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Top 10 Ways to Be Happy: Nip Anxiety in the Bud

puppy-pacifierMy wife recently showed me a quote by Seth Godin,

“Anxiety is nothing but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. What a waste.”

Well said, Seth.  It can be very helpful to recognize more precisely how anxiety is accomplished.

When speaking about anxiety, I often take my clients and students on a journey through time. I ask them to think of a painful memory from their past. Then I ask  them to try to be anxious about that past event. If they follow the instruction and keep the event in the Past, they can’t be anxious about it. Try it. If you think you’re succeeding, you’ve jumped out of the past.

Next I say, “Consider that you don’t know the actual Future. Since you don’t know the actual future, you can’t be anxious about the actual Future — because you can’t be afraid of what you don’t know.” Likewise,  “fear of the unknown” is a misnomer. The “unknown” is the absence of a stimulus,  so fear can’t come up about what is “unknown.”  (We’ll get to what fear of the unknown  really is in just a sec.)

Then I ask them to notice they can’t be anxious about the Present because you can’t find or hold the Present. It is constantly becoming the Past.

So, if you can’t be anxious about the Past, the Future, or Present, what can you be anxious about? (Head scratching . . . frowns)

The answer is you can only be anxious about an imagined Future. You can only imagine the Future based on the Past. If you imagine that the negative Past experience will repeat itself in some variation in the future, only then can you feel anxious.  The key word is “imagine”! When you say you’re afraid of the unknown, what you’re actually doing is imagining a  future that you don’t want.

Anxiety is a mind game – it’s your mind game! You are totally in control of creating anxiety. It’s the game of imagining that unpleasant things are going to happen to you and convincing yourself that it’s true, that it’s not imagination.

(At this point students usually raise their hands:) “But bad things can happen in the future, and you need to prepare for them.”

Yes, you need to prepare for reasonable possibilities. But does preparation require thinking/imagining in a way that creates fear? Seems to me that fearful imagining (some call it “worry”) is an extra side activity. Worse, it’s a side activity that diverts your attention from constructive preparation: imagining solutions!

(More head scratching and frowns) It’s challenging to recognize that you don’t see things as they really are. It’s challenging to realize you are living in an imaginary hypnotic trance of your own creation, instead of living in the real world.

Imagining is not all bad. Here is a delightful example of misperception. Mingyur Rinpoche is a  Tibetan teacher who once suffered terrible panic attacks. He got over those, though — in fact, scientists studying the brains of monks during meditation concluded that Rinpoche is 700 times happier than the average person! Below, Rinpoche shares what happened when he found a life-like  Dalai Lama replica in a wax museum:


So here’s the 10th and final in my list of Top 10 Ways to Be Happy:

#10. See Things As They Are and Imagine Successfully Creating Happy Outcomes

(Frowns, still unsatisfied.) “But bad things can happen!”  Yes,  but does a stressed and tired state of mind, run ragged with anxiety, help you meet the challenge of a “bad” event? Wouldn’t it be better to meet it with a refreshed state of mind because you keep your mind happy with positive future imagining? It’s your call.

I say, Nip Anxiety in the Bud!

If you’d like help doing this, see the following Finding True Magic audios:
Stress Relief, Rejuvenation & Empowerment
Become Fearless & Compassionate

May all beings enjoy unchanging happiness and freedom from fear!

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ftm-front-cover-finalJack Elias, CHT is founder and director of the Institute for Therapeutic Learning in Seattle, Washington. He is the author of Finding True Magic: Transpersonal Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy/NLP, a book and course which blends NLP training modalities with philosophical traditions of both East and West. Jack offers private sessions in Lucid Heart Therapy and Life Coaching. He offers live trainings and distance learning trainings in Transpersonal Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy/NLP. Jack also presents keynotes and other programs to teach audiences how to use the techniques of  Transpersonal Hypnotherapy/NLP to achieve success, confidence, and a consistent sense of well-being.

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