Tuesday, September 28, 2010

OCD and Increasing Happiness

As I was perusing through the usual shock-news and sensational journalism that is widely reported online, I came across this refreshing article right on my AOL screen. It is about happiness, and that if we can undo negative pre-conditioned thoughts, stop blaming others and circumstances, and look within, we can greatly increase our happiness level.

Here are some excerpts from this uplifting article by Stephanie Tweito Jacob…

Aristotle said fulfillment and contentment are pathways to happiness. Those enjoyable-sounding trails, however, are often muddied by roadblocks, says M.J. Ryan, executive coach and author of "The Happiness Makeover." The good news is you can learn to navigate the obstacles…

Here, some of the most common roadblocks to happiness and a guide for getting around them.

Expecting the worst all the time.
Does the phrase "if I expect the worst, then I won't be let down" cross your mind on a regular basis? Imagining a bad outcome elicits negative emotions like worry and fear that, in turn, ignite the stress response that floods our bodies with cortisone and adrenaline, says Ryan. When that stress response is chronically turned on, it not only wears down your body's immune system, but it also zaps your chance of experiencing a positive feeling, like happiness. "You can't have a negative emotion and a positive emotion simultaneously," says Ryan. "It's physiologically not possible."

All you're doing by worrying or anticipating something that isn't happening (and may never happen) "is keeping the stress response turned on way high and not enjoying whatever you could enjoy in that moment," says Ryan. Essentially, you're cheating yourself out of happiness…

Passing the buck.
If you feel you deserve to be happy and your [insert kid, parent, spouse, job, car or new pair of shoes here] is supposed to make you happy, keep reading. "There's absolutely positive proof that that's just not true," says Ryan. "For a moment something else can actually boost us up, but it's only a matter of time before we're looking for the next thing." It's an insatiable cycle that won't result in long-term happiness…

Not thinking of others. Ever.
It turns out being generous can make you happier. You don't have to have a million dollars to donate to the charity of your choice to reap the benefits, either. People who simply do five small random acts of kindness -- putting a quarter in someone else's parking meter or opening the door for someone -- have been found to be happier than those who don't, says Ryan. "In doing these things, we activate the part of our brains that give us a little endorphin boost so we feel better.”

Thinking life should be perfect -- and yours isn't.
For starters, the world isn't perfect. So you're fighting a losing battle if you think yours can be. If you're always in a state of discontent -- reveling in what's wrong with, or missing from or undesirable about your life, you're probably not thinking about what is actually good about it. "Ask yourself three questions at the end of the day," says Ryan. "What am I thankful for today? What did I enjoy today? And what am I satisfied about today? And you can't say 'nothing.' You have to come up with something."

To me, another valid point in this article was thinking things are “Not Fair,” a trap I have often fallen into. Life isn’t always fair – no one has singled you out for something unpleasant. The same nasty stuff happens to everyone. It is how we deal with it that makes the difference. Switching focus from all the things that are not perfect and instead noticing the good surrounding us will greatly improve our mood.

Life is really good - we are all truly blessed, and its time to count our blessings.

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