In recent years, we hear about being positive as a major aspect of happiness and success. Most people want to be positive, but don’t know how. When I talk to people about being positive, they say that they learned at school how to read and how to do basic math, they learned how to ride a bike and help at home, but no one ever taught them how to be positive. Therefore, it is one thing to understand why it is important to be positive, but another thing to actually be positive.
This is why I tell people that I should call my program Happy Being instead of Be Happy, because first we need to understand that happiness is important and then we need to learn how to be happy – how to make it a state of being.
Research done in North Carolina by psychologist Barbara Fredrickson has found out that being positive is important not only for our immediate success but also for long-term happiness.
Lions and snakes
When we have negative thoughts, we activate the primitive brain. Over there, all we see are lions and snakes that are a threat. Our body goes into a “fight or flight” mode and shuts all other thinking mechanisms in order to focus on the threat in front of us. Thinking, analyzing, evaluating, prioritizing, connecting, thinking creatively and considering efficiency are all luxuries that the brain is unable to do while under threat.
Happiness does not reside in the primitive brain, so it is important to notice when you go there. If you are scared, angry, aggressive, withdrawn, anxious, worried or upset, you are in the primitive brain. Your body has taken over your mind and you are out of control.
Take a deep breath! Try to think of something good and happy. Go to a happy place in your imagination. You need to convince your brain that what is happening to you is not a real lion and not a real snake. Only after you do that, you can change your emotional state and start thinking clearly.