Marco Aurelio, Roman Emperor and respected philosopher (161AD) said: “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts”. Think about this. Would you rather spend the next hour feeling happy and uplifted, or sad and depressed? I live by Aurelio’s philosophy, and truly believe that our thoughts determine our happiness, but it took me a while before I could automatically do what cognitive -behavioral psychologists call “thought switching” . Once you are able to do this, it can make a dramatic difference in your day to day moods.
Let’s face it, we don’t have to look very far to come up with situations that make us feel sad, angry, or frustrated. And while we do need to reflect in order to come up with personal solutions, rumination is a whole other thing. That is , if you keep going over the same troubled thoughts in your mind, and getting nowhere with them, you can let hours, days, and weeks go by feeling down in the dumps.
Here is a great little tip to help you “switch” your thoughts from sad to glad.
1. Preparation: Think of several images that make you feel happy and start a scrapbook of these images. You can use photos from magazines, pictures you took and printed out, or even just write out a short description of the scene . (Eg, the light Italian supper table in this blog post including a great bottle of wine, a bit of formaggio, a nice bunch of grapes, etc; ).
2. Start to become aware of when you are feeling down or anxious and pinpoint what kind of thoughts are running through your mind.
3. Mentally, hold up a big red STOP sign, which will be your signal to SWITCH your thought to an image that makes you feel good (one you have readily available from your scrapbook).
4. Focus now on one of those happy images and SMILE, whether you feel like smiling or not. Keep the smile going for the next five minues. Our facial expressions also signal positive changes in the brain.
In just a few minutes time, you can often create a change in your thoughts, and therefore your mood . If you do this often enough, your “happy” thoughts will create more happiness in your life.