Have you ever wanted to change something about yourself but you just couldn’t pull it off? The change you created was only temporary and then you slipped back to the old person you didn’t want to be. This has happened to me more times than I can count. Now that we are on the verge of 2016, many of us will, once again, sign up for a goal-setting course or make New Years Resolutions – only to find that in February, we’re back to the same old people we were at the end of 2016. Why does this continue to happen when we are so well-intentioned about change?
It’s a complex issue but the reality is that we cannot sustain change unless we change our mindset. Our mindset has to do with the thoughts that flow in and out of our minds every second we are awake, every single day. It’s the sum of our values and beliefs about how we see the world and how we interpret it. It’s our “life-filter” that tells us what we believe about the world, about others, and about ourselves. The gravitational pull – so to speak – of our old mindset habits are just too strong to break without a holistic and comprehensive approach to how we think.
I’m teaching an online course on this topic in early 2016 – but until then I want to give you something you can use now to begin the process of sustaining change and transforming your mindset. The first step is understanding how you can truly FLOURISH as a human being and obtain authentic happiness. You and I flourish by sustaining positive change in something called, “Well-Being Theory,” and it has 5 components: (1) Positive Emotions (2) Engagement (3) Positive Relationships (4) Meaning and (5) Achievement. I talk about well-being and Positive Emotions in this post. Today I’m talking about Engagement and Positive Relationships.
Engagement has to do with something called, “Flow.” You can watch a video on flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi here. There’s over 3 million views, so he definitely has something to say. Flow is what you do for the love of doing it. It is what you are best at and what gets you out of bed in the morning. It’s what you do effortlessly, with love and passion, without even thinking. And it brings great joy and contentment to your life.
Here’s the thing: many of us don’t even know what we do when we are in flow. There are ways to discover this – it’s called Unique Ability. (Again, I will be teaching a course on this in a few weeks and it’s life-changing.) Personally, when I discovered my unique ability it changed the direction of my entire life. I made my sole focus to maximize it. That’s why I ended up writing and speaking. For now, think about what you do that gives you life and passion? What are you doing when you lose track of time because you enjoy it so much? Start discovering this, and do it more often. Every day if you can.
Positive Relationships are arguably the most critical components of well-being. We were created for relationships. We don’t need many, but healthy, flourishing relationships are cornerstones in our lives. Most every great emotion we’ve felt has occurred around others. Think of the last time you belly laughed? Chances are it was around others. What about feelings of love and joy? Likely, they were shared or enjoyed with others. The issue here is that, because of so much negativity in our world, we have more negative relationships than positive ones. Often, there are more people that have wronged us than we truly love. There are more feelings of hurt and bitterness we harbour than release and forgiveness. We cannot make amends in every single relationship – but we can love deeply and well, we can release negative feelings, and we can learn to cultivate the most healthy, positive relationships possible.
A great way to practice this as we close out the year is to remember the age old adage, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” Make someone’s day over this holiday season and in this early part of the New Year. Extend incredible kindness. Write a letter of gratitude to someone about how much they mean in your life. Do something over-the-top generous and bless someone outrageously. You’ll never be the same when you learn to live with this kind of abundance. It creates an earthquake of positivity in your life that changes you and everyone around you.