Happiness 102: “Thinking about Thinking…or not”

Thinking is literally all we have to change in order to be happy. Changing your perspective to always think positively is one of the ways I’ve already shown you. Conformation bias/circular thinking is another problem. You think “I’m gonna make a mistake” and you make a mistake a distant time later and say “see, I knew I was right”- Conformation bias. Circular thinking: you are thinking “I am worthless” and you start acting like others think you are worthless which makes you feel worthless and confirms your original thought. Or “I can’t rely on so and so” but every time they offer help, you turn them down then you feel unsupported and that reinforces your original thought. This is known as circular thinking, but more specifically the Thoughts, Behavior, and Feelings Triangle- don’t overthink the fact that it’s a circle and a triangle at the same time. You can actually stop circular thinking by changing the behavior, thoughts or feelings, the rest will then fall into place. If you allow your partner to give you support, you will feel supported and start thinking that they support you. Or you could change your thoughts to “I have worth” and start doing behaviors like volunteering which make you feel worth it. Or you could fake the emotion of happiness until it becomes real and starts affecting your thoughts. That last one is the hardest one but changing any part of the triangle will work.

I can understand all of these thought- changing things can be difficult. “The world is a horrible place, it’s so hard to see good anywhere”. And I have two options for you: a stepping stone that can make those easier or something to completely abandon those and try something different: mindfulness meditation and meditation of non-thought.

Mindfulness meditation is what it sounds like, being mindful of what is going on. Most people have thoughts and aren’t even aware of them. Take time each day to notice what exactly is going on in your head. Why am I feeling so depressed today?! Then you look at your thoughts and realize that you are thinking about the fight you had last night with your significant other. And you can move on to consciously change it to a positive thought.
Meditation of non-thought is just as ambivalent as the previous one- not at all. You literally try to cease thinking about the past or future, anger or happiness. You just kind of watch. It’s not as easy as it sounds- I’ve been practicing for a few months and am lucky if I can have 15 minutes of complete silence. But once you do it becomes peaceful. I’ve recently learned of a technique to use along with mindlessness meditation that helps it work. Most begging guides suggest you focus on your breath. But if you also focus on another perception such as hearing, seeing something, or touch that works better. If you focus on two senses at once, the brain goes quiet for as long as you can do it. And even if thoughts come back, don’t yell at yourself. Just notice that it happened and go back to non-thought. It’s actually terribly peaceful!

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