When I was in middle school, I spent an entire summer watching Pistol Pete dribbling videos and then practicing the drills in my driveway. I was very disciplined when it came to repetition, repetition, repetition, and believing that repetition would lead to mastery.
Yes, I will admit that I watched this mustached man and these exercises, over and over again…
I actually get nostalgic watching these videos. I miss my bball game being my numero uno concern in life.
What’s my point?
Well, you do these drills enough and the activity transforms from drill to effortless.
The way we think has to do with habit. Surround yourself with happy people, and you’ll find yourself more positive. Surround yourself with downers, and you’ll become a Debbie Downer. Thinking about things in a positive light, or thinking about things from a glass-is-half-empty perspective, has to do with habit created by the circumstances of our past, and how we processed and dealt with them.
Any habit can be broken. You can introduce new thinking patterns and create new habits. This isn’t easy. It requires observation of thought, without judgment. And then it requires effort to look at whatever circumstance is bringing about a negative response, and try and look at if from a positive light. By positive light, I mean saying “YES” to situation as it is, without resisting. This is what it is, minus all the stories we tell our self about the situation, and all those tangents that spin out of control from there.
This doesn’t mean if you lose your job, go out and do a happy dance. But if you lose your job, just see that by itself alone. Don’t start telling yourself stories about what the job lose entails for your future, what it says about your past, what your friends will think of you, etc. All these are just stories. Perhaps losing the job will open the door to something new and exciting? Nothing is the end of the world.
Being happy is a lot of work. Think about how many songs are about singing in the rain, rainbows, sunshine and dancing hippies? Now think about how many songs are about heartbreak. I’ve had a good number of cries on the floor listening to Sheryl Crow’s “I Shall Believe.” We love to indulge in the downer emotions. It’s easy, safe, and comfortable because it’s what a lot of us have grown accustomed to. Notice the resistance you may have for happy thinking.
Think happy, be happy…repetition, repetition, repetition. Eventually it will be less of a drill and more of an effortless way of being. It’s something I have been working on diligently, and I can honestly say, there are far fewer people I’d like to punch on a daily basis (I’d say that’s a tiny victory here in Manhattan).
Observe the happy people around you, and observe the miserable people around you. You may think “oh that person is just lucky,” but perhaps they are lucky because of the way they think.
What you expect, you find.