Happiness 103: After The Slump

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Happiness 102: When You’re Unhappy

Trauma brings stress after it, and coping is a different skill than handling trauma itself

Holding onto memories of an event will force your mind to relive the shock as if it’s happening over and over again

Any post-traumatic stress not worked through affects our decision-making skills in anything related to it

Prolonged post-traumatic stress makes us less productive at everything

Too much post-trauma stress with actually cause the brain to stop, which is also known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Experiment with the best short-term stress-relieving habits that work for you

Anything you do should be done with an attitude of self-love to allow yourself to work through the pain

  • Visualize yourself as a small child
  • Talk to yourself like you would talk to someone you love
  • Talk to yourself about how you feel

Crying is one of the most effective ways to release trauma

  • If you can’t cry, yawning also releases stress

Focus on extreme deep breathing, similar to meditation

  1. Exhale completely
  2. Inhale across 4 seconds
  3. Hold breath for 7 seconds
  4. Exhale across 8 seconds, then repeat

Focus on repetitive and mindless tasks can help relieve the tension

  • Cleaning or exercise allows you to feel productive
  • Playing Tetris has been proven to help with PTSD
  • Avoid anything that takes a long time, is unproductive, or can be unhealthy (like many modern video games or eating)

For continued PTSD, consider professional psychological therapy

Pain medicine numbs emotional pain along with physical pain, but try to avoid self-medicating unless you have to make a critical decision that you can’t postpone

Low self-esteem easily destroys happiness

It creates irrational or overblown fears of conflicts or loss, rejection, failure, and loneliness

Low self-esteem makes a few things impossible

  • Can’t solve problems or create meaningful results
  • Can’t take risks or adapt to change
  • Won’t assert themselves or define themselves in any consistent way
  • Won’t accept compliments or recognition from others

Poor self-esteem is a gateway to many harmful addictions

  • The more you put into something, the less you proportionally get out of it (Law of Diminishing Return)
  • An addict puts more and more into something to gain happiness while disregarding diminishing return
  • Any substance or object can be an addiction as soon as it becomes universally more important than anything else
    • Even ideas and social states can become addictions
  • Most addictions halt any personal development
    • Overcoming any addiction is a bit like treating yourself like a strong-willed small child
    • Addicts cannot recover alone, and they need help from Anonymous/12 Step groups, or supportive friends and family

Low self-esteem is easy to understand but can be hard to change

  • It’s normal for everyone to battle low self-esteem from time to time
  • The results of empowering self-esteem are always worth the investment

Changing low self-esteem takes steady and continuous work

If you have a hard time accepting yourself as you are right now

  1. Identify the conditions you feel you must meet to be worthy of being accepted and loved
  2. Analyze those conditions and expectations about why they block your happiness
  3. Analyze if your expectations are reasonable, rational or possible and develop healthy alternative goals that free you up to be more unconditional with yourself
  4. Recognize that your expected limits and rules you find appropriate are rules for wellness and prosperity but have nothing to do with loving yourself
  5. Identify the necessary standards and limitations in your life that are both sound and also not a basis for your self-love
  6. Practice removing any conditions as you face yourself to learn to love without limits
  7. Identify what fears, beliefs or habits keep you from being unconditionally loving to yourself and replace them with healthy alternatives
  8. Learn to freely verbalize your open and unconditional acceptance of yourself, that you want to experience the full consequences of your actions, and that those consequences do not affect the love you have for yourself
  9. Clarify the belief that “tough love” is continuously and unconditionally accepting, but holds you entirely responsible for your actions and their consequences

Remove any self-effacing mantras that repeat themselves in your mind

  • I am worthless
  • I am not worthy of loving anyone
  • I am not wanted by anyone or anyone
  • I am alone
  • People always take advantage of me
  • Nobody loves me
  • Nobody cares for or about me
  • I am not needed
  • My opinion doesn’t matter
  • I am hated
  • Everyone lies to me
  • I am ugly
  • It’s already been done
  • I’m not good enough
  • I am not happy
  • I am cruel
  • I already know what the answer will be
  • I am a bad person
  • I will not make a good wife/husband
  • I would be a terrible mother/father
  • I am a child
  • I am stupid
  • I am too old
  • Why should I even bother?
  • I am a moron
  • I am a terrible friend
  • I am a burden
  • I can’t ever get anything right
  • It’s too late for me to do it

Learn to accept reality

Accepting reality is an exercise in humility over how weak, incapable, and incorrect we are

1. Accept what you can’t change

You cannot “fix” anyone else, and everything in yourself will take longer than you want

Be honest with yourself about your feelings and thoughts

Learn your limits

  • You will never be perfect, but you can be extremely good at something

2. Accept what you can’t know

We desire certainty so much that we’d often prefer something familiar and terrible over something unfamiliar and likely good for us

Nothing but the present is fully guaranteed, certain, promised, absolute or consistent

  • The future is completely uncertain
  • The past is a faded, corrupted memory continually changing based on our current views

3. Take responsibility for yourself and be in personal control

Learn to stop making excuses

  • Most excuses have a personal responsibility tied to them
  • Learn to love the benefits responsibility offers
  • Err on the side of taking too much responsibility, since it’s easier to release responsibility for something negative than to claim it

Present thinking determines future happiness

Stop any thought that destroys your contentedness

  1. Dismiss the small stuff, such as minor annoyances, inconveniences, and mistakes
  2. Think of the past as a learning experience and remove any other thoughts about it
    • Make peace with the past and reconcile the painful parts of it, since it’s not possible to long for a better past and also stay satisfied with it
    • If you can’t part with the past, find more ways to learn from it until you’re tired of thinking of it
    • Forgiving is giving up the hope of a better past
    • Find meaning in your loss through religion, present actions you can take, or in accepting what you can’t change
  3. Become excited about how the future has many great possibilities, but stay rooted in the present
    • Beware of destination addiction, which is a preoccupation with thinking that happiness is in the next place, next job or next partner
    • You’ll never be happy where you are as long as you believe that happiness lies somewhere else
    • Look at both the future and the present moment as having a tangible benefit (Ben-Shahar’s Happiness Model)
      • happiness
  4. Remove emotional ties to others’ successes, failures or expectations
    • Get rid of standards connected to others
    • Let go of grudges
    • Remove any conditions for others’ approval
    • Remove any decision-making based on others’ decisions
  5. Focus all your desire to what you can do today
    • Take each day one at a time
    • Look at problems as challenges
    • Create reasonably attainable dreams for yourself
      • If the goals are too big, you will run out of energy before completing them
      • If the goals are too petty, they won’t feel like an accomplishment
    • Devote all your energy to one thing at a time
    • Make backup plans if you are still anxious about whether you’ll succeed
  6. Release any other thoughts that are nagging in the mind
    • Stop thinking anything that starts with “if only…”, “when this…”, or “how come…”
    • Give up the remainder of your problems to God as you understand Him
    • Learn to focus on only one thing at a time
      • Though multitasking is prevalent, it has been proven to cause unhappiness, unproductivity, and ineffectiveness

Learn patience, in all its forms

Patience across time to give the opportunity for situations to play out

Patience with others to allow possible scenarios that let others’ actions speak louder than their words

Patience with things to understand the limits of working with your own hands

Patience with yourself to fail and make mistakes

Add new thoughts into your string of consciousness

Think outside the box

  • You always have options, but stress shuts down decision-making skills
  • Brainstorm terrible choices you could do that are much worse than what you currently have to choose from

Learn thankfulness for what you have

  • Think of one good thing you still have
  • An easy way to find things you’re thankful for is to look at the other good things that cause your problems
    • A broken-down car means that you still have a car
    • Nothing good to eat in the fridge means that there’s something to eat
    • Your job is lousy because you have a job
    • A broken leg from snowboarding was because you went snowboarding

Take yourself less seriously and learn to have a sense of humor

  • Nothing in this life is as severe as it ever feels
  • Laughing at both yourself and the situation is self-healing

Develop yourself spiritually

  • Trust that God is in control
  • Learn meditation

Learn to meet your own needs

  • Live with less
  • Learn a new skill (or keep on reading these 100,000 Tips)

Change your routines to improve your happiness

Keep a journal or diary

  • Write down daily accomplishments and positive things you’re grateful for
  • Count your blessings
  • End the diary with questions about the future to inspire more journal entries
  • Reread it later to see how much you’ve changed and how far you’ve come

Get healthier

  • Eat reasonable portions on a consistent basis
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables
  • Exercise daily (20 minutes of it will improve the next 12 hours)
  • Practice breathing slowly
  • Drink plenty of water

Add hobbies that make life more meaningful

  • Find hobbies that bring new experiences instead of ones that get more things
  • Do something new every day
  • Do what you love the most
  • Drink tea
  • Enjoy humor more often
  • Listen to positive music to inspire you or sad music to give an emotional release
  • Look for the small little pleasures of life
  • Learn to smile more, which has been proven to make you happier
  • Meditate for at least 10 minutes each day or join a yoga class
  • Read enriching and educational things for 10 minutes every day
  • Find beauty in ordinary situations and seek out beautiful things
  • Learn something new every week

Plan your daily routine to make your life easier

  • Prepare for the morning the night before
  • Schedule a play time into every day
  • Get enough sleep
  • Get up 15 minutes earlier
  • Recall three things that you’re grateful for every morning
  • Get up and take charge of the day, even if you don’t feel like it
  • Do a short morning workout to prevent feeling guilty about the rest of the day
  • Get to work early
  • Make copies of important papers
  • Make duplicate keys
  • Memorize where things go

Avoid things that can ruin your day

  • Don’t watch the news or get heavily engaged in politics
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothes
  • Repair or discard things that don’t work properly
  • Avoid smoking, drinking, and drugs
  • Don’t procrastinate
  • Find alternate routes around traffic in your daily commute or find alternate non-driving transportation
  • Avoid making commitments to things that you may not be able to do
  • Set your goals as small as possible

Make long-term investments

  • Work on your posture to avoid hunching or back problems
  • Next January, start filling an empty jar with notes about good things that happen, then empty it and read them all back next New Year’s Eve
  • Make something you hope for into a plan that you can carry out

Make plans to recover quickly from another negative experience

  • Make a collection of music that always cheers you up
  • Learn to trust people more fully
  • Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people
  • Write down positive thoughts, fold them up and put them in a jar to pull out when you’re unhappy
  • Use a power outage to look at the night sky

Make your relationships with others matter more

Turn off social media

  • Everyone paints an image on social media that implies they are happier than they are
  • Those people are as unhappy (if not more) than you are
  • There is no benefit to reading a social media feed when you can contact them directly
  • To add to the endless stream of self-indulgence doesn’t add to your life or anyone else’s
  • If you feel inspired to share about yourself, try blogging or vlogging instead

Avoid discussing alienating things with strangers like religion or politics

  • If you want to convert anyone to your way of thinking, show them your happiness first, then tell them why

Get involved with others

  • Make small talk with strangers regularly
  • Create meaningful conversations whenever you can
  • Join a volunteer organization or getting more involved at your church
  • Set a goal to make someone smile
  • Reach out to one person every month you know that inspires you

Become unafraid of showing that you’re human

  • Express your limitations
  • Share when you fail

Nurture worthwhile relationships with the right people

  • Learn to become a better friend
  • Praise other people
  • Express gratitude for those you love
  • Learn to appreciate people who are under-appreciated
  • Surround yourself with positive people
  • Avoid negative people for advice

Open yourself to new happiness-making opportunities, even if it takes work

  • Get more connected with your community
  • Get a pet
  • Take a plunge into a relationship and getting married
  • Have children or adopt
  • Stay away from too much life in an overcrowded big city or desolate open countryside

Only a healing environment allows long-term happiness

Healing environments can be felt clearly, but are sometimes harder to define

  • The group members guide each other to good things
    • To get better and bring themselves more and more into a state of good health
    • To be vulnerable to change and grow based on sound values
    • The encouragement that courage and bravery can overcome all problems
    • To show and receive physical affection
  • Everyone is encouraged to support each other in changing and growing, but nobody blames anyone for difficulties
    • No fear of condemnation, unfair punishment, abuse or banishment
  • Zero tolerance for bitterness, belittling, rejection, resentment, revenge or unforgiveness
  • Disagreements and conflicts resolved with clarity and directness
    • No power struggles to maintain emotional control of the environment
    • Nobody plays the role of victim or martyr
    • Nobody gets jumpy or defensive about constructive criticism or feedback
    • Nobody considers past mistakes, shortcomings, backsliding, and failures in the conflict

Everyone in the group must believe a few things for a healing environment to exist

  • People with problems are seen as sick or ill instead of as evil, wrong or defective
    • There is a universal view of “everyone is flawed” when approaching problems
  • Everyone is part of a trusting culture that permits openness and honesty
    • Everyone seeks out open and direct feedback about their issues, concerns, faults, and feelings
    • Everyone is allowed to make mistakes
  • To risk being transparent is seen as worth trying
    • Being hurt again is always worth a greater purpose
    • Forgiveness is worth it, even if it isn’t always easy and the offense might happen again, and holding onto a grudge is a wasteful way to live
    • Everyone deserves a chance to heal and grow
  • Feelings are seen as legitimate and should be listened to, even when not based on reality
  • Healing environments are built on unconditional love by all of the members
    • Everyone deserves a chance to love and be loved
    • Everyone is emotionally supportive, understanding, patient, sympathetic and caring
    • There is an overall universal commitment to one another to survive current crises for better causes

A healing environment is challenging to create, and many things can halt one

  • Unforgiveness, not understanding the need for forgiveness or unwillingness to release problems
  • Inability to accept personal responsibility for failings
    • This can also apply to consequences of actions, faults or errors
    • Many times this will be an inability to apologize for wrongdoing
  • Fear of backsliding, being hurt again, being taken advantage of or losing more in the long-term
    • Fear of taking risks, accepting change, failing or even success can accompany this
    • Can be disbelief in anyone’s good intentions and a general noncommittal attitude toward the group
    • Can also be disbelief in one’s ability to meet the challenge to change and grow
  • Confusion over what is happening and inability to observe events
    • Can’t think deeply about problems and interprets them literally instead of rationally or as connected to other things
    • Failure to accept parts of the situation that don’t fit preconceived notions, expectations or fantasies of how things “should” be
    • Committed strongly and permanently to a relationship where the other parties aren’t being nurtured or growing
  • Avoiding any discussion about alternate viewpoints or different approaches
    • Any attempts to this discussion will be met with name-calling, belittling, ignoring or condemning
  • Mental issues like depression or schizophrenia that forbid a healthy give-and-take engagement
    • Can show as a feeling of being a martyr instead of someone healing
    • The roles of parents or leaders become caretakers or maintainers instead of nurturers or enablers
  • Communication barriers that create an inability to solve problems
    • Failure to engage or receive on a feelings-based level
    • Not reading the nonverbal communication of others
    • Inability to solve problems verbally

There are plenty of reasons a healing environment can’t form

  • High-stress or dysfunctional family backgrounds
    • Feeling of condemnation for “bad” behavior in the past instead of being treated as sick or ill
    • Immobilized through blaming, bickering, fighting, arguing, yelling, complaining or any other negative behavior
  • Withdrawn, silent or unable to communicate personal problems
    • Refusal to admit problems and unwilling to get help
    • Refusing to express fantasies and expectations of others
    • Ignores personal rights
  • Problems with substance abuse and addiction
    • Can be any substance beyond drugs and alcohol, including video games or food
    • Might be an addiction to perfection, working/industriousness, or obsessively compulsive about tasks
    • Includes the compulsion to fix a childhood home they came from
      • A child will almost never fix the home they were raised in, no matter how enlightened they become about the truths of healthy relationships
    • Can also be an unhealthy valuing of a group (such as an Anonymous group or other support groups) over literally everything else
  • Rigid and highly constricting religious, political or social beliefs
    • Inability or feeling unable to think or act independently with a sense of personal autonomy
    • Inability to say “no”, hear “yes” or “thank you”, laugh at oneself or be personally honest
  • Sexual or emotional unfaithfulness

An unhealthy environment can be developed into a healing one if everyone is willing to make it happen

  1. Assess why a healing environment is needed
    • Look at problems that affect your life, in what groups they exist and with whom
    • Look at whether people are willing to work with you on those problems and to what extent
    • If they aren’t, examine whether you can stay comfortably in the environment and why
    • If someone was raised in a dysfunctional environment where members don’t want to discuss or fix the matter, it’s best to emotionally divorce and create a new one somewhere else
  2. Look at whether you have what’s necessary to begin building a healing environment
    • Ask why each person you have problems with needs a healing environment
    • Figure out what healing behaviors need to be developed and by whom
    • Find out what obstacles exist that stop a healing environment
    • Look at the beliefs that need to be followed to create those healing behaviors
    • Find the problems in the environment itself that specifically will benefit from these changed behaviors
  3. Develop an action plan with the other people and clarify expectations
    • Agree what the problem is
    • Agree what possible solutions can resolve the problem
    • List what actions and behavioral patterns each person needs to improve on
    • Agree on what outside help to use to address the issues
    • Clarify how everyone will confront any setbacks, relapses or backsliding
    • Set a date and frequency to reassess everyone’s progress
      • Promise to revise the plan, continue with it unchanged or create a new one on that meeting date
    • Set target goals that indicate that a healing environment is starting to happen
    • Make everyone commit and have them sign and date it for full effect
  4. If all of this fails, go back and look at why a healing environment is needed

If you have an especially hard time in connecting with others, you must learn forgiveness

Next: Happiness 104: How To Forgive & Release
Alternately, Jump Ahead: How To Be Productive