Become Happier by Identifying and Reshaping Your Mental Habits
Everybody’s got mental habits. It might not be obvious. We may not be all that conscious of them, but we can definitely feel and perceive their effects.
Habits require three parts: a trigger, a habitual action, and a reward. When you get triggered, your brain starts reading that trigger as leading to a reward. You may not be conscious about this. This might not be readily apparent to you, but that’s how your brain works. The sooner you understand this, the sooner you tap into your vast reserve of personal power.
Your brain also understands that, once it identifies or perceives the trigger and it associates it with some sort of reward, it has to do something in the middle. Now, by “do”, I’m not necessarily talking about taking physical action.
It could be something that you can say or most of the time, it’s something that involves thinking. Whatever the case may be, there has to be some sort of action on either mental, verbal, or physical level. This is how habits work.
The same applies with mental habits. You get the trigger, the reward, and thoughts that you kick around in your mind to get to that reward.
Here’s the problem. If you’re reading this, you feel frustrated with some area of your life. You feel that you’re trapped in that part of your life because you fell that you’re not fully happy. You’re not fully content. There’s something missing. Something is off.
The good news is you don’t have to respond in a way that makes you unhappy or less than content. It doesn’t have to play out like that.
It doesn’t have to seem like some sort of roller coaster that once you get on, you have no say in the matter. It’s a foregone conclusion. You’re going to feel unhappy. It doesn’t have to be that way. How do you turn things around?
It’s very simple. Identify your triggers and your rewards. What are these triggers that start this negative train of thought? Maybe it’s somebody saying something. Maybe it’s a past memory. Maybe it’s some sort of predictable situation.
Whatever the case may be, identify the trigger and pick it apart to see what kind of reward you’ve associated it with. Maybe this reward as a feeling of control. Maybe it’s a feeling of you’re getting your life together or you’re taking ownership of a situation. Maybe you feel really good or you feel satisfied. Maybe you feel sad in a predictable way.
I know it sounds weird, but some people view being sad predictably as some sort of reward. The same goes with anger. What they’re doing is they’ve grown accustomed to that depressing emotional state. That’s their way of coping with past trauma.
The good news is you can choose a different mental and emotional response to these triggers and rewards. It’s not going to happen overnight, but the more you do it, the better you get at it. Practice after all, makes perfect. So start today.