Click on any of these quick tips to make you happier and live better!
When we talk, we do more than vocalize. We also hear what we are saying, think what we are saying, use certain tones of voice, feel certain emotions, and make facial expressions and physical gestures.
Every time we talk, not only do we give information to other people, we give information to ourselves. Since we use our senses and emotions when we talk, we plug what we say into our subconscious mind. We ensure it gets plugged in when we say the same things over and over.
Once our words get plugged in, what they mean to us becomes true and our reality. For example, many people with anxiety say, “I don’t know” a lot during conversations. They don’t even realize they are saying it, but their subconscious mind takes it in and knows it to mean they don’t know anything. So, they feel helpless and hopeless. They struggle with making decisions, voicing their opinions, and being convicted to their own principles and values, which causes more anxiety.
Talk how you want to be. If you want to be happy use “happy” in your vocabulary. Examples: When you hear good news, celebrate it by saying, “I’m happy to hear that!” When you accomplish something, say something like, “I got my whole house cleaned and I am really happy about that!”
Get into the habit of talking happy. 1 Peter 3:10 tells us to do just that.
People who focus on themselves have a very limited view. So, they tend to see the small aspects of themselves and others. This leads to narrow mindedness, which results in selfishness and stinginess, leaving these folks miserable.
The best way to get our minds off ourselves is to do something for other people. When we focus on others, we have a much larger view of the world and can see things we didn’t know existed. Our minds become more open from which we open our hearts.
Human beings feel good when they help someone. Doing something good for someone else could mean that you give a compliment, hold the door, let someone have your parking space, give your umbrella to someone who doesn’t have one, buy someone a cup of coffee, pray for someone.
Doing good things for people helps you be more creative and more generous, shows people good in the world and can inspire them to do the same. It helps you be happier!
We all know how exciting it is when we’re looking forward to something. This type of good pleasure excites the joy area of the brain. One of the elements for maintaining a level of happiness is to have something enjoyable to look forward to.
Research shows laughter improves overall health. Laughter relieves stress, soothes tension, helps stimulate your heart, lungs, and muscles, helps improve your immune system, can relieve pain, improves your mood, and releases endorphins.
Unlike crying, we can laugh on demand and spontaneously. Go ahead and burst into a hearty laugh!
Doing something kind for someone with no expectation, but just the intention to make someone smile is like the Freedom of Fun Act. Think about what Jesus said, “It is more blessed [and brings great joy] to give than to receive.”
When we receive, we are joyful, but when we give, we think of others beyond ourselves. Giving to others allows us to plan and be creative while anticipating joy. It also allows us to accomplish something, which creates satisfaction and joy for ourselves!
Our minds awake fresh every day. Before you start cluttering your mind with all the things you have to do, remind yourself how much you already have.
Thank God first thing each morning for a new day and all the blessings you have, and look forward to the new opportunities each day brings. Then, you can thank God again at night for all you received that day.
Gratitude is a backdoor approach to happiness. When we are grateful, we acknowledge kindness and goodness in others at the same time we accept kindness and goodness from others. This acceptance gives other people joy and is a way we give ourselves permission to have good things that leads us to be recipients of more good things, resulting in more joy, satisfaction, and contentment.
When we spend more of our time being grateful, we spend more time in the realm of kindness and goodness. We recognize all the things we have, giving us positive focus on what we have instead of what we don’t have.
Sarcasm is only amusing in a comedy club or on TV sitcoms, such as the Golden Girls. When used in relationships, it is more destructive than funny.
Sarcasm is defined as a sharp, cutting remark used to give pain; the use of remarks that mean the opposite of what they say in order to criticize something or someone in a humorous way.
If you grew up in a family where sarcasm was the preferred style of humor, that might be okay when you are all together as a group. However, when you bring someone from the outside into the fold, he or she won’t appreciate that type of humor. It is confusing to people who don’t share in that humor. Besides being hurtful and passive aggressive, sarcasm diminishes trust. When someone uses sarcasm it is difficult to know whether he is serious and telling the truth or trying to be funny.
When you use sarcasm, you run the risk of hurting people’s feelings, losing their trust, and making people feel foolish. Be kind and leave the sarcasm behind.
One of our survival mechanisms is pain avoidance. Once we’ve been hurt, our subconscious mind stores the information as a memory to prevent us from getting hurt again, and alerts us when we are close to repeating the action. We remember things like, don’t touch the hot stove, and will jerk away from a simmering pot or don’t run out onto the street, and yank a child back onto the sidewalk. We remember what not to do.
This built in safety feature gives us a natural inclination towards negative thoughts and feelings. It is easy to express negative opinions, see the negative traits in people, talk negatively about others, and use negative expressions.
When we talk negatively, we build up our safety feature, keeping us overly alert and constantly suspicious. Suspicion negates trust and the less we trust, the more we fear.
Pay attention to how you and others talk. You’ll be amazed how many people repeatedly say, “I don’t know…” and “I can’t…” in their conversations. These folks tend to experience anxiety and inordinate chaos in their lives.
Saying “I don’t know…” makes you feel helpless and hopeless. Over use of “I can’t…” makes you feel incapable and desperate. These feelings will be what you believe about yourself and become your reality.
Keep your safety feature on standby. Instead of building it up, build up yourself and others by talking in the affirmative. Instead of saying what you can’t do, speak to what you can do. Everyone knows something. So, change your attitude by stating what you do know instead of what you don’t.
Talking in the affirmative gives you something to look forward to. It directs you to being happier.
Emotions are unreliable. They are responses to our circumstances and change quickly. They are not logical or rational. Therefore, if you base your decisions and behaviors on your emotions, you will be as unreliable as your emotions. Unreliable people lack integrity.
Doing or not doing things because you feel or don’t feel like it puts you and your emotions ahead of others and produces more regrets.
Do what you say you are going to do. When you follow through, people know they can trust and depend on you. Not only do you support trust with others, you maintain your own strength in discipline and courage. You become good with commitment.
Would you rather be pushed (forced) or led (guided)? Most of us prefer the latter. When we are guided, it is usually for our benefit. It offers more safety, involves cooperation and trust with others, is a means for knowledge, and can give us inspiration.
We are never alone when we are led and have more options than when we are pushed. When we are led, we have someone with us throughout the journey. We can choose to proceed or stay, how far we want to go, if we want to walk on the same path as the leader, and where we want to be in line. When we are pushed, we go where someone else forced us and we are left alone to deal with the outcome.
However, being pushed can launch us in a good direction if we are being pushed out of something. Pushing a person into traffic or into the water has a bad outcome. Pushing someone out of something, such as a mother pushing to deliver her baby or pushing someone out of harm’s way have good outcomes.
A delicate balance between pushing and leading can bring out the best in others. But, we must remember to push out and not in. We can be pushed out to do better and that can make us be spiritually better. And, we can be led to be spiritually better which makes us do better.
If you’re going to push someone to bring out the best in him, do it with the grace of God. If you lead someone to bring out the best in him, let God lead you first.
Sometimes the easiest way to bring out the best in someone is to humble yourself and just let that person know he/she is the best!
When you tell someone what he already knows, it’s a waste of energy and causes frustration for you and him. We tell people what to do when we want to hurry up and help them solve their problems or when we’re trying to correct someone’s behavior.
We may mean well, but when we tell people what they already know, we’re not supportive or empathic. We’re just directing them to do what we think they should do.
We don’t need to tell people what they need. Saying “You need …” to someone who is lamenting insults him and disconfirms what he really needs. Most of the time the person just needs for you to listen and acknowledge his dilemma.
Everyone who can think for himself knows better than anyone what he needs. When you tell someone what he needs, you’re giving him the message that he’s incapable of knowing his own needs and you know him better than he knows himself. That’s insulting.
Think about a time when someone told you what you needed. How readily did you receive it? We typically resent and resist that kind of advice.
Don’t tell people what they already know. Be compassionate and first find out what they don’t know. Then, you might offer suggestions.
When in doubt, leave advice out and just listen.
It’s fun to make a wish before you blow out the candles on your birthday cake! We pause before we huff and puff thinking of what we would like to have. Most of us don’t put a lot of credence in our annual desire – I’m still waiting for the Ferrari to show up in my driveway, but there is something about making a wish that lightens our hearts and makes us smile.
One way to bring peace to yourself when you are angry or frustrated is to make a wish. A while ago, I saw a report about a family who had been in a tragic accident. A drunk driver slammed into their car killing all the children and the father. Sometime after the event, a reporter interviewed the mother. While she was incredibly sad, there was an extraordinary peace about her. I remember a statement she made that inspired this peace. She said, “I wish this hadn’t happened.”
When bad or frustrating things happen that we can’t control, many times we go with our first reaction and become mad, sad, fearful, resentful, bitter, and stressed out. Then, we have to recover from that and the unfortunate event. If we don’t infect ourselves with negative feelings, we have less from which we have to recover.
These negative emotions automatically come from our subconscious mind’s survival feature. When we are hurt or threatened, our survival instincts (emotions) kick in and we feel we have to retaliate. But, when there is nothing or no one we can specifically target for the counterattack, we end up taking out our frustration on those close to us or ourselves.
We can prevent our subconscious mind from putting us in survival mode by wishing the bad stuff away. Like the woman in the interview, we can wish the event didn’t happen or we can wish the person hadn’t been so hurtful. As soon as our subconscious mind hears “wish,” it realizes retribution is not attainable and we can be more at peace.
The next time you get angry or frustrated with someone or a situation, make a wish. Tell yourself, “I wish that hadn’t happened.”
We get physically ill from anything that upsets or disrupts our system’s normal balance. When we are ill, most of us want rapid relief, so we seek treatment and comfort. Being sick is no fun. Let’s face it – when we are ill, it is miserable for us and for the people around us.
The same is true when we are emotionally ill. Emotional illness occurs when someone or something upsets or disrupts our emotional balance and we feel afraid, mad, sad, depressed, anxious, resentful, guilty, or ashamed. These negative feelings are also contagious. So, not only can someone easily infect us, but we can easily infect others.
It takes conscious effort to keep ourselves healthy. We stay away from people who have contagious illnesses, we get vaccinated against deadly diseases, we eat right, and we take supplements to build up our immune systems. But, we are less inclined to make the same efforts for our emotional health.
Would you let someone with the flu cough in your face or would you purposefully prick yourself with a Hepatitis contaminated needle? How many of you would play with a rabid puppy?
Certainly, none of us would purposefully do anything to make ourselves physically sick. However, when it comes to our emotional health, we purposefully perpetuate bad feelings. We hang onto past events, the ways we were treated, and things people said to us that made us feel bad then and continue to make us feel bad every time we think about them. Many times, we expect the worst and steal our own joy by down-playing good things that happen to us.
Why would anyone want to do this? Talk about self-inflicted pain. People who set themselves up to feel bad also spend a lot of time in recovery. Think about being in the recovery room after surgery or what it’s like to recover from a real physical illness. This also is not enjoyable.
If you want to be happy, set yourself up for it. Leave the past back where it belongs. Forgive (meaning let go of) the hurtful things people did or said to you. If necessary, find someone you trust to talk to about it. Ask yourself how the bad feelings you keep perpetuating are helping you.
If you really want to set yourself up to be happy, pray for those who’ve hurt you. This is one tough exercise that will not only make you healthy, but will give you strength to maintain greater happiness!
1 Corinthians 13 explains love. Verse 7 specifically states when we love, we choose to believe the best in others. When we do this, not only do we give love to the other person, but we end up loving ourselves. Choosing to believe the best in others frees us from bad thoughts and bad feelings as demonstrated in these two examples:
- Scenario when I don’t believe the best — I ask my friend out to lunch and she agrees. I pick the restaurant and we agree on a time. Expecting my friend to show up, I get a table and wait. Minutes go by and she doesn’t show nor does she call. The server comes over and I order an ice tea. Fifteen minutes pass and my mind starts racing. I call my friend and get no answer. My first thought is that she is upset with me because I chose the restaurant and maybe she doesn’t like it. The server comes over and says, “Is your friend coming?” I shrug. My mind jumps to another scenario. Maybe my friend is lying dead in a ditch along the road. The horror of that is too much so I go back to being angry. The server comes back to take my order. Embarrassed that I’ve been stood up, I’m too upset to eat. So, I pay for the ice tea and leave. I can’t imagine why my friend would do this to me. An hour later my phone rings and it’s my friend. Clearly, she is not dead in a ditch, so I stick with being mad. I consider not answering to punish her, but push through my trepidation and with a cool edgy tone answer the call. She profusely apologizes, explaining that just as she was leaving, her boss caught her to help resolve a critical issue. Then, when she stopped in the rest room her phone fell in the toilet. I cannot be very empathetic because I’m too busy recovering from the anger, contempt, condemnation, worry, and embarrassment I had. I might tell her it’s okay and we can have lunch another time. I will make it a short conversation since I’ll be in the “recovery room.”
- Choose to believe the best — same scenario, but this time after I wait and still can’t get in touch with my friend, I think to myself, “She must have a good reason to not be here.” When the server comes over and asks if my friend is coming, I say, “She must have a good reason that she isn’t here.” I am not upset so I order lunch. After I enjoyed a relaxed lunch, my friend calls and profusely apologizes. I simply respond, “Ah, I figured you had a good reason!” Since I don’t have to recover, I have a better conversation with her and make plans to have lunch another day.
Choosing to believe the best makes other people “the best.” It’s a choice that will make God happy with us, make us happy with others, and make us happier.
When you are more attentive, you are more observant, more conscious. Being more conscious allows you to be more aware of yourself and others. This makes you safer, more helpful, thoughtful, considerate, and empathic.
When you are alarmed, you are on guard. You are more anxious, frightened, troubled, and worried. This keeps you on high alert and more suspicious.
It’s easy these days to be alarmed. We all have personal fears that can be managed with the right coping skills and support. But, the vast fast information we now have is overpowering. It can intensify the minor fears we already have and cause confusion that feeds our insecurities.
The media’s hyper approach for relaying information is more alarming than informative. We get messages on a daily basis telling us to be afraid, e.g. seeing antibacterial wipes in the grocery store as soon as you walk in, ads telling us how unacceptable we are unless we use certain products, and even the way weather reporting has adopted “Severe” Weather as their brand for daily reporting. The drama people perpetuate because of their oversensitivity and their need for impulsive pleasure creates confusion. Any of these situations can wear down our confidence making us unhappy.
Be more attentive by simply paying attention. The more attentive you are, the better you will be at thinking through situations, including the hyped-up news reports, high-pressure ads, and the zany behaviors of those folks addicted to drama. You will make better decisions that result in more peace, joy, and freedom. You will practice more gratifying behaviors and have more satisfying relationships. You will be happier.
We have laws we must follow in order to maintain a healthy and safe society and we have rules we must follow in order to maintain healthy happy relationships. Civil laws are created by man, even though many are based on God’s laws. They are designed to keep us orderly and therefore, free from harm. God’s laws also have a spiritual side. The spirit of the law is designed to help us live well with each other and enjoy life to the full — to be happy.
Civil laws are to be followed to the letter. They include things like traffic laws and laws that protect our property and rights. When these rules are not followed, victims and perpetrators are created. The situation becomes a matter of wrongness where the perpetrator is wrong and the victim has been wronged. The result is guilt, condemnation, and punishment.
The rules that help us maintain happy relationships are spiritual laws and must be followed by our spirit or our thoughts and emotions. These rules have broader meanings. They are rules that protect us from having our joy and peace killed or stolen, maintain honor and dignity, promote a healthier society, gain wisdom, allow us to know unconditional love, and glorify the One who is greater than ourselves. These rules are things like kindness, empathy, patience, forgiveness, self-control, gratitude, and mercy. They are the right-eous things to do.
When the spiritual laws are not followed, we feel we have been wronged. We are disappointed, frustrated, angry, or sad. We impose our own guilt, condemnation, and punishment on the so-called perpetrator even if the perpetrator is ourselves.
The spirit of the law has no guilt, condemnation, and punishment because Jesus took care of that for us. When we impose these on others or ourselves, we ignore the gift God gave us. It is an insult to God and another sense of wrongness.
To prevent civil and spiritual wrongness, always do what is right in the eyes of God. Do what is righteous and there’ll be no wrongness. You will be happier!
When we are generous, we do not give out of guilt or obligation. We give out of love. This means we may sacrifice something for the benefit of someone else with no expectation of getting paid back.
When we give out of guilt or obligation, that’s relief giving. We give to assuage our bad feelings. And, we usually want some compensatory assurance that our “contribution” was acceptable so we know our debt is paid.
Generosity is a mindful act. We think about what we are giving to make sure it is right for the recipient and not what we determine is best.
We sacrifice when we give away something that is important to us. The most important thing we have is time.
If you want to be generous, give someone your time. A handwritten note or telephone call to someone takes time. It shows the recipient that he/she is as important as time itself.
In families, parents must give time to their children. Husbands and wives must devote time to each other. Electronic devices steal our time, so family members must be careful they don’t become victims of theft.
Be generous. When we are generous, we can’t help but get something back. We get joy and satisfaction, and that makes us happy!
Gossiping seems to be a favorite pastime for some people. It’s easy to get caught up in the sticky web of gossip because it just follows our nature.
The laws of nature, might makes right and survival of the fittest, require us to be competitive, dominant, and greedy. Gossiping satisfies all of these. It allows us to be uncivilized in a socially civilized group. Social media makes it even easier since it is veritable social distancing and can be easily masked.
To gossip means to run about and tattle; to tell idle tales. In other words, we do not gain wisdom by gossiping and it serves no benefit for enriching others. But, it is so easy to get caught in. Sometimes I feel like I just fall into it.
We all know gossip imbues contemptuous undertones. Gossiping feeds into our survival emotions of fear, contempt, shame, and guilt and our survival emotions prompt us to gossip. Most people agree the easiest and fastest way to raise their self-esteem is by lowering the esteem of others. Thus, when we gossip, we dominate.
We can gossip under the guise of compassion or we can be targets of a gossip attack. For example, a church member comes up to you after service and says, “I haven’t seen Charlie for a while. It’s odd that he has missed.” In a kindly whisper, you share your assumption and reply, “Well, I heard he had some trouble with drinking…. We should pray for him.”
Sometimes people actually seem excited to attack you with gossip or give you the scoop on someone. Let’s say you’re in the break room. A co-worker comes rushing over to you and says, “Oh man, have you heard what they’re saying about you?” or “Have you heard the scoop about Sally?”
Here are two ways to keep yourself free of gossip.
1. To prevent yourself from gossiping about someone, remember Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV)
2. Socrates’ Triple Filter Test can be used when someone targets you. (There is no empirical evidence to support this is a Socrates creation, but we’ll credit him anyway.) Example of the Triple Filter Test: One of Socrates’ disciples came up to him quite disturbed. The disciple told Socrates that one of Socrates’ friends had just spoken badly about him. Before the disciple went any further, Socrates asked him, “Are you absolutely sure that what you’re going to tell me is true?” The disciple couldn’t say if the information was malicious or just a matter of perspective. “So you do not know if everything he said about me is true or not,” said Socrates. The disciple admitted he didn’t.
Then, Socrates asked him a second question, “Is what you’re going to tell me good or not?” The disciple replied that it wasn’t good and most likely hurtful. Socrates said to him, “You’re going to tell me something bad, but you’re not completely sure it’s true.” The disciple admitted this was the case.
Socrates asked the disciple a third question, “Is what you have to say going to help me?” The disciple thought a moment then said that he didn’t think so.
Socrates summarized, “If what you want to tell me isn’t true, isn’t good, and isn’t useful, why would I want to hear it?” and moved on.
Remember, if what you say or hear isn’t true, good, or useful, how will it help you and do you really need it?