Time is valuable. Why waste it on feeling bad? Life is short and shit happens, right?
I spent several months in 2017 feeling bad and put myself in victim mode because of my inauthentic values. I was so used to feeling bad a lot, that all of the things that I once enjoyed became dull and boring. I would instantly think negatively and feel bad about pretty much anything and not even realize it until later. Well, one day, I just got so tired of it. I knew that I had the free will to get myself out of that negative habitual funk by taking action. My mindset needed to pull a one-eighty. But how?
“Neurons that fire together, wire together.” – Donald Hebb
There’s this book called Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson that explains that awesome phrase and some other cool stuff about neuroplasticity. What I gathered from this book is that our brain has a negativity bias based on the survival of our ancestors. Basically, we are more prone towards reacting to negative situations over positive ones. The more we allow that, the more our neurons react to it and wire together, which is then put into autopilot by the subconscious part of our mind – the part that is responsible for manifesting everything we attract into our life!
In order to automatically feel good, your brain needs to be wired towards feeling good. But, of course, it’s not easy because our brain has evolved towards protecting against any kind of threat to our well being. So of course, anything negative that happens is more likely to stay in your mind than anything positive, in order to be reminded of what might “harm” you the next time.
The brain releases cortisol when there is a threat. This is only meant to happen for a short period of time. Prolonged stress can cause too much cortisol to be released, which is harmful to the immune system. Dopamine, on the other hand, is released when you feel good. You can never release too much of it alone. It would require assistance from drugs, such as Adderall. I know from experience because I took them in college. When I think about Adderall, I think: what goes up must come down. I felt really awesome, but then the crash was always terrible and never worth it. It got me through many pages of ancient philosophy and all the papers I had to write but ugh, the crash was always nasty. Never again. So, of course, I wanted to release dopamine the natural way and keep the cortisol in check but I needed to take action. I didn’t like the challenge because I was Negative Nancy but I needed to do it and it paid off big time.
What helped me the most was taking notice every time I started to feel like shit. Instead of allowing my mind to automatically deep dive into rumination mode and begin searching for ways to feel bad, I would instantly find something to do that made me feel better instead. This meant treat myself a lot, right away. That doesn’t mean shop ’til you drop or doing anything that is unhealthy. It’s about showing yourself love by submerging into things that are fun and beneficial to your well being, such as reading awesome stoic books and WordPress blogs… oh and looking at memes, like the one below.
I thought this meme was cute. I laughed.
Getting myself into the feel good habit was not easy at first, but I knew that the whole idea was to focus solely on getting into that habit, regardless of the shit storm brewing around me. You’ll know when it’s a habit, because no matter what is happening around you, you’ll always feel good without even trying because well, it’s a habit.
Once it has finally become a habit, you don’t have to ignore anything that would be considered negative. You’ll be able to acknowledge it for what it is and notice the positive aspects of it no matter what, which will allow you to respond to them, not react. You can try to be a Debbie Downer and search for negative aspects but it won’t register in your brain. You’ll just laugh at yourself instead for even trying.
But honestly, the coolest part about getting yourself into the feel good habit is the manifestation part. It will work on your behalf at a very rapid pace. Doors will open, opportunities will present themselves, and amazing things will start to fall in your lap, effortlessly. And the funny thing is, you won’t really care about any of this. You’ll naturally feel so good that it won’t even matter. Why? Because all you do is win.