Dr. Michael Mantell is fond of saying, “what you feed, you grow.” When it comes to health, longevity, successful social connections and long-term loving relationships, personal and communal wellbeing, even physical fitness and finances, leading-edge transformational coaches know that optimistic, positive seeds are the no-longer-secret predictive ingredients to living life optimally. As I’ve taught in my coaching for years, “the link is what you think.”
We know today that compassion is the highest level of happiness, at least according to neuroscience. When you feel what others feel, understand what others feel, and want to help others, that’s compassion. And that’s the happiest state you’ll ever achieve–again, according to neuroscience.
We know that those people who are authentically happy are markedly different than those snarky, angry, critical, distrustful, defensive, inwardly turned and insecure folks who don’t enjoy living in harmony and peace with themselves and others.
From my pro athlete clients, CEO’s, and everyday Jane’s and Joe’s, it seems that happiness is catching on as the newest sought after side-effect free medicine.
Perhaps it was Mahatma Gandhi who helped illuminate the path away from pharmacies to build happiness. He taught, “Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”
A client of mine recently told me he fell down the stairs and he realized that his transformational thinking has taken hold. “When I hit bottom I thought to myself, ‘Wow I hit the bottom of the stairs really fast!” No cursing, no anger, no frustration or shame. Just saw the good in what others would see as bad. This may sound a bit silly, but not for this senior executive at a mid-sized national company. His team reports he’s nicer to work with and productivity is up!
So what’s the key to achieving this type of positivity? Here are what I’ve found in coaching for 40 years, to be the most useful steps:
- Talk yourself out of worrying. It’s the most unproductive thing you can do.
- Turn your fears into faith? Most of the things you fear won’t ever happen. Change your negative perception into a “Even if it does happen which it probably won’t, I can handle it,” and you’ll stop scaring yourself.
- You can’t ever cross a bridge until you come to it, so don’t try. And don’t put up your umbrella before it starts raining either.
- Love genuinely, be mindful in every step you take, be intentionally purposeful, express gratitude, laugh and put your family first. Yes, those are more than just one rule. But they are important.
- Why wait until you die to rest in peace? Find peace now and create it mindfully, so you can peacefully rest. Taking your problems to bed creates tension, not peace. Leave your problems in another room, and you’ll sleep better. Create deep, restorative sleep for yourself by the way you create peace during the day.
- Run your own race in life. Compare yourself to others and you’ll end up in despair.
- Stop reading the same chapter you didn’t like over and over again. It’s best to drive looking through the windshield, not the rear view mirror.
- Be as fit and healthy in your mind and body as you can be—proper exercise, wise nutrition and rational thinking all help. So will staying away from anyone who smokes and avoiding any other toxins you can identify. You won’t get to 80 if you don’t live to 60.
- Your frustrations and anger are rooted in your insisting that your life must be different than it is—this is the ultimate obstacle to taking positive steps forward.
- Develop “regardless thinking,” so that no matter what happens in your life—and stuff will–you choose to be happy, nevertheless. That includes problems with money, relationships and jobs.