Everyone wants to be happier. We overthink the process the way we think about what to have for brunch. It doesn’t have to be that hard.
I spent much of my life being incredibly unhappy. This unhappiness was shown through arrogance, entitlement, rage, poor judgment and cruelty towards other human beings.
I wasn’t a bad person. I was just unhappy because nobody showed me what I could do to fix myself rather than walk through the world smashing every good situation to pieces with my fists and blaming everybody else for it.
In my late 20s, I started to turn things around. I focused on small things I could do to experience tiny increases in happiness.
The changes seemed insignificant at the time. After five years of experimenting with these changes in thinking, my approach to life is different. It can be summed up with this thought:
Move away from tasks, people, and events that continually rob you of happiness.
It was subtracting unhappiness first that laid the foundation for everything that followed. Here are the five tiny shifts in thinking to gradually increase your happiness levels.
Care Less About Other People’s Drama
People carry a lot of drama around with them. They can’t wait to dump it on somebody who is happy to accept it on their behalf.
Let them dump their sh*t elsewhere. Do not make drama dumpers your problem.
The way you do this is to care less about other people’s drama and stop playing a part in their circus. Their drama looks like this:
- Commentating on how people live their life
- Always talking about problems and taking no responsibility
- Blaming ‘the company’ or the politicians or the human race for every little thing that goes wrong
- Playing the superior man/woman in every situation
There is so much drama in society and you can escape it by exiting out the stage door and getting back to reality.
See Setbacks as Free Harvard Business Degree
A business degree at a university like Harvard costs thousands of dollars. People get into debt for years just to get one.
What if I told you that a major setback will teach you more than a degree?
Setbacks teach you the following:
- How to manage your mindset
- How to move forward
- What role you played in the setback
- Life strategies
- How to deal with difficult people
- How to be responsible
- How to get your act together
- How to endure some of the toughest days of your life
Now tell me, would you like a degree or life experience that gives you the greatest learning of all? A giant setback is like getting a free Harvard Degree.
Seeing setbacks as having a degree-sized price tag helps change your thinking. The thinking that comes from seeing setbacks as valuable helps you on the days when you want to be anything but happy.
Happiness is a habit and setbacks will test how strong your happiness muscle is so you can grow it.
Don’t Give Yourself the Pleasure of Judging Your Own Ideas
Every idea I have, my brain tells me it’s stupid. When you have an idea and judge it, all you do is sabotage it. Sabotaging your ideas stops them from coming to life and that takes away a piece of your happiness.
Accepting your ideas and letting them through is huge. It goes beyond backing your ideas to backing yourself. When you back yourself, you win more and learn more, and that brings about increased levels of happiness.
You realize you can win at life when you apply yourself and respect your ideas even if at first they may sound stupid in your own head.
The quality of your ideas is subjective, so stop judging them and subtracting happiness in the process.
Welcome the Vomit Feeling
Getting into public speaking made me feel like vomiting. It was my biggest fear. I felt exposed and open to critique.
The first time on stage, I had visions of public vomiting and a front-row audience wiping the chunks of my breakfast off their faces as I stood there humiliated.
What made me happier was to change my thinking. I now welcome that vomit feeling. That vomit feeling is a representation that I’m not just playing it safe and sitting in my PJ’s every day waiting for an inheritance cheque.
It’s a representation of living life and being prepared to forward hurl the contents of my stomach for an opportunity to challenge myself. Challenging yourself will make you feel happier.
Weaponise Social Media
Over the last six years, I have used social media to subtly change my thinking each day.
I have chosen a few people I adore and created social media posts admiring them and sharing their learning. I have chosen to speak like them, act like them, respond to messages like them — but not be them.
This involved hunting down quotes, pictures, and videos that helped me to admire them and portray their ideas. At the start, I was a complete rip-off like those 1980s self-help scammers.
After a while, all the inputs needed to publish on social media changed my thinking.
Instead of becoming the people I admired, I unconsciously took what they taught and spat it out in my own way while adding my experience to the process. What resulted was a fusion. There were parts of the people I admired and parts of myself.
The practice of fusing these many mentors together with my own self produced an entirely different human being.
I replaced all the selfishness, fakery and ego, and transplanted their good traits — like humility, kindness, and empathy — into my brain.
It’s not a finished project by any means and I’m still perfectly broken on some days — but none the less, social media gave me the role models and traits to build a new self on. The process has made me a better person who is happier and healthier.
Social media is a strange tool but it is fantastic at changing your thinking over time and you can use it to your own advantage.
These are not necessarily the usual strategies and recommendations you’ll find in your typical “How To Be Happy And Love Yourself” type article. They are weird and that’s why they are wonderfully powerful at the same time.
Want to be happier?
Make tiny adjustments to your thinking by caring less about other people’s drama, seeing setbacks as being worth a lot of money, not allowing yourself to judge your own ideas, by feeling like you want to vomit more (aka vomit moments), and turning social media into a weapon you can leverage to adopt the traits of those you admire.
Change your thinking with a few small tweaks over time and it will add to your happiness levels.
This article originally appeared on Medium.