Conspiracy To Make You Happy

>> Tuesday

You've heard people say, "everything happens for a reason," and they use the saying to raise their mood. If it is done a particular way, it can make you feel better and at the same time help you make the best of a situation. But I've heard people use the idea as a kind of fatalism, as a reason to do nothing, as a kind of lazy and passive determinism. It may make the person feel better at the moment, but in the long run, it won't. Fatalism is a form of helplessness, and feelings of helplessness can lead to depression.

Brian Tracy has what I think is a better saying: "Pretend the universe is in a conspiracy to make you happy and successful, and this is just what you need." This way of reframing a setback will improve your mood in the moment, and it will also raise your mood in the long run. It will help you learn and improve what you do in the future. It will help you make the most of whatever happens.

In the movie, The Game, Michael Douglas (and we, the viewers) have the uncanny experience of not knowing whether the things Douglas is going through are just bad luck or exactly what he needs to become happy. Douglas signed up for a life-changing experience that takes place in his own life rather than in a seminar room. He was a stuffy, bored rich man, and all kinds of bad luck suddenly leads him to become penniless and makes it necessary for him to rely on a waitress to survive. It is a humbling experience for him and that's exactly what he needed. He stops being stuffy, and he is no longer bored.

What circumstances do you have that you could look at in a new way? What unpleasant situation do you have? Is it teaching you something valuable? Could it, if you looked at it that way? Pretend the universe is in a conspiracy to help you become happier and more successful and look at your circumstances as the perfect thing to teach you what you need to learn.

Your ongoing mood has a lot to do with how things look to you. And how things look to you has a lot to do with how you look at things. You can use this to your advantage.

To learn more about changing your perspective in order to feel better, check out our book, Viewfinder.

 Adam Khan is the author of Self-Help Stuff That Works and Cultivating Fire: How to Keep Your Motivation White Hot.

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Seeing The Same Thing a Different Way

>> Friday

If you can "reframe" a circumstance that makes you feel bad, you won't feel bad any more. Nothing has changed except how you're looking at it, but that's enough to change your feelings. Reframing means interpreting the situation differently. When something happens, you interpret it a certain way, and your mind usually does it automatically. The situation just seems a certain way to you, and you have feelings appropriate to the way you look at it.

For example, a few months ago I had to go to the dentist. I noticed I felt a little grumbly and nervous about it. In other words, I was in a bad mood about it. I realized the "frame" I was using to interpret this event was: "I have to go do this unpleasant thing." And my feelings were appropriate to that interpretation. I dreaded going and felt annoyed that I had to go.

So I asked myself, "Is there another way to look at this?" And instantly I realized that in most of human history, dentists didn't exist. People had horrible toothaches and couldn't do anything about it. Their teeth rotted out, and nothing could be done. Even a few hundred years ago, most of the "dentistry" consisted of pulling out a tooth that was causing pain (and pulling it out without novocaine!).

But I go to a very clean environment and my teeth are professionally maintained. Because of this, I'll probably have my teeth my whole life. My dentist goes out of his way to keep pain to a minimum. From this perspective, which is just as valid as my automatic interpretation, I am lucky to go to the dentist.

When I thought about it that way, my mood shifted. I felt better. I felt fortunate to live in a time when people can take care of their teeth. I felt lucky to live in a place where we have dentists.

That's how reframing works. It is surprisingly easy to do. All you have to do is 1) notice some circumstance is bringing you down, and 2) ask yourself if there is some other way to look at it than the way you automatically look at it.

Read another article about it: How to Gain Perspective.

Read a book about it: Viewfinder.

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Feel good more often and become more effective with your actions. Check it out on Amazon: Self-Help Stuff That Works.

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