Have you ever gotten out of bed in the morning declaring that today was going to be a great day? And before your first cup of coffee, something happened that completely ruined everything? Perhaps your child woke up sick or the car wouldn’t start or your boss calls you to let you know that you’ll be staying late tonight to finish a very important project. The day is less than an hour old and already it’s ruined. Or is it? We are quick to relinquish our happiness to the attitude or actions of another person or to the less than ideal circumstances that unexpectedly appear in our life. But since we cannot always control our circumstances or other people, we can at least prevent them from ruining our day.
First and foremost, remind yourself that your happiness is not dependent on who you are with, what they are saying or doing, or what is occurring. Your happiness is the sole result of your thought process. If your coworker is in a bad mood, you can become angry and frustrated with him based on what you say to yourself about his behaviors. “Jim’s always complaining about something. I can’t stand being around him.” Like a cold or flu, attitudes are contagious but those with a strong immune system can avoid becoming infected. Those with a strong mindset who are determined to stay positive can maintain their good spirits in spite of those around them. It takes practice but keeping your thoughts positive protects you from emotional misery.
It’s also important to pay close attention to the expectations we have of others. In this highly controversial year of a presidential election, emotions run wild. A conservative who is discussing their personal choice with a liberal may become agitated when their opponent fails to see the logic behind their choice. What began as two friends enjoying lunch together deteriorates into an angry confrontation because each party fully expected that they could sway the other to ally with them. A willingness to allow people to disagree with you and to permit situations to be what they are without the need to force anything to comply with your way enables you to maintain your serenity rather than succumb to anger and frustration.
I spent fifteen years working at a battered women’s shelter with a clientele that loved drama. The women would easily be pulled into the chaos others would create. My suggestion to simply disengage, to walk away if necessary, was difficult for many to follow. The temptation to become involved was overwhelming and more often than not they fell prey to the stress of the situation. In time, some learned that if they wanted to maintain their happiness, they needed to avoid outside drama.
An obscure antidote to misery is gratitude. In the event you feel your happiness and serenity slipping away, a quick reminder of what you have to be grateful for can thwart off any potential misery. Since the brain can only entertain one emotion at a time, focusing on what you appreciate in life enables you to secure a joyful outlook on life.
Set your intention: just as one arises each morning with a list of things to accomplish and a plan of how to do that, it’s critical to create your “emotional intention” as well. That is, decide how you want to feel for the next twenty-four hours and follow through by making consistent choices throughout the day that support that. For instance, if I decide that today is going to be a wonderful day, then even if I’m stuck in traffic, I keep my mind centered on how fortunate I am to have a job, that when I get home at the end of the day, my family and/or dog will be there waiting for me, or that I’ll have time to work out. I consistently choose the mindset and behaviors that support my original intention.
You and you alone create your internal environment, that is, your happiness or misery. No one has the ability to ruin your day without your permission. Don’t put your bliss in someone elses hands. Maintain your personal power and choose happiness and joy regardless of what’s occurring. You are the author of your own life so make your story a great one.
A special thanks to my guest, Allen Klein, author “You Can’t Ruin My Day”www.allenklein.com.
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