To learn how to be happy consistently, at some point in life all of us need realize one key thing:
The obstacles to happiness are on the inside, not the outside.
The big question for those learning how to be happy, then, is what are the obstacles and how do you deal with them? That’s what you’re going to get in this post.
External obstacles to being happy are the easy ones to pinpoint. The jerky boss. The controlling spouse. All the stuff you want in life that you don’t have. Your hectic schedule, high cost of living or freakishly disturbed ex-lover. All very identifiable.
There are limitless external causes of stress and unhappiness. And, of course, they are all lies. None of the unfortunate outside circumstances in your life can actually prevent you from being happy if you know how to be happy.
It’s your negative response to these external obstacles that is the problem. It’s my problem, too. In fact, this is a universal condition.
Here’s and example of how it can work:
When you see your jerky boss being a jerk, you say to yourself, “He’s such a jerk! I can’t stand it! I can’t go on working for such a moron! I hate my job so much….” Or something to that effect.
It is this intensity of your negative inner voice that causes all the stress. All of it. Outside negativity happens and then it is over. Inside negativity can go on and on and on. You can take a single incident and plague yourself with it for years. It’s very unfortunate when this happens, especially to children. It’s no laughing matter.
And it gets worse: Your inner voice does not even need bad circumstances on the outside to work its emotional torture. Outside circumstances could be wonderful and you might still end up miserable.
For example, let’s say you just won a prestigious award for a job well done. Good news, right? Yet, your inner tormentor can work that angle just as well. It begins, “Boy do you have them fooled. You don’t deserve an award! You’re worthless. You should give it back.”
Real nice, huh? Have you been there? I certainly have. When I was awarded my first real job as a licensed mental health counselor, I should have been totally elated. I was happy about it, to be sure. The job was at the most prestigious agency in town, The Family Institute in Albuquerque, NM (around 1996). The one with the nicest offices and biggest HMO contracts. If you worked at the Family Institute, you had arrived!
Yet, this voice in my head….such a still, small voice…kept at me for months. “You shouldn’t be working at this agency. You don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t belong here.”
You see? Outside circumstances might be extremely good, extremely bad or anywhere in between. It’s not what’s outside that makes you feel one way or another.
Heck, you could be at Disneyland, the happiest place on earth, and still be miserable on the inside. Peace of mind simply has nothing to do with outside circumstances. It has everything to do with what’s going down on the inside.
When you really get this, you’ll change your focus to inner work and begin to downplay the importance of outside stuff when it comes to your emotional health and happiness.
So, inner work!
Here is an easy and obvious way to change your focus to inner work:
Once the shift happens from an outside focus (blame) to inside work (taking responsibility for your responses), interesting growth opportunities open up. You can begin to use outside annoyances to identify inner changes that you can make.
One of the first things to do is classic in the world of NLP. Understand that your inner world is made up pictures, sounds and feelings. When you turn your attention inward, you will be seeing, hearing and feeling things in your mind.
What you see, hear and feel on the inside is a representation of what you saw, heard or felt on the outside. It’s the representation and your reaction to it that starts the stress and misery machine rolling.
What do you see, hear and feel? How do you see, hear and feel? These are what make or break the quality (happiness) of your inner world.
For example, if your jerky boss is an easily identifiable outside annoyance, then you can use the following 5 steps to changes things within you:
1. Notice when you are annoyed by your boss (easy).
2. Shift your focus inside. Being annoyed, what do you see, hear and feel on the inside?
For example, in your mind’s eye you might see a big, close up image of your boss with a nasty look on his face.
You might hear his voice in your mind, louder than usual, as well as your own voice that protests what a jerk he is.
And you might feel tension in your chest and neck.
3. Identify the most problematic visual or auditory element on the inside.
Which element bothers you the most? His voice (that you are replaying in your own way)? Your voice? The up close and personal image?
4. Shift the most problematic element.
Make a shift. Mentally turn down the volume on the voices in your mind. Mentally push the image far into the distance. Make something different. After all, this is your mind.
5. Notice your level of annoyance. Has it gone down? If not, return to step 2.
This is just one NLP-based example of how to do your inner work. There are unlimited methods available if you have the core set of NLP skills that we teach in the NLP Practitioner Certification.
As a bonus, I’ve put together a worksheet of this process that walks you right through it so that you don’t get lost. To get the worksheet, I ask that you share this article – a fair price to ask, is it not? Once you share, the link to the worksheet will appear!
Download your worksheet here:
If you want personal help applying the principles in the post, or help with any challenge, consider personal coaching with me. You’ll be surprised at how much insight and direction I can provide. Click here to learn more and inquire.
If you feel helpless, hopeless or just can’t get yourself to move forward, then you should learn about negative psychological attachments and self-sabotage. Do so by watching this enlightening free video.
If you want to be able to design exercises like this for others, then you should considering doing on of our NLP Certification Programs.
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