Create Your Own HappinessShare
A technique to help you foster a more happy mood.
A field of grass is given its character, essentially, by those experiences which happen over and over again–millions of times. The germination of the grass seed, the blowing wind, the flowering of the grass, the hatching of insects, being beaten down by thunderstorms, the paths made by animals and hikers, and so on. It is a whole system of interdependent events that determine the nature of the field of grass.
It is also roughly true that the nature of our beliefs and perceptions are interpreted from our experiences. The field of grass cannot change its character. Grass cannot interpret and shape its experiences to create a different nature. We are not a field of grass. We can choose to interpret our experiences anyway we wish. You know as well as I do that few of us are even aware of what this means.
THOUGHT EXPERIMENT: Look at the symbols below. Assign “names” to these symbols by selecting one of the following words: “Indians” “piggynose” “shy kitty” “woman” “sleeper” and “bathroom.”
(00) I 000000 I
^–^ I - - _ - - _ I
Now that you’ve assigned names, ask yourself: “Why is this so easy to do?” For example, if you labeled AAA as Indians how does an Indian village fit with its ponies, tents, campfires, etc., so comfortably fit into three letters? These symbols have no meaning. We give them meaning by how we choose to interpret them. You have the freedom to select any meaning for any experience instead of being a victim who must assign one and only meaning to each experience.
We automatically interpret all of our experiences without realizing it. Are they good experiences, bad ones, what do they mean and so on? We do this without much thought, if any, to what the interpretations mean. For instance, if someone bumps into you, you wonder why. The event of her bumping into you is neutral in itself. It has no meaning. It’s your interpretation of the bumping that gives it meaning, and this meaning shapes your perception of the experience.
You may interpret the “bump” as rude behavior. You may interpret her as being deliberately aggressive, or you may feel you are of such little consequence that you’re deliberately unnoticed and bumped around by others. Or you may choose to use the experience as an example of feminist aggression, or you may interpret the bump as her way of flirting with you. Your interpretation of the experience determines your perception.
THE VELTEN PROCEDURE
Psychologist Theodore Velten created a mood induction procedure that psychologists have used for over 40 years to induce a positive mindset, especially in psychology experiments.
It's a simple approach that involves reading, reflecting on and trying to feel the effects of some 58 positive affirmations as they wash over you. The statements start out being fairly neutral and become progressively more positive. The statements are specifically designed to produce a euphoric, elated state of mind.
INSTRUCTIONS: Read each of the following statements to yourself. As you look at each statement, focus your observation only on that one. You should not spend too much time on any one. Your success at coming to experience this mood will largely depend on your willingness to accept and respond to the idea in each statement and to allow each statement to act upon you. Attempt to respond to the feeling suggested by each statement. Then try to think of yourself as definitely being and moving into that state. If it is natural for you to do so, try to visualize a scene in which you have had such a feeling. It should take about 10 minutes.
Velten Mood Induction Statements:
1. Today is neither better nor worse than any other day
2. I do feel pretty good today, though
3. I feel light-hearted
4. This might turn out to have been one of my good days
5. If your attitude is good, then things are good and my attitude is good
6. I feel cheerful and lively
7. I've certainly got energy and self-confidence to share
8. On the whole, I have very little difficulty in thinking clearly
9. My friends & family are pretty proud of me most of the time
10. I’m in a good position to make a success of things
11. For the rest of the day, I bet things will go really well
12. I'm pleased that most people are so friendly to me
13. My judgments about most things are sound
14. The more I get into things the easier they become for me
15. I'm full of energy and ambition - I feel like I could go a long time without sleep
16. This is one of those days when I can get things done with practically no effort at all
17. My judgment is keen and precise today. Just let someone try to put something over me
18. When I want to, I can make friends extremely easily
19. If I set my mind to it, I can make things turn out fine
20. I feel enthusiastic and confident now
21. There should be opportunity for a lot of good times coming along
22. My favorite songs keep going through my mind
23. Some of my friends are so lively and optimistic
24. I feel talkative - I feel like talking to almost anybody
25. I'm full of energy, and am really getting to like the things I'm doing
26. I feel like bursting with laughter - I wish somebody would tell a joke and give me an excuse
27. I feel an exhilarating animation in all I do
28. My memory is in rare form today
29. I'm able to do things accurately and efficiently
30. I know good and well that I can achieve the goals I set
31. Now that it occurs to me, most of the things that have depressed me wouldn't have if I'd just had the right attitude
32. I have a sense of power and vigor
33. I feel so vivacious and efficient today - sitting on top of the world
34. It would really take something to stop me now
35. In the long run, it's obvious that things have gotten better and better during my life
36. I know in the future I won't over-emphasize so-called "problems"
37. I'm optimistic that I can get along very well with most of the people I meet
38. I'm too absorbed in things to have time for worry
39. I'm feeling amazingly good today
40. I am particularly inventive and resourceful in this mood
41. I feel superb! I think I can work to the best of my ability
42. Things look good Things look great!
43. I feel that many of my friendships will stick with me in the future
44. I feel highly perceptive and refreshed
45. I can find the good in almost everything
46. In a buoyant mood like this one, I can work fast and do it right the first time
47. I can concentrate hard on anything I do
48. My thinking is clear and rapid
49. Life is so much fun; it seems to offer so many sources of fulfillment
50. Things will be better and better today
51. I can make decisions rapidly and correctly; and I can defend them against criticisms easily
52. I feel industrious as heck - I want something to do!
53. Life is firmly in my control
54. I wish somebody would play some good loud music!
55. This is great -- I really do feel good. I am elated about things!
56. I'm really feeling sharp now
57. This is just one of those days when I'm ready to go!
58. Wow, I feel great!
The great things about the Velten is that it really works. It’s like watching a play - you know it is a fiction, the characters can even point out that it is a fiction, yet you are still emotionally involved in the story.
Michael Michalko is the author of the highly acclaimed Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative Thinking Techniques; Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius; ThinkPak: A Brainstorming Card Deck and Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work HERE.