How to Quickly Shift Your Thoughts for a Happier Life

happiness inspiration life lessons mental health self improvement May 30, 2020

These mindset tips will improve the quality of your life

“It’s not your fault that something bad happened to you, but it is your responsibility to fix it.” -Will Smith

Did you know that everything in your life was first a thought? Every thought has shaped the biggest and the smallest decisions to give you the results you have today.

People struggle with this concept because it doesn’t explain why bad things happen to good people. We’ve all experienced times when our world turns upside down, and we’re at the mercy of circumstances.

It’s part of being a human, and no one is immune. You cannot prevent bad things from happening, but you can take action to restore your life.

“The road to power is in taking responsibility. Taking responsibility is not an admission of guilt but a recognition of the power that you gain when you stop blaming people. Taking responsibility is taking your power back.” -Will Smith

Think of all the things in your life that seem unresolved, stuck, unfulfilled. I guarantee it’s because of one thing… it’s really tough to take 100% responsibility for fixing it.

I’m guilty

I can identify four different areas of my life where I preferred making excuses rather than taking action.

I also experienced the loss of my 16-year-old son to meningitis during the flu epidemic in 1993. For a while, I convinced myself there was no way to live a happy life with that kind of tragic loss. I was a victim of the circumstance, sentenced to a life of grief. Or so I thought.

If you look back on your life, you’ll find the life-changing events that challenged you to become someone new. In the process, you discovered durability, flexibility, and self-confidence.

Time doesn’t heal wounds, you do

Resilience is something we all have inside of us. It’s the ability to bounce back, or as I like to say, bounce forward to the next version of your life. That version of me was even stronger than I could have imagined.

No one is entitled to an easy life, but the person responsible for the quality of your life is you and you alone.

You have control over your responses, your feelings, and ultimately, the outcome. Not an easy task.

But it’s the little shifts that improve the quality of our lives. I recently read Jack Canfield’s, The Success Principles, and quickly implemented the following three “adjustments” in my thoughts and approach to life.

1. Fire the imposter that lives inside your head

Let the real you shine with all your accolades, accomplishments, skills, and talents. Carry your torch high… you’ve earned it.

Taking responsibility for your thoughts is not easy when we all have a little creature with a big voice running around in our heads. It pretends to be your biggest fan, but it’s your worst enemy.

It second-guesses every thought and stops you in your tracks with words like, “you’re not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough! You’re too fat, not accomplished, too old!”

That’s the imposter syndrome at work.

In a 1978 study of high achieving women, clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes concluded that the women in the study believed they were not intelligent and were “over evaluated” by others. They couldn’t appreciate their accomplishments because they felt like frauds.

Sound familiar? We all feel like imposters at times. Centuries of writers, artists, musicians, and other creatives have dismissed their accomplishments and brilliance by claiming success was “luck,” “timing,” or “deception.” And it’s not restricted to the arts, think about the number of times someone has complimented you on an achievement, and you’ve brushed it off as “luck” or “timing.”

For me, the imposter syndrome rose up in the years I had to balance being a single mom with my corporate career, trying to do it all.

During that time, there were abundant years and lean years, but I made it work. My 17-year career experienced cycles, but throughout, I remained one of the top producers in my office. I supported my home, and put my kids through college.

An imposter didn’t do that… a talented, successful woman did. Let’s banish your imposter identity now by identifying your strengths and compiling them into a meaningful portfolio.

Here’s how: take a pen and paper and list all your accomplishments, wins, and triumphs. Recognize that some took a lot of education, some took years of practice, and others are because you activated creativity and talents inside of you.

If ever you have doubts, look at that list. It will quickly shift your thoughts.

Writing was one of those for me. I had written two books when my children were small. They did quite well, but I put writing aside when I became a single mom after their father died. I returned to writing in 2010, and it’s one of my proudest accomplishments.

When someone mentions the accolades of my books and articles, I no longer dismiss it as “luck” or “timing.” I say, “thank you!”

Celebrate your wins! Do that for yourself!

Pop a bottle of champagne and make a big deal out of it.

You deserve it. How is this taking responsibility? It’s owning and celebrating who you’ve become.

2. Get off the complaining roller coaster ride

Complaining is a habit that lays the track to spiral down. There’s no happy ending to complaining.

Blaming is “Complaining’s” cousin. The two go hand-in-hand as they scan your brain and compute reasons to keep you stuck.

Neither complaining nor blaming, change your circumstances. As an e-ticket holder to this ride, you unbuckle your safety harness and you’re suddenly powerless and at risk.

I’m sure you know people who are constant complainers. You might even enjoy jumping on board and complain along with them. It’s a human response. It makes you feel connected. Sometimes it’s a resource for laughter, and you find it enjoyable… for the moment.

After, you may be left with uneasy feelings-even guilt.

Complaining serves no purpose because it is not solution-oriented. Not only is it detrimental to your well-being, but it’s damaging to others who go along with it.

The quickest way to get out of this complaining cycle is to recognize it.

  • Do you often feel like a victim of your circumstances?
  • Are there certain people who bring out the complainer in you?
  • Is there something about your job or your life that needs changing instead of complaining?

Feeling like a victim keeps you tied to a ball and chain. It’s comfortable because you sit back and let life happen to you instead of for you.

It’s impossible to find happiness when you’re in victim mode because it’s contrary to wanting a better life.

One of my favorite lines from Game of Thrones happened when Daenerys Targaryen, a powerful, relentless leader, tries to free the slaves, and they refuse. She observes, “People learn to love their chains.”

And that’s what chains do; they provide restrictions for our thoughts and we’re not capable of manifesting something different.

Canfield suggests writing down 2 or 3 of your biggest complaints in life. Consider areas where you consider yourself a victim of circumstances. You feel hopeless, and nothing will change.

Once you name them, he says to write the actions you need to take to release yourself from the chains.

For example, I have a friend who’s on the complaining roller coaster about money. No matter how much she has, it’s never enough. She finds it impossible to celebrate her business accomplishments by saying, “This won’t last long,” or, “This won’t even make my mortgage payment.”

I noticed when I spend time with her, I begin to complain about business and act like I’m one paycheck away from being broke. It’s far from the truth, but my mind takes me there.

I still have a lot of work to do on old negative money beliefs, and one of those steps is to limit my discussions with my friend by setting conversation boundaries. I celebrate her “wins,” saying, “I’m so happy for you!” And if she persists, I quickly steer the conversation in a more positive direction.

Canfield suggests you write out what you can do about the persistent complaints by using these techniques:

  • “Instead of complaining, I could ________”
  • “Instead of blaming ________ for _________, I could do this _______."

From now on, whenever you hear someone complain or you start to complain, you’ll notice it and catch yourself. It’s just that quick.

That’s the miracle of awareness. Your new thoughts will shape your future reactions. This is when you shift from powerless to powerful.

“It’s not your fault that something bad happened to you, but it is your responsibility to fix it.”Will Smith

3. Stop making excuses… it robs you of joy

The biggest roadblock in moving forward is “the excuse.” It’s the dead-end that keeps you stuck in one place for the rest of your life. It says you’d rather be making excuses than experiencing all that life has to offer. It’s the clock that runs out of time, and you say in shock — “but I always said, someday I wanted to…. Where did the time go?”

Nope, time doesn’t wait for you. You’re at its mercy. It’s now or never.

Those excuses are stealing something precious… your future.

“To create the life and success you desire, you will need to give up all your excuses.”Jack Canfield

What excuses are stopping you from taking 100% responsibility and moving forward with your dreams?

I sat down with my journal and asked myself some critical questions:

  1. What is my biggest roadblock to living the life I want?
  2. What excuses do I make for not doing it?
  3. Am I keeping my dreams a secret?
  4. Am I using language like, “someday I want to….” Keeping the dream in the future that doesn’t exist?
  5. What excuses am I willing to let go of?
  6. What actions can I start today to fulfill my dream?

Here’s a secret. This article is part of the actions I’m taking. I am taking 100% responsibility for fulfilling my writing goals — no more excuses.

Now you know the minute you catch yourself making excuses, shift your mindset. Don’t allow excuses to rob you of joy.

Does an unfulfilled dream dwell inside your heart?

There’s no doubt these are uncertain times. We can never again look at our jobs, our country, or our health in the same way. I feel the fear, and likely you do, too.

However, this time has given me the command to slow down and think about what’s next. What do I want for the rest of my life? More importantly…

What do I NOT want to continue in my life?

I can name these three things:

  1. Feeling like an imposter
  2. Blaming and complaining
  3. Making excuses

By doing these exercises, you’re kicking your brain into gear. Once you’re aware, you can no longer be unaware.

You’ve revolutionized your thinking to choose new responses to old patterns.

You can achieve anything you want in life by answering the right questions and thinking in a new way. Change your thoughts, change your potential.

Every chapter of your life has given you valuable experience, perspective, and a choice. The more you recognize that choice comes from your perspective and not the event, the more you lean into taking 100% responsibility for your life… and I promise it gets better and better.