We’ve all heard the expression, “You are what you eat.” And it’s becoming fairly common now to hear the expression, “You are what you think.” I would like to introduce a new expression (though in this day and age where hardly ANYTHING is really new, it’s probably been said before): “You are what you think.”
When you stop to consider how integral “thinking” and “speaking” are to making us…well…US, it’s no wonder that they can, and definitely DO both reflect, and define our nature.
I mean, you know a person is happy by the things they say, right? It’s an outward expression of who they are. Their words are a reflection of their inner nature.
You think they say happy things BECAUSE they are happy people. And you think sad people say depressing things BECAUSE they are depressed. And that is more or less true.
But today, I ask you to consider an opposite, yet equally true reality: People are happy BECAUSE they say and think happy things. And people are sad BECAUSE they say and think sad things.
I read about a research study, (please forgive, I wasn’t able to find the study to credit it) where the researchers gave people a list of things to think about and say out loud. One group was given a list of sad things, the other group, happy things. Later, they were asked to report on how they felt, emotionally. Which group do you think felt happier?
There were statistically no other differences between the two groups of people. And the most amazing part is that the people were not reporting on how they felt AT THAT TIME, or how they felt specifically after reading and contemplating the things on the list. They were reporting on their overall contentment level for their ENTIRE life!
You may not have complete control over events and circumstances in your life, but you DO have control over what you say and what you think about. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like it, but as I’ve told you before the key is practice, practice, PRACTICE! 😉
Below are some of the simplest (and happiest) things you can say. Say them a lot, and to as many people as you can!
Say Thank you.
This is one of those things that we say more often to complete strangers than we do to our loved ones. You probably thank the waitress for bringing your food, the cashier for taking your money, the receptionist at your dentist’s office for calling to remind you of your appointment. But how often do you thank your children for cleaning their room? Or your wife for washing the dishes? Or your mother for all those times she cleaned up after you, or nursed you through all those bouts with the flu?
You may think it’s not necessary to thank family members for doing chores or other responsibilities. I’ve heard many parents say something to the effect of, “I’m not thanking them for doing the things that are required of them. It’s not like they are doing me a personal favor, it’s their job to contribute to this family.” I’ve also heard this as a reason for not giving allowances.
Well, all that may be true, but aren’t you thanking your waitress for doing her job? Is she doing you a personal favor? What about the cashier? I mean, he’s taking your money…how is that a personal favor, or anything other than his job?
And let’s be honest here. Aren’t you grateful when your child gets his room cleaned up, or washes the dishes?
There is NEVER a wrong time to say “thank you” to a person (no matter what age) who has contributed, created, accomplished, something positive in this world. Cultivate gratitude everywhere in your life. Tell people why you appreciate them. This is a great time for making a list of all the people whose thanks are long overdue. Tell them why you appreciate them. You can even have one of those deep, meaningful conversations I suggested in my original post, How To Be Happy.
Say I love you.
Chances are, you love a lot of people. How often do you tell them? I’m not just talking about the obvious targets: significant others, and children. What about parents, siblings, friends, even those crazy aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins?
I will grant that it IS possible to overdo it on the “I love you”’s, but I have found that, in general, people don’t say it enough, or to enough people.
Me and my family members, like everyone else, have plenty of faults. We are most definitely not perfect people. But all of us know that we are loved. We tell each other randomly, totally out of the blue. We tell each other after fights. We tell each other every time we leave each other. On the phone, at family gatherings, before going to bed. And it always makes us feel happy when we do.
There are probably a lot of people in your life right now that you love. Make sure you tell them on a regular basis.
Say I’m sorry.
I have found that this is one of the most difficult things for people to say. Again, I’ll tout my own horn here a little bit. I’m a master apologizer, and as such I can tell you without reservation that if you start doing it more often, you will understand why it’s so vital to your happiness.
When you apologize, you don’t just release someone else from a burden of wrong doing that you have given them. You also release it from yourself. And often, you are the one carrying the heavier load.
When you have truly wronged someone, you may not want to admit it to that person, but most likely you know in your own heart that you were wrong. And clearly the other person knows you were wrong. Just what is it, exactly, that you are trying to protect by not apologizing?
If you wish you hadn’t done something. If you wish you could take it back. If you wish you could have a do-over. If you feel any of these things, then you ARE sorry. Just tell the person.
But what if there is shared blame? Or what if the other person started it, and you simply finished it? This happens a lot with me and my husband. When we fight (and believe me, we’ve had some doozy’s) we never stay mad at each other for very long. And mostly it’s because I’m a master apologizer. I almost always apologize first, but he always apologizes second.
Even if there is shared blame, if you feel those things I mentioned above, then you are sorry. Apologize. Chances are, it will also make it easier for the other person to apologize as well. And if they don’t? Well, they will still have to carry that burden, at least you have released yours.
Say I forgive you.
It’s tricky. I understand that. Forgiving someone is often more difficult than apologizing to them. But again, it’s all about that burden you are carrying. When someone wrongs you, they hand you a burden. It could be a burden of anger, crushed feelings, disappointment, or countless other hurtful emotions. You carry those heavy feelings around with you, and the more hurtful things that are done to you, the heavier your load becomes. How long can you carry it before it crushes, at least part of you?
When someone apologizes and you forgive them, you release that burden. It’s not really about the other person at all. It’s about you.
But often, we WANT to make it about the other person. We want to make them pay, somehow. If we forgive them, how will they learn their lesson? How will they know how much they hurt us? Won’t we just be telling them it’s okay to treat others that way? And what if they don’t even ask for forgiveness?
There will be many times in your life when someone will ask for forgiveness and you don’t want to give it to them. And there will be many times in your life when someone has wronged you, and they never apologize for it. Worse yet, they may staunchly deny they ever did anything ill toward you.
I’m telling you right now. Forgive them anyway. Let go of the burden. I know what you’re thinking, “It’s way easier said than done, Carrie. It’s just not that simple.” The complexities of forgiveness are intricate and confusing. I plan on a post devoted to it in the future. But, even though it can be difficult, practice it anyway. Practice makes perfect, remember? We talked about that in my post How To Be Happy – Practice Being Happy. This leads us to my final bit of advice on saying happy things.
Even if you don’t feel it now, say Thank you, I love you, I’m sorry, and I forgive you, anyway and chances are you’ll feel it later. This is especially useful for apologizing and forgiving.
This is actually how I started out on the road to “Master Apologizer” and “Master Forgiver”. I just decided to start saying those things even if I didn’t really feel it or want to say it. The release I felt at letting go of those burdens, coupled with the fact that quite often when I apologized and forgave, I found myself being apologized to and forgiven as well, made me fall in love with apologizing and forgiving. I wouldn’t say I enjoy doing it, really. But I look forward to the release of that heavy burden.
When you take the first step in apologizing or forgiving, you will quite often find the other person willing and eager to join you. Soon, everyone is apologizing, forgiving, saying thank you, AND I love you all in the same go!
These four phrases have the power to transform a life. Practice saying them, and saying them often. You are on your way toward true contentment.
Check out my other posts on how to be happy. They are listed in the category section off to the left side of the screen, labeled “How To Be Happy”.
What do you think? Are there other happy things that we should be saying to each other on a regular basis? Do you know any tricks to making apologizing and forgiving easier? Your comments and suggestions are always welcome!