Did you know that every single day of your life you will have about 70,000 thoughts?
That’s a lot of brain activity, isn’t it?
Well, if that isn’t enough to wow you, some experts think that our modern brains will retain over a quadrillion pieces of information over our lifetimes.
If those pieces of information were school library books, it would take 80 billion libraries to hold them all.
Your brain is powerful.
Anyone’s mind is capable of this massive activity. You don’t have to be from a privileged upbringing. You don’t need a Master’s degree. If you have that stuff, great. But it’s not a requirement to have a super powerful brain.
Now let’s look at three steps you can take to build a happy mind.
Step 1: Recognize We All Make Assumptions
One of my teachers back in school told my class his definition of the word assume.
“When you assume something, you make an ass of you and me.”
He used circles around the “u” and the “me” in assume to make his point.
So why do we make assumptions anyway?
First, we can’t help it. If you didn’t make assumptions, you’d have to think everything through. That means you’d have to weigh the pros and the cons. You’d have to assess the risks and decide what action to take.
Is flipping a light switch worth all that?
The truth is that many of our decisions don’t require such deep analysis. This leads to the second reason we make assumptions which is …
We make assumptions to save time.
Life is pretty busy already, isn’t it? And who wants to get worn out repeating the same processes over and over? For example, if you’ve driven that route to work a few times, you can reasonably expect it will take a certain amount of time. There will be a predictable amount of traffic. And you can probably make it without having a wreck.
So, off you go!
The third reason we make assumptions is our assumptions offer a framework for how we live our lives.
We all need to feel some sense of security. You need to know that light will come on when you flip the switch. And you need to know what to do when it doesn’t come on. So you build assumptions based on your experience of life. After all, isn’t that based on what you know to work time and time again?
Now that you know your brain is wired to make assumptions and why it does, let’s move to step 2.
Step 2: Recognize Your Outlook is Based on Fear or Hope
Experience is a powerful influence.
When I was in 7th grade, I tried out for two sports teams. First was the soccer squad. Later came basketball tryouts.
I failed at both.
In fact, I didn’t make the first cut.
So I assumed that a life of competitive sports would never be my reality.
I never tried out for another team for my entire school career.
I made these assumptions based on my experience. Just as we can’t help but assume, we can’t help but have an opinion on what happens to us.
Chances are, if you’ve been hurt, you’ll have a negative opinion about your future prospects (fear). If you enjoyed some success, you assume that more is around the corner (hope).
Here’s something to remember about all this:
Your assumptions may not reflect reality, but once you make them they are the truth to you.
Did you get that? Once you choose to believe something is true, it may as well be true in your own mind.
So before you set the course of your life based on an assumption, take a moment to see if it’s really true. Then you’ll be prepared to take the third step, choose hope instead of fear, and …
Step 3: Make a Deliberate Assumption
You really do have control over how you feel.
Try this. Laugh on purpose. Maybe you don’t feel like laughing, but indulge me here. Just start. Go through the motions. Make the sound. Get your body into it.
Did you do it?
What happened? Did you feel that after a few seconds of faking it that the feeling started to come? Maybe it was because you felt so silly doing it. That’s okay. The point is you can make yourself feel any feeling you want if you’ll go through the motions. That’s what the psychologist William James was speaking of when he said, “actions and feelings go together.”
You don’t have to be a victim of circumstance when it comes to having a happy mind. You can direct your own thoughts to happiness. It may not change what happens to you. But then again it might. Why not take the chance that it will? Regardless of what happens, you’ll feel better about your life.
Assume Your Way to Happiness
Now you know three steps you can take now to get to happiness.
First, recognize you are wired to make assumptions.
Second, your assumptions are motivated by fear or hope.
Third, make a deliberate assumption that you’ll be happy if you choose to be.
Do these and you’ll cultivate your own happy mind.