How do you define happiness?
Is it career success? Your next vacation? Extra time with family? A good night’s sleep? A home-cooked meal? A long run or yoga session? A kiss goodnight from a loved one? The list could go on, said Poppy Jamie in her Game Changer session at the ASAE 2021 Annual Meeting, because the truth is happiness has many definitions and is different for everyone.
Jamie, an entrepreneur, influencer, and rising star in the mental health and mindfulness space, is also the founder of the brand Happy Not Perfect. She shared research on behavioral science and her own real-life experiences to show how flexible thinking can help you move beyond your past and unrealistic expectations to live your best life.
Jamie said she draws inspiration from Steve Maraboli: “Happiness is not the absence of problems. It’s the ability to deal with them.”
When you tie happiness to some future goal or success, you deny yourself the feelings of contentment and joy that can be found in the current moment. “Happiness isn’t something you have to wait for,” Jamie said.
The COVID-19 pandemic was the perfect example of this. Every person on the planet faced fear and uncertainty in 2020. There was a choice: Accept the current situation and adapt, or hold tight to the status quo and fight against an uncontrollable environment?
Instead of getting depressed and blaming others when reality doesn’t meet expectations, flexible thinking allows you to redefine happiness. It makes it easier to bend or sidestep instead of being rigid in your thinking. “Stress is the enemy of flexible thinking,” Jamie said. We get trapped into thinking, like Einstein warned, that if we do the same thing over and over, we’ll get a different result.
Healthy interventions in difficult times that allow us to see our successes in the moment are critical to our mental and physical well-being. Jamie’s Flex Method includes the “4 C’s”:
Emotions are temporary. Before you send that aggressive email or say something you might regret – even to yourself – pause and flex. Take control of the narrative of your life instead of thinking, “Why do bad things always happen to me?”
Our minds automatically prefer to look for these threats rather than focus on the positive, but you can retrain your brain to use the Flex Method and silence your inner critic, who always gets louder in times of stress.
Pause and flex, and then react in love, kindness and compassion instead of fear and despair.
If we wait for happiness around the corner, we may be waiting a lifetime, so employ flexible thinking and embrace happiness today.