Sometimes people ask me why I am so happy all the time. (I do have moments where I feel other emotions as well!) There are so many reasons for my happiness! My connection with God, my amazing family and friends, and finding something to be grateful for every day, all play a role in my overall happiness.
I also have to credit The Oprah Winfrey Show. I used to love to watch Oprah as a teenager. A few times a week I would find topics of interest and watch while having a snack. I forget the exact topic, but remember the lesson learned during one such episode. Oprah was interviewing someone and asked a question. Since it was so long ago, I forget the person she was interviewing and the question she asked. I only remember the answer. It is something that I have carried with me ever since because it just makes so much sense.
Activating a Happiness Mindset
This is my takeaway on what I saw so long ago. Happiness is largely within your control. What this means is that your reaction to a situation affects your happiness. Managing emotions becomes easier with a happiness mindset.
Basically, anytime you get upset, ask yourself a series of questions. Begin with: “Will this matter in 10 minutes?” If the answer is ‘no’, let it go. This may be something like a person cutting you off in traffic (which may have been done accidentally for all you know). If the answer is ‘yes’, continue with the next question.
“Will this matter in 10 days?” What if your child has a report due in two days requiring special materials and you’re just finding out about it? Yes, it may still matter in 10 minutes. Yes, it may cause a hassle for the next couple of days. Will it matter in 10 days? No. At that point the project will have been turned in and forgotten about. Again, when the answer is ‘no’, let it go. Other circumstances may require a ‘yes’ answer. It is time to ask the follow up question.
“Will this matter in 10 weeks?” If the answer to the question is ‘no’, great! Let it go. Sometimes it may be ‘yes’. Yes, some situations will matter in 10 weeks. For instance, you may have planned to take a class only offered once a semester and missed the deadline for signing up. Making sure to sign up in time for the next one becomes a priority. Should a feeling of upset last until the next semester? Remedy the situation as soon as possible and let it go. When that is not possible, it’s time to ask the final question.
“Will this matter in 10 months?” If the answer is ‘no’, let it go. In some situations the answer is yes. That is a powerful moment. At that time, realizing that you have a strong opinion about the matter at hand informs you about your reaction to the situation. Some situations must be addressed so that they can be resolved.
This approach is about realizing when you should be upset and take action versus when you should allow things to roll right off. It is all a matter of perspective. As you learn to let go of the small things they start to bother you less and less. As you achieve a happiness mindset, you become faster at recognizing the small annoyances in life and remain happy even when they occur. Then something magical happens; more things become small things! (Thank you Oprah!)
Related Post: Attract Happiness Into Your Life
An Appropriate Reaction
It often helps to make the size of the reaction match the size of the problem. A small problem requires a small reaction. Medium problems typically get medium reactions and a large reaction may be appropriate for a large problem.
The answers to the above questions can really help you determine how to react to the situation at hand. Is it really worth being upset? When you have determined that something is a small problem, acknowledge the feeling of frustration or anger and then let it pass.
Sometimes being upset is the appropriate reaction. Taking the time to go through the questions outlined above helps bring clarity over a situation. The answers to the questions allow you to realize the magnitude of the problem and react accordingly. Instead of just being unhappy, reflecting on the problem helps you identify the issue and why it is a problem. Knowing the ‘why’ behind the problem makes addressing the situation a little easier. Taking early action in these cases is important, otherwise they have a tendency to snowball into bigger problems.
I have found that taking a few minutes to really think about the situation at hand helps bring it into perspective. What is truly worth getting upset about? In reality, hardly anything. And most of the time when people get upset over the little things, they’re really only upsetting themselves. Think about it: Is the person who cut you off on your way to work today unhappy because of that situation? Nope. Chances are, they either didn’t realize it happened, or they did and have already forgotten about it completely. So who is unhappy if you remain upset about it throughout the day? Is it worth the negative energy being spent?
Often, the answer to these and similar questions is ‘no’. If that is the case, just let it go. It can mean a world of difference in your happiness level!
What are your tips to help maintain happiness?