By Dream Angus
In psychology, happiness is a mental or emotional state of well-being which can be defined by, among others, positive or pleasant emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.
Would you say you were happy? Happiness is a sometimes illusive state of mind which all of us long for and seem to be always looking for. But what happens when we find it? It is usually a fleeting experience, now it’s here and now its gone.
As human beings we do not appreciate the brief experiences of happiness enough, we pass through these moments all to quickly. At an extreme level individuals experiencing social isolation and loneliness are making up more and more of the population. How people experience extreme isolation is a curse on modern society and something we all need to understand better.
Satirical writer Kurt Vonnegut wrote about the worst aspects of modern society in many books and essays. You might say he swung from being totally cynical to totally idealistic in the space of a few pages.His writing speaks very well to the same qualities in me that struggles with unrealised goals. We are all here to help each other, yet more often than not, we fail miserably to do so.Whether it is on an individual level or a societal level we often just let the world wash over us and fail to fully experience ‘happiness’ even when it slaps us on the face. In ‘A man without a country’ Vonnegut drops this pearl of wisdom on his readership….
Calling out our moments of happiness can cause us to reinforce the feeling and enable us to appreciate simple pleasures.
It cannot be overstated how important this is to our well being and mental health. Some people do it in spades and are in the ‘annoyingly happy all the time‘ category.
What have they got to be so happy about?
Being happy and joyful does not come easily to everybody and we have all had our share of emotional problems and periods of depression. So coming across Vonnegut’s advice to ‘call out‘ our happy moments could be a revelation for many of us. It sounds too good to be true but believe me it works. For me I am going to try and practice this daily as I recognise that mental health ‘first aid’ is required from time to time.
Many people become so isolated and alone that they get into a downward spiral.Cognitive behaviour therapies tell us there is hope for us all. We can relearn and in effect put different pictures in our heads that will improve our mental state.
Our thoughts are a series of mental pictures. These pictures are stored as our version of “reality.” We did not intentionally put these pictures in our minds, they were accumulated by where we lived, who we are around and our family values. In other words they contain things that we did not put there or were influenced by things like the media. Whether it’s sticking with a New Year’s Resolution or focusing on personal or political goals, success begins with changing the pictures in your subconscious mind.
You can easily change your pictures using the following techniques:
- Control your thoughts
- Change your picture
- Create a better inside world
- Assume responsibility
- Stay away from negative people
Psychology speculates that we have a reticular activating system that filters out unimportant sensory information from your conscious mind. It determines what you notice and what you pay attention to. You will only be aware of what is important to you NOW. Like a mother sleeping in a flat close to a busy road will sleep soundly despite the traffic until her baby cries.
Your present thoughts determine your future. Think about what you DO want, not about what you DON’T want. Make what you want important, making it a picture inside your head, it could be a new car , a new job or just having nice day tomorrow.
You are the one who decides what is important by what you think about. If you envision yourself as successfully reaching your goals, your mind will filter out any information that is contrary to your desires and move you towards your goal.
You move toward whatever is in your mind, whether or not it is good for you. When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts, IMMEDIATELY stop and think about something else. In order to become expert at this you can do the following-Keep a stash of mental pictures that are good for you; daydreams, fantasies that take you back to. positive feeling of yourself being happy. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, simply switch your attention to your fantasy.
The reason people don’t succeed with their goals is that they try to change the behavior before they change their mental picture. Like New Years resolutions. That never works. Changing your picture changes your behaviour automatically.
Picture first; behaviour follows.
We move toward the strongest picture in our heads. If we have two conflicting pictures of ourselves, the strongest one wins. The strongest picture in your mind determines the direction that you move in.
Envision yourself as the success you want to be. Incorporate this vision into your stash of positive mental pictures.
Because it took time to put the negative picture of yourself in your mind, it will take time to change your picture or yourself. This is important for people with self esteem issues.It can be life changing to follow this advice.
Work on it several times every day and it will change.
We create an outside world to match the one in our mind
To be successful, you must see things the way you want them to be, not the way they actually are. By doing this, you cause your creative subconscious to generate the energy to change the outside world to match your desires.
Remember, no conflict, no energy. No energy, no change.
When the world inside your head and the outside world, don’t match, you get MAD and generate the energy to do something about it.
Once you change your picture, the mind starts working – action takes place immediately.
Create a better picture of life and life will change for the better.
Don’t be a victim
You are in control of your life. You have the power to change anything that you don’t like in your life.
You are not a victim.
You are personally accountable for your own success.
If you take the responsibility and the accountability, you are admitting that you have control.
Your subconscious mind will stop blocking information that will lead to your success. You will notice the answers that have always been around you. You will ACT upon your desires and your life will change.
Stay away from negative people
We accept the reality of how people tell us we are.
The people around you supply the paint for your mental picture of yourself. If you spend time with people who tear you down, your mental picture becomes one of gloom and despair.
Surround yourself with people who tell you how wonderful you are and tell others how great they are as well.
Your picture will begin to change; as soon as it does YOU will change into the best YOU that you can be.
All that is good information. I could go on and take it to the next level but it is a lot to take in.
On a societal level we now have openly lying governments, fake news , austerity and a manipulating mass media. Consumerism, war, manufactured news to make you look the other way.
In the same way we can ‘call out’ good moments to celebrate and be happy we can also shape our future by saying things like I want to live in a country that feeds all of its children, I would like to live in a country that can sort this. A country that improves the mental health of its citizens is a country I want to live in.
The first step is to realise you can control your mind when all along it was being controlled by others without you realising.
I don’t know who you are, Dream Angus, but you did well to write this.
I believe Kurt Vonnegut to have been one of the sanest people on this planet – yet he struggled with …….a troubled mind. Of course he did – he saw clearly, and what he saw, wasn’t always a good thing to see – but , he dealt with it and wrote for others, to maybe see a way of dealing with it, too.
You pick one of his best illustrations of this – whenever there’s something good – and it doesn’t have to be mind-blowing, letting off fireworks kind of good – just – taste that mouthful of food, think about a GOOD THING, look at that view, or, if there’s no view to be had – try the sky – there’s a lot to be seen, there. When I was recovering from being very ill indeed, one of the things which helped was to look out the window and see my neighbours ducks having a whale of a time on the pond. There is little more joyful, and infectiously joy-full, than ducks on a pond.
“If this isn’t nice what is?” There you have it.
As I recovered, I also realised that ….being happy doesn’t depend on being physically well. Part of what got me down, was being so very unwell, and not being able to see past feeling that way. It is hard to get a grip on any of what’s nice when you feel like that, but, as I picked up a bit, I realised that it doesn’t entirely depend on being physically fit – it depend on…..you. Looking about you with different eyes – “If this isn’t nice, what is?”
I’m still a bit of a wreck, and it gets me down at times, but….goodness me…… the sun shines, I meet a friendly dog, I eat a nice biscuit, and….”If this isn’t nice, what is?”
I just get on with it, hold on to my self and my life, and wait for the something nice to turn up – and it always does – it doesn’t have to be stunning, just……something nice. And you need to recognize it, when it’s there. Better still, hand out a bit of the niceness yourself, if you feel up to it! And, if it isn’t returned, well – you do what you do, and others do what they do – that’s their business.
Here’s to Kurt Vonnegut, who dealt with what he saw, and how he felt, as best he could, and tried to hand that on to others with similar mind-sets. Good man.
And to Dream Angus, who is having a go at doing something similar – if that isn’t nice, what is?