Sometimes I think I might as well wrap up this Happiness Experiment. It's a success. I have a Habit of Feeling Happy most of the time. I wake up with a smile on my face, I maintain a happy mood and a cheerful demeanor throughout most of the day. This is what I set out to do, and rather to my amazement, it's a done deal. To tell you the truth, it feels kind of weird sometimes, being happy like this.
"Who is this strange woman?" I ask myself. "Who is this stranger, this person who's living here in this ol' familiar body?" It's strangely disconcerting.
Mind you, I'm not complaining. I like this state of being. It is way more fun than my old way of being, walking around the way I used to do with a black cloud - or at any rate, a charcoal grey cloud - hovering over my head.
Back when I started this experiment, I wasn't 100% certain that a person actually could change her dominant mood. It sounded a bit simplistic to suggest that all one need do is simply choose the preferred mood over and over again.
At best, I expected it to take a long time, a very long time, before the new mood would become habitual. I expected to see some improvement in my mood after a full year of repeating "I choose to feel happy," but I sure didn't expect that the dark cloud would vanish after a mere six months!! In short, I'm flabbergasted.
I'm especially flabbergasted that the ONLY thing I had to do was repeat my motto: "I choose to feel happy. I choose to feel happy, I choose to feel happy ..." That's it. That's all I did. I didn't:
All I did was choose to be happy, and 6 months later - I am more consistently happy than I've ever been in my life. Go figure!
PS: Inspired by my story? Why not try your own experiment? If "choosing to feel happy" doesn't ring your bells, GO HERE for a list of other positive emotions and states to choose from.
"I choose to feel happy."
I wonder how often I've said that to myself over the past six months? Let's see: 3 times a day X 6 months = a whole bunch of times, for sure. Why do I do this? Because to the best of my knowledge, this is the only way to deliberately change how we think and feel, and I like feeling happy. Does it work? Am I happier?
It most absolutely works. I'll let you in on a little secret here (shhh.... don't tell anyone): This is exactly the same method I used to change my mind about money a few years ago. That was a toughie, let me tell you! It took considerably more than six months to escape from my life-long habit of feeling anxious around money ... income ... spending ... saving ... investing ... all those various aspects of money; I felt anxious about all of them.
Luckily, about ten years ago I finally got fed up with the whole Financial Anxiety Theme. I mean, really,
Enough is enough, fer gosh sakes!
I knew the source of my anxiety: ME. I was the one generating the yucky feelings. Of course I had lots of 'reasons why' I generated vast quantities of Financial Anxiety (mom, the economy, etc. etc.) - but so what? There's always reasons. The truth was, the anxious feelings weren't 'just happening to me'; they weren't 'due to circumstances.' Nope! It was all me. I was doing it. I was the one. That meant I was responsible, and therefore, I was in the power seat: If I wanted to, I could change how I felt about money. Did I? Oh, Yeah!
I asked myself the all-important question: How Do I WANT to Feel? (This is the same question I started asking myself last winter about my general mood of melancholia. How do I WANT to feel? Answer: HAPPY. I want to feel happy.)
So, how did I want to feel about money? Hmmm.... I wasn't quite sure. What's the opposite of anxious?
For me, the opposite of feeling anxious around money and finances was feeling comfortable around money and finances, so I started choosing that feeling, over and over again:
Frankly, it wasn't easy. Changing our chronic patterns about money and finances is no walk in the park. I fell back into the old familiar anxiety-feelings about a gazillion times. However, the stakes were too high to fail. We all know that chronic anxiety is not good for us. It's not good for our health, it's certainly not good for our peace of mind. It's not too great for relationships, either. Or anything else I can think of. It's not even good for our finances!
So I persisted. "I choose to feel comfortable about money. I choose to feel comfortable. I choose to feel comfortable...." ad inf.
You know what? It took several years, but guess what? It was worth it! These days, feeling comfortable about my money is habitual. It's automatic, and it feels terrific!
My financial circumstances haven't really changed. My income and my expenses still fluctuate. If I were still inclined to feel anxious about money, I could easily justify being so, but why go there? The anxiety served no purpose whatsoever except to make me feel (you guessed it) uncomfortable.
The point is, this experience of changing my feelings about financial matters taught me the power of that little phrase,
"I choose to feel ."
Harnessing Choice with Persistance has changed my life. It worked with my financial anxiety, and it has worked much faster with this Happiness caper. In just six months of repeatedly choosing to feel happy, I've gone from waking up every morning feeling low-ish to waking up with a smile. I still slide into what I call "melancholia" occassionally, but I very quickly notice, and remind myself again of my choice.
Does Choosing to feel '