Episode 1. Change Your Happiness Default-Setting

When you focus on all the stuff that makes you miserable, you will be. I know, I did it all my life.

My happiness default-setting, i.e. what I automatically thought and felt, when something horrible happened, was set to its lowest level. 'Why me? I can't do this. I'm a failure. It's okay for you, you aren't ill! You are lucky. You have skills. You have money!'..blah blah blah....

I was right. I'd decided I couldn't be happy, so I wasn't.

This way of thinking robbed me of joy, love, self-belief, self-respect, self-development and of course, happiness. It eventually led me to a massive crisis.

My crisis forced me to accept that I had to either (in the words of Tracy Chapman)...'Leave now. Or, die this way'... I knew no-one was coming to rescue me, I had to rescue myself. I knew I had to change.

It wasn't easy, but neither was carrying around a huge, heavy, black weight of doom.

'Always look for a positive in a negative!' my best friend of ten years, once advised me. I was too ill to realise that this was probably the best piece of advice I'd ever been given. Along with 'You don't need to look for the answers outside Gilli, you already have them inside.' from another close friend of 40 years. At the point I decided to choose to be happy, these words came flying straight back at me. These lovely people knew something I didn't. I knew I had to try.

Practice, patience and persistence became my allies and friends.

Looking positively at things, isn't about pretending to be fine when you're not. It's about not letting negative situations defeat you. It's about looking at what you can take from something, that will help you to learn, grow or heal.

You can weaken the hold that a bad experience has over you, by looking at it for something that teaches or strengthens you.  Sometimes it will feel impossible to do, but don't give up. Never give up. Ever. I am not saying that bad things are sent to people to teach them a lesson, nor am I saying that they are sent to people that somehow deserve it.  I am saying that bad things happen to everyone, at some point, but how you choose to feel about it, is the important part.

It took me quite a lot of practice, patience and persistence to do this. Very occasionally, it still feels difficult. On those days, I wing it until my attitude catches up. On those days, I make myself be extra grateful and thankful for anything and everything, however silly or tiny, that I can think of.

Finding positives from negatives, has re-set my  happiness default-setting to 8 out of 10, rising up to a 9 when I am extra overjoyed. It's at around 6, on days when I have a face like a smacked arse.. When I reach 10, I'm moving the goal-posts to make it out of 20, and so on, 'to infinity and beyond....' (cheers Buzz Lightyear)

Who wants to reach a maximum level of happiness, when there's an endless supply, and all I have to do is choose it? Not me....

© Gillian Cullis May 2018

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