Happiness Hack #68 Pattern Recognition is the Key to Happiness

happiness_pos_neg #68

Your brain is a pattern recognition machine. It takes thousands of tiny patterns and assembles them to form bigger patterns which you recognize as thoughts and memories.  Your memories are connected to still other patterns that evoke your feelings. Our brain evolved with a bias towards negative patterns so we could quickly recognize danger and when we should be extra cautious. As a result, we tend to accumulate more patterns associated with negative feelings rather than patterns associated with positive feelings.  This negative bias can impact our happiness.

The good news is you can change which feelings are associated with which patterns. For example your thought patterns about work may evoke negative feelings due to a myriad of negative experiences that have occurred throughout your career. But there are also positive experiences at work. With a little effort you can change the pattern connections in your brain about work from the negative experiences and feelings to the positive experiences and feelings.

The next time you find yourself dreading going to work or getting that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, stop and recall the things at work that make you happy. Getting to see your friends, completing an important project, and making a valuable contribution as a team member are all positive feelings that you can connect to your thought patterns to replace the negative feelings. Focus on how the positive experiences made you feel, particularly in a work setting.

Another option is to go to lunch with your friends or sit down with your spouse and talk about all the things you like about work and how positive they make you feel.  It may take 5 or 6 of these sessions before the connections start to switch from negative to positive, but over time you will notice a difference as your thought patterns about work become reconnected to your positive feelings.

The same processes can work for relationships, getting stuck in traffic, and many other patterns that evoke negative feelings.

Once you learn how to reconnect the patterns in your brain to positive feelings, you will be happier and more successful.


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My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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