Recently, someone asked me to name 7 negative things we do everyday that block happiness, with suggestions for what to do instead.
That’s a “Pretty Good Question!” I thought. “I’ll give it a try!” Here’s my list of seven.
What would you add?Write your ideas in the “Comments” section at the end.
7 THINGS THAT BLOCK HAPPINESS AND HOW TO CHANGE THEM
1 Saying ”I can’t . . ” Change it to “Up until now I couldn’t . . ”
2 Saying “I always . . ” Change it to “In the past I’ve . . “ or “I used to . . ”
3 Reading email and texts first thing in the morning. Instead, meditate, read inspiring words, journal, or pray, (like Kermit & I do!)
4 Criticizing or Gossiping. Instead, look for what’s strong, positive, and good about a person or situation. Avoid complainers.
5 Saying, “You should . .” or “He should (or ought to) . . ” Instead, admit that you may not know best and, even if you did, it’s not your job to change others.
6 Drinking or drugging in a way that’s harming your relationships, health, or safety. Instead, get into a recovery program or therapy.
7 Thinking about what you’ll say next while “listening” to another. Then responding with your own story or advice. Instead, listen with all of your mind & heart. Try to understand what the person is saying by asking for clarification, e.g., “You mentioned (…). Tell me more about that. What was that like for you?” Listen to the answer and then probe for more detail. Talk less. Listen more. Ask more questions.
OKAY, IT’S YOUR TURN. In the Comments section below, list the bad habit that blocks your own happiness. Be sure to add the “instead” behavior. We really need your suggestions!
I can’t wait to see what you post!!
Gigi Langer holds an MA in Psychology and PhD in Psychological Studies in Education, both from Stanford.
“The fragrance always remains in the hand that gives the rose.”
Thanks to InsightsIntoBooks and TrulyTrendy for the great reviews!
InsightsIntoBooks Review: “50 Ways to Worry Less Now by Gigi Langer is a wonderful book to be read again and again. It is one that I will refer to often. This book doesn’t just teach you to worry less, it guides you to finding your authentic self and being true to it. This book is filled with gems from both the scientific and spiritual worlds. Being that I tend to be a worrier, I found this book very useful. I enjoyed the practices and ideas to help us worry less and be our best selves. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants less stress and worry in their lives. ”
TrulyTrendy Review:“WORRY LESS NOW IS A LOVELY RESOURCEFUL BOOK THAT IS FULL OF INFORMATION TO HELP YOU WORRY LESS AND ENJOY LIFE MORE. A BOOK FULL OF HELPFUL LESSONS AND SUGGESTIONS THAT WILL HELP YOU TO STOP THE WORRY. OVERALL A VERY INFORMATIVE READ.”
The 4/24/18 post explained that positive thinking is only the first in three steps to manifesting your best future. In Step 1, you declared your intention, stated it often, and continually visualized its completion. Beware tho’ of getting so attached to a desire that you’re consumed by it. That’s where Step 2 comes in: LET GO & LETGOD ** (Non-Attachment to the Outcome)
After being asked how he remained so calm in the middle of life’s storms, an enlightened master replied “I don’t mind what happens.” This is non-attachment. It boils down to a humble admission that your thoughts and actions, especially when they’re based on worry, don’t always lead to the best results. It’s trusting that **a power wiser than your own intellect might have a better outcome. You can then approach life without fighting it, judging it, or needing to control it. In other words, you let go and let God take care of it.
So, if this is non-attachment, what then is attachment? Attachment is the mother of all worries. When you’re attached, your negative thinking insists it knows exactly how things should turn out. Further, you’ve made your own happiness dependent upon reaching a specific result.
In contrast, non-attachment offers you peaceful acceptance and creative freedom. Recall the guidelinesuggesting your affirmation include “in the best way for all concerned.” These words signify you trust your positive power to fashion a good result, even if it looks different from your initial goal.
How do you know if you’re overly attached to something? Just ask yourself, “How often do the words should, must, or ought go through my mind?” Attachment sounds like this:
My daughter should stop using drugs.
This person, (fill in the blank), must be nicer to me.
The mayor (or president, legislator, etc.) is wrong and ought to (fill in the blank).
I should be healthy and happy and never experience troubling situations.
These are examples of what Fred Luskin, the director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, calls unenforceable rules. Such rules demand an outcome you believe must come true, but over which you have no control. Luskin writes in Forgive for Good that these inflexible beliefs make you feel helpless, angry, hurt, hopeless or bitter.
Although holding an unenforceable rule may feel good—even noble—it doesn’t mean you can make it happen. In the first example, the daughter should stop using drugs, but no matter how persuasive the mother’s arguments, she doesn’t have the power to make her daughter stop. The mother does, however, have control over her own choices and behavior. She can seek help from a therapist or Al-Anon, and claim a positive power to work in the situation. Then, she might choose a goal for how she wants to act and feel, detach from the result, and use growth tools for her own peace of mind, regardless of her daughter’s choices.
One of my own unenforceable rules became clear as I was writing this book. When my mother passed away, I found it difficult to write and became discouraged by my lack of progress. When I honestly faced my belief that I must complete the book by a certain date, I became willing to see it differently. After meditating, I let go of my false belief and affirmed, “I will finish writing the book at the perfect time.” Then I turned the results over to my higher power. Even though the publication date was much later than I had planned, it was in perfect order. I used the extra time to do marketing and promotion so when it did come out, it was a big success.
The essence of non-attachment is peacefully allowing life to unfold. Nothing becomes a live-or-die situation because you know your loving power is working things out, with results that may far surpass your greatest hopes. Letting go in this way works!
Let Go & Let God Exercise. Detach from Specific Outcomes
After setting a goal, your subsequent thoughts and actions will indicate if you’re overly attached to it or not. The following exercise will help you find out.
Think about a troubling situation (perhaps the one you wrote your affirmation about in April 24 blog). List the frequent thoughts you’ve had about it and the actions you’ve taken to make it better.
Next to each thought or action, write A for attachment or N for non-attachment.
Write A if your thought or action was driven by:
Worry about the results;
Thinking about the hurtful details;
A need to fix your situation right away; or
Insistence on one right solution.
Write N if your thought or action helped you:
Focus on your own responsibilities, thoughts, and feelings;
Affirm a positive power working toward the best for all concerned;
Practice patience and compassion with yourself and others; or
Listen with care and express your feelings and needs kindly.
Make note of the unenforceable rules or whispered lies blocking your progress. Let go of them and let God (positive power) take charge.
Accept that it may take time for your situation to work out. Trust that the use of growth tools—along with your honesty, positive power, and good choices—will improve your circumstances.
Now that you’ve released your attachment to a desired outcome, you’re ready for Step 3: Get to Work with Growth Tools. Ironically, you won’t begin with direct actions to reach your goal. Instead, you’ll use various tools to enlist the power to achieve it. The 50 tools I use most often can be found in my book and in other blog posts. Best of luck!
“Langer’s frank and empathetic tone will comfort readers, as will the practical steps she teaches.” (Featured Book, BookLife by Publishers Weekly) “Her honesty will blow you away! It is beautifully written; filled with humor and authenticity.” (Member of Al Anon)
Manifesting your best future requires more than just positive thinking. These vision boards helped me manifest my dream.
Here’s how you can do it too:
Declare your dream or intention. What’s your vision of who you want to be in your life?
Let go of attachment to the outcome. Will you trust–even a little bit—that your positive power can help you achieve your wishes in a way that yields the highest good for all, even if it’s in an unexpected way?
Get to work with growth tools. Will you direct your mind away from your negative thinking and toward loving power, so your desired outcome—or something better—will occur?
STEP 1. Declare Your Dream
The first step is to write an affirmation using the following guidelines.
Use the present tense. State your desire as if it has already happened: “I am relaxed, smart, and successful when I take my exam,” “I see (_________) without criticism and offer kindness instead.”
Use positive language. Make your statement affirmative: “I have strong flexible shoulders.” Avoid all negative language; for example, replace “I am not in pain,” with “I am free of pain and enjoy good health.”
Use concrete and emotionally powerful terms. The affirmation, “My marriage is strong, loving, honest, and wonderful!” arouses confident, optimistic feelings.
Make it open to love’s direction. Add the words, “in the best way for all involved,” or “as positive power would have it be.” (Read April 4, 2018 blog for more about “positive power.”)
“I write wonderful books in a wonderful way. I offer wonderful service for wonderful pay,” are the affirmations that helped me write my book, 50 Ways to Worry Less Now. I adapted them from an example in Florence Scovel Shinn’s The Game of Life and How to Play It. The rhyme of way and pay helped me repeat my intention often. The phrase wonderful service engaged my wish to offer support and hope to others. And, of course, I am open to a positive payoff in whatever form it may appear!
To manifest my goal, I also practiced visualization—a mental programming technique using vivid images. Many successful athletes use this technique to enhance their performance, among them Jordan Spieth, the youngest winner of the 2017 British Open Golf Tournament, who often refers to seeing the shot before he hits the ball.
At the top of this post you can see photos of the two five-by-seven-inch, laminated vision boards I used to visualize my success. The words “Create something good. Yes, you! You’re done,” gave me inspiration. The dove, hearts, and word serenity reminded me of my positive power’s help. The woman leaping over the round object represents me overcoming my worries and achieving my goal. Oprah Winfrey is a symbol of courage and service to others.
I placed my vision boards on my desk in my direct line of vision. Before I began writing, I said my affirmations aloud, visualized them as true, and then connected my heart with the images on my boards.
I often visualized a future book-signing event where people tell me how much my book has helped them. Two months ago, I lived that dream at my first book signing event.
Suddenly, I looked up from signing a book, and gasped in amazement. I was experiencing exactly what I had visualized for so many years!
We’ll start with Step 1; the next two blog entries will lead you through the other steps for manifesting your own dreams.
STEP 1. Write Your Affirmation
Think of a challenging situation that’s been worrying you, and imagine how you would like to feel and act in that situation. Just remember, if your goal involves another person, make sure you indicate how you want to be rather than focusing on how you want them to be.
1. Use the guidelines to write your affirmation in your journal. If you’d like, add the words, “Thank you, (the name you use for positive power) for (fill in the blank).”
2. Copy your affirmation onto a sticky note, and put it in a spot where you’ll frequently see it.
3. Place another copy of your intention in a small box or special place.
4. Repeat your affirmation as often as you can.
5. Make a vision board that represents how you want your life to be when your desire is accomplished. Cut words and illustrations from magazines, draw pictures, or use photos. Arrange them in a way that is meaningful to you on a small card or larger piece of cardboard. The only absolute is that your board portray how your life will look after meeting your goal.
6. Focus on your vision board images a couple of times a day and just before bedtime.
7. When you state your affirmation or look at your vision board, immerse yourself in the emotions and sensations you would have if your wish were already fulfilled.
Now that you’ve chosen your goal, you come face-to-face with the hardest part of the process: STEP 2: Let the outcome go. Your first inclination might be to try to exert control to get the exact results you want. Your best option, however, is to do the opposite: Let go by cultivating the Buddhist virtue of nonattachment.
Gigi holds an MA in Psychology and PhD in Psychological Studies in Education, both from Stanford. “Langer’s frank and empathetic tone will comfort readers, as will the practical steps she teaches.” (Featured Book, BookLife by Publishers Weekly) “Her honesty will blow you away! It is beautifully written; filled with humor and authenticity.” (Member of Al Anon)