All of us would love to think that we fully control our thoughts and emotions. The idea that we are always in control of our emotional responses is a powerful stance we sometimes cling to. This, however, is not true. While we may be able to control our actions, we cannot always control our thoughts. Although we can train ourselves to be aware and conscious of our thoughts and emotions, we will have things floating into our heads that aren’t necessarily contributing to our overall peaceful and happy existence. That is called being human. Not accepting this fact can cause us to also ignore how the things we are exposed to (hear, see, etc.) can and will have an impact on our thoughts and emotions. We may not want to believe it, but the things and people we choose to allow into our lives will contribute to some of our underlying, subconscious thoughts. This can impact our moods and overall happiness if we aren’t careful.
Most of us can recall a moment where we feel flooded with anger or sadness without really being able to pinpoint what triggered it. We may be able to remember a really bad day we had that seemed to spiral after we heard about something depressing that we couldn’t just shake off. This happens because our brains magnificent and complex. Quickly absorbing all the data points it can bring in, our minds only consciously register a small portion leaving the rest to get put away into a vault for a moment when we have open space for it to leak out. It may be while we are awake and often they pop up in our dreams. Anybody that has ever had a nightmare after watching a scary movie can attest to the fact that we don’t just let go of what we see or hear immediately after.
This awareness is important so that we can begin taking steps to expose ourselves to things that will bring more joy and happiness into our lives whenever possible. Many people feel a sense of relief when they stop watching the news or get rid of cable to minimize the commercials they experience. Some can experience a shift in their whole day by reading an inspirational article or quote in the morning. The good can stick with us as easily as the bad so taking a look at what you are bringing into your life is a great step in creating a happier state of mind. It is also important to realize that we are all unique and what is bad for one may not be for another. One person could get depressed by reading something tragic while another could get motivated to make a change in the world.
Finding what is influencing you in a negative way is simple but will take some trial and error. Take these simple steps to decide how to start bringing in the right influences and shutting out the wrong ones.
- Look at what e-mails you get, what TV shows you watch or what you read on a daily basis. Does it make you happy or sad? Motivated or frustrated? Notice these feelings and pay attention to what may be influencing you to experience feelings you don’t need.
- Try for a week to eliminate the things that leave you feeling anger, sadness or frustration. If you feel angry after reading the newspaper for example, take it out or read different sections for a week and see if that helps your overall happiness.
- Add in or replace with the positive. Find new ways to bring in things that make you happier. There are a lot of websites that report only the good news or specialize in publishing motivational articles that you can read in place of traditional news (If you would like recommendations just let me know J). Find a book or phone app that is full of energizing, motivational quotes and start your day reading one. Watch an uplifting documentary instead of a drama filled movie. There are many ways to add in more positivity so get creative, have fun with it and try different things until you see what works for you.
- Journal how you are feeling while you go through the testing process. A simple notation of your happiness level and help you see if you are removing things that are not contributing to your overall happiness.
- Most importantly, have fun with exploring and experimenting!