Ever had that feeling that you’re just not satisfied with your life? That despite the many advantages you may have, you still just don’t feel happy? You may feel almost guilty – you have a great job, a supportive family, maybe even the big house and fancy car, and yet, something still nags at you.
You’re Not Alone In Asking Such A Great Question
Here on Long Island, there is always something else for us to be chasing – the next promotion, the next raise, the bigger car, the better school, even the better work-out or diet. We think that once we get to that magical place, THEN we’ll be happy.
It’s like there’s a little tape that plays over and over in our minds, filling us with a list of “should’s”, such as:
- You should go to that birthday party, even though you no longer find the same things amusing as those old friends of yours.
- You should want the next promotion, even if it means longer hours.
- You should want more of everything out there, instead of accepting what you already have.
But there is hope.
Unleashing The Power Of Thought Changing
Norman Vincent Peale.
Change your thoughts and you change your world.
No, this is not some new-age mumbo jumbo. And it’s not even new. It’s cognitive behavioral therapy.
If you’re not seeing what your choices are, and your thoughts remain the same, then you’ll stay stuck in your old patterns and ways of dealing with your life.
If you keep thinking in the old ways, you’ll keep getting what you’re used to getting. It’s like that expression: “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.”
How To Change Your Thoughts
Should be pretty simple, right? Let’s tackle that little niggling feeling by trying out one simple practice:
- Stop what you're doing and find a safe space; no operating any devices or machinery. So if you're driving, park safely. If at home, find a quiet space.
- Right now, close your eyes.
- Let all of your thoughts go for a few moments, just breathing deeply.
- When you open your eyes, take a pen and paper and write down what, exactly, is missing from your life.
I’m not going to give you any suggestions here, because you will want it to come from you.
Whatever you wrote down is yours to keep. But I bet it was something about finding more of the things that bring you joy – something like more time with your kids, or your spouse, or time for your art or writing or traveling or walks in nature, and so on.
How Can We Help Bring About Better Choices?
How do we get those things into our lives? And more importantly, how do we appreciate them while we are doing them, instead of stressing about the next thing on our to-do list or the next thing that we have to prepare for? How do we live for this moment, right now?
It’s hard, and there is no magic formula. However, there are some things that work. Really taking the time to find out what you are saying to yourself – what your thoughts are around any given part of your life – helps to reframe the way you view your life.
For Example, About That Great Job You Do
What do you think about when you think about your job?
- “It’s great, but my boss is too demanding, and she micro-manages me. And / or perhaps ...
- I think she doesn’t think I’m good enough for this job.
- I think she likes my colleague Bob better; he got a bigger raise than me this year.”
Wow. With those types of thoughts going through your head, it’s hard to bring in your best effort level to work every day.
On Family Demands
Or family. How about this one:
- “I love my family, but sometimes I don’t really want to be around them.
- It’s like they always need something from me and I never get to do the things that I want to do.”
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy At Nassau Guidance & Counseling
Cognitive behavioral therapy, like the kind that we practice at Nassau Guidance & Counseling, works on those thoughts that you might not have even known you had.
We practice reframing and determining what’s really true in the little “tapes” that go through our minds. Imagine, for example:
- Does the boss really like Bob better?
- I bet you can think of three instances in the last couple of weeks when your boss complemented you on you work, or praised you to others, or gave you good feedback.
- Does she always micro-manage, or is that just your perception?
Clear perspective is all depends on how you view it. There are ways that we can work together to bring out the best at work, both in your thinking and in your actions, that will help you to really shine.
Changing your thoughts takes some hard, introspective work, but it’s well worth it. It could mean the difference from just an “okay” life to the life you’ve always dreamed of: the life in which you are happy, care-free, excited to face each day. Is it possible?
In closing, here’s one more exercise that can help to bring the joy back into your life:
- Each night, before you go to bed, write down three things that went well that day.
- Try the process for a week (just one week, but every night).
- Then consider if you feel differently.
This practice has been clinically proven to help people feel more joy in their lives –try it, and let us know how it goes. We’re here to help!