Friday, April 27, 2012

One Thing to Acknowledge for More Happiness

Tap into Your Assumptions

There’s a lot of good advice out there about what to do for yourself in order to find or restore happiness. Most of the advice focuses on the “don’t do’s.” Don’t do this and you’ll be happier or don’t do that and happiness will return.  I believe most, if not all of these “don’t do’s” can usually be traced to one thought pattern.

It’s a thought pattern so strong that giving it any slight bit of focus sets you on a path of no turning back. Giving it focus turns into a mood. The mood then determines the actions you take. The actions you take then create the evidence you seek to turn that assumption into an entrenched belief.
- It’s the thought pattern that makes you think you need to hate that difficult teacher, coworker, or boss (judgment)
- It’s the thought pattern that tells you that you can’t do it (self defeat)
- It’s the thought pattern that creates a false sense of security through controlling others (insecurity)
- It’s the thought pattern that keeps you focused on what you think others may be thinking of you as opposed to just doing what makes you happy (insecurity)
- It’s the thought pattern that could be called the Excuse Generator 2000 (excuses)
- It’s the thought pattern that jumps into action once you hear a familiar label and automatically begin to think about and picture what that thing or person will look and behave like (labels, judgment)
- It’s the thought pattern that you use to mask your fears and deny yourself your shot at satisfying your wants or needs (facing fear)
- It’s the thought pattern that keeps you in the status quo (procrastination)
- It’s the thought pattern that leads to entrenched belief systems (limiting beliefs)
- It’s the thought pattern that keeps you thinking it’s someone else’s fault and they should fix it so your life can be better (blame)
It’s one thing we all do but wish we could give up. We make assumptions. We are very good at it.
In every instance of judging someone, assigning blame, labeling things or people, making excuses, avoid challenges, controlling others, hanging on to dear life of our belief systems, etc…you are exercising your well-developed ability to make assumptions.

Assumptions are so powerful because as humans we need to be right in our own minds. It feels great to tell yourself you are right. And it’s completely natural. Thus, as soon as the assumption enters your consciousness you are seeking proof that it is correct. An assumption leads to a perspective (mood) in which you only seek out information that you think supports your assumption. Even if it really doesn’t you’ll find a way to turn it in your favor. In actuality, you are working against yourself.
All you need is that “proof” in that one instance in order to turn that assumption into an entrenched belief system about a subject, a person, or yourself.
So what do you do to stop a thought pattern that comes so naturally to you?

STEP 1: Acknowledge it. Don’t dismiss it, just catch it in a net. Seriously, take a moment to write it down. Yes, you have the time. It takes much less time than the hours you will spend dwelling on an unacknowledged assumption.
You don’t want to abruptly dismiss an assumption. Assumptions are like the opinionated in-law that will get in your face if you try to turn away. You are likely not ever going to stop making assumptions so the key is to work with your natural talent.
You use assumptions to challenge perceived threats to yourself, why not use your ability to challenge to challenge the assumption itself?
But first you must appease it by understanding where it’s coming from. With practice it will go away.
STEP 2: Next, acknowledge the perspective (mood) that the assumption has created for you. What would you see in the mirror? Do you like looking like a grumpy troll? Pretty hopeless and negative in the grand scheme isn’t it? You know there is more than one side to every story or situation. Look for others and write them down.
STEP 3: Let one of the more positive perspectives (or at least neutral) into your mind.  When I do this I almost feel like I drift right into the new perspective. That’s because it literally frees my mind up from the negative energy and the accompanying stress. A new perspective will give you hope that the situation is not as dire as you though it was. All you need is a bit of hope that the situation can be improved upon for you to remain open-minded to solutions.
STEP 4: Make it memorable. Assign a catch word or image to your process of catching assumptions. The moment you think of the catch word or phrase, or call up the image, the steps to changing that assumption will come to you more easily.
STEP 5: Deploy your assumption net in other areas of your life.

Assumptions are absolute killers of positive feelings and maintaining some level of hope in a challenging situation. Acknowledge them to get on the path to more positive perspectives.

Better ‘tudes lead to better moods.

And if this fails to create more happiness, keep drinking craft beer responsibly :-).

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