Mindset Matters: International Happiness Day Part 4

Selena's quiet goodbye
Selena had a great positive mindset!
Happiness seems to be the most important factor in determining the goodness of a lifetime, and this week we’ve been blogging about how to create and maintain happiness throughout life. Our series of blogs leading up to Friday’s International Happiness Day continues today with something a little more basic, but perhaps more difficult, method for maintaining a high level of well-being – mindset.

10980705_10202254078992036_2812197755219344463_n What is a mindset?

mindset
ˈmīn(d)set/
noun
noun: mindset; plural noun: mindsets; noun: mind-set; plural noun: mind-sets
the established set of attitudes held by someone. (Google Knowledge graph)

In order to understand what a mindset truly is, we must first realize that all of our world views are informed by our individual thoughts and attitudes towards life.  This can be more complicated than it appears because our feelings and emotions toward the world are so personal and intimate that they feel like second nature, these attitudes have been slowly built throughout our life experiences and inform our every decision.

Mindset and Happiness

According to Ago Cluytens’ article about mindset revolving around the TED talk of Shawn Achor, all learning is built upon the foundation that is the mindset.   A person’s attitude is said to be so important that it trumps the best techniques, tools and apps in the world.  If we consider that Psychology Today has released information suggesting that 60-70% of an average person’s unprovoked (or spontaneous) thoughts are negative, then the vital nature of actively maintaining a positive mindset makes itself abundantly clear (Cluytens, Achor).
To reference a saying mentioned earlier this week, your mindset should be like water – able to adapt to fit the current situation appropriately (Lee).   IMG_20150227_152812When we fail to allow our mindset to adjust to our current situation, we run the risk of falling victim to that 60-70% of thoughts that are negative.  Mindset is a choice – we can choose to spend our time ruminating on all of the negatives or we can choose to find those things to be grateful about and focus on those items.
This isn’t to say that you should ignore the negative aspects of your life, it’s to say that you can’t afford to obsess over them if happiness is going to be a reachable (and maintainable) goal.  The danger of a negatively ruminating mindset and the circular and obsessive nature of over thinking can result in a deepening of depression and a loss of well-being and happiness that only makes itself worse (Lyubomirsky).

All of that is fine, but how can one change a mindset?

We could talk until we are blue in the face about the importance of the mindset when it comes to feeding our happiness and well-being, but without some sort of concrete example it all starts to feel like some horribly worded math problem involving trains going different speeds in opposite directions = what are you supposed to do with all of this information?

10173686_318470124975645_1055986729518666605_n
Your humble author’s ‘mindset’

To be absolutely clear, these are methods I use personally to bolster my mindset and should only be seen as personal stories – I am not a mental health professional and I am not offering advice, only what has worked for me in the past.

Our emotional reactions can often produce real physical reactions in our bodies: when we are afraid our hearts race and we begin to sweat… which is what happens when you get excited.  If our bodies aren’t accustomed to caffeine, then unknowingly drinking a caffeinated coffee can produce excitement and rushed feeling – if we don’t realize that it’s the caffeine doing it, we might interpret the physical feelings as being caused by the date we are meeting for coffee: then a misinterpreted caffeine rush is mistaken for feelings of warmth and love.

If we slow our thoughts and focus on where we are and what we are doing we can  better pay attention to the signals our bodies, we can choose how we interpret those physical sensations – why not make them about the happier interpretation?

IMG_20150127_155450Every once in awhile, there will be a day where I just can’t seem to wake up.  A few years ago, this feeling would absolutely ruin my day from the get go.  Telling myself from moment one that there was no way I was going to make it through the day.  I ask myself with resentment: why didn’t you go to bed earlier? Once this parade of negativity begins, halting it upon it’s predetermined route becomes an epic feat – one that I’ve rarely been able to accomplish.

10942448_776421495784846_3986068864565153502_n
The power of a positive mindset!

Over time, I began to slowly change my mindset about other things in my life: my marriage, my family, my friends, my job situation and tried to force myself to shine a positive light on these things and take them in illuminated instead of darkly accepting some grim reality I had constructed around myself.  Soon, another one of those impossibly tired days reared it’s ugly head again, but something felt different – I wasn’t upset that I was tired; instead my mind almost automatically told me I was so much tired, I was just feeling really relaxed and mellow.

As silly as that sounds, it absolutely worked.  Instead of wishing for the bed and repeating to myself how tired I was, I sat back, smiled and enjoyed the wonderful feeling of relaxing both body and mind.

How have YOU changed your mindset in the past? Have you tried any of these methods? Please comment and let us know what works for YOU!  The happiness brought about by a positive mindset is something that you are in control of – so take back the wheel!

As always, feel free to reach out to us if you are curious about our school, salon, programs or just have general questions!  We also love feedback!  Share and let us know what you think!

Sources:
http://agocluytens.com/mindset-matters/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_%28psychology%29
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-happiness-project/201301/almost-any-types-acts-kindness-boost-happiness
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