Your emotional well-being is always a choice. It’s something I teach men who come to me for self-improvement advice. You are always in control of your emotions and confidence. If you practice these new mindsets you can be happy no matter what.
How To Be Happy No Matter What
A lot of people mistakenly assume it is the environment that controls their emotions. They depend on other people and situations to determine both their negative and positive emotions.
But that is a really messed up way of living your life. It’s like being in the middle of a typhoon, you are being tossed around on waves while being perpetually locked in prayer that your grass raft doesn’t disintegrate and also that this storm will quickly pass and there will be beautiful blue skies and calm waters. Good luck with that! I would rather be safe behind the walls of my castle when that powerful storm arrives. That’s what it is like to be committed to happiness no matter the external circumstances.
Most people blame external circumstances for their internal problems.
You hear stuff like, “That SOB makes me so angry!” No buddy, you made yourself angry.
You want to talk to some attractive girl but afraid of rejection and get nervous? Well it was your interpretation of the situation, plus your memory of becoming nervous in similar situations that made you nervous, not the situation itself.
Some random guy throws a wolverine at you, causing you to fall down and piss your pants, embarrassing you in front of your buddies and it isn’t the situation itself that MAKES you angry, but it is your interpretation of that event that leads to what you perceive as the appropriate emotional response.
The real process:
- External reality
- Interpret external reality (as good, bad, worthy of anger, etc.)
- emotional response
- Condition response
This process helps us learn from the past to help the species survive and develop ways of perceiving reality that help us evolve. Imagine what would happen if you are in the jungle and you notice a hungry tiger has been stalking you from behind. Biologically, the fight or flight response is the appropriate reaction because without it we would all have been eaten by predators if we responded in a way that wasn’t in our best interest for survival. No matter how happy you feel, that tiger sees you as its next meal. Or what if that hungry tiger was just the wind sounding like a tiger hunting you? you still feel scared and ready to respond to a threat because you perceived a danger.
Your Stress Response
During these biological responses, your body releases adrenaline and other stress hormones meant to keep you alive, depending on how severe you interpret the threat to be.
A couple important things happen. First is that you condition yourself to respond in ways YOU interpret as most appropriate for any given situation. Most people’s attitude is usually “What I did WAS right, because I did it!”
When you feel nervous talking to the opposite sex for instance, you condition yourself to feel it is appropriate to feel nervous in similar situations. When you feel angry when someone yells at or criticizes you, you get used to responding with anger to these petty situations.
These responses are evolutionary mechanisms meant to keep our bodies and species alive. After several exposures to similar stimulus, we develop conditioned responses. We are Pavlov’s dogs unconsciously salivating to both further survival of the species and also protect our egos.
We begin to develop automatic responses that we associate with our identity.
Eventually, as you continue to respond predictably in all situations, you literally become addicted to anger, shame, sadness, depression and any emotion you perceive as appropriate for any situation.
So what happens when you try to change this addiction?
Your body and mind will resist. Responding negatively has become a part of who you are. There must be some things that bother you irrationally just because they have become habit.
I used to be offended when people would assume things about me based on my perceived race. In Asia, there is no such thing as political correctness. Taiwanese and Chinese people assume all “white” people must speak English, don’t speak Chinese, and are from America. Are their assumptions racist? Yes. Does it need to make me angry? No. Other people’s beliefs, no matter how illogical, irrational, or ridiculous, have absolutely no influence on what I KNOW about myself.
But no matter how bad an emotional reaction feels, it has become your habit to respond in that way.
Your thoughts always influence your emotions.
There is this youtube video where some annoying guy pretends to shoot people’s cars with an empty paintball gun. What was everyone’s reaction even though no damage was done to their cars at all?
They were pissed!
So what is really happening in their minds?
“Someone is damaging, or threatening to damage my property. He is also saying things I interpret as both annoying and threatening.” ‘I hope you like blue.’ -Imagine this phrase said in your most annoying voice possible.
Interpret external reality
“This situation definitely justifies anger and retaliation. In similar situations in the past I have gotten angry before, so I should get furious this time as well”
Heart rate and testosterone production increase, cortisol decreases. Inside the brain, neurotransmitters called catecholamines are released and are related to the desire to take immediate protective action. Blood pressure rises. Their attention becomes focused on the target of their anger as they are instantly prepared to fight.
“I’m going to yell at this Jerk and steal his paintball gun.”
“This experience has made me angry, therefore I should always be pissed off in similar situations.”
I don’t find this prank funny. However this and similar pranks where the goal seems to be to trigger people’s conditioned anger response are an excellent demonstration of how people think and behave based on conditioned emotional responses.
Even after realizing it is just a joke in poor taste, they remain angry. Their interpretation of reality, that someone is threatening to damage their property, influenced their angry emotion. And that angry emotion also produced more angry thoughts of how rude, and threatening this prankster is. These thoughts produced even more rage. It’s then impossible to be happy no matter what you do.
These emotional reactions become a powerful cycle that slowly develops into your personality.
So how do you break this cycle and be committed to happiness no matter what?
Be aware of what changes you want to make in your personality and be willing to give parts of yourself up. When you find yourself reacting in a way you would like to change, just remind yourself to change. Even say the command, “change!” out loud to yourself.
Also realizes that problems don’t exist. An event, no matter how worthy of depression or rage you interpret it to be, is still ONLY an event. If you can stop interpreting external reality as problems, then you actually have no problems. Problems are only in your head. Your resistance to perceived problems is what causes emotional pain.
So there is never actually anything to complain about. Sure you can criticize without getting angry or offended. You can help the world become a better place with your suggestions, but perceiving the world as less than perfect doesn’t mean you need to get angry about it.
Every moment can be fun and enjoyable when that decision comes from within yourself.
I’ve always believed that was true theoretically. But for many years I found it challenging to implement in my daily life. Annoying incidents would happen and I’d get a little upset, or even afraid of simple situations, and it was only because those were my habits. And habits can be changed.
In Neuroscience there is a concept called Hebb’s Law, which states, neurons that fire together, wire together. When certain situations are perceived by YOU to require, anger, fear, shame, or depression then your body gets used to producing those emotional states in those situations. But the opposite is also true. When you stop associating those situations, with those emotional responses, your free yourself to create new emotional responses.
Overcome Your Fears to be Happy No Matter What
I slowly built a habit of facing each of my fears one at a time, and it works.
But what really brought me exponential growth was practicing happiness just because I wanted to be happy.
You can logically understand that happiness is a choice. But the emotional personality you are used to will challenge that choice and say, “Hey come back! You like feeling lazy in the morning and angry at the world right!? You aren’t allowed to be happy no matter what because it would mean losing the personality you already have!”
There will be some part of you challenging this shift to full time positivity. Happily tell that part of you to shut up.
You can make all your problems and emotional pain go away. It’s your choice. You are in control of your thoughts and emotions. When you can’t control your emotions, they control you. Your responses to the world are unconscious.
Making a commitment to happiness may be easier the first few days depending on your situation. I guarantee you if you challenge the emotional habits you are used to that you will begin to feel positive and great.
However reality will come and challenge you.
There will be disappointment and loss.
welcome these challenges and face them rather then pretending they don’t exist or getting overwhelmed in negative emotions.
I envision it as reality is this limitless universe and every day it says to me, “Hey look at this! How does this make you feel!?” And I respond, “It doesn’t MAKE me feel anything. I feel whatever I decide to feel!”
Whereas most people respond, “What do you mean how do I feel!? Of course I feel sad because my dog died!”
Well no. Actually you don’t feel sad BECAUSE the dog died, you feel sad because you interpret this situation as something that should make you feel sad. No one suggests you be happy BECAUSE the dog died. But we are suggesting be happy even though your best friend died. It may seem challenging and even impossible. But that is exactly the castle I want to live in when the storm of reality comes and could potentially rip me apart if I let it.
You aren’t in control of external reality, at least not most of it. But you are in charge of your internal reality. What if you could feel happy all the time just by committing to that emotion and training yourself to respond with positive emotions no matter what reality throws at you?
Isn’t that worth trying?
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