Paths to Happiness in a Negative World

 Life throws challenges and every challenge comes with rainbows and lights to conquer it. -Amit Ray

Life throws challenges and every challenge comes with rainbows and lights to conquer it. -Amit Ray

The everyday inundation of negative news stories, tragedies, and negative social media posts is too much for any normal level headed person to deal with and come out on the other side smiling and thinking positive thoughts, unless you are working at it-really working at it. No matter your media outlet, you find some form of tragedy. That doom and gloom finds its way into your personal life, and it takes over.

These negative thoughts have a way of grabbing on and taking hold. They control and consume you. If you are like me, one negative story can send me spiraling for, sometimes, days. I fixate. My brain can’t shut it down. Why? Misery loves company. Your brain becomes accustomed to these thoughts and attracts them. It focuses on them. The negative thoughts become a habit.

A dangerous habit.

Negative thoughts are a silent killer. I blame our mental health epidemic on  24 hour news programming and social media. It keeps the negative thought process flowing constantly.  It can be debilitating, if you let it.

Negative thoughts throw you into a mindset of survival instinct where fear thrives. It limits your ability to focus and see options. This world can make you crazy. It can be dark and twisted. But, it doesn’t have to be.

Good news. You can reverse this pattern of thinking and work your ass off going forward, effectively rewiring your brain.

Choose happy and remember that God only gives you what you can handle. Happiness create a better experience--a better existence.

But, I know it is harder than just that. It takes practice. It takes mindful control of your thoughts and purposeful movements. Popular researcher on happiness, Barbara Fredrickson, has conducted exciting research on the topic. Her breakthrough research has concluded that there are several practices you can engage in to increase your level of happiness. A few: meditation, write, and play. She argues that positive thoughts allow you to see more options in your life. You experience a sense of possibility. You can do this. I can do this. I’m setting out on my own journey to reverse my thought process. Below are a few ideas.

How to improve your level of happiness:

I’m beginning, or should I say revisiting, a challenge that will incorporate several of these. Each week I will write what I am grateful for. 5 Loves. It is important to be mindful of all the many wonders of this existence, big or small. I’ve done this before, and I really do enjoy it. However, I must be mindful of its purpose. Sometimes, like many, I get lost in other “fake motivators” such as likes. Oh, social media. I grapple with you. You are a struggle, so I do my best to limit my interaction. 

This weekend we are traveling to Gatlinburg, TN. Go somewhere you have never been before, even if it is only five hours away. Go outside, adventure, see wonder in God’s creation. Read a book. Write a book. That’s my plan.  I’m hopeful this will lower my stress levels! I may even use my Headspace app to meditate.

You might have noticed I didn’t mention love yourself in my upcoming challenges and activities. Hopefully, loving yourself is a result of participating in the listed activities. Build your base. Work your ass off. Maybe then you can truly learn how to love yourself the way you were meant to.

All that being said, don't forget your struggle. It is part of your story. Your struggle is what made you strong. Your struggle is what reminds you to keep going. Just start to see your struggle as a blessing that molded you into the person you are today. See it as a building block to becoming the strong person you are meant to be.

I challenge you to tackle one of these paths to happiness and monitor the outcome. Let me know how it goes. Share some tips. We are all in this together, afterall!