Do you remember when Lorelai Gilmore had to learn how to fish to go on a date with some outdoorsy guy, and Rory, quite naturally, got some fishing books from the library to help her? Some, like Luke Danes, might think it’s ridiculous to expect to learn to fish from reading a book. While I too think that it’s slightly silly, I have pretty much the same attitude as Rory.* When I want to learn something, my first thought is to read a book about it. So a few months ago, when I was really struggling with my happiness levels and needed some help with organising my life, home, and time, I went straight to the library.
I started browsing the psychology and self-help aisle. Am I the only one who feels irrationally self-concious when looking at the self-help shelves? As if everyone else is judging me? Anyway, I ignored this feeling, because what’s embarrassing about needing help with some things? Nothing. I ended up finding a few very useful books that day, and overall I am pleasantly surprised at how a few little tidbits and words of wisdom have stuck with me and have actually helped me be happier.
The ambitiously titled How to Do Everything and be Happy by Peter Jones, offered some very practical ways to get organised and set goals. But most importantly, it made me more aware of the power of our thoughts. I began to notice that most of my thoughts had a negative tone. The book suggests thinking about your goals as if they are already done, which felt extremely odd to me as I’m more used to thinking about my goals as if I’ll never reach them. Which is bad, very bad.
I then read Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home which was inspiring on many levels. (It actually offered extra motivation for my Capsule Wardrobe Project.) This book really challenged my assumption that we act the way we feel. I think that’s a sensible assumption, isn’t it? As it turns out, Rubin found that quite often it’s the opposite: how we act, and how we think, affects how we feel! Isn’t that mind-blowing? So if we think kind thoughts, and engage in nurturing, positive activities, we can actually raise our happiness levels.
I began to think about the following statement, a bit like a daily mantra:
“Think happy, feel happy.”
It was with this new awareness that I received the perfectly-timed newsletter from my favourite yogi, Adriene, last week. The topic was conscious thoughts and how powerful they can be. Adriene talked about the teachings of yogi Yogananda who really believed in the power of thought.
These lines really resonated with me:
“What if every thought you had were to be realised as truth?
Would you be more careful with your thoughts?
Would your thoughts demean you or support you?”
Oh my, did this resonate with me! I realised that most of my thoughts weren’t supporting me, in fact, quite the opposite was true and often they were actually torturous. I had to admit that my negative and pessimistic thoughts helped create situations that are affecting my happiness. Not good.
I am now determined to be more aware of my thoughts, to notice when they veer towards the unhelpful and the negative. To consciously check my thoughts. To focus more on positive thoughts and setting intentions. I really think more mindful thinking can have a significant impact on our happiness levels. Do you notice your thoughts? Are you careful to avoid negative and self-demeaning thoughts? I urge you to try to be more conscious of your thoughts and to use their power to support you instead of hinder you.
*Apologies if you are not a Gilmore Girls fan. But maybe you should be? :)