Shifting from Negativity to Positivity

Negativity takes quite a toll on many people. It brings an array of feelings and emotions that are eventually destructive. Yet, there are simple ways of dealing with negativity and move towards a much more positive approach of life.

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Negativity is the attitude that reduces anything and everything to an almost impossibility to do and achieve anything, a systematic refusal to even consider undertaking. It is the preference of the unsatisfying status quo above the potentially riskier change. It is loaded with negative experiences, such fear of failure and fear of rejection. Negativity does not bring anything good in life. It leads to inaction, frustration, even sickness and depression.

Nonetheless, negativity is not a final condition. It can be reduced without too much difficulty. This, however, does not mean without effort… The first step is to recognize that you have landed into negativity, and that you have the desire to change the situation. Very often, this is where most people can feel “stuck”.

How can one make the switch to positivity? A very important part of turning things around is to avoid isolating oneself, which is common when people do not feel too happy about themselves. Letting the people that you trust know that you are willing to change for the best will bring you more support than you would think. There is a simple reason for that. The people who like you suffer of your negative mindset, too. They will be more than willing to help you become more positive and succeed. Do not hesitate to let your closest friends and relatives know what you are doing and have them get involved. The difference of attitude is about two choices: “Want to vs. “Have to”. It is rather easy to sort people in either one of these two groups. They have very specific and very different behaviors.

For the “Have to” people, everything seems to be a chore. They do not seem to have much fun in life and certainly even less at work. They are the ones that get up in the morning dreading going to work, they hate Mondays. They desperately long for weekends. Their heads and backs are bent under the overwhelming weight of the world they have to (of course) carry on their shoulders. On the other hand, the “Want to” people seem quite happy, they enjoy what they do (of course, since they want to). They are upbeat and do not seem to carry any heavy burden. The positivity that they exude has nothing to do with the amount of work or the lifestyle they have. All the difference is in their attitude.

The “Want to” people enjoy life more, simply because they have made choices. They have taken charge of their lives and have shaped it around what provides them with fulfillment. Unfortunately for them, the “Have to” people have not reached that point, and they tend to let their environment (boss, family, friends, TV ads, etc…) decide for them what they have to do. Indeed, living somebody else’s life can be tiring and frustrating.

Yet, making the switch is not very difficult, and the best is to start with simple things. What activities, either personal or of a more professional nature are fun to do and provide satisfaction? The best is to pick one or two activities for a start and make a habit of practicing them. The fun that carrying out these activities will generate is the best motivation to add more of them in life. All it takes is to make the first move, start gradually and persevere. It is about making choices and taking charge. There is no need and no rush to change everything at once; after all, you have your whole life to reach your goals.

Another good way to deal with negativity is to increase your level of self-awareness. Every time you realize that you have a negative thought or reaction, just say “stop!” to yourself. Then, rephrase the thought in positive language. For instance, instead of saying “that won’t work” ask yourself “how could I make this work?”. Also, have your friends participate in this and allow, even mandate them to be the ones saying “stop” and ask you what you think you should have said instead. This method can actually quickly become a very playful experience and stimulate you to do more of it. After a while, you will already realize how much better you feel and how more optimistic you have become. This exercise is like gymnastics of the mind. It brings great results.

What also works very well is to focus on the successes, and not spend too much time on failures. By celebrating the victories, you will create a dynamics of enthusiasm and success, which very quickly will by far outweigh the attempts that went wrong. This will grow your appetite for more victories, as well as your refusal to accept defeat and fight harder next time to achieve your next success. There again, support and help from trusted friends and family makes this process faster and more effective.

Life is a constant challenger of your will, of your aptitude to dare and of your knowledge and abilities. This is how people grow, feel better, and achieve fulfillment. Take on the challenge and make your life fun and exciting!

Copyright 2009 – The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

Are You Living Your Dreams?

Dreaming your lifeFrom early childhood, we all have had our ideas and dreams about how life would be later. You know, “when I grow up, I want to…”

Yet, later in life, many people seem to have forgotten about these dreams or, worse, they have given up on them. This is sad, because there are not many things that can energize and motivate someone as the pursuit of something very dear: to be the person he/she always wanted to be.

The role of parents is quite important in the future development of individuals. Having supportive and open-minded parents who encourage their children to pursue what they really want to do, is indeed good and important. Their giving support shows the children that what they aim at is worth it. Consciously going after something meaningful is one of the most motivating things there is.

This way of parenting allows children to be aware of their personality and of their possibilities at a young age. It makes it easier for the children to decide how their lives life would be like. Knowing what one wants always helps the person to keep the course. It is a source of much satisfaction to have the privilege of living one’s childhood’s dreams. However, dreaming is not just for children. Dreaming is a work in progress. It is nice to pursue one’s childhood’s dreams, but sometimes, circumstances change or the dreams do not appear to be as realistic or sensible, as they seemed first. It is easy then to forget about them. That is not really a problem as long as you keep the ability to keep envisioning who you want to be. With age comes more experience, more self-awareness and this is why it is never too late to think and dream of what and who to be later. This process has nothing to do with a mid-life crisis. That is something else. It is not about dreaming about the future; it is the mourning of the past.

Those who have been lucky to live most of their youth’s dreams will tell you how they feed. They are happy and fulfilled people who want to make it possible for others to experience the same.

Who you want to be is the mix of what you love to do, what you do best, what your values are, where and with whom you want to make this happen. The worst thing a person can do to her/himself is to not try at all, and to regret it for the rest of his/her life.

The question that you must ask yourself is: “Are you living your dreams?” If not, what happened then? More importantly, what are you going to do about it? Can you think of better objectives today, thanks to a better knowledge of yourself? What is keeping you from trying, and how can you overcome such hurdles? It is only by trying repeatedly that one succeeds.

Copyright 2009 – The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd

Maslow’s pyramid and happiness

Happiness is a subjective feeling. What works with one person, does not necessarily work with another person. The answer to this “mystery” can be found in Maslow’s pyramid of needs. For those who are not familiar with this concept, Abraham Maslow was a professor of psychology. He developed the theory of the Hierarchy of Needs. To explain his theory, he created the Pyramid of Needs, featured below. According to his theory, needs must be met in a certain order. One needs to meet their needs starting by the most basic and essential ones mentioned in the bottom layer before being able to meet the needs mentioned in the layer right above and so on. Trying to skip levels will not bring satisfaction, because the person would still be missing more basic fulfillment.

Maslow's pyramid of needs - Picture Wikipedia

His theory, although widely spread and used, has not got general approval and there are quite a few people who disagree with his hierarchy approach. Some see the overall picture as one whole pool of needs, that all need to be met one way or another in order to provide satisfaction. Although all the needs listed in the pyramid exist for all of us, to different degrees, this discussion is not very relevant, as every person will rank the needs differently. Maslow’s pyramid would probably be more accurate, if it the ranking was adjusted to what different people’s profile groups. Certainly, the basic physiological needs are absolutely essential and common to all of us, and everyone needs a minimum level of security for them to be able to think of needs that are more elaborate.

When it comes to happiness, the key is in one’s values, more than the different parameters that define them. By defining one’s values, which include a number of the needs listed in the pyramid, and by prioritize them, it becomes much simpler to understand why different people will find happiness in different things. Not everyone values Maslow’s needs equally, and therefore his hierarchy cannot describe properly the whole process of increasing fulfillment. The reason why material goods do not necessarily bring happiness can be explained by the fact that some more important values get by-passed in the materialistic thinking. Some deeper and more essential needs are not met, although the new “toy” just bought might bring some short-term satisfaction. The need left unfilled very soon calls for an answer, which another “toy” will not satisfy, either. This explains why, although some people have more and more stuff, many among them still feel empty. The real need is not being answered. They keep looking for the answer in the wrong place. This also explains that some people end up throwing away their current lifestyle to look for a drastic change. Unless this change answers the real need being left unfulfilled, such a move will only bring more damage.

Finding happiness does not have to be difficult. However, it must follow the following steps:

  • Know your values
  • Shape your life around them, which means giving up some things in the process
  • Take charge of your life, do not your let environment do that for you
  • Define your goals and set a plan to achieve them, including timelines
  • Keep working at shaping your own life
  • Celebrate your successes, and do not give up when you have setbacks
  • In the end, it is all up to you to make it happen!

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

Success and happiness: which came first?

I have heard and read about this question quite a few times, without getting a very clear answer, though.
Probably, this is because the question as such does not really address the core of the issue it wants to raise.
In my view, both success and happiness originate from the same, and grow in a very similar way.
In order to be successful and happy, you must start with shaping your life around your core values, and not around those that your environment imposes on you. Only by doing so, you will be able to choose and develop activities that, both professionally and personally, can bring the fulfillment and the enthusiasm that are required in any successful endeavor.

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Success can be a rather difficult concept to formalize, as its definition depends greatly on what you consider important for you in life. For some, this will be making lots of money, for others it will mean have a family, it also could be gaining a position of power or reach a certain social status; it could be becoming famous, and so on.
If you try to eliminate the subjectivity that goes together with the variety of values, a good definition of success that I have heard is that “success is to bring what you start to its completion”. I personally like this definition, because it describes very well the whole process that is necessary to reach the required satisfaction to feel successful.
What, to me, reinforces my conviction that success and happiness go in parallel is that you can write the same paragraph above, just by replacing success by happiness and the text will make just as much sense.
It is quite difficult to try to see a relation of cause and effect between the two concepts. Indeed, if you are not happy, can you feel successful? In the same line of thought, can you feel happy if you are not successful? You probably cannot.
Next to engaging in activities that match your values and working on bringing them to completion, a very important aspect for both success and happiness is to get others involved as well. Never hesitate to ask for help, for support and for feedback. You will never have enough of those. Other people’s input is very valuable to stay motivated and determined, as well as to avoid losing track.
A great way of increasing your level of happiness and success in life is to first envision what the ideal world would be. What would you do if you were the one who could make things “perfect” for yourself? Once you have defined this ideal world, you can start developing your own plan. Although in some cases, a drastic change could work, I would recommend having a step-by-step approach, as a drastic change all of a sudden could bring a lot of uncertainty and chances of failure that not everyone can handle. Set your targets to go from point A (where you are today) to point B (your ideal world). Define each step clearly and set realistic and rigorous timelines to this plan. Timelines are quite important because they will force you to keep taking action. Not doing so will always end up in inaction, because we are all very good and finding excuses to postpone what we prefer not to do. Another important part in the execution of this plan is to designate someone (friend, coach, family member, etc…) to remind you, to enforce these timelines and if needed to reprimand you, because there again, if you can get away with procrastination, chances are that you will indeed.
To sum up, the way to happiness and success requires the following: build your life around your values and choose the environment in which they can flourish. Have a plan to improve your level of fulfillment. Share the enthusiasm with others. Celebrate every success along the way. Do not forget to ask for assistance to make sure that you will not divert and give up on your plan.
This last point is actually quite important: many people feel unhappy because they have given up on their dreams.

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

The Life Plan will help you increase personal fulfillment

Your level of happiness or fulfillment is generally a direct consequence of how much you live your life and live in an environment that matches your values.

The Happy Future Group developed a Life Plan program to help you identify how balanced your life and your values are, and from there we help you build your own specific action list.

The process is simple. To identify your values, you will confront your own findings with some of your friends’ assessment of what truly drives you. Involving trusted friends to participate makes this process more fun and more rewarding. It also avoids this search to feel like a questioning, and at the same time, it will give you a much more objective feedback. After all, every person is who they really are, but also whom they show and who others think they are. By reducing the discrepancy between these three apparently different persons, your level of happiness will naturally increase.

By assessing how much fulfillment the different parts of your life match your core values, you will get your own “fulfillment index”. From that index and its analysis, it will become rather easy and obvious what actions you will need to take to increase your level of fulfillment.

The philosophy of the action list is all about incremental improvement. Consider your current life as being the ground zero. Each action when completed will help you live more to your values, and therefore you will achieve progress one step at a time. The timelines are the ones you feel comfortable with. All you need is to fully commit to the process. Should you “soften” a bit, we will help you remember what you promised yourself to achieve.

All you need to complete this process to success is to have the willingness to make it work, to be yourself and to spend the necessary time and energy.

To be happy, you do not need to go up the mountain to find yourself. It is all here and now, inside and around you!

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.