How Comfort Has Made Us Petty

How Comfort Has Made Us Petty

For most of history, mankind has filled the majority of all waking hours dedicated to survival. There was food to find, shelter to build and predators to outrun. Then they went to sleep, got up the next morning, and repeated the same tasks as the day before.

This left very little time for pondering a person’s appearance or gossiping about what the neighbors were up to.

Even a few decades ago most people’s lives still revolved vocations such as farming, which is a lifestyle more than a job. This was true for many, many families circling the globe.  Much of the rest of the world worked within the confines of the industrial revolution with its notoriously grueling work schedule. Both situations usually entailed rising before sun up and working until after sun down. Again, this left little time to worry about insignificant things –  but people were beginning to have more of what they needed  for survival and at least some of what they wanted.

Fast forward to today, and it’s a totally different situation. Now, I know many will read this and immediately say we have homelessness and joblessness to a huge degree today, and I will not argue against this. However, the overall standard of living (especially in the United States) is the highest it has ever been. And many of the people considered to be living under the poverty level in the U.S. would be considered to be doing quite well in other countries around the world.

But here is the kicker: now that we have all of our needs taken care of (and probably way too many of our wants), we have time to think about things other than survival. This leads to us spending time on social media and other things that we never would have been able to do in the past. And being on social media apparently leads to people being mean, rude, nosy, and way too opinionated about other people’s lives.

Basically, this has the propensity to make us petty, spoiled brats.

I simply can’t believe that is the best thing we can do with our extra time. If every person on social media would refrain from posting anything negative for just one day, can you imagine how different things could be?

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some wonderful things about social media. And there are also other ways that people spread pettiness and ugliness in this world besides the internet. However, people seem more judgmental than ever since the advent of cutting someone down from the comfort of their own home while not having the physically face the target of their attacks.

Qualities such as kindness and respect have been derailed in our current social climate. In fact, these have been replaced by mean-spirited qualities that get more attention. Think about many reality shows that exhibit selfishness and other bad behaviors. There is a reason so many of those shows get such high ratings. Apparently, most of society not only condones bad behavior, but finds it entertaining. What ever happened to manners?

And maybe the worst part is that many people maintain their status and income just from being petty and mean. That is their only “talent”.  Celebrities, politicians, and influencers have rubbed off on much of society, and most of the time it is not a positive thing. They are called “influencers” for a reason, right?

So how do we stop being so petty?

First, we start by evaluating our own behaviors and see where we can do better.  Can could all be nicer, kinder, more genuine. If that means we have to abandon our social media profiles for a while, it certainly wouldn’t kill us.

Second, we try to influence others by our actions and words. Encourage others to spread positivity, good manners, and kindness wherever and whenever possible. If you have children (or have influence over any children around you), that is a wonderful place to start.

Third, and I think this is probably the most important – we stop comparing ourselves with everyone else. Be happy when other people do well and earn something new. Their lives are not perfect. No one’s life is. So everyone should count their own blessings and be happy with their own lives.

Lastly, I have to recommend the cure that I suggest for almost everything: gratitude. When any individual takes the time to stop and give thanks for the many blessings in their lives each and every day, something amazing ALWAYS happens. They become very happy and cease to be petty about insignificant things.

If you don’t believe me, then try it for just one week and see the difference in your life.

Have a happy, wonderful day!

Every Minute Counts

Every Minute Counts

A couple days ago I was standing in front of the microwave heating some leftovers when it suddenly had an epiphany: that was 60 seconds of my life that I would never get back again. This made me reflect on all of the time we spend doing mundane or even negative things. In fact, I thought about that for the rest of the day.

Obviously we all have to do repetitive tasks in our lives such as brush our teeth, sleep, take out the trash, or even reheat food in the microwave. There is a certain level of comfort in these tasks because they breed familiarity and structure to our days. So, when you think about it, even these things are positive.

However, it is amazing how easily negativity can slip into our lives without our overt permission.

Like most people I can think of many times in my life that were wasted with negative thoughts and negative actions. Of course, I would like to have that wasted time back, but all I can do is work toward doing today and in the future.

Every evening I find it helpful to reflect on my day and make some plans for the following day. With this I have added a new component: I list all the positive and negative things I have done (or thought)that day. It is amazing how much this has helped me curtail the negative in my life, even though it has only been a couple of days.

If everyone would strive to be positive (and spread as much positivity as possible), then the world would be a better place. By implementing this one small thing into my life I feel like I am helping to do my part.

Every minute counts!

Yes, You Can Be Taught How To Be Happy

you can be taught how to be happy

We all know there are several things we can do to help us be happier in life such as think positively and smile as often as possible. However, evidence now shows you can literally be TAUGHT how to be happy.

For the Spring semester at Yale University, a professor named Laurie Santos taught a class called Psychology and the Good Life for the first time. She felt that students on campus needed a way to deal with everyday stress that comes with being a student and also just living life in general.  Little did she know this class would end up being the most popular class ever offered at Yale.

I came across this class while reading an article about happiness (my favorite topic) and saw that a version of it was available for free (yes, free) on Coursera, so I decided to take it myself. I have not yet completed it, but I can already see that it contains valuable information that will make my life better. Hence, I am sharing it with you. (For more about how to be happy, see How To Write Precise Affirmations For Success.)

So far this class has really appealed to the learner in me as I have a background in both Psychology and Education. The science behind it cannot be disputed and the behavior changes needed to make the change are free – just like the class. There is literally nothing to lose by trying it.

In fact, it would be irresponsible of us to pass up a free resource that will enhance our lives, so please join me in the new journey of (even more) happiness!

Click here to access Psychology and the Good Life for free.

Note: When you finish each module, it will pop up a screen asking if you want to purchase the paid version of the class. Simply, swipe to the right to return to the next module. (Or you can purchase the class if you choose to do so.)

The Paradox of Choice – Why More Can Be Too Much (Too Many Choices)

The Paradox of Choice

Have you ever decided to buy an item on Amazon but then became frozen by the total number of choices out there – and left the site without buying anything?

Me too. In fact, I have done this countless times. Who can pick from 150 different white curtains? Or 300 different red toothbrushes?

Life is full of choices – good and bad, big and small.

Scientists say we literally make thousands of decisions every day, even though many of them are unconscious. I know that if I had to consciously think through each and every one of those decisions, I would be exhausted all the time.

I am happy my brain automatically makes lots of decisions for me. It saves brain energy and keeps me from being overwhelmed every minute of every day.

And while having choices in life is a good thing, I would make the argument that too many choices can be a bad thing – just as having NO choices can also be bad.

You see, the key to almost everything is life is moderation. See The Key To (Almost) Everything in Life: Practicing Moderation here. But moderation is no longer celebrated in American culture.

Things were not always this way. In the book The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz makes the point that my grandparents’ generation was not faced with quite the barrage of choices that I face. For example, if their washing machine stopped working and they needed a new one, they simply went down to their local store and picked from the two or three models available. Then they took it home and didn’t give that choice another thought.

It is common today for shoppers to do hours, days, even weeks of research before purchasing a new appliance (me included). And even that does not guarantee that buyer’s remorse will not follow the purchase. The fear of missing out, or FOBO, is often joked about, but is also a real thing.

What if I had bought the model that was self-cleaning? And what if the third review was right and this model has plastic gears that will wear out?

Regret is a powerful thing, and in this world of perpetual data and reviews, I might never figure out which model is truly the best. That sets me up for the uncertainty that leads to the regret.

However, I recently bought the audio version of The Paradox of Choice and listened to it all the way through in my car while traveling. Then I started at the beginning and listened to the whole thing again.

After this, I came to understand many of the reasons why I was so stressed and impatient. My brain was simply working too hard to sort out the choices in my life.

We are all fairly smart when it comes to self care these days. Like everyone else, I read and research the latest information on how to be aware and happy. I know to cut off the electronics.  I only engage social media in the pursuit of passing on useful information. I get quiet time and meditation into my schedule almost daily.

I but I never knew I needed to put a wall between myself and so many decisions.

Before you ask, yes, this can be done.

First, just being aware that so many choices are out there (and stressing me) helps me get a handle on the situation.

Second, I put as many things on autopilot as possible. For example, I have created a rotating dinner menu. I simply repeat the same recipes in the same order, and occasionally add in a new one for variety.  Also, like many others out there, I have created a sort of “uniform” for work by purchasing multiples of the same shirt and pants and wearing the same outfit every day. I have a warm weather outfit and a cool weather outfit. (Sometimes I shake that up a bit, but I can always revert to the uniform on days I prefer to be on autopilot.)

Third, I limit the amount of time I search for an item I want to buy. At the end of that time, I make a decision based on the information I have at that point. This is completely liberating! I recommend this method to everyone!

Fourth, I made a commitment not to expend energy on making unimportant decisions. Does it really matter what flavor of ice cream I buy?

Fifth, I dedicate a few minutes each day to meditation. I started slow with two or three minutes per day and worked up to 10. My goal is 30 minutes per day. Some people manage to incorporate even more.

Life is much simpler than most people make it. This was a great place to start for me. Maybe it will be for you too.

Angela Christian PopeAngela Christian Pope is a teacher, author and creator of Happiosity.org. Check out more on Twitter and Facebook.

The Key To (Almost) All Things in Life: Practicing Moderation

Practicing ModerationModeration is a word that get a bad rap these days. Overindulgence is heavily flaunted in the media and also on social media sites. It looks like so much fun to go all out on everything in life that extreme behaviors have become the new normal. In fact, almost no one even thinks they are abnormal anymore.

But doesn’t it get tiring trying to carry EVERYTHING to the extreme?!?

There is another way.

The word “moderation” might not sound exciting or glamorous, but I have found it carries me a long way in life.  Engaging in some behavior, but not TOO much – works in many areas of my life: eating, sleeping, exercising, etc.

It also works with possessions. I need SOME stuff, but TOO MUCH stuff becomes overwhelming. (Hoarders is a show that both fascinates and scares me.)

But it’s not just possessions. I have found the principle of moderation to work in (almost) every facet of life. Spending versus saving money, following your passion versus earning a high income, and hours working versus hours relaxing –  more great examples. I must practice moderation in each of these categories lest I become too extreme in one area or the other.

I’m sure everyone reading this can come up with multiple more examples. The point is this: it is so easy to go along with everyone else around me. For example, I used to work too much because everyone else was doing it, and also because I felt it was expected of me.

Or maybe I spent too much money or overextended my credit because I wanted my children to have the same vacation or Christmas gifts as all their friends.

Then I decided to stop and take a breath.

I have more control over my life than I used to realize. When I decided to live intentionally I began to exercise my right be who I really wanted to be. I don’t really have to live my life in extreme debt, extreme stress, or extreme tiredness.

Here are some specific things that have simplified my life both recently and in the past:

My Christmas decorations don’t have to be bigger and better than everyone else on my block. Remember, moderation. I put up the decorations that make me happy instead. Then stop.

I don’t have to coordinate every office party at work. I decided to do one each year and delegate the rest with a sign up sheet. Because, yes, it is even possible to do too much for others. See The Benefits of Serving Others.

And this was probably my biggest problem. I hosted these huge sleepovers for my kids. I’m talking about 10 to 20 kids at a time. The kids all had a blast and I don’t regret the time and energy that went into those endeavors, but I now prefer to invite one or two friends at a time so the kids develop closer bonds with each friend (and also so my husband and I keep our sanity). I wanted my children to have as many friends as possible, but I overdid it just a bit.

I have found there are literally hundreds of ways I can make my life better with moderation.  Along with the principle of moderation comes the ability to say “no”. Sometimes that means saying it to myself. Sometimes it means saying it to others.

But I’m learning.

So here is my advice to everyone out there: Decide to mindfully practice moderation in all (or most) aspects of your life and it will simplify your decisions – both big and small.

You won’t be disappointed with the results.

Angela Christian PopeAngela Christian Pope is a teacher, author and creator of Happiosity.org. Check out more on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

How To Write Precise Affirmations For Success

how to write precise affirmations for success

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By now most people have been exposed to the Law of Attraction and have some idea of how that works.  However, there is a key to writing precise affirmations that will catapult your success.

Gratitude is a definite part of a successful life (see The Power of Gratitude In Your Life) along with visualization, goal setting, meditation, forgiveness, etc. However, what I want to talk about here is a specific and significant way that you write your affirmations. 

Why are affirmations important?

Our subconscious mind holds our deepest beliefs about ourselves and others, and also holds concepts that are deeply ingrained in us. Sometimes this can restrain us from achieving our goals.  Affirmations are our way of retraining our minds to eliminate bad beliefs and replace those with good ones.

If we believe we won’t succeed, then we won’t. It’s as simple as that. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” And he knew a little something about success. Attitudes and beliefs are literally the biggest influences on success.

To retrain your subconscious beliefs you want to write down statements that are positive and read those to yourself several times each day. For example, if you have social anxiety you might write “I am completely relaxed and comfortable in any social setting.” If you tell yourself that enough you will begin to believe it because your subconscious has no opinion on anything and will believe anything you tell it with enough repetition. 

But here is the caveat to that. Anyone can look at their life and write down a nice list of affirmations that will benefit their life and well-being. I did that myself several years ago. But after a long time of doing this I realized that I was not changing some core beliefs in my life. That’s when I came up with this exercise.

  1. Decide where you want more success.
  2. Determine what beliefs are keeping you from that success.
  3. Dig deep and find where those beliefs came from (an event or person).
  4. Write a specific affirmation for each.
  5. Read those affirmations several times each day.

For example, I determined that I was not reaching some of my career goals. Then I dug deep and realized I didn’t believe I could reach higher goals because of a past experience early in my career. You see, when I graduated from college years before, I was unable to get a job that I wanted where I lived. Moving somewhere else was not an option, and those jobs simply didn’t exist around me. Because of that, I took a string of jobs that I didn’t want and felt like a failure. That set the stage for me to believe that I would never truly succeed in my career. 

After I figured all of this out, it was easy to write the following affirmation: “I can get any job I want making any amount of money I want.”

Over time, this affirmation convinced my subconscious mind that it was true. It was that easy. However, it took time and dedication. This is not something that you can do once. Nor can you do it once per week. It must be done every day, several times per day until you see real results. But it is easy, free, and works every time if done correctly and consistently. 

I actually took this a step further. I downloaded a program called Mind of Winner. It allows you to choose from a list of subliminal messages or create your own, then flashes these words or phrases onto your computer screen a fraction of a second. This works in the background while you are doing other things on your computer.

You can also make a recording of your own voice reciting your affirmations or pay companies to make customized recordings for you.

The best practice is to deliver these messages to your brain as many times per day as possible, in as many ways as possible.

Happiness to all! (more…)