When I was a wee little tot, my mom and I were homeless. We were sitting on a sidewalk dirty and hungry and she was having a terrible time while I was giggling at my "spaceship stick," waving it through the cold, rainy air.
With tears in her eyes, she jokingly says to me, "how can you be so happy?" I drop my stick, look over at her, and say, very matter-of-factly, "because it just feels better, mom."
The state of your livelihood is all a matter of your state of mind. Having little to do with outside circumstances and everything to do with how you perceive and look at the world around you. Your world, literally, is what you make it up to be.
Here, I will share 5 simple ways to change your mind and get much more out of life starting today.
Our eyes act more like projectors, then lookers. Many would argue (including more and more emerging scientists), that the images we hold in our minds act as "pre-matter" for what's to be materialized in the world outside of ourselves.
When we imagine, in our mind's eye, what we want to create and manifest in our lives, our images work as cogs in a reality machine, creating these images in real life.
Have you ever had a wish come true, to find out that maybe it wasn't exactly what you wanted, and you didn't feel as great as you thought you would after having received it?
Sometimes we are unaware of what will make us the absolute happiest. For that, I suggest that while visualizing, visualize positive, happy emotions, rather than specific events.
Imagine yourself yelling and throwing your arms in the air in celebration, dancing in a bright light, or being confident and filled with joy.
To crank it up a notch, don't just visualize, FEEL. Put yourself so much in the state of mind that you begin to feel the feelings associated with your visualizations. Joy, clarity, confidence, abundance, whatever it is.
The more you can feel the emotions, the quicker they will be manifested into your life. Plus, doesn't feeling good emotions feel good, anyways? Emotions are powerful.
An important thing to note is to not over-do it. Don't spend your entire day visualizing and thinking about the future. By doing this, you could easily be missing out on your present life and taking it for granted, forgetting what you already have to be happy and feel good about.
Sometimes our perception is skewed and we can easily fall into negative mindsets that literally block out all the beauty around us. Have you noticed the difference between when you are walking down the street on a day you feel bad, as opposed to on a day you feel good?
When you feel good, you see so much more beauty around you. The plants are more vibrant. The sky is saturated. The people are smiling. The birds are chirping.
The street you walk down is the same street, either way, it doesn't have to change to be made into a better street. The first step to make the street a better street is to change your mindset about the street.
Make a list, mental or physical, of all the things to appreciate about you, your life, and those around you. You can even begin as simply as being grateful for your eyes, for giving you the miraculous gift of sight.
The more you bring awareness to the beauty of what is already all around you, the more beauty will be generated into your life.
3. Live Your Story
I oftentimes think of my death bed (a daring thought, I know), and when I do, I can only think about what type of life I will look back on. What kind of story do I wish to tell? What type of life will I wish to have lived? What Natasha will I have wanted to be?
It's important to keep this in mind, and what's even more important to think about, as daunting as it is, is that you have no idea when you will be laying there, reflecting on your life.
We are not promised to live to any certain age. After all, when we die all of our material things go to someone else (or the dump). So the only things that are truly ours are the memories we have and the stories we have to tell.
So start living and creating your story, right now. Take the road trip, talk to the girl, take the leap.
4. Your Troubles Are Your Teachers
Rather than looking at your troubles as tormentors, look at them as lessons. What am I learning from this? What is it teaching me? In what ways am I growing? For example, instead of getting upset at the long line in the post office, look at the line as a teacher of patience.
Suffering is only suffering if it is unjustified. If your muscles are sore and burning because you are at the gym, you might not perceive this experience as suffering because you know that the pain means you are growing.
We can use this as a metaphor for the fact that any time we are uncomfortable, it means that we are growing. If you can justify your suffering (i.e., gain something from the experience), all of the sudden it transforms into an opportunity for growth.
Our journey here on Earth is not to suffer, but to learn and grow.
5. Pleasure vs. Happiness
The difference between pleasure and happiness is one of the most valuable distinctions I have ever made in my life. Pleasure, on one hand, comes from things outside of yourself, and the feeling is constantly fleeting. You are always having to fill yourself with these outside things to keep feeling good.
For example, driving a nice car, watching an exciting movie, or eating a delicious meal. All of these things feel good, in the moment.
Many people trick themselves into believing that they are happy because they fit the socially constructed profile of "having it all." A nice house, a successful job, steady income, fancy car, big screen TV, you name it.
Happiness, on the other hand, is a state of mind. It's a constant, independent of outside variables. The oh-too-common phrase, "things that make us happy," should very well be replaced by, "thoughts that make us happy, or, perspectives, or states of mind, that make us happy."
Happiness is a choice, and something we must experience from the inside out in order to experience it at all.
The quickest, most-powerful, and most cost-effective way to start getting more out of your life, right now, is to simply change your mind.