I’ll be happy when…I can make more money, I can move out of here, I lose weight, I find someone to love me…
I bet you know that voice. I know I do. My friends know it. My coworkers know it. That little voice that creeps in to manage fear, anxiety or depression. It’s there to give you hope, and administer a dose of Dopamine into your brain. Kelly Mcgonigal is a Standford Psychologist, and author of several books, she points out how when we give ourselves hope, the bigger the dream, the bigger the dopamine hit.
But this voice is usually in response to “Iam not good enough, I’ll never be good enough, what was I thinking?!” Hope can combat stress and pain. The promise to change yourself has an immediate feel good factor, it also can feel devastating if you make grandiose plans and don’t follow through.
These are ways that have worked for myself and my clients in creating lasting joy:
1. Be present-acknowledge the truth and create a sense of calm.
- When you revel in the moment your activating a part of your brain that numbs fear. Stop for 30sec or 5min and acknowledge the truths around you–-Iam sitting down. I’m wearing a green shirt. I am in control of how I feel at this very moment. You know your truths when you feel calm by thinking about them. This is mindfulness and the act of being present in any moment.
2. Express gratitude
- Once you are able to articulate your truths and practice presence of mind you can begin the next step, gratitude. Understand that things are as they are in this present moment. You can wish and hope and dream they were different, but they simply are as they are. There are always parts of a day, situation or person that we can appreciate. Find those. UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb found that when we express gratitude, our brains release Dopamine, giving a similar effect as the drug Wellbutrin.
3. Recognize your gifts and give them away
- When find something that you love so much you can do it happily for hours, days, weeks, or years (without being paid) you have found your gift.
- This doesn’t mean you should feel guilty or shame yourself for wanting to earn a living doing what you love. YOU SHOULD. But, when you can also provide yourself with opportunities to give it away, do that too. It will help you feel joyful and empowered while encouraging others to find their particular gifts as well.