Research: Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, Dr. Pattrick Howell, and my mind;)
Who Should read?
Those who go on vacations and still become unhappy after a week
Those who find themselves cribbing on every third phone call about being unhappy
Let me endorse two thoughts which deserve your attention upfront: 1) Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky says 50% of happiness is genetic, 10% is life circumstances, and 40% is how you deal with it. Don’t even try to assess if you have a genetic lottery unless you didn’t learn anything from my blog on “when to act”. This brings us to the 40% we can address and the next point; 2) Happiness does not need to be your life’s goal.
Happy - Eat a donut, ladoo, pie,
Unhappy - Don’t eat a donut but control calories intake
Happy - Watch a movie and party on this Saturday
Unhappy - Work on your dream project and don’t party
Skeptics will say that if I work on weekend, I should stay happy because that is a choice I am making. But that is difficult because we are greedy. We want it all. We don’t want to deal with trade-offs or opportunity costs. So, if I choose to eat and be happy, I won’t be because I ate calories that I can’t burn
If I decide to control eating, then I am unhappy about letting go of taste.
Most decisions are win-lose decisions and cause constant dissatisfaction, if you are a person who has usually sees what you have lost, then you will regret your choices and stay unhappy. What is the solution? There are two solutions
Find out win-win solutions (rare + require more work)
Learn to see what you gained. It is easier to do this with Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).
I will give you two tools today. The first one is to identify and break a pattern. Whenever you feel unhappy, record/note/discuss what your voice is saying. Let’s say you get unhappy and less confident every time you think of your ex. If you dwell/focus on this feeling, it’s a slippery slope. You need to interrupt this pattern. Calling your friends and whining about it or drinking, doesn’t break the pattern. They are just temporary distractions. You need to shift your focus to your happiness anchor. Example of happiness anchor: When you completed a marathon, the day your wife agreed to be your wife, etc.Now, record that day in your memory and create a trigger for your happiness anchor. A trigger can be pressing your index finger and thumb, rubbing your hands etc. It has to be something that you can do it in public. Every time, you start getting into the slippery slope, immediately rub your hands and think about your happiness anchor, with practice it will get you out of the negative thought and divert your mind to the happy moment. Be cautious of choosing rain or your favorite song as a trigger. You should have full control to pull the trigger.
The second NLP practice is gain to give up ratio. This is something we all do before making choices. It is writing what action you want to take and why. Make the full list and quantify where you gain more. Taking the donut example. If I eat, I gain instant satisfaction but I lose fitness. If I don’t eat, I save calories, redirect myself to a hobby to get happier, and build restraint if I do it regularly.
These techniques look so simple, that one doubts their efficacy. Instead of giving you data from any institute on the efficacy of NLP, I will simply say – “what’s the harm in trying for a month”.