Sometimes the pursuit of happiness takes us all over the world, for what lies within. Happiness is usually within our grasp . . . we just don't realize it.
As I walked my two dogs this morning, I was reminded of the problem many people have with the pursuit of happiness, such as dwelling on negative, pessimistic or angry thoughts. Dwelling causes us to feel badly and ill-affects our relationships, contributing to any problems we may be experiencing. Often when we carry unfinished business around in our heads, we will dwell or have obsessive thoughts, and our pursuit of happiness eludes us.
Dwelling behaviors are usually related to a type of anxiety called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). As such, it can be hard to curb.
It's not easy to overcome obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors.
The more we yield to the temptation of dwelling or obsessing . . . the worse the habit gets! And our sense of contentment and happiness, along with our feeling of real success, decreases.
For many people, there are easy ways of stopping this discouraging and often debilitating habit in its tracks . . . without resorting to the use of psychotropic drugs or extensive therapy. And it's easier than we might realize to succeed in our pursuit of happiness.
Case In Point
After a rough week, I recently caught myself dwelling on a few of my problems. Sometimes it’s good to think constructively about problems with an eye toward solving them, but I wasn’t doing that. No, what I caught myself doing was focusing on the negative, and just beating it over and over, which had the affect of bringing a certain pessimism to life and making me feel miserable.
I’ll use this as an example of what not to do, explain how I solved the problem and got back on track in terms of my pursuit of happiness . . .
and how I recovered my usual habit of positive thinking. Guess what? If you strive to become a more positive person, your relationships will instantly improve!
Here’s what happened . . .
I noticed the trees that a storm had brought down on my fence, and dwelled on the time and expense it would take to fix the problem. Instead of paying attention to the lovely morning – it was warm and sunny – I kept thinking of problems, expenses and irritations. Next, I started thinking about a colleague who was ill, worrying about him. Then, as if two problems were not enough, I began to obsess on relationship problems I was having with a family member.
Soon another problem came to mind, and I was going from one to the next and back again . . . going nowhere!
What a miserable walk I was having!
Naturally, I could only think of the dark side of these issues, making them seem more and more grim and impossible, as time went by! A habit that effectively trashed my pursuit of happiness, for the moment.
As our walk was about finished, and we headed toward the house, a realization hit me, square in the face. I had not had a single positive thought nor found anything good to think about during the walk. I had just kept my head down and ruminated.
In short, I had not enjoyed my morning walk in the slightest!
If I had gone in the house, all grim and sour, feeling a sense of despair, what impact would I have had on my relationships with my family?
How many times do we think obsessive thoughts and engage in self-defeating thought behaviors . . . and how does it influence our relationships? How often do we make ourselves miserable and inadvertently attack our happiness and success levels?
Yes, what we think is a behavior.
And, we must exert responsibility over our thoughts or they will control us. Yes, the pursuit of happiness begins with a tight focus on the positive. And that is something we can control. Worrying about what is out of our control is a waste of time and energy.
How I Solved The Problem
The first step was becoming aware of what I had done. I thought about it and decided to make a change. I turned around and resumed my walk. Only this time . . .
I was going to protect my mental space from unwanted intrusion by kicking out any negative thoughts that might surface, and thinking of something positive or hopeful. Also, I would make a conscious effort to focus my vision on the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside. And, I might even mentally repeat a happiness affirmation a few times, if needed.
By taking these simple steps, I was able to enjoy the last part of my walk and create a much lighter mental attitude. My pursuit of happiness was finally paying off in the here-and-now.
What Was The Result?
Well, the dwelling stopped. My obsessive thoughts had dwindled, if not disappeared. And by the time the dogs and I reached home, I was feeling great.
And I could tell the dogs were, too!
You know, it made me feel happier throughout the day. My confidence increased. And my pursuit of happiness was becoming a reality!
I could find happiness at last.
Steps You Can Take To Stop Dwelling On The Negative
1. Please don't laugh, but it pays to observe cats and dogs in action. Think about how your pets react to going for a nice brisk morning walk, or doing something fun. When my dogs go for a walk or run, they don’t ruminate. They don’t think about what’s wrong. They know how to have a good time and enjoy themselves . . . every time we go for a walk. They know how to pursue happiness . . . they act in accordance with the natural laws of happiness and success.
2. Remind yourself to have fun and enjoy yourself more often. If you find yourself obsessing on anything, simply change your thinking pattern or behavior. Immediately switch to thinking about something else. And keep doing so, if necessary.
3. Think of something interesting or humorous. Recall a joke you’ve heard or think about a funny occurrence at work. Or think about an upcoming vacation or holiday, anything that gets you excited or feeling good.
Imagine yourself doing something enjoyable, such as taking a walk on a sandy beach. Go there in your head. Make it real. Now you are taking your pursuit of happiness to the next level.
4. Take note of the beauty around you. Nature is so good. If you can look out the window, focus your attention on beautiful flowers or cloud patterns, or study the landscaping around your office building. No matter where you are you can find something interesting to study.
Just train your eyes on the many intriguing aspects of the world. It’ll take your mind of the problems and let some light into you mental studio. The pursuit of happiness involves training your mind to work for, not against, you.
5. Engage your mind in solving a problem. This can be tricky, so just remember to focus on the solution, not the problem.
6. As opposed to dwelling, focus your mind on happiness affirmations, and say them mentally or speak them softly to yourself. I think it’s best to be creative and make up your own. Say something like, “I am stopping to notice the beauty around me, and I’m feeling happier and happier as I go.”
Or, “I find the beauty in everyone, and by seeing the good I am becoming happier.”
“This is such a beautiful day, and I’m letting that beauty into my life.”
You can come up with much better ones.
7. Begin viewing your mind as something you can influence, as something wonderful, imaginative and resourceful. And believe in your ability to exert a good influence on it, to shape and direct it. Believe you can pursue happiness and find it.
And it helps to . . . cultivate your mental skills. And your ability to affirm the positive through the use of happiness affirmations.
The Mistakes I Made
Remember the three things I dwelled on during my walk? Let’s take each one and find a possible solution for it.
Problem # 1. Damaged fence, fallen tree: Rather than thinking about the expense or difficulty in resolving the problem, I began to think of practical solutions, such as calling a professional tree service for help, and figuring out ways I could easily repair the fence.
Problem #2. Colleague who was ill: instead of dwelling on the severity of his illness and all the things that could go wrong, I thought about specific ways I could help him, such as sending a get-well card, calling him with an uplifting message, and selecting some nice reading material to help with his recovery.
And by throwing myself into these constructive activities, such as card shopping later in the day, I totally changed the way I was feeling and stopped the dwelling. Plus, I was working toward enhancing this important relationship in my life.
Problem #3. Problem relationship with a family member: I would stop dwelling on my negative emotions and begin planning steps I could take to repair the rift. The first step I could take immediately, which would make me feel better and improve the situation. Soon the problem didn’t seem so bad, and I was feeling much better about it.
After making these corrections to my mental attitude and thought behavior, and my overall approach to the pursuit of happiness, I made it easier to have a nice day and enjoy happier relationships! No doubt, the people in my life would be thankful for the change.
You, Too, Can Take Control Of Your Negative Thoughts And Boost Your Relationships . . .
by refusing to dwell or obsess on your problems, unpleasant memories or events, and finding more pleasant and helpful ways to engage your mind!
Remember . . .
to keep yourself busy in positive and uplifting ways. The first step is to become aware that you are dwelling. Then substitute a more helpful thought or activity to get yourself moving into a sunnier (disposition) direction. And stay with it: some people give up before they’ve had the time to move from a negative habit to a positive one.
And . . .
to use simple and positive happiness affirmations or happiness statements. Keep them simple and brief, so very upbeat, but also realistic.
It’s great self-therapy and lots of fun!
The pursuit of happiness needn't be expensive or difficult, as long as we keep in mind the importance of directing our thoughts in healthy ways.
No matter what your situation may be, the pursuit of happiness is at your fingertips. Just keep a positive focus and use your mind to create the conditions for your success.