I’m about to write something that would have pissed me off if I read it six months ago.
This year especially I have battled with lofty highs and thick, dull lows. I’ve picked up a few nuggets of advice that have changed my life. I know I sound like Tony Robbins if he worked at Maccas but bear with me.
First and easily the most important:
You Have to Want to be Happy
Weird, as I’m sure everyone reading this wants to be happy. I can imagine Shawn six months ago reading this going “Of course I wanna be happy future-Shawn you pretentious d-bag! But how can I be when blahblahblahblah first world problem after first world problem.”
It’s safe to say I actually didn’t want to be happy back then. I was too pre-occupied with all that sucked about my situation. It’s easy to get used to our high quality of life, but not the high levels of stress maintaining it, along with chasing the dangling carrot of a more desirable lifestyle.
To change this, you think you’d try change your emotions. But I’ve found it doesn’t work that way. You have to change your attitude, and genuinely want to better yourself before emotions can change.
It’s like a budget. If you want to save more money, it’s not the bank account that needs to change. It’s the mind-set, which in turn will positively affect the bank account. You have to sincerely want to save. Otherwise you’ll start off awesome, but in a week you’ll blow it all on M&M’s.
Happiness is a Discipline
It’s so much easier to sit on the couch skulling back Raro complaining about your disintegrating teeth then getting off your rear and seeing a dentist.
If we pretend something shitty is fine and dandy, no one will notice the extra effort we went through. That we didn’t want to but we are so awesome we still persevered. In fact, I want someone to follow me around with a podium, who just gives me a shit-ton of gold medals throughout the day.
That’s why happiness takes practise. Gratitude, humility and acceptance are like muscles that need flexing and creatine. You need to consciously think in moments you’re tempted to get peeved, to accept it and stay smiling. Eventually this will become habit and before you know it, you’ve changed for the better. An actual reason for Mr Podium to lay wreaths upon your ears.
Stay smiling you say? How do you smile in the first place? The world is a terrible place! Oh I hear you hypothetical voice, allow me.
Let Joy Drive
If you have not seen “Inside Out”, yes the Disney Pixar animated film, stop what you are doing, pull a u-turn, pull out even, whatever you need to do. Just watch it. I’m sure there’s a dodgy Spanish subtitled version to find on the web somewhere.
There are so many amazing points raised by this supposed “kids” film, but the one that sticks out like a walrus in the outback is that you can choose who steers the ship of your mind. When Joy is there, she’s usually behind the controls. Even when Riley is seeing her new house and isn’t totally pleased, Joy still runs the show.
It just dawned on me that sadness was pissing around behind my wheel for way too long. Joy should be the default setting. Brief run ins with the other crew are healthy and normal but Joy should be the captain. She pays the bills, feeds the dogs and is in charge of the cleaning roster. Because I have a dirty mind.
Plug Into Positive
I’d like to believe that these ideas have contributed to this much better head-space. I’ve mentally decided to pull the plug out of negativity and chuck it into positivity. To focus on all the wondrous things I have to look forward to, and to do my very best to maintain this mind-set at least more than before.
To really put it to the test, I’ve decided to listen to Gwen Stefani and see if I can get through a song without cutting the head off the nearest living thing and sacrificing it to Cthulhu.
This may not be helpful to depressed people, or people with life altering issues, more for the thick chunk of people that are lucky enough to have bountiful lives that sometimes have trouble realising. I know in the next 10 years when I look back I’m going to be grateful I made the effort to think happier, to let Joy drive and simply change for the better.