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How to Always Feel Good (ver. 2)
I’ve been taught (like most of us) that in order for me to be happy, I have to change other people and change the world. The bad news is that I probably can’t do that. Fortunately, that isn’t the truth about how life works. Most of the time I don’t have the means to change the world. So, if that’s the truth, I’ll probably never feel good or achieve happiness. I do believe that I should do whatever I can to try to change some aspects of the world, but that’s usually very limited.
The good news is that I don’t have to change the world in order for me to feel good. My happiness doesn’t depend on what’s going on outside of me. It depends on what’s going on inside of me. In order for me to feel good and to be happy, if I’m not, I have to change myself, not somebody else. And that’s something I can do, if I choose to do so. That’s truly good news.
This concept was dramatically proven in the extreme environment of a German concentration camp during World War II. That experience was ably described by Viktor Frankl, an Austrian medical doctor, neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor, in his short but powerful book, Man’s Search for Meaning, first published in 1946. Reading that book during my college years has positively affected the rest of my life.
That’s also the good news that most people have never heard—that our happiness doesn’t depend on other people or on what’s going on outside of us. Our happiness only depends on what’s going on inside of us, and we can do something about that! And, when we’re feeling better, people around us feel better, too. People tend to react, not to act, due to their habitual thinking. So it’s easier for them to act better when we’re feeling better than it is when we’re feeling bad, like they probably are. Our feeling good helps others to feel better. That’s one of the ways that we shine our light in the world.
The reason this idea works is because I’m the only thinker in my interior world. I’m the only one thinking my thoughts. So if I’m having a heavy day, guess who’s doing the thinking that makes it feel heavy to me. Therefore, for “things” to change, I have to change my thinking. If I just keep focusing on trying to change what’s out there, and do nothing about what’s happening in here, things aren’t going to change for the better in my life. They’re just going to stay about the same, or even get worse. That may not be what I want to hear, but it is what I need to hear, and what we all must hear until we start choosing thoughts that serve us, instead of choosing, unconsciously (usually) or even consciously, thoughts that disserve us.
The reason I would want to put this option to work for me is because how I feel determines what I’m attracting into my life. What’s going on outside of me doesn’t determine what I attract. What I’m vibrating or resonating determines what I attract, because like attracts like. It’s really that simple.
I can tell what I’ve been vibrating by observing what’s shown up in my life. If I don’t like the results that are in my life, I can always “choose again,” as A Course in Miracles constantly reminds us, and get on with having a lighter, brighter day. Or I can keep on dwelling on thoughts that make me feel down, and stay where I am. It’s always my choice, whether I consciously make that choice or not. Not to decide is to decide not to.
So, the only way I can have a heavy day is to choose (probably unconsciously, habitually) to think about things that make me feel heavy or down. And that still applies even and especially when things outside of me aren’t going my way. The way for me to feel better, regardless of what is or isn’t going on outside of me, is to deliberately choose to think thoughts that make me feel better, because it’s my thinking, inside of me, that determines how I feel, not what’s happening outside of me, though that can affect my thinking, if I allow it to do so. Regardless of what’s happening or not happening in my world, I’m still the one doing the feeling about it.
I’m always the one who decides how my day is going, or how it’s going to go for the rest of the day. If I don’t like how it’s going, I always have the option to consciously and deliberately decide to change my focus and thus change my experience. That’s how it’s done. That’s simply the way it’s been set up.
Jesus taught us that lesson when he taught us that it isn’t done unto us as it is; it’s done unto us as we believe. I’ve noticed, however, that most of us have missed that lesson, even if we’ve read it over and over. Today presents another opportunity for me to practice how my thinking is going to affect my world.
I keep repeating a lesson because I haven’t gotten it. I don’t say “2+2=5” in order to learn that lesson. I say that because I haven’t learned that lesson. When I learn the lesson, it stops showing up, because I stop creating situations that make it show up for me.
Only I can change my world, because I’m the one who colors my world by my thinking. I’m the only one who sees my world through the my-colored sunglasses I’m wearing—my perception of the world. No one else sees my world for me. How I see the world, based on my beliefs and biases, affects how the world shows up for me. The observer always influences the observed because s/he determines what s/he is seeing, by the interpretations s/he applies to what s/he observes.
I always have the option to put the power of deliberate choice to work for me, to my advantage. It’s difficult at first because it isn’t habitual. Due to the law of inertia (things at rest tend to stay at rest), it takes motivation to get me moving, once I’m stopped. I tend to resist new ideas because they aren’t habitual. They take deliberate effort. But being willing to work through that resistance helps me to make a new, more productive way of living become my new habit. Repetition is how I create my habits, which either serve me or disserve me.
Choosing happier thoughts isn’t the hard part. Deciding to do it and following through with that decision is the hard part. Once I’ve truly decided to do it, doing it is easy. I simply focus my attention on topics that make me feel good. I turn my thinking away from ideas that make me feel bad and turn it, instead, to ideas that make me feel good. This does take some effort initially, however, since my habits that aren’t serving me are still driving me. And it takes some effort repeatedly, while I’m doing it, initially. But it’s worth the work, because eventually it will become habitual too, and then it will start working automatically for me, just like my old way of thinking used to work against me.
I begin to do it by first making a decision to notice how I’m feeling throughout my day. When I begin to notice that I’m not feeling good, I’m then aware of what’s happening. So I can then make another decision, to immediately swing into action to change the thought I’m thinking or the action I’m doing.
I replace the current thought or action, that doesn’t serve me, with a thought that does serve me. I determine to focus on something else, something that makes me feel better, even a little bit better. And I keep on doing this, thought by thought, until I notice that I’m feeling better. If I’m dealing with a problem, I can always deal with it better when I’m feeling good, than I can when I’m feeling bad.
What makes this seem difficult is because I usually live life on automatic. My habits drive my life. That’s convenient and saves me a lot of extra effort, by automatically making many decisions for me. That can work for me very well, as long as my habitual way of doing things is productive for me. It can also work against me, when my habits don’t serve me well. That’s when I have to stop living automatically, habitually, unconsciously, and start living consciously, deliberately, making new, better choices as I go along, instead of letting old, counterproductive choices be made for me, by my habitual way of thinking and acting.
This is simply reversing the process that got me feeling heavy or down in the first place. It all started with a simple thought or action, followed by a string of similar thoughts. I continued that chain of thoughts, over and over, all leading in a downward spin, until the molehill became a mountain. And then I declared how depressed I was! It doesn’t have to keep on going that way, if I’m willing to notice how I’m feeling, and then stop that chain of pain before it gets too big to handle. But this doesn’t ever happen automatically. It always requires a definite decision to make the change, and then the commitment to follow through in making that change.
Only I can learn the truth for me. And only I can decide to practice it or not practice it. That’s the way it works. I can keep on doing what I’ve always done, and keep on getting what I’ve always gotten. Or, starting today, or beginning again today, I can consciously and deliberately choose to do things differently, to deliberately choose thoughts that serve me, and thus begin, or reaffirm, a new habit that will serve me well, just like the old habit has served me badly.
Nobody but I can be honest about my thinking. Only I can do that. It takes point blank honesty, being brutally honest with oneself, to create the changes one wants in one’s life. I can keep on excusing myself for my thoughts, and keep on living like I’ve always lived, always blaming my problems on someone else, or I can consciously and deliberately take responsibility for my thoughts and my actions or inactions, and change my life for the better. It’s always been my choice, and I’m always been choosing, whether my choice has been made deliberately or automatically (habitually). Usually it’s been automatically.
My habits automatically choose for me until I decide to consciously and deliberately choose otherwise, if those habits are not serving me. Not to decide is to decide not to. I can create habitual thoughts that serve me, instead of letting thoughts that don’t serve me habitually run my life.
You, too, can make up your mind to stop having bad days. It really is a decision you can make. You have the power to do that. And only you can do that for you; no one else can do it for you. If you don’t do it, it won’t get done. You’ll simply be cheating yourself out of the happiness you deserve. You don’t have to do that. You don’t have to keep on living that way.
Consciously and deliberately decide to give up bad days. They’re no fun!
Charles David Heineke, 2007
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