. Good friends
11. A long life
12. Close-knit family
13. An open mind
14. A worry-free day
15. Trust
16. A new beginning
17. Clean arteries
18. A great idea
19. An honest politician
20. Peace of mind
21. A good hair day
22. Patience
23. Luck
24. A good epitaph
25. Happy memories
26. Time to relax
27. A strong work ethic
28. A positive attitude
29. A happy home
30. Everything you may want
31. Good karma
32. Appreciation of the simple things
33. True love
34. A new shot at a missed opportunity
35. Peace in the world
36. A golden anniversary
37. Talent
38. A second chance in life
39. Quality time with your kids
40. Wisdom
41. Happiness
42. Humility
43. A good reputation
44. 25-hour day
45. Relationship with your kids
46. Youth
47. Class
48. Justice
49. A proper perspective
50. Selflessness

Today’s inspiring list is shared from the following website: https://www.franksonnenbergonline.com/posters/50-things-money-cant-buy/

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