Happiness Is A Habit
Did you know that 95% of our behavior, feeling and response is habitual? In the past we learned that certain attitudes, ways of feeling and thinking were appropriate to certain situations. Now, we tend to think, feel and act the same way whenever we encounter what we interpret as the same sort of situation.
What we need to understand is that these habits can be modified, changed, or reversed, simply by taking the trouble to make a conscious decision – and then by practicing or “acting out" the new response or behavior. A pianist can consciously decide to strike a different key, if he chooses. A dancer can consciously decide to learn a new step – and there is no agony about it. It can be done. It takes a bit of willpower, but this can be developed just like the muscles in your body.
Acquire The Habit Of Happiness
Here is a mental exercise you can practice to acquire the habit of happiness and put you in a resourceful state of mind every day. It’s from “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Dr Maxwell Maltz, one of my favourite books of all time:
Habitually, you put on either your right shoe first or your left shoe. Habitually, you tie your shoes by either passing the right-hand lace around behind the left-hand lace, or vice versa. Tomorrow morning determine which shoe you put on first and how you tie your shoes.
Now, consciously decide that for the next 21 days you are going to form a new habit by putting on the other shoe first and tying your laces in a different way. Now, each morning as you decide to put on your shoes in a certain manner, let this simple act serve as a reminder to change other habitual ways of thinking, acting and feeling throughout that one day. Say to yourself as you tie your shoes, "I am beginning the day in a new and better way." Then, consciously decide that throughout the day:
1. I will be as cheerful as possible.
2. I will try to feel and act a little more friendly toward other people.
3. I am going to be a little less critical and a little more tolerant of other people, their faults, failings and mistakes. I will place the best possible interpretation upon their actions.
4. Insofar as possible, I am going to act as if success was inevitable, and I already am the sort of personality I want to be. I will practice “acting like” and "feeling like" this new personality.
5. I will not let my own opinion color facts in a pessimistic or negative way.
6. I will practice smiling at least three times during the day.
7. Regardless of what happens, I will react as calmly and as intelligently as possible.
8. I will ignore completely and close my mind to all those pessimistic and negative "facts" which I can do nothing to change.
Make It Happen!!
Simple? Yes. But each of the above habitual ways of acting, feeling, and thinking does have beneficial and constructive influence on your self-image. Act them out for 21 days. "Experience" them, and see if worry, guilt, and hostility have not been diminished and if confidence has not been increased.
To be honest my shoelaces kept untying, so I just skip that part and go straight to the conscious decision every day when I put my shoes on. It’s also useful to have a list of the habits you’d like to acquire where you can see it. Give it a go and make it happen!!
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