I recently had a developmental psych class that talked about impact bias. The definition of impact bias is the tendency for people to overestimate how a certain event will effect how they feel. For instance, if something bad happens, we automatically think it will have devastating effects and make us miserable. Or if something good happens, we will be so overjoyed, the happiest people alive. How many people haven’t said, well if I live here I will be happier, or if I had that job I would be happier, or “oh my God” if that happened to me I would be devestated and wouldn’t be able to live in peace. I act out this cognitive process far too often.
It is true, we often know what makes us happy and what doesn’t. Obviously, a death of a relative would leave us very saddened and even lethargic for a time. But, we usually prevail. Time does seem to at least soften the effects of such negative situations. However, I am much more guiltier of the “if I were only doing such and such or in such a such place, I would be much happier.” You would think I would have realized by now how destructive such thoughts are, especially when you find out the grass isn’t quite as green as you thought it would be.
Honestly, I don’t know how to fix this thinking, other than practice. Being aware of these thoughts and then dissuading them helps. But it is hard. I blame it on our imagination. Our imaginations seem to get us in trouble a lot, or at least mine. You can paint a picture in your mind as bleak or as bright as you want it, without ever considering logic or reasoning. This is most difficult for me considering my mind loves to paint pictures, and tends to lack much analytical thinking at times.
I don’t know how many times I have been told to be happy today. Or how many times I have said “amen” to that statement. I know it works, but it isn’t easy. I honestly don’t know why it is so hard. Today is happening right now, so why should my mind be anywhere else? (sometimes I think I’m WAY too complicated lol) It is hard to live each day like it’s your last when your mind would never actually admit that. If you told me I was going to die tomorrow I would give you a very incredulous look. I would definitely want proof. Death is such an abstract thought to someone who has never really faced it, even though each breath I take I am closer to dying than I was seconds before. It all seems like too much to fathom.
So, what should I do? I live. I try my best not to worry, and to think of all the things I love about life. Truly, all the grass is the same color green. Yes, some days are better than others, but when I am down I always find that someone is always willing to do their best to lift me back up again. That in itself is a huge blessing. Anyone can be happy, as infuriatingly confusing as that is to me, I do believe it. Happiness lives within us, we just have to be willing to tap into it.
Have a happy day!!