This is a post from 2011! Or rather, there was an outline in 2011 and I turned it into sentences last weekend, 10 years later. I was militantly happy back in 2011, and without a pandemic or incipient fascism and with Obama etc. things were looking up for the better, yet I was on a mommy forum local to a paradise where some highly privileged people seemed determined to be unhappy.
I like being happy.
Sometimes there’s no choice about how to take things because some things are genuinely bad. For us, that kind of thing leads to grumpy rumbling.
And sometimes you know you *could* fight being unhappy but you also know that the occasional sulk is good for the soul so you indulge.
But for the many things, there’s a choice on how to view what’s going on, especially if your basic needs and then some are being met.
Happy people aren’t necessarily the luckiest, but they’re good at taking things as they are.
For example: Rejection sucks and often it is unfair. But, as they say in LA, when a door closes, open a window. Take what you can from the rejection to learn, using your growth Mindset (all amazon links are affiliate), make your paper better, and submit it someplace else.
How to cognitively restructure:
- Fold a piece of paper in half length-wise.
- On the left, write down the negative thing that you keep telling yourself. On the right, write down the thing that is actually true. (Not Stuart Smalley, but what is actually true.) So when I was in graduate school, on the left I had, “I’m going to flunk out of graduate school” and on the right I had “Nobody flunks out of this program, they just graduate you and make sure you don’t get an academic job so you make more money as a consultant.” This is a technique from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Two good books on CBT are Mind over Mood and The Thoughts and Feelings Workbook.
- If you don’t know what is actually true, you can tell yourself the best possible story. For example, I have massive social anxiety and it is important to remind myself that no, actually, most people are too caught up in themselves to be concerned about or even notice my own awkwardness. Often what can be attributed to malice can also be attributed to incompetence. Sometimes you can convince the other person of your story by coming up with a face-saving (for them) story if you repeat it often enough. There’s a lot more about these techniques in the book Crucial Conversations.
Do you ever cognitively restructure?