Monday, September 21, 2009

v30.5: Habitually Happy

Good morning folks,

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The other day I asked the question "What makes you smile?".  Some of you posted comments, others sent me emails and I appreciate all the communications I received from my readers.  It is these responses that have prompted this post which was the first thing I thought about when I woke this morning.

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Sometimes it is not enough to just have a smile on your face.  There are times when a smile is used to cover up underlying feelings of pain or depression.  Sometimes we get so used to smiling over the pain as it becomes a habit; and a dangerous one at that.  You may brighten someone's day with that smile, but deep down inside you're an emotional wreck waiting to surface.  Now is the time to do an about face and become truly happy again.

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Grab a sheet of paper and a pencil and let's begin.  At the top left corner of the page write the letter A, in the top right corner write the letter B, in the bottom right corner write the letter C and in the bottom left corner write the letter W.  Now you're probably asking why a W and not a D?  That answer will come shortly, for now we must continue preparing the paper for happiness.

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Now fold the paper in half from left to right making the A and B touch as well as the C and W.  Leaving the paper folded, we now have four more corners to fill in with letters.  In these corners, starting in the upper left and moving clockwise, write the letters D, E, F and X.  This time we fold the paper from top to bottom so the D and F are touching and the E and X are touching.  Now the paper is getting smaller and the we're presented with four more blank corners to write in.  Using the same instructions as above, begin by writing in the top left corner and move clockwise; the letters are G, H, I and Y.  Are you starting to see a pattern?

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Now it is time for one last fold, this time we will fold from top left corner to the bottom right corner creating something that looks like a triangle (depending on the shape of paper you started with).  Now we only should have three corners to write our letters in which is fine because this exercise is nearly over.  Starting from the top of the triangle and moving clockwise, write the letters J, K and Z.  Put down the pencil and stare at the paper for a minute.  Do you see it?

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If you're having trouble seeing it, unfold the triangle and stare at the sheet for a few more minutes.  If you're still having trouble seeing it keep unfolding the page until you are left with the sheet you started with.  Now what do you see?  Well if you did things right, you should see a sheet of paper with crease marks all over it and letters written on both sides somewhat randomly.  What does this represent?  Quite simply, this represents the power of distraction and the ability to take your mind off your troubles and worries and redirect your focus to something else.  It didn't last very long but can you say you were thinking about anything else while you were doing it (if you truly did do it)?  The reason why people get depressed, angry, sad, stressed, etc is simply because we dwell on those things; they consume us to the point where we balloon them into something much larger.

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So what is the solution to this problem?  The solution is simple, yet one of the most difficult challenges we face every day; thinking positive.  Try to put away all the negative thoughts and dwell on the positive things in life.  The goal here is to stop worrying about the things that bring you down and try to focus on the things that make you happy.  Make it a habit to put yourself in a good mood, smile, laugh, watch a funny show/movie and make that shift.  If you find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts, shift it, stop it, give yourself a little slap and take your mind off it.  Try my little exercise above and try switching the letters around to see if you can come up with your own patterns.

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Making the shift isn't easy but it is necessary to maintain some level of sanity when you're feeling down.  It is too easy to lose control (especially in this hard financial times) and lash out over something silly because you've kept a lot of your frustrations bottled up.

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Well folks, the time has come to get back to work and provide a much needed service to my employer.  Today I will start being habitually happy.

Cheers,

Al