American psychologist Ed Diener has spent a great portion of making his contribution in life to the well-being of our own lives. The whole notion of subjective well-being was brought to the forefront when Dr. Diener came along.
Much of the history of psychology up until the last number of decades has focused on what is wrong with us in the human condition. While Dr. Diener wasn’t the first to broach the issue, his research certainly advanced the understanding of it.
Diener proposed that there are three areas that ground us in happiness, or, subjective well-being.
- It resides within the experience of the individual.
- It includes positive measures and not just the absence of negative factors.
- It measures an individual’s global assessment of all aspects of their personal life.
Let me offer my own limited insights on these three factors that Diener brings to our awareness:
- Your interpretation of your experience is ultimately what influences how you experience what you experience.
- It isn’t enough for you not to focus on the negative realities you face, you have to take intentional positive actions on a regular and consistent basis.
- Your overall assessment and interpretation of every area of your life becomes vitally essential to your happiness and well-being.
However “good” you and I are at making painful mistakes, we also have the capabilities of changing and unlearning and relearning how to think in ways that can bring us into genuine health and well-being. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy has proven that we can unlearn the kind of unhealthy thought patterns that lead to negative emotional affect, and actually cause us to experience positive effect.
Thoughts indeed influence emotions. Thoughts are revealed in your internal dialogue, your self-talk. Learning how to observe your self-talk from a place where you can evaluate it in light of what is true and what is distorted is essential to happiness.
Your observations are how you measure your reality. Your interpretations are the conclusions that you come to based on how you have measured what is unfolding. Changing the way in which you observe what is unfolding will have a dramatic impact on the conclusions you make. Those interpretations, those conclusions, lead to your perceptions, your judgments, and your feelings.
If you want all of those to shift, it begins by the way in which you observe from the inside-out! If you need help finding out what is missing in your life, get help from a qualified competent professional, either a coach, or a counselor.
Every human being deals with the ups and downs that come with the human condition. However, there are those who have learned how to stay “up” more than others who experience more “downs” because they have learned to recognize their own distorted thinking rooted in misinterpretations of events.
There is no shame in learning to ask for help if you find yourself stuck in unhealthy maladaptive negative patterns and emotions. All of us walk in brokenness and beauty at the same time.
Never fear asking for the help you need. It doesn’t mean you are a failure, it means you are human! Reject the notion that you are powerless and helpless, and that nothing will change. All of that is rooted in flawed observations that have led to flawed interpretations, which have resulted in what psychologists refer to as cognitive distortions.
Change the way you see what is unfolding, and start challenging your misbeliefs. Watch what happens when you dare to believe as medical doctors Frank Minirth and Paul Meier have asserted, that happiness is a choice.