Tag Archives: positive psychology

running on the hedonic treadmill

“The 7 Deadly Sins are:
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Knowledge without character
Business without morality
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice
Politics without principle”  Gandhi

Everywhere people are chasing something and are finding that as hard as they chase they are unable to grab hold to this elusive thing.   You may hear in their words, “If I only __________________”, then I would be _____________.  What is that second word?

Was it happiness?   Yes, people are chasing happiness and are having a hard time grasping it.   The faster you run towards happiness the greater the distance to achieve it.    Studies have been done on those who win lotteries and those people have a six month boost in happiness before returning to the level of happiness they had before their fortunate outcome.

People who are the happiest have strong relationships, a rewarding career, supportive social networks, financial sufficiency and ability to make choices. To jump of the hedonic treadmill try improving your relationships,  working at something you enjoy, and spreading happiness around.

Relationships matter

 Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. ‘Pooh!’ he whispered. ‘Yes, Piglet?’ ‘Nothing,’ said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. ‘I just wanted to be sure of you.’ “ A.A. Milne

Positive psychology research has shown that people with good relationships are happier than those who don’t have relationships with others.

Rewarding Career

Working a career that uses your strengths and abilities leads to greater happiness.   Examine your strengths and talents and find work that leverages them.

 

 

Supportive Social networks

Happiness is contagious.  Research done by Dan Gilbert shows that happiness spreads.   If someone else is happy you’re likely to catch some of that happiness and spread it to others.  Find people who are supportive and happy and spread it around.

 

 

Other happiness indicators are:

  • Financial Sufficiency – having enough money
  • Democracy – sense of choice, empowered
  • Religion – increased sense of fulfillment
  • Praise to criticism ratio of 3 praises to 1 criticism

“In a true partnership, the kind worth striving for, the kind worth insisting on, and even, frankly, worth divorcing over, both people try to give as much or even a little more than they get. “Deserves” is not the point. And “owes” is certainly not the point. The point is to make the other person as happy as we can, because their happiness adds to ours. The point is — in the right hands, everything that you give, you get.”   Amy Bloom

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Inner talk … the little voice

Have you ever wondered if that little voice that speaks to you continuously really wants you to be happy?    What would that voice say if you changed course today and did something different?   What would that voice say?

Successful people, really successful people, have trained their inner voice to support them.   Olympic athlete’s work with performance coaches to shift those inner thoughts to “winning” thoughts.  

The inner voice is different than intuition.   Intuition is a connecting force, connecting heart with head, and energy with energy.   It connects through feelings and sensing rather than by internal conversation.  

This poem written by Shel Silverstein talks about:

“The voice”

There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.”
  Shel Silverstein

This inner voice is the voice that shackles us to the past quite often.  It says, “Be safe” and will do just about anything it can to prevent risk, prevent harm or prevent change.    The brain is wily in its ways.   It has been trained by real voices outside the mind that shape and configure just how the inner voice will speak.   When you hear words that say “No, you aren’t good enough” or “You’ve failed before what has changed this time …”, or “You’ve never been good at that …”, any of those words are conditioned words, meaning that you’ve taken on those words and applied them to “who” you are.

What would it be like to hear the words of a voice that says, “Of course you can”, “Let’s do it today”, “You are good enough”, “You are beautiful”,
“You are amazing”, “You can do it”.    That voice is alive in your mind if it gets the chance to exercise.    Like our bodies it is what we practice and if we practice negative thinking we become those negative thoughts.   

“If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.”  W. L. Bateman

So, why not shift the words of that little voice.    Shift them towards words that are encouraging to you.   Words that will allow you to take a risk and make a change, a substantial change in the direction of your dream.

What would stop you from making that change?

results that matter

“No matter how qualified or deserving we are, we will never reach a better life until we can imagine it for ourselves and allow ourselves to have it.”
Richard Bach

Results matter.   Results are the outcome of change.   For every action you take there is a result, there is an outcome, whether or not the outcome is the desired outcome there is a result.    Recent research shows that happiness precedes success.   For many people happiness is just on the other side of the success rainbow.   As you approach a rainbow it will appear to move away from you.   Happiness isn’t about reaching the rainbow it is about seeing the beauty of the rainbow.   So, what does this have to do with getting results?

For many people happiness is believed to happen once you get there.  However for far too many getting there means resetting the goal and just moving out of reach of the outstretched hand as the goal is approached.  This type of thinking has permeated management for decades.  It is the carrot and the stick approach to managing goals.   Companies still use that mantra of when we get there we’ll celebrate and for those who labor diligently to reach the goal only to have the goal reset or changed just before you “get there” there is no more disheartening impact on the people.   The carrot is always just out of reach, just an inch away but unreachable.   This mindset has infected every aspect of society from how we educate children to how adults are managed.   It turns out that the formula is wrong. 

People believe that they are unable to achieve the results they desire because there has been and always is the belief that once you approach the goal it moves and after a while there is no energy to pursue a worthy goal.   If the result is not achievable then why bother.  

Another vivid illustration is this.  For many professional athletes the end game is winning the gold medal, the sought after ring, the trophy, the belt or some other award that suggests greatness.   For many reaching that goal has left them empty and wondering, was that it?   Reaching that hard sought after goal didn’t bring them the happiness they were looking for.  

The formula is backwards.   Being happy on the way to the goal will make the goal worth achieving and celebrating once the results are obtained.

For more on happiness, watch this video or this one.

When you are working on getting a result what are you feeling?    Are you waiting for the result to make you happy?

What I think I become …

“A man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes.” -Mahatma Gandhi

 

Values, beliefs and experiences drive our thoughts.   What we think about we become.  Our thoughts are transformed into emotional energy, fear, worry, doubt, anxiety, or happiness, peace, joy, confidence, self-assurance, and contentment which ultimately shapes how we live our lives.  Most people experience far more negative information in their lives than positive.   The messages that are received from others begin to transform our beliefs about ourselves over time.   Messages that we receive as children enter our mind in the formative years and become a strong part of our story.   It is not that the story is true, it is that we believe that the story is true for us and we start living in that story rather than the story of our own making.   In other words for some reason we focus on the impacts of negative thoughts more so than positive thoughts.  It is as if we are taught to believe negative thought as being true and positive thought as wishful thinking.   Martin Seligman writes “Frequent and intense negative thoughts about the past are the raw material that blocks the emotions of contentment and satisfaction, and these thoughts make serenity and peace impossible.”

What can one do in order to shift the thoughts that drive emotions so that there is more positive thinking being done?  

  1. Focus on positive events in life and  opportunities to be grateful.
  2. Forgive the people in the past that may have strongly influenced the negative thought patterns.

Positive emotions lead to better health, both physical and mentally according to research done by Sarah Pressman.  

Positive thinking leads to positive emotions which increases the overall satisfaction with life.   Who wouldn’t want more of that?

What can you do when a negative feeling or thought comes screeching at you?

  1. Take a deep breath.  Acknowledge the emotion (“I feel …. “)
  2. Shift the energy of that emotion.   (This is mental Aikido …) and gently push the emotion to a different place.  
  3. Replace the thought with something better,  a favorite vacation, sunset, something admirable, peaceful, enjoyable and inner smile event.
  4. Take another deep breath.

Read the words of David Whyte and see what message is trying to convey.   We are often trapped, bombarded by information, and most of it is negative information, sensationalized news, stories that are all designed to pull us into believing everything in the world is negative.   Negative information sells and is profitable but it is not the world of truth, it is only a speck of truth in the total amount of information that is available.   Sometimes it is the negative news that provides momentary relief from personal suffering that people seek.  However a constant bath of negative information soon becomes the truth about the world and about the self and it takes more depressing negative news to feel just a tiny bit better.   

Surround yourself with positive news, positive thoughts and positive people and you’ll start feeling better about whom you are, and what you can accomplish.  It turns out that the more positive things you bring into your life the better your life becomes.  

Loaves and Fishes

This is not
the age of information.

This is not
the age of information.

Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.

This is the time
of loaves
and fishes.

People are hungry
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.

  — David Whyte
      from The House of Belonging
     ©1996 Many Rivers Press