I used to believe that people who were truly happy were those who had more happy moments in their lives than unhappy moments. Since happiness is in and of the moment it made sense to me that those who had more moments of happiness would be the happiest people. I recently began to reflect on this insight and have realized that in my opinion, the happiest people are actually the ones who focus on the happy moments no matter how many or how few they are in number.
As a life coach, I understand that when people come to me they tend to focus on what is wrong as opposed to what is right. It makes sense that if they are seeking assistance in an area of their life that is troubling them, then that is what they want to talk about. However, what I have found is that often I am able to assist people by simply helping them change their focus and attention. For example, I had a person who recently began our session by telling me the great challenges she thought she was facing. She was very distraught and upset with these difficulties that seemed so overwhelming. After chatting for a while I decided to ask her very subtly, in order to change her focus, to tell me about the great things that were happening in her life at this time. We proceeded to talk about these events for a while and I began to notice a big change in her energy level. I confirmed this by asking her how she was feeling and with a big smile she replied, “pretty good.” I asked how she was feeling when she first came into our session when she was talking about the troubling things in her life. She paused for a moment to contemplate and then said: “I guess I was feeling pretty lousy and overwhelmed.” We then proceeded to review some of the challenges she had talked about when we first began and what happened was quite amazing. Together from a more “feeling good” place we were able to come up with some very creative and innovative possible solutions to her challenges. It turned out that what she thought was completely overwhelming, was actually quite manageable now that her focus had shifted.
The lesson I learned from this: What you focus on determines how you see life. Could it be that simple? If you focus more on what is right in your life you will be a happier person and if you focus on what’s wrong in your life you won’t be as happy. So why is that we so often choose to focus on the bad news instead of the good news? Why have we become so absorbed with the negative? Look around and see what people tend to focus on most. The media, for example, has the propensity to emphasize more of what is wrong than what is right in our world. If you ever want to feel really depressed, simply turn on CNN and watch it for a while. Though it is important to be aware of current events, the negative slant taken by most news media often leads us to feel more anxious and fearful than necessary.
I find it interesting that if you ask most people: “I have some good news and some bad news, which do you want to hear first?” they tend to opt for the bad news first. I began asking people why they felt the need to talk about the bad news before they talk about the good news. Some feel they want to get the bad stuff over with so they can enjoy the good stuff, while others feel that if they give the good news before the bad, they’ll be accused of trying to sugar coat or cover up the bad news. Regardless of the reason, it appears that we have become very preoccupied with what is wrong as opposed to what is right. Why? I believe it is our conditioned beliefs that have been handed down to us through the generations.
I was taught that too much of a good thing will never last. That, if you laugh too much you may end up crying. That you must save the best for last. I was always told to focus on my weaknesses and how I should be improving them. I was of the belief that if I told people about all the good things in my life they may be jealous or think that I was bragging. These beliefs, it turned out, didn’t serve me well at all. If I were to do it over again, I would laugh without fear of crying, focus on my strengths, share only good news and eat dessert first!
I guess that brings me back to the coaching session I was referring to earlier. The amazing thing I discovered was that when we approach our challenges from a “feel good” place we are able to solve them so much easier than when we are coming at them from the lower and slower energy of frustration, anger, fear and being overwhelmed. Does that mean that maybe we should begin to ask for the good news first? Does it mean that if we focus more on what is right in life, we’ll be better equipped to handle what’s wrong in an easier way?
So who are the happiest people? The ones who have more happy moments or the ones who choose to focus on their happy moments more of the time? Interestingly enough that is exactly what the Law of Attraction says. You get what you focus and put your attention on. So, if you want more happiness, joy, love, peace and abundance, begin to focus on those things rather than on their absences.
Make a list of all the things you are happy about and grateful for in your life. If negative thoughts pop into your mind in the process, try to let them go. Though you may find it takes some time to get this list going – you’ll be amazed by how good it makes you feel. Next, after you have raised your spirits try focusing on some of the challenges you are currently facing. From this “feel good” place watch what creative and positive solutions you are able to come up with. This process can be repeated every time you’re facing what seems like an impossible situation in your life. Change your focus and your reality will begin to shift.
Can you imagine how different our world would be if more of us focused on good news? Is it possible that optimism can be contagious and that positive people can inspire others to think about the good things before thinking about the challenging things? I am not naive enough to believe that not focusing on the challenging things in life will make them disappear, but I am convinced that we will all be in a better place to help solve these difficult situations if our focus is more positive more of the time.
Writing this article reminded me of something I read a while ago that helps solidify the concept I am sharing. I hope it resonates with you.
A 92-year-old, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o’clock, with his hair fashionably coifed and shave perfectly applied, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today.
His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready. As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.
“I love it,” he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.
“Mr. Jones, you haven’t seen the room; just wait.”
“That doesn’t have anything to do with it,” he replied.
“Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn’t depend on how the furniture is arranged….it’s how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It’s a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do”.
“Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I’ll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I’ve stored away just for this time in my life”.
Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from it what you’ve put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in your bank account of memories!