Have you ever had the feeling that life is running out, you are nowhere near to where you should have been and haven't been able to achieve your potential, where as others are just moving ahead. On the other hand trying to excel creates stress, chasing time, meeting goals et al. The stresses at office combined with expectations at home really bogs one down. How does one keep oneself motivated to face the situation and excel.
Before discussing this, pl allow me to share a joke. A man goes to a Dr and pleads, "Dr I drink regularly and feel outrageously guilty later, pl. help". Dr replies "oh so you want to quit drinking". The man responds forcefully,"no no, I want to stop feeling guilty"
So may be the problem is not the situation but our reaction to it. I am not saying that one should stop trying and start living in a fool's paradise by lowering expectations. One should obviously look for ways to make life better and try one's hardest to achieve the same. But if one is trying one's hardest (which I am sure most of us do) then isn't it better to remove that feeling of loss and hopelessness, as it not only causes mental pain but also reduces the efficacy. Sometimes the feeling of hopelessness causes us to change as a person and not remain authentic which may be the biggest cause of unhappiness.
Rather than being philosophical about it, let me share the tools which may help us be happy and also achieve our goals. So let's analyse why do we have these thoughts of loss and hopelessness despite working so hard. Our emotions and thoughts are based on the 1) Chemical interplay in our brain and
2) deep set programming or
algorithms on how we see ourselves and how we see the world. Happiness is a state of mind and Chemicals like Serotonin, Dopamine etc keep us happy whereas Cortisol etc keep us stressed. Some methods to get happy chemicals naturally are
1. Regular Exercise - releases Endorphins - gives that natural buoyant feeling, makes us ready to take on anything.
2. Regular meditation - even 10 minutes daily practise is good to start with. Increases activity in the left prefrontal cortex and reduces activity in right prefrontal cortex. More the diff, more the happiness. It also improves creativity, ability to connect dots and easy retrieval of memory for finding solutions. Also reduces activity in Amygdala, our emotional brain from where emotions of stress, anxiety originate. Though there are other parts like Cingulate Gyrus which stores sad memories and causes negative thoughts, we’ll come to it later. For now just remember that meditation will not only increases happiness but also improves performance.
3. Meeting friends and having social interactions - releases Oxytocin, a happiness chemical
4. Selfless philanthropy - releases Serotonin, another happiness chemical. Brain malfunctioning causing Lack of this chemical may result in addictions or serious problems like OCD. It works better when one contributes labour rather then simply donating money. It’s not easy to find time for this but may be taking out one hour in the week to teach underprivileged kids or helping patients at a general hospital by doing menial tasks for them may be considered.
5. Meeting short term goals at work or in a new hobby/skill like singing, playing an instrument etc. and trying to achieve them. It releases Dopamine, the same pleasure chemical which is released on having good food, buying a new gadget, car, home etc. Sadly the release of Dopamine after a purchase starts petering out fast and stops after around 3 weeks so we need to buy bigger house, gadget or car to get another shot of it. On the other hand meeting short term goals gives that sense of achievement which releases it naturally.
These activities are powerful tools to not only achieve happiness organically but to also improve our physical and mental energy levels and improve performance by leaps and bounds.
Adopting these is not easy however. Because we’ll need to change our existing patterns of behaviour which our brain has got used to and it resists changing them. Try brushing your teeth with your left hand(assuming you are a right hander) and see how it resists, or changing a habit. One may take help of mind-programming tools like visualisation, alpha level programming etc. Nlp techniques are also good. Other causes of unhappiness are
a) Negative thoughts - I think we all know about them.
b) Trapped emotions - Generally result from powerful negative experiences in the past. Usually the person has no recollection of the event but the mental scar remains and results in emergence of cyclical physical ailments like asthma, cold, pain in a particular part of body etc or anxiety, hopelessness during moments of stress or may even result in a particular self-defeating pattern of behaviour.
Removing Negative thoughts entails two things. One to understand why negative thoughts appear and removing the cause.
Negative thoughts appear because of two reasons. One - having a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset means comparing one to others and demonstrate one’s superiority by proving one better than others. When one is not able to achieve that, negative thoughts start flowing. In this mindset one feels threatened by others’ success. It’s imperative to adopt a Growth mindset and focus on competing with oneself and improving rather than competing against others. One can take various psychometric and other tests available online to understand the fixed mindset traits and then work on removing them. Then using various tools to removing those traits. Mind Programming is a powerful tool to achieve it though there are other tools available. Two - negative thoughts come from the basic programming one has at the deepest level of one’s psyche. Another way of defining this is neutron patterns at various parts like Cingulate Gyrus. So incase the programming is “I am not good, I can’t do challenging tasks” etc then one will have negative thoughts when facing a challenging tasks or stressful moments. There are various tools to address this. Pl find link to a video about some of these tools Science Behind Positive Thinking
Removing trapped emotions requires professional help. So a person who got booed when appearing on the stage for the first time An example would be movie Dear Zindagi starring Alia Bhatt. Consulting a counsellor/psychologist is a good way. NLP is another. Theta level programming or Hypnosis is one of the better techniques.