By | Narendra Ambwani | Helping CEO/CXO Excel
All of us can practice and master the art of being calm and happy almost all the time. To achieve this state of mind, we can follow a three step approach in life. But prior to learning these steps, we need to clearly understand, where do the emotions like happiness, unhappiness and stress, reside and what triggers them.
Fear, stress, unhappiness and happiness are emotions which reside in our mind. They can be triggered by an event or a situation, but the event or situation is not the cause of these emotions. These emotions are caused by our reactions to the events or situations. If we perceive the event favorably, then, we tend to be happy, if we perceive them with fear, we feel stress in our mind, and if we perceive the situation as not meeting our expectations then we feel unhappy. So, our emotions always relate to our perception and expectations. For example if a couple wishes to be blessed with a male baby but instead a female baby is born, the couple becomes unhappy. However, if the same couple was wishing to have a baby girl, then, they will be celebrating and be joyful on arrival of a baby girl! So, the same event of arrival of a baby girl, may be an event of happiness or be a cause of distress, all based on expectations. Now, there is good news if we accept my submission that emotions are not caused by an event or situation. Because, then it means that the emotions are created within our minds and therefore we can learn to deal with them as our mind is in our control. One more point to note is that emotions are transient and stay in the mind for a length of time and then disappear or are overtaken by yet another emotion.
The three step process that I am suggesting is:
1. Learn to overcome emotion of unhappiness or disappointments
2. Create positive energy to create positive emotions
3. Note and celebrate the happy moments
1. Learn to overcome disappointments: most of the unhappiness is a result of difference between reality and expectations. We tend to blame ourselves or someone else for the outcomes or results, without realizing that we cannot control all variables in every situation. Ask yourself the following questions to calm down:
· Was my expectation realistic, did I have the right skills and capabilities, did I underestimate the variables which could have impacted the outcome, which of the variable were in my control, did I use the right resources. If all the variables were out of my control then why am I blaming self and feeling unhappy?
· What are the lesson that I have learnt from this disappointment?
· Is there an opportunity to recover from the setback or disappointment, what will I do differently in the next round?
· I understand that I am unhappy and upset but how much time should I waste brooding which is wasteful and unproductive?
2. Create positive energy: Positive energy is created by recognizing all the favorable positives that we have been blessed with and we can be grateful for. We tend to take many things for granted and fail to be grateful for what we have learnt, achieved and the status we are enjoying in the professional and personal life. We need to remind ourselves about our skills, capabilities, contributions in our professional and personal life. We need to be thankful to our family and our network of friends which has been supporting us. One more way to create positive energy is by giving and sharing. There is a lot which we can do to bring happiness to others. We can start with offering smiles to all, by helping an elderly person with his bag during travel, offering food to a needy, contributing to relief funds and so on. There are opportunities all around us, to be kind to others. Every act of kindness or giving generates strong positive energy. Similarly, regular exercise can add to our positive energy. We must plan a routine to keep the body and mind active and fresh. We can do any form of exercise which we enjoy and what works for us, from logistic point. Lastly, depending on our personal convictions, our faith or belief in higher powers can add to positive thoughts and energy to overcome obstacles. Fortunately, all of us are born with an inner capability, innovativeness and resilience to meet any challenge posed by any situation.
3. Notice and Celebrate: Strangely, our mind tends to notice negative news and events and keeps it in the memory for very long period of time. If I asked you to recall setbacks or disappointments of your life, I am quite sure that you will recall events vividly starting from your early childhood and college days to more recent situations, which have caused stress or unhappiness. But, if I asked you to recall the happy moments of your life, you may struggle to share the list. It’s usually this way in our minds. We retain memories of bad events more vividly. Thus, in our minds, the accumulated memories are predominantly negative or relate to unhappy events. We have to make a conscious effort, to change this ratio of negative vs positive memories. We must start making a mental note of each and every positive event big or small. If we had a good exercise routine in a day, we make a note, when we do an act of kindness, we make a note. When we have a good meeting professionally or even with a friend, we make a note. The list can be very long, once we start noticing. I recommend that the list should be written in a notebook to remember the positives for a longer period leading into future. On any given day if we give due attention, our list of positives will exceed the list of negative events or setbacks. If we can make the positives list become 2 X or 3X of negatives list, I can promise you, that you will be calm and happy more than 90 percent of the time
Life is a journey and not a destination. We need to enjoy every moment and every experience of the journey. We shall not waste energy on what we do not control or influence. We shall not waste energy on worrying about future, as that again is not in our control. We shall avoid regrets about the past, as it over and may be what happened in the past, was destined to happen. We shall focus on the present and live it’s each moment. We will live our life as a happy and positive person. We deserve to be happy at all times, irrespective of events around us.
Please do share your ideas and strategies for being happy. There is so much to learn from each other!