Flip: From Unhappy to Happy
It is so easy to get stuck in the cycle of thinking that one day your life will be better, but just not right now. Or, even worse, that you are doomed to live an unfulfilling life, day in and day out, until one day, you die.
Ugh, that was depressing just to read. I can’t imagine living that way. Well, yes I can, because I did. I lived with that exact mindset for most of my entire adult life. I get it. But what so few realize is that it is so much easier to make the small flips in life that make us happier than to remain stuck and unhappy.
And, if you are still stuck feeling this way, you, my friend, are not alone. As little experiment, I kept my curious little ears open all last week to hear how people talk about themselves and their lives. (Eavesdropping is one of my super powers, in case you were wondering.)
Here are a few things I heard:
When I win the lottery, I’m going to retire, and move some place better than this. This place is depressing. (I wanted to say, “Yo, you live in Miami. People dream of retiring here. And you are…already here!)
I’m not buying any clothes until I lose five pounds. (Ok, you know who you are, so I’m just going to say right here what I said to your face…Ummm, didn’t you say that like six months ago? And six months before that? And, I think you see where I’m going with this, right? Good! So buy the damn pants and enjoy the heck out of them!)
My life is so boring! (I didn’t know this person, but we were sitting at the same happy hour spot, and it was such a great happy hour spot. Who are these people being bored at a happy hour with free tacos? Yes, free tacos.)
If you are brave enough to admit to yourself that you can relate to these Debbie Downers (don’t worry, no one has to know), here are 4 quick and easy flips to get happier in seconds:
1. Focus on the Good Over the Bad
No matter how spectacularly blah-tastic your life seems right now, there are some shiny little objects you can hold on to. Do you have a warm place to sleep at night? Is your favorite TV show on the DVR, just waiting for you and a tub of ice cream? Did you just send out a meme to everyone you know and now the lols are rolling in? Is there a taco with your name on it out there in the universe (bonus points if it’s free!)?
Can you, your heart, and your brain land on at least 5 good things? Are there 5 things in your life that give you at least a glimmer of joy, hope, or just make you say, “Umm, yes, please!” Good. You are so lucky. You have so much to be happy about.
2. Look back with gratitude instead of regret
Every single thing that has happened to you in your life, every fall, every misstep, every lost lover, every forgotten opportunity, and even every mistake you’ve ever made has made you the you you are right now (there’s a heck-ton of “you”s in that sentence, but hey, this is self-help, and self-help is the one time where it really is ALL ABOUT YOU!)
Even if you don’t think you are living your best life, or that you aren’t the ideal person you want to be, you know yourself better than anyone else in the world, and you know that you have a plethora of redeeming qualities. And, you’ve earned them. Yes, it would’ve been great if you got the promotion over Sally-know-it-all-down-the-hall, but you learned from that experience. It made you smarter. It made you a bit tougher. Maybe, hopefully, it made you evaluate what you want and what you can do to get it.
Look back on all your past with gratitude—even the dark and ugly times. The bad times are the ones that give you grit. They are the experiences that build wisdom. You deserve a lot of respect for living through them and surviving, and no one owes you more respect for that than you do. Go you.
3. Flip Your Mindset from Negative to Positive
It sounds so simple because it is. It sounds too simple, in fact—too good to be true. But the truth is, it’s that simple, and it’s that hard.
It’s simple because deciding to be positive really and truly makes you a happier person. When you decide to look for the positives in any situation, to appreciate the growth and knowledge gained from a less-than-stellar experience, it immediately makes you happier. This is what I call a flip. A flip is a small, quick mindset change that can improve your life.
Flip from dwelling on negativity, and looking for all the chances to be negative, and instead, look for those shiny objects you can grab and hold on to. It’s that simple. But it takes practice—that’s the hard part.
Start practicing this flip with small things, and soon it will become part of your mindset tool collection. For example, let’s say that after work one day, you go to the grocery, intent on making your Grandma’s famous spinach lasagna. So far, so good. But, once you get there, you discover that they are out of her super-secret ingredient. As soon as your start hearing your brain say things like, “Of course, they don’t have what I need. Isn’t that typical. First I had a crap day at work, and all I wanted was some damn spinach lasagna, and now I can’t even have that. The world is against me. I have the worst luck.”
Flip that switch, girl, pronto. As soon as that voice starts babbling on, cut it off, and tell yourself that you just weren’t meant to make dinner today. And now you have time to finish reading the book you haven’t had time to read, and finally order from that cute new Italian place on the corner. Alone time + book + hot food delivered to your door = perfection. Damn, you’ve got it good.
4. Remember You are in Good Company
I know you think that you are the only one who feels this way. You’re completely convinced that your next door neighbor, your friends on Facebook, and that promotion stealer, Sally-know–it-all-down-the-hall all have their sh*t together, and only you feel this way. But I promise you, that this is not true.
Evidence number 1—remember my little week of eavesdropping on Debbie Downers?
Evidence number 2—Let me tell you, I spend a good chunk of my everyday life, hanging out with other life coaches, and even they have their moments. We all do. And thinking that you are the only one who suffers with this, is just another belief that holds you back from being happier every day.
So, those are 4 easy mindset flips that you can start practicing right now to make yourself happier in no time. The hardest part is just remembering to implement them, and believing that you have the power to use these flips, and make them work for you. Say them aloud. Write them down. Set a reminder in your phone. Commit to them in comments, right here, right now. Do whatever it takes to remember, implement, and benefit. I believe in you. Don’t flip out. Flip your life.