Have you ever listened to The Flaming Lips? You should. In particular, this song is really good.
The message in this song is really simple and pure. Spend time with your loved ones while you can, because you only have them on loan. Also, the following line is one of my favorites,
Instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know you realize that life goes fast. It’s hard to make the good things last. You realize the sun doesn’t go down, it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning ’round.
The way you frame your thoughts matters, as we’ve already discussed on this blog. In a very real way, you control the reality in which you live. Framing your thoughts in a positive way whenever possible goes a long way toward making a happier experience.
So just a friendly neighborhood reminder: appreciate your loved ones while you have them, and remember things are very rarely as bad as they seem.
Don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things. – George Carlin
Do you ever catch yourself getting really annoyed by things that don’t matter at all? I do. It happens literally almost every day. Some jerk who doesn’t know how to drive, or spilling a sauce on my shirt, or not being able to open the pickle jar (“just like in those commercials, honey!”). There are always a bunch of small inconveniences just waiting to get under your skin if you let them. But that’s not what I want to talk about in this post.
Not sweating petty things also means that you shouldn’t make every decision an excruciating process. Some decisions really don’t matter at all, but we still agonize over what is the ‘best’ decision. In fact, there has been some research in recent years that suggests that having too many choices makes it harder to be happy with the choice you end up making. For more on this, you can watch psychologist Barry Schwartz’s TED talk. But in case you don’t want to spend 20 minutes watching it, I’m going to give you the Cliff Notes (there’s also a good article about this stuff over at Raptitude).
“A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior.
In other words, a positive or negative prophecy, strongly held belief, or delusion – declared as truth when it is actually false – may sufficiently influence people so that their reactions ultimately fulfill the once-false prophecy.”
Pretty interesting. I remember the first time I ever heard of this phenomenon. I was a psychology minor in college, because I find psychology really interesting and it helped break up my science-heavy major classes. One of the classes I took was called “The Psychology of Close Relationships.” One day in class we had a big discussion about how our expectations are self-fulfilling prophecies. In other words, if you think something will happen, then you subconsciously act in a way that encourages that thing to happen.
It’s all in your head
As I was thinking about this blog today, I realized that we need to go ahead and get something out of the way. It’s a big idea. It’s also an idea that you absolutely must understand if you want to be happy for any extended period of time. The idea is: happiness is not a destination, it’s a state of mind, and only you control your own happiness. Let me elaborate a little bit.