To Be Happier With Yourself, Stop Doing This

Jordan Brown

Do you struggle with this common problem?

You start thinking about the future.

You form an image of what you think it should be.

Soon it starts to feel real. This is how it's going to be. You can just picture it!

But then the future becomes the present. And it's not what you imagined. And so you're disappointed.

Don't do this to yourself.

To be happier with yourself, try this other strategy instead.

A Flip of the Mental Switch to Be Happier

"All expectation is premeditated resentment."

I was taking the NAMI Family-to-Family course to learn about mental health, and one of the co-facilitators shared that phrase.

Years later, I still think about it often.

When you expect the future to be a certain way, you commit to, what is, something over which you have no control. You might think you can control how your life will go. But there are always other elements at play--skill, luck, other people's decisions. Lots and lots of factors. Anything can happen.

Again, when you expect something to happen, you're committing yourself to something that will almost always not work out the way you want it to.

If you want to be joyful and secure in your feelings, it's best to stop doing this. Replace this thought process with something a bit more promising. It's time to flip the mental switch.

How to Take a Different Mental Approach

Instead of predicting a future that cannot be predicted, try these strategies to be happier with yourself.

  1. Stop absolute thinking - Absolute thinking is when you convince yourself that the world is going to be a certain way. It's also sometimes know as all-or-nothing thinking. When you think this way, you think in extremes. And when you think in extremes, your mind bounces back and forth among unlikely scenarios. This causes wild swings in your imagination, quickly leaving you in an unstable position.
  2. Become comfortable with uncertainty - Part of the reason humans like absolute thinking is because uncertainty feels uncomfortable. We don't want that. We want to know, without a shadow of a doubt, what's going to happen. But this is the beginning of anxiety, and, if left unchecked, it will steamroll your confidence and joy. Practice becoming more comfortable with uncertainty. When you're feeling unsure about the future, acknowledge that feeling. Just sit with it for a little bit. Don't try to fight it. Instead, ask questions--questions like, "What happens if I just let this go?" and "What is actually the worst that could happen?"
  3. Get it out of your head - Some people might shy away from that last question I posed. Wouldn't that just lead to more anxiety? It could. But that's why you have to get out of your head--and connect other parts of your being. Write down your worries, or say them out loud. There's something about the simple process of taking action. If you write it down, write for a few minutes. If you say it out loud, exaggerate your mouth and your body. Be a writing and/or dancing goofball. When you move your body, you change your mental state. It's so much easier to move yourself into a new mental state than to think yourself into it.

So, what do you think?

Could you try one of these today?

What do you have to lose?

Even better, what do you have to gain?