Happiness is not dependent on what’s happening around you; it comes from within.
Story: J L Thompson
Happiness depends on many things out of your control. Your work life, your love life, and even the fortunes of your favorite sports team affect your mood.
None of these is under your control. Compared to such things, it may appear not to matter what you say to yourself inside your head, and it shouldn’t affect your happiness.
However, what your internal voice says, or your self-talk, is a critical part of being a happy person.
Self-talk and the subconscious
Whatever you say inside your head consistently, or with feeling, your subconscious mind always takes as truth. It doesn’t think rationally about it because that is not something the subconscious mind does.
It just stores the thoughts in memory as facts. Because of this, the things you frequently and consistently think about often become true so you behave as if the things you say to yourself are true.
As Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, said, “Thought is action being rehearsed.”
Changing your self-talk
Most people have about 50,000 to 100,000 thoughts every day. It is difficult to exert direct control over each one. Because of this, the best approach to controlling your thoughts is in stages. Make a regular effort to change your negative internal statements to positive ones.
For example, if you catch yourself thinking, “I really screwed that up, I’m stupid,” replace it with, “I really screwed that up, but that’s OK. That’s part of how I learn to do better. And after all, nobody is perfect.” In time, the new thinking will become a habit.
As you start seeing results, increase efforts until it becomes habitual to change negative internal statements into positive ones. Talking to yourself internally in more positive ways will become a habit. Remember the Buddhist saying, “Everything we are is the result of everything we have ever thought.”
Using better memories
Old feelings return to us whenever we remember past events. If somebody hurt or angered you, you probably replay it in your mind again and again.
However, because the mind cannot distinguish between things that are imagined vividly and real experiences, this is accomplishing nothing but keeping wounds fresh and making them worse. Instead, when you are bothered by unpleasant memories, deliberately replace it with a happy memory.
Once you have it, make the picture from that memory large. Make the colors brighter. Focus on it. Make the picture move, not just a static scene. These things will make the happier memory “louder” than the negative one. In time, doing this becomes an automatic response when you are bothered by unpleasant memories.
Your subconscious mind can take you anywhere. It can lead you to happiness and success just as easily as it can lead you to misery and failure. Your self-talk, or internal voice, is the key to selecting the direction you take.