While engaged in conversation with my good friend Johnny from Mexico the other night we came upon what I consider a golden question. We were discussing my upcoming book Living the Dream. In this book there are a few stories of people who have overcome great challenges in live and have discovered and maintained a healthy and positive outlook. Both Johnny and I share quite a few of the same philosophies in life, so when he began to tell me how he turned his life around I was listening.
Before we get to what his story was, let me tell you that what he did was almost exactly the same thing I did to turn my life around. In some fashion, the same thing is what I would recommend anyone else take as a first step towards turning their life around as well. Even if you have a great life and are extremely happy you can use this method to increase the intensity and frequency of that joy. Does this sound like something you would like to have in your life? It should.
The great thing about this method is that you need no special tools, it is free to do and everyone is capable of using it. You can do this method anywhere. You can use it on the train or bus, in line at the grocery store, during your morning commute or even walking down the street. I touch on this method in my first book A Happy Life for Busy People in the chapter called ‘Thinking Backwards’.
Here is what Johnny did and what we can all do. While going through some personal struggles Johnny was employed as a Mail Carrier for the Postal Service. As he walked along his route he began to ask himself some very important questions. “Why do I feel this way?” “When did I begin feeling this way?” “When was the last time I remember feeling good?” This introspection led Johnny to take some action and get to the core of what was really troubling him. It did not happen right away, but it did get his subconscious mind to begin to work on the problem in a constructive manner.
If this method seems a bit oversimplified for you, let me explain there are some caveats. It is more than just spending time thinking about yourself and asking questions. I hear people daily asking themselves all kinds of questions that do not serve them. Questions like “Why does this always happen to me?” “How come things always go wrong for me?” Even when the brain does come up with answers to these questions, they will not be helpful to the individual.
What we need to do is ask ourselves specific kinds of questions. We need to ask ourselves solution oriented questions. What I mean by that is questions that will serve us. Ones that will either help identify a problem, or create a solution. Instead of asking yourself “Why does this always happen to me?” change it to “How can I stop this cycle from repeating in my life?” that gives your subconscious mind something constructive to work on. Asking yourself this question often enough will let your mind know it is important. The answer may pop in your head days later when you least expect it.
How can this help us if we are already feeling good? Asking yourself why it is you are feeling so joyous right now and what contributed to that will allow you to identify components that bring joy to your life. Once identified, you can add these more often thus, giving yourself more joy. Working backwards to consciously recognize what was happening when your state changed can help you identify things that cause you to both feel good and not so good. That will be worth its weight in gold.