The focus of Act Happy Week is to educate the public about purposeful actions you can take to create chemical shifts in your body and new neural pathways in your brain to support more frequent experiences of what we call Positive Emotions. When you “Act Happy” you train your mind/body/heart to find Happiness, Calm, and Resilience when you choose to visit them!
This is Day 4 (415 words of content, Reading time ~1.66 minutes)
I. DAY 4: SELF-TALK
There’s a Voice in Your Head
Years ago a friend of mine said, “The Golden Rule is a lie!”
“What?!” was my response. “It’s a standard we’ve lived by for years! It’s a tenet that shows up in nearly every major religion and culture!”
He said, “True, AND… the Golden Rule essentially says, “treat others as you want to be treated.” Yet look at how you treat yourself. There’s a voice in your head that spends hours every day saying things like: ‘You idiot! What ARE you doing? What a yutz! I can’t believe you just did that?! What were you thinking?’ and on and on. If we spoke to others as we speak to ourselves, we’d soon be banned from every community and treated as a pariah!”
While he was dramatizing to make a point, it does feel true that we humans are often our own worst critics. That voice has good intentions – it wants us to be better, to grow, and to avoid mistakes. The impact of hearing it all day, however, can make us start to see the world through a negative lens.
Create a Different Voice through Practice
One of the most powerful exercises in Positive Psychology is a Gratitude Journal. It’s the simple practice of writing down (manually or digitally) three things for which you are grateful each day. You can start your day with it, bookmark your midday, or use it to create a positive vibe as you prepare for sleep.
When you take time to focus on what went well, people and conversations you appreciate, or simple things you noticed in your day, you strengthen your Gratitude “muscle” which is the foundation of the Joy/Happiness family of emotions. The more you deliberately focus on appreciating what happened in the past day (Gratitude), the more attuned you become to noticing and appreciating things as they happen (Happiness & Joy).
And that’s what Act Happy really means – being deliberate about being in this moment and appreciating something that is happening right now.
Practicing Gratitude helps shift your Self-Talk. Your inner voice will always be there to challenge you, of course…AND won’t it be nice to occasionally hear things like, “great job! You got this! you are awesome! I appreciate you!”