How To Be Happier In 20 Seconds

There have been a gazillion words written on the subject of happiness and no doubt a gazillion more will follow.

Which isn’t at all unsurprising when you consider that the wish to be happy is an innate human desire that binds us all.

I have never heard anybody say, “I just seem to have too much happiness in my life, I need to sell some of it on Craigs List” and make a tidy sum.

And the reason that I’ve never heard of such a thing, is because by and large happiness is elusive and nobody has too much of it.

Ok, and I suppose technically you can’t sell it either because it just happens to be stuck inside you and no amount of pulling and poking will get it out.

Happiness Comes And Goes

Happiness comes, it goes and then it comes and goes again, as do all human emotions and feelings.

No feelings are permanent even if sometimes when we are in the grasp of a negative one it can sometimes be hard to remember that.

Few, if any of us are immune to the phone call with bad news that can send us spiraling down from feeling great and without a care in the world, to feeling thoroughly shit.

I have had this happen to me a couple of times recently with bad news.

Fortunately, the reverse can be true when we get some great news. This just serves to demonstrate the constant fluidity and uncertainty of life.

There is an expression used in positive psychology that says, “Negative emotions are like velcro to the mind and positive ones are like teflon”.

In other words, we remember negative events much more effectively and often with more clarity, than we do positive one.

Whereas there are great evolutionary reasons for this in terms of improving our chances of survival, most of those reasons are no longer relevant.

It really is ok to forget about the drunk who insulted your hair, the job interview you flunked 5 years ago, or the game of Words With Friends you lost to your extremely ginger-haired lucky fucker of a friend from back in the UK.

I can give you lots of scientifically proven tips to help you improve your happiness levels and most will probably have the desired effect.

How To Be Happier

Giving back in a way that is meaningful to you increases happiness, as does meditation (or prayer if you prefer).

Feeling genuine gratitude (don’t fake that shit – it doesn’t work), exercise, postponing short-term pleasure for long-term gain and setting and achieving goals can also help.

However, even though you probably agree that the above will help (and indeed you may even do one or all ) they all require a considerable amount of time and/or discipline.

But there’s a quicker way that is so brilliant, so simple, and so blindingly obvious, although many people on Pinterest haven’t quite caught up with it yet.

There are a LOT of quotes on Pinterest. Some are great, some ok and some downright awful.

And the ones that fall in to the latter category are often those that are obsessed with never looking back.

Quotes like: “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way” and “The past has nothing new to teach you”

Technically speaking you may not be going backwards, but I certainly wouldn’t like to think I was never allowed to reminisce about good times spent with my deceased parents, great nights out or even really cool client sessions.

There’s an old joke that nostalgia aint what it used to be, but it can actually be very useful in helping us feel happier with our lives.

Look Back With Pleasure

Dwelling on positive events for a few moments when we’re feeling down uses the same part of the brain as was used when we first formed the memory.

And you don’t even have to go back far in time to get the same beneficial effect.

When something good happens to you – you get a compliment, something makes you smile, a friend makes you laugh, you hear good news etc. Hold that thought for about 15  to 20 seconds.

Then the next time it happens do the same, and keep doing it.

Don’t worry, you have the time because if it’s happening so many times per day you can’t squeeze it into your calendar then you don’t need this process anyway and you probably aren’t reading this blog post.

And then do the opposite for negative events, replace that thought with a happy one.

By doing something so simple you start to retrain your brain to be velcro for positive events and teflon for negative ones.

This cannot stop unhappiness visiting you from time to time, nor is it designed too. As I said, that’s part and parcel of life.

It will though, help you become an overall happier person and give you a greater control over your negative emotions. All for 20 seconds of work – not even hard work at that.