Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Steps to Happiness – Part 4 - Who is Master?

Thank you for joying us on this journey toward happiness. This is article number four in a series of articles on Steps to Happiness. Sense it is important to follow these in order you will find it very helpful to first read the previous articles:

Are You a Puppet on Strings? - Taking Back Control of Your Life,
Steps to Happiness – Part 2

Steps to Happiness - Part 3 - Does this Stuff Really Work?

Let’s discuss some more ways to take back our puppet strings from our puppeteers.

We have already discussed the need to take responsibility and do away with blaming, the necessity for a real desire to change, and the commitment to do what it takes to change and achieve happiness. Then we discussed the difference between principles and advice.

The Secret to Happiness
So what other principles guide us to happiness? What do the happy people in this world have over the unhappy ones? Is it genetic? Were they just born with that disposition? Some probably were, but most have learned this secret – this time tested principle……. this secret that ANYONE can learn…..

Here it is…… Happiness is a choice.

So how do I choose Happiness?
“Well...if it is a choice,” you might ask, “then how do I choose it?” That’s what I would like to share with you because I was aimlessly floating around wondering the same thing for a long time. It’s like someone telling you to “get over” something without first listening to you and then showing you how to get over it.

Choosing happiness requires you to be MASTER over all your emotions and thoughts instead of you being SLAVE to them and being ruled and controlled by them. How we go about doing that is to first recognize and become aware of our thoughts and emotions. Bring them to consciousness. Your thoughts and emotions are usually all tucked away in your subconscious mind and control what you do and say without you even being aware of it. What we must do is bring them to consciousness.

Understanding the Thought and Emotion Sequence
In order to bring them to consciousness, we must understand the thoughts and emotions order or sequence. Thoughts come first (and are usually based on previous experiences) and then they feed our emotions and then we act or react. Most people believe that it is the other way around – that their feelings come first and that they have no control over them and their thoughts. So whenever their emotions arise they simply react without even thinking twice. That’s just the problem – they don’t think twice. They don’t even know that they did think and so they react according to their emotions. Understanding this is key!

An outstanding book that will help you to gain a deeper understanding of this and teach you more in depth how to gain control of your emotions is Emotions: Can You Trust Them? by Dr. James Dobson.

Once we have a knowledge of the thought/emotion order there is a trick that we can apply that all happy people have learned. We will discuss it next time….

But, for now, some good exercises are:

1. Take note of each time that you don’t like something (ANYTHING you don’t like). Every time you feel yourself getting angry, frustrated or upset, etc. over something, stop yourself. Write down the event and your thoughts and feelings about it, what you wanted to do (be honest) and what you did.

2. Then choose not to think about it until you have calmed down. Choose instead to get your mind involved in an enjoyable hobby or to think about good things. Make a list of good things or blessings and keep it with you just for cases like these (keep adding to it). The key is to stop the rumination or negative thinking. Remember what I call the law of compounding: one negative thought leads to another negative thought and then it explodes out of control. On the other hand, one positive thought leads to another positive thought, and then it explodes….

3. After you are in a good frame of mind (it could be days later), see if you can identify your negative thoughts and replace them with better positive thoughts. Don’t get frustrated if you are struggling at first. Be patient with yourself. Practice makes perfect. It will come if you don’t give up.

Remember this sequence: Perception (Was the event indeed how you actually saw it?)…Thoughts…Feelings….Actions...Consequences.

Share with us some examples of when you acted on your emotions and they got you into trouble.


Shilpan said...


We choose our thoughts. It is amazing that we do allow them to rule our life. When I hear someone complaining about his/her life, I wonder if he/she has ever taken time to see if his or her thoughts have ruled their actions.

I like your tip about calming down before revisiting what caused you grief and giving it second thought.


Jennifer said...

Thank you Shilpan for you comments.

Yes, until we figure out that we can choose our thoughts and emotions we will just be miserable. Realizing that we can choose them is so liberating!