Genuine happiness was not given much thought when I was training to become a Medical Doctor. Today, thanks to ongoing scientific research, we have expanded how we think about not just illness but also mental health and happiness. Our emotions can affect our health.
There is a connection between our body and our mind. When we are sad or anxious, our body reacts in a way that might tell us that something isn’t right. For example, we might develop high blood pressure or a stomach ulcer. We can also react differently to medications and I see it every day with my patients. The ones that aren’t happy respond less positively to medical treatments compared to the one that are cheerful and upbeat.
Therefore, I have learned the importance of encouraging my patients to take care of their emotional wellbeing too. Feeling good should be the most important aspects of our lives. However, for many of my patients happiness means “I will be happy when”. Being in a constant state of longing, wishing, waiting or even resenting never seems to work very well. Hard times are true, but the future is not a very reliable thing to hang one’s happiness on! Also, sometime, even when the object of our desire arrives in our lives, for example, we get the thing that we promised ourselves would make us happy, we often realised that this wasn’t the case.
We need to start taking responsibility for our own happiness and realise how important is to feel better in ourself before anything else can improve. As I always tell to my patients, “let’s get you feeling good first and then see what happens”. Circumstances might take longer to improve but if we learn how to first change how we feel inside, our life can still change for the better. We start seeing things in a new perspective, therefore ablo to approach life and behave in a whole new way. I call it “Same place, Different face”.
In fact, we don’t need things to alter, situations to change, or people to behave differently to start feeling better. I strongly believe that everyone can get to a great place, because it’s an internal, not an external process. When we become happier, strength arrives and life becomes a whole lot easier, great things start to happen. Life blossoms, health problems reduce or go away and relationships flourish. Other people will sense the difference and be drawn in by our positive energy. In this place we often find that good things begin to happen and everything fall into place. Realising that we are in charge is where the power lies, we can truly fire yourself up there. How? As the father of “Cognitive Therapy” Psychiatrist Aaron T. Beck had first discovered, happiness lies first of all in our thoughts. We choose how happy we are by the type of thoughts we make. It is hard to function well in life when we continually have stressful, unhappy or draining thoughts.
Humans on average, can have anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day – if not more. It is true that every aspect of our lives, minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day is influenced by how we think. The quality of our thoughts impacts our work, our home life and our relationships. The way we think affects how we behave. If we interpret a situation negatively we will then experience negative emotions as a result, and those bad feelings will lead us to behave in the wrong way. A healthy mental habit is to approach life thinking that there isn’t an absolute good or bad thing.
Even when we go through very bad moments, if we change our thinking, nothing can get us down. While we may not be able to control what happens to us, we can most certainly control our thoughts and behaviour. There are always things to be learned from every situation and we can approach the hard times as opportunities for growth and for behaving differently.
I always encourage my patients experiencing a negative situation, to think and write down all “the good things” hidden in that negative time of their lives. It all boils down to this: Events + Thoughts = Emotions => Behaviour. Having good thoughts can really change our lives, improving how we deal with problems and positively shaping our future, which in turn makes life so much better, freer and easier.
EVERY DAY MAY NOT BE GOOD, BUT THERE IS SOMETHING GOOD IN EVERY DAY. YOUR ASSIGNMENT IS TO FIND IT. THEN TAKE ACTION.
I wish you all the best,
Dr. Valeria Acampora