The Choices along the way and the gift of life satisfaction
Today’s contemporary society has given us more tools, but less and less time. We’re involved in more activities leading to over commitment and less “self” time. We get an avalanche of daily texts, emails, and Facebook or LinkedIn messages – invites, Tweets, Instagram, Messenger, and alerts. Our lives are driven by the amount of time, sheer volume of information and complexity of demand as we try to absorb the information and crunch time lines, meet commitments and break through the clutter to find that “sweet spot” called happiness.
Are you any happier?
Q: How does our brains move towards a level of happiness from a place of sadness in our lives?
When talking about the transition from sadness to happiness, timing is everything. From the moment the stimulus of sadness is processed in the eye to the moment the person first feels sad takes about a half a second. And it all hinges on perception.
Which verifies the notion, changing one’s frame of reference comes down to how a person explains to themselves the bad things that happen to them. Learning to change these explanations can prove to be an effective way to treat sadness.
The interpretation we place on our thoughts and feelings seem real to us, so we conclude that they must be true. But what if they weren’t true including some of our most deeply held beliefs about our selves and the world around us. Back in the 1960s Bernard Weiner, a psychologist at the University of California Los Angeles campus concluded that the way people think about the causes of successes and failures was what really mattered. It was the explanation people made, which determined their mental state. Your habitual way of explaining a bad event, your explanatory style, is more than just the words you say when you’re sad. These are habits of thought learned in childhood and adolescence that stem directly from your view of your perceived place in the universe, whether you think you are of value, worthy, or hopeless.
Operating from a sad place to a happy place or going from a happy moment to an unhappy moment is about the meaning you place on that one moment in time. Other research studied the memory. Memories are the neuropathic ways that create your supposed verifiable meaning and reaction to each moment. These experiences whether happy or sad weave the tapestry you call frame of reference. The strengths and virtues they hold over your mind and actions display what make up the quality of your life. How you decide to spend your time and make the choices that affect your quality of life is closely wrapped up in your perceptions, which govern how you will think about your past, present, and future experience.
When we are sad we are defining images of actions used as constructive component involved in life regulation. The feeling of sadness is part of a larger composite of perceptions of what happens in our mind and body when we are emotionalizing a moment.
Sadness is complemented by a cognitive mix that includes beliefs, assumptions, and ideas, but is largely one of actions carried out by the body like becoming distrustful, turning inward, and focusing defensively on our own needs. Sadness is a negative change in thought, a dour picture of you, the world and the future, impacting your future achievements and wellness. The thoughts of sad individuals are dominated by negative interpretations of the past, present and of the future. To make matters more stressful your ability to rebound from these feelings, unlearning patterns of thinking and to argue against these pessimistic interpretations fails to relives sadness in the long term to the same extent as taking a prescription drugs. You have an obligation to alter your behavior in ways that allow you to exert a sense of control or indirect control over your life.
All emotions have a feeling component, a sensory component, a thinking component and an action component. The feeling component of sadness for instance is negative in nature fed by a life filled with unexpected and frequent drama and disasters. This feeling of sadness, like those of sights, sounds, and smells, intrude on our consciousness and override whatever else is going on in our lives. This type of negative thinking engenders focused intolerance and narrows our attention toward becoming authentically happy. Sadness and depression signal loss and bring about disengagement, reinforcing founded fear, giving up, and in extreme cases the thoughts of suicide.
The practice of positive emotion in our lives unconsciously attracts friendships, love, better physical health, and greater achievements. Yet there is clear evidence that optimistic non-depressed people distort reality in a self-serving direction while their more pessimistic sad counterparts tend to see reality accurately. Regardless the emotional balance sheet seems to weigh heavier on the side of the optimist while there are times and places where we need a touch of pessimism.
Momentary happiness can be easily encouraged by any number of strategies. Humans have invented a myriad of shortcuts to feeling good drugs, food, loveless sex, shopping, television bingeing and more. The real challenge is to raise your endurance capacity of happiness. Optimistic individuals tend to interpret unforeseen circumstances as transient, controllable, and specific to one situation. While the pessimistic individual believe that their problems will never go away which undermines everything they think and do.
Researchers have found we each have a personal set range for our levels of positive and negative emotions, and this range may represent our inherited aspects of overall happiness. It is believed people who get more good things in life are generally much happier than the less fortunate. Yet contrary to popular belief it seems that the less fortunate are just as happy as the more fortunate. Status, stuff, and high accomplishments, have shown to have little effect on happiness. In actuality it is our ability to explain our circumstance that provides our frame of reference of reality as a built in flexibility. Another factor not often talked about is the research on our species Basic Rest and Activity Cycle (BRAC). This rest and activity cycle produces a rhythm throughout the day and month that affects our level of happiness and sadness, though the exact timing varies from person to person.
The good news is that positive circumstances do change happiness for the better. The bad news is that changing one’s circumstances can seem impractical and expensive. How you interrupt the negative or unexpected situations is key to retaining happiness. You would think regardless of the circumstance, in order to experience more positive emotion in your life, one should strive to experience less negative emotion by minimizing bad events in your life. Having more than your share of unhappiness and misery doesn’t mean you cannot have a lot of joy as well. What matters is our subjective perception of happiness and its effect on our ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstance and adversity.
Q: How is the management of patience and time essential to brain enrichment.
By remembering that patience is a mental skill to be mastered. And, as cliché as it may sound, life is not a race but rather a journey full of experiences to be enjoyed.
Become aware of what you are and how you’re living your life. Pay attention to your impatience when encountering unforeseen situations or newness. Learn from it and perhaps uncover the thought patterns that are unhealthy or destructive to your life decisions. Patience allows you to explore and learn about changes you seek yet patience can only be cultivated and nurtured over time, not days, minutes or seconds. It should be obvious by now that any process directed at substantive behavioral shift, come from those generated gradually through well-established patterns of new thinking. These new practices require the effort of time, insights, and re-evaluation, trying new approaches and, of course, patience! If we really want to participate in and enjoy a meaningful existence and not just attend this experience called “your life”, then you may need to buy into slowing down, taking a moment to decipher each instance in real time rather than simply respond to an urge. The role of time, patience, and reflection is really that flicker of consciousness between the silences. Without space between musical notes there can’t be a beautiful melody or harmony.
Q: What are some re-framing techniques, and positive change models we can use to instantly move us to a place of happiness and wellness?
Let’s separate the model for positive change from techniques for re-framing change.
THE POSITIVE CHANGE MODEL
Your emotional response to positively perceived change always starts from a place of uninformed optimism
Then come unforeseen informed pessimism holes in the fabric of certainty.
You start to question whether or not what you thought to be true is valid.
Private or Public
You take the time to rethink options and form new strategies.
Your new way of thinking gives you a more informed approach to your previous ideas of what was optimistic
You see the light at the end of the tunnel and feel good about the desired outcome and completion.
FRAME OF REFERENCE [FOR]
Framework or Fallacy
Because we can’t see the sun on a cloudy day, it seems impossible that its rays are still beating down on our skin. We continue to just lie to ourselves about sun damage because it is safely tucked behind the clouds. Frame of reference (the sun) is disguised behind the idea (the clouds) if we can’t see the sun, it can’t really hurt us. Meanwhile, the consequence of ignorance and the inadequate reassessment of sun damage on skin become more costly than we can imagine.
Frame of reference exerts a powerful influence on our lives, functioning as a sort of closed-looped system. Our FOR determines our expectations, which influence what we perceive and how we process all information. The information we process drives what we think, which is how we establish the alternatives that we believe are available for making decisions. We engage in actions based on these decisions that, in turn, usually reinforce our original expectations. This self-perpetuating cycle is often a major source of our biases to newness and the resistance we unconsciously harbor when the map doesn’t agree with the ground we walk. In other words, I have learned that our passage though this life consists of an effort to get the maps in our heads to conform to the ground on which we walk. Unfortunately life is a painful process of trial and correction.
Psychologists have researched and recognized the foundation of unconscious human behavior. The unconscious mind creating our frame of reference has something to say about the early shaping of our social space, conversations and rules. These beliefs create the mental narratives we use when we talk about art, music, religion, politics, sexuality, and more importantly the plots of our favorite TV shows. Ask yourself how often you have found yourself guided by a well thought through cognitive conceived idea, want or plan? Then ask yourself how frequently you really take time to reflect and assess the validity of those unconscious deeply set beliefs, biases, and desires? This momentous frame of reference is guided by feelings that arise when your mind engages in a new perception warranting an action. When the mind feels informed to take action, the beliefs associated with the information signifies that our self engenders the actions. Our frame of reference and authentication of a future action is essential to motivate the deliberation of future behavior. Without this self-perpetuating process of validating information, we would not be capable to assume responsibility for the rationalization of the moral actions we take.
An everyday example of how frame of reference works comes from the domestic lives of couples. When your partner is in a bad mood, you might say to yourself or blurt out loud, “Moody again,” while your brain is asking, “Why is Jeff so upset all the time, why is he being so mean, why isn’t he understanding what I am trying to say?” Even in the strong relationships, partners are many times in different moods. When communicating with your significant other any conversation seems like a manifestation of clashing viewpoints on just about any subject. And because both individual’s frame of reference goes hand and hand with perceptions and feelings, they process incoming information in a way that jibes with their own current emotional state not each other. Unfortunately someone has to be the bigger person and step outside of their thinking or the emotions will continue to flow.
One solution to resolve these differences maybe to count to ten, take a deep breath, remember how much you love this person, then ask them about their day. This gives Jeff the opportunity to vent about his day, and his clients and colleagues who haven’t been doing their fair share of the work. And an opportunity for you to focus on the situation from his point of view, think about the circumstances that created his moody behavior. Refocusing on Jeff’s view of life provides you a better understanding surrounding why he was moody to begin with. It doesn’t make him right but it makes thing better to understand what happened and how Jeff got so emotional with you.
Greater control over FOR which influences perception and ultimately our behavior can only come from an accumulation of experiences, knowledge and discovered learning based on the facts of a situation. Taking time to analyze the information, evaluate the benefit associated with the outcome, and ponder the emotional results will put you on the path to a wiser newer way of thinking. Of no less importance, is understanding the barriers faced by our consciously deliberated decisions. Without this mental reassessment our minds have no way to engage the action mechanisms within the brain.
The circumstances in which perceptions challenge each person’s frame of reference hangs on its emotional charge. For example, there are things you hate that your partner doesn’t and vice versa and things you love and they don’t. In short, your perceptions drive an emotional response that is considerably customized relative to your specific interpretation of life. Additional layer’s that influence perception are factors such as cultural background, education, political viewpoint and religion, of which we have somewhat little direct control.
It seems that our frame of reference is no more than then the brain’s record of multiple consequences of interaction. What we memorize is of our encounter, which is a composite of sensory and motor activity. We act on these multiple faded memories using past knowledge of comparable situations, similar to the one we perceive to be experiencing. Unfortunately, perceptions are prejudiced, biased, and unreliable at best representing past history and beliefs, which may not be applicable in the present. There your memory of what you thought happened from your point of view.
The reality that we perceive by engagement, instead of recognizing the true worth, quality and importance of the particular moment is the reason why we often think in terms of patterns rather than specific isolated situations. This defines the relevance to understanding frame of reference as it relates to perception.
“We never really experience the universe directly. We just experience our consciousness of the universe.” Alan Moore
Change your thinking, change your perception and change your life. Think about your frame of reference, and how it affects your life’s story. Did you consciously decide to create the reality you’re living or was it shaped by friends, family, and the media? If you are tired of your story then change your perception and create a new you. Become a screenwriter not an actor. Decide now to take control of your future. Everything in life begins with a decision.
THE GROUND BREAKING RULES
Open your mind. When thinking about your life, consider that the way you’re looking at a problem, challenge or issue might very well be part of the problem itself. Life is inherently neutral and you assign the meaning. Ask yourself these questions:
Is what I believe true?
Can I absolutely know that it’s true?
What do I think about this thought?
How do I react when I believe that thought?
Who could I be without this thought?
What would I feel if I didn’t have this thought?
The fork in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to take the turn.
UNTANGLE YOUR MIND
Get to the heart of what’s bothering you or what you’d like to change. Question, rather than accept what seems to be true. Liberate yourself from ineffective self-defeating behavior then get out of your way.
The perceived degrees of personal control over decisions play a key role in determining whether the event will lead to success. Know when to slow down your thinking and put on apply the brakes. Do I inhibit my impulses and do what is right? Or do I do what I want in the moment? Resist the temptation to waste time or engage in any activity that is worthless or harmful. Being successful is about inhibiting ineffective actions and implementing beneficial actions.
Admit new possibilities. Think through contributing factors, however unbelievable or extreme they seem. Evaluate the pros and cons associated with your perception of reality. What are the costs and benefits of not changing your way of thinking? Be aware of thoughts and feelings associated with change. You’re not judging or blaming yourself; you’re simply exploring opportunities.
Why do I WANT to try and change my behavior?
Why SHOULD I try and change my behavior?
WHAT would it take for me to change my behavior?
When you reject change you become the architect of decay.
BE PATIENT AND TAKE YOUR TIME
Change requests fostering growth not forcing it. Find your own answer. Notice when you’re feeling stuck, walk away, and come back to the problem later. Acknowledge that not everything you believe is black and white. Be honest and courageous with yourself and look at your present state through new eyes. That’s because you probably have been walking around on automatic pilot.
Mindfulness is the non-judgmental awareness of what is happening in the present moment. Become fully aware of where you are and what you are trying to do. By paying attention to your thoughts and feelings you can increase your level of awareness and invest in what you want and where you want to go.
Realize that what works for one may not work for all. To promote new thinking, challenge your perception of reality from multiple perspectives. New thinking helps to decontextualize those ingrained beliefs, slowly loosening their power over your mind. But as long as you challenge your new thinking using your old belief system, nothing will change regardless of how often it is contradicted by new positive experience.
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness set in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.
Recognize that people behave in the way that they think. Thinking begins with perception. Our perceptions about ourselves, others and life around us, begins at birth and is equal to truth. Whether the learned perception is true or false makes little difference. We must recognize that the perceptions we have heard, learned, and believe to be true are actually someone else’s not our own, and their perceptions came from some misguided individual who also has been given this information from yet another well-meaning individual.
Seek spiritual awakening and understanding. When changes in perception and a spiritual understanding are introduced into the life of a person, reality begins to shift. For every human being, the spiritual concept of hope is the one concept that intuitively keeps us on track. By combining perception changes with spirituality to address the challenges of change, feelings of hope can inspire an empowering mindset.
Meditation helps to produce positive thought and productive behaviors. The body gains awareness about being the vehicle for change and therefore needs to be respected and cared for with a spiritual mindset. The spirit deserves to be happy, at peace, hopeful, and productive.
Practicing a positive way of perceiving one’s reality, and taking the steps to change their practices, results in a change of thinking and in turn more appropriate behaviors. Your thinking created your current reality and it can change your current reality. Your reality can be good or bad positive or negative upset or calm. Every cell in your body is affected by your thinking. Your body is an ecosystem containing everything you need to survive. Negative thinking is like toxic waste into your lifescape, destroying your mind and body, and potentially affecting the future.
For more information contact Wellcoach Michaelene Conner, author of Techno Stress, 2012 AMERICAN FITNESS MAGAZINE, Hunger Brain Part 1 and Hunger Brain Part 2, 2013 with AMERICAN FITNESS MAGAZINE. Read Good Brain Bad Brain Your Brain available on Amazon.
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