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The Secret to Happiness: It's All in Your Head

You can't always choose what life sends your way. But you can choose your attitude. Learn how to develop a one-track mind toward happiness.

If there's a word that seems destined to provoke fear, anger and sadness, it's "cancer." So imagine my surprise when my friend Angela, after being diagnosed said, “I had great news; it’s only stage three.”

Great news?!

It’s all in how you think about it. The facts were what they were. She couldn't control them. But she could control her attitude.

You can always choose your attitude.

Every day brings a mix of the good, the bad, the routine and the out-of-the-ordinary. But that's not what determines your experience. Your attitude does… even if that may feel somewhat counter-intuitive!

Your perspective is one of the few things in life that's 100% within your control.

Change your thoughts, change your experience.

My client Art, a talented photographer and videographer, adopted a simple change in perspective that dramatically changed how he experiences his least-favorite activity: film editing.

While he loves producing his extraordinary museum documentaries, he hated editing hundreds of hours of video down to a mere few hours for a final piece. In fact, he dreaded it so much that it ruined the entire project for him!

Until he viewed editing through a new lens.

His work is exactly the same. But he no longer thinks of it as "beating this piece into submission.” Instead he focuses on how he's interacting with the film to craft the story. As a result, his entire experience has changed.

Develop a one-track mind toward happiness.

  1. Choose one situation. Focus first on one aspect of your life that's stirring up strong negative emotions. It could be a task similar to Art’s editing, a challenging relationship, or something at work.
  2. Name your current attitude. Simply describe your view… don't judge yourself or your emotions!
  3. Identify alternatives. Regardless of the facts, you can choose a variety of reactions. Consider your options and get creative, even wacky, to push your thinking. Move around the room. Step outside and peer through the trees. How would a four-year-old see the situation? How about a ninety year old? Come up with at least five alternatives.
  4. Choose your new perspective. Then practice daily. You’re creating new brain-tracks. It will take time for your new view to replace the old one. Remind yourself by placing sticky notes on your bathroom mirror, in your carArticle Submission, on your desk. Journal about it. Dance around the room three times a day chanting it. Anything that works to keep it top of mind.

It's not what life hands you that dictates your experience.

It's how you think about it. Attitude trumps facts. Managing your perspective will go a long way toward helping you get and stay unstuck.

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Sherry Essig has over 10 years experience providing business-life coaching services and programs that help professionals live inspired, energized and unstuck. With a career spanning 25 years in the corporate world and running her own business, she knows what it takes to create change at work and in life.

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