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In my opinion, one of the problems with self-help books is they tend to break it down into ten steps to change your life–when in reality implementing one of those ten steps could take years. The problem with many pop psychology books and principles is that they make us believe in the get fixed quick principles. In reality, this stuff is hard. (I wrote this post last year, and it is one of my favorite posts)
This is something I struggle with as I write a daily blog post on living happier–how to break something extremely challenging down to 5 paragraphs. True change takes awareness, persistence, desire, and time. It isn’t something that happens overnight when you can just ‘bam’ start being more loving or caring or open.
The first goal of living happier is to embrace yourself who you are to remember that you are valuable, lovable, worthy period. You don’t need to change to become a better person. The second goal is once you have fully embraced that you are lovable, to then look at your life and see what is getting in your way of living happier.
Then pick one thing that you want to change. Maybe it is your desire to be less self-critical. So first you have to start catching yourself when you are self-critical. Because being self-critical has become something you do without thinking, you might just do an inventory at the end of the day so you can start bringing your self-critical tendencies into the light. Then gradually you start noting them down right after they happen; then you start noticing what triggers your self-criticalness–maybe it is your job or your lack of close relationships, or maybe you are tired all the time, or maybe it is just habit. So once you have built an awareness around your self-critical tendencies, you can figure out how often they occur, when they occur and perhaps why they occur then you can start changing them. You can start catching yourself in the moment and replacing self-criticism with a loving thought about yourself or the situation. During this time you may have days where you fall back into the pattern and beat yourself up all day, and you might have days where you are super loving to yourself. All part of the process. That is how change starts to happen. That process is then repeated daily over and over until eventually, your self-critical tendencies become less.
It isn’t an easy get fixed quick concept–it isn’t just like we can change our thoughts and feel better. We are human beings who are complex and messy. So give yourself a break. The goal of living happier is to just slowly, gradually implement principles that allow us to live a little happier than we were a month ago or a year ago. It is about paying attention to our lives and noticing how we are feeling, what we love about ourselves, what we might want to change and giving ourselves the space to do that.