Happiness is simply a state of mind. No, I’m not implying that we can instantly heal the pain of a severe or unexpected personal tragedy just by thinking about being happy. Rather, I am referring to our levels of happiness on routine days when things in our lives are close to normal. In these neutral times, when we are neither ecstatic nor extremely sad, the slightest change in attitude can swing our happiness balance drastically in either a positive or negative direction. One of the primary factors that affect our attitude is our choice of words.
Words have a lot of power and influence on both the speaker and the listener. When we speak we sometimes unintentionally choose words that have a negative undertone. This can make us seem unhappy (and negative) in the eyes of others. Even worse, after we have spoken these words our unconscious mind starts believing in them. “If this is what came out of my mouth, it must be the way I truly feel.”
However, this is not always true. The first fleeting words that come to mind are not necessarily the most accurate representation of our feelings and intentions. We must realize that we have the power to choose the words we use, and if we pick them carefully, they can change the way we feel. Here’s one example:
Typically, when I ask someone “How are you?” they reply, “I’m fine” or “I’m okay.” But one lazy Monday afternoon last month a new colleague of mine replied, “Oh, I am fabulous!” It made me smile, so I asked him what was making him feel so fabulous and he said, “I’m healthy, my family is healthy, and we live in a free country. So I don’t have any reason not to be happy.” The difference was simply his attitude and his choice of words. He wasn’t necessarily any better off than anyone else, but he seemed twenty times happier.
It really struck a chord with me. Suddenly I realized that I have a choice. I can either say “the glass is half empty” or “the glass is half full.” Why not rejoice in the fact that, thankfully, I don’t have anything to be terribly upset about.
So now when someone asks me how I am doing, I say “I’m doing wonderful!” or “Everything is awesome!” or something similar that reflects a positive, happy mood. Since I’ve made a regular habit of doing this, multiple friends and acquaintances have noticed a positive change in my attitude. And I do genuinely feel happier.
Brian Tracy once said, “Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” One of the biggest reasons people get stuck in an idle state, instead of taking action to change their lives for the better, is simply that the process is uncomfortable. But to create positive changes in your life you have to step outside your comfort zone, at least for a little while.
Rather than dismissing yourself as unchangeable creature of habit, you can instead direct your own change by consciously developing new habits. In fact, the more new things you try – the more you step outside your comfort zone – the more inherently creative you will become, both in the workplace and in your personal life.
Routines stagnate us. New experiences help us grow and they make life interesting. Make an effort to try something new every day this week. It can be a whole new activity or just a small experience, such as talking to a stranger. And once you get the ball rolling, many of these new experiences will open doors to life changing opportunities.
With a strategy of continuous small steps into new experiences, we are able to sidestep the biggest barrier to positive change. No matter what the situation, the successful diva is the chick who will always find a way to put an optimistic spin on it. She knows failure only as an opportunity to grow and learn a new lesson from life. People who think optimistically see the world as a place packed with endless opportunities, especially in trying times.
But after a few years of captivity these wild animals lose their fierce desire to be free. You could leave the cage door unlocked so the animals could escape if they wanted to, but they won’t. They won’t even try, because they’ve become comfortable and given up the instinct that they could ever be free again.