A smile designates an outward display of emotion. Without realizing, our faces display thousands of reactions, thoughts, and desires. A wide laugh or smile is commonly perceived as a sign of joy, but this isn’t always the case. Most of us struggle to put on a brave face. There are many reasons why genuine feelings of joy seem unattainable. However, the truth is, we are mostly responsible for living in limbo with sadness, hostility, anger, and regret. Fortunately, there are ways we can reformat the negative patterns and perceptions that lead to misery.
Learn to Be Objective
We generally lack perspective with stressful situations, intentions, expectations, and even outcomes. Happiness is conditional upon these factors in many cases. When home life is financially unstable, negative memories tend to accumulate and the prediction of new endeavors is pessimistic. Alternatively, befriending someone untrustworthy may generate chronic resentment. More commonly, some feel trapped in a marriage with a judgmental partner that is terrible with communication and behaves obnoxiously.
In order to improve our emotional reactions, it is necessary to make a list of situations and character traits that make us miserable.
The truth of the matter is that we have no power to control those external factors. We have to be objective to understand that others cannot force us into dissatisfaction. We do that all on our own. If we manage our reactions by shifting our perspective, there’s a chance to be truly content.
Modify Unreasonable Expectations
When it comes to expectations, there are a multitude of reasons why disappointment perpetuates into unhappiness. If you expect your partner to eliminate all time on social media due to feelings of jealousy or lack of intimacy, this is unrealistic. You cannot restrict the free will of others or force them to behave according to your rules. Quite often, this means trust will be violated by even the smallest or infrequent interactions with others. By being unreasonable, you're laying the foundation for negativity.
We can learn to reduce unhappiness by simply being aware that we stand in our own way. Rather than being the subject or the means to an end, we can learn to be objective and fair with expectations. This new form of emotional restructuring becomes useful when adjustments remain a priority.
Emotions Are Temporary
Feelings may seem to linger, especially during and after traumatic events. Pain, loss, and heartbreak are real battles to overcome. It is wrong to say that emotions associated with this are irrational. If you have lost your parents in a car crash, it is normal to experience deep sorrow. Although the shock and denial are also obstacles, all of these emotions are completely reasonable.
It is important to realize that each day you will experience a variety of emotions. When they surface, acknowledge and address each one by validating their presence, experiencing and allowing them to pass. The reason why emotions remain permanent is that most of us refuse to address and accept them as they burden us. It is like packing one small bag with rotting garbage until it ruptures and the smelly contents contaminate the pristine surface around it. If you do not take the time to clean up each piece of garbage as it falls out, you are susceptible to a nervous breakdown or a psychotic break. When this is managed each negative emotion will pass. All emotions will pass if you provide them the opportunity to.
Negative cognitions are thought patterns that contribute to negative emotions. If we can recognize their existence, there is a chance for improvement with self-help.
Magnification - involves exaggerated perception and expression of your problems. This is detrimental to your satisfaction and overall health by creating chronic stress reactions. Vulnerability for sickness increases when problems are actually serious.
Ex: Your child likes to explore the house and tear it apart. Rather accepting the fact that this is what kids do, you constantly react with anger and yelling. You may even discipline with your little one by resorting to violence on all occasions.
Over Generalization - predict that all situations will produce the same result.
Ex: You pick out a single negative event such as a romantic rejection or career loss as a never-ending pattern of defeat. You use terms such as “always” and “never” when you think about or express it to others.
Assumptions - this is problematic when you try to make assumptions about ourselves and intentions of others.
Ex: Assuming that everyone will hate us or recognize our flaws. We may also anticipate failure on all fronts.
All-or-Nothing Thinking - seeing things in black or white categories, with no in between.
Ex: When a situation does not meet your standards for success, it becomes considered a total failure.
Discounting the Positive - rejection of positive experiences by insisting they don’t count.
Ex: You evaluate your performance as sub par even when you do a good job. The possibility for reward and leads to feelings of inadequacy when positivity is disregarded.
The way we speak to ourselves can be deeply discouraging. This means that we are not members of our own team. If we do not trust our ability to succeed, psychological growth becomes limited. When you say words like “you are a loser and a failure” immense self-doubt is created.
You are the reason for limiting your ability to succeed. When you believe you’re incapable of accomplishing your dreams, your mind will reduce the possibilities to accommodate it. Essentially, you are shrinking the dimensions of your mind. As a result, you become a prisoner of negativity. For some individuals changing this mindset rapidly may pose a challenge because these thought patterns are ingrained. If you cannot easily make the transformation into positivity, try to be neutral first. Because it is difficult to remain optimistic, the alternative is to be somewhere in between realistic and pessimistic.
If you truly want to be happy, make sure you complete these self-evaluations. Even minimal improvements make a large difference! Please remember that this is a process that requires time, effort, and dedication. Anything is achievable when you put your mind to it.