The Psychology of Happiness

with Diane Lang

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Episode Notes

 

Intro to Diane Lang and the field of Positive Psychology (01:25)
What happiness is (03:36)
Happy emotion versus happiness as a state (09:29)
Internal versus external motivators (16:20)
Separating your desires from expectations by others (21:22)
Mindfulness, emotional wellness, and stress resilience (29:14)
Realistic, sustainable practices that make you happier (37:22)

 

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

 

Diane’s website

About Diane

Diane is a Therapist and Life coach in NJ. Her clinical experience includes treating patients with different forms of mental illness, physical and emotional abuse and relationship issues. Lang is also an Adjunct in Psychology at Montclair State University, her college work includes mentoring students for individual career counseling and personal issue advisement.

Lesya Liu 0:00
Hello everyone and welcome to the new episode of the You Can Exhale Now podcast. Today I'm hosting therapist, educator and life coach Diane Lang, who has dedicated her career to helping people turn their lives around and is now on a mission to help them develop a sustainable, positive attitude that can actually turn one into an optimist and she specializes in happiness and positive psychology. So I'm really excited about today's episode.

Diane, welcome to the show.

Diane Lang 1:23
Hi, thank you so much for having me.

Lesya Liu 1:26
Thank you for coming on. So tell us more about positive psychology happiness and what made you pursue this and help other people develop it in themselves?

Diane Lang 1:43
Sure, so about 20 years ago, I've been in the field that long. I finished my graduate school degree and even though I went for counseling, I went to a program that was a human mystic program. And humanistic was kind of the beginning of positive Psychology so it's kind of a natural progression into it. Positive Psychology was coined in 1998 by Dr. Martin Seligman, who was considered the father of positive psychology. And what we do is study and research and use the positive psychology interventions in both counseling and coaching, depending on what you do, and these positive psychology interventions are really great tips or sometimes we call them happiness, habits, happiness, hygiene, but they're really great tools that you can use to really create or cultivate more happiness in your life. And what positive psychology does is it studies and researches what makes us happy, resilient, optimistic, and it's a strength based intervention. So we use your strengths and how to have a better quality of life using your strengths both at work and school personal professional, so we really cover the whole gamut Get up just living your best life, which is what I really love. Because psychology we've been studying for years, you know what causes mental illness? What makes people depressed? What doesn't work. But this science really talks about what does work and what makes us happier and also how to help the functioning person, you know, somebody who just has typical stress work life balance goes through different issues. And we could really be happier than we are. So it's really, really exciting, actually.

Lesya Liu 3:31
I'm sure it is. So can you talk a little bit first about what happiness is and is not. I think it's such an interesting concept, right? We all look for happiness our whole lives, but happiness is not black and white. So what is happiness? And does it mean that you just get rid of all your issues, all of you just run around singing and whistling?

Diane Lang 4:04
I wish it was that easy. But no, no one is happy all the time. And we're positive psychology. We're not saying that you could be happy all the time. We actually know that people are going to go through ups and downs in life. And that's normal life is a rollercoaster ride, you know, and everything is temporary. So when you're up, that's great. But no, it's going to go back down. And when you're down and you're hitting that rock bottom, know that it's going to go back up, because again, it is that roller coaster ride and nothing is temporary, and changes, you know, a constant in our world look at today with the pandemic and everything we're going through. So, with happiness, it's really an individual thing. Everybody defines happiness differently. So you can't really give this generic, you know, definition of what happiness is. It's really going inside and figuring out what makes you happy. And that's one of the questions that I asked my clients a lot is to really think about how they define happiness? What would it look like? What would it feel like? And I have to tell you, after, you know, so many years of being in this field, both as an educator, and on the other side, and I used to be a counselor, now I do more coaching. But throughout my whole process of working in this field is one of the hardest questions that we ask people, especially as they get older, like when people are younger, and you know, we have kids or they're in college, their whole life is really about them. But as we get older, and we start getting houses and careers, and we have kids and families, things shift, and you know, we put ourselves on the bottom of a priority list. And we worry and we're concerned with, you know, how are our kids doing our spouse, our friends, if we're in the sandwich generation, how are our parents doing? What does my boss want? And we kind of forget about ourselves. And when we ask people, especially when they're in the 30s 40s and older, they don't even know what makes them happy. I've sent people home with the homework and given them two weeks to say just write down a list of the top three to five things that cultivate happiness for you, no matter what's going on, because that's the key to why we don't want happiness to be about somebody else. I mean, it's great to be happy when your kids are happy and your boss is happy. But, you know, eventually those things fade, we retire, we have an empty nest where kids go off and they create their own lives. So you really want to be happy, no matter what's going on in your life. You know, especially on a day, like today when it's the pandemic and a lot of us have been isolated for almost two months, if not longer. And you still have to find what cultivates happiness for you. Even though you're home, and you might not be able to go out or you're working from home and your kids are from home. You still need ways to have that self care and that happiness and to have fun. So it's really important for people to decide and define in their own words, what cultivates happiness for them. And again, take some time to really think that through because for most people, they don't really know right away. It really takes some time and that's okay. If you don't know right away what makes you happy. Put some work into it. Think back to when you were younger and what made you happy before you had to take care of everybody else. But there are things that definitely make us happy. I know that I had a client that came to me and she was just feeling blah. And that's that typical of when people feel lost, stuck, stagnant that bla feeling. And one of the hardest questions I asked her I gave her two weeks, like I said, is to go home and really think about what cultivates happiness for you. And it took her two weeks to come up with only three things. And this is the other problem, her top thing for happiness was taking a really hot bath, so that I can shut the door and lock it. No kids, no dog, no husband, I get time to be alone. It cultivates mindfulness, it gives me that spa feel. I have all these bubble baths. I even have a pillow On my bathroom music on it's a great experience. I love it. It's peaceful. And I said, That's wonderful. I actually wanted to go home and take a bath. I was ready to kick her out. It sounded so good. The problem was, I said to her, when was the last time you took a bath and she still remembered this. She was coming to me starting in the summer, but it was right before the holidays in 2019. So it was like the beginning of November. And when I asked her that question, she gave me that look, and I knew she was thinking and she couldn't even really think of one time she goes, I think I took one bath this year. So from November or January, the one thing that stresses her self soothes her and gives her happiness. She maybe did once that year. And that's the other issue. When people do figure out what cultivates happiness for them. Are they incorporating that into their daily lives are they making that part of their schedule, because if you know what makes you happy, but you're not including it, then it's not going to work for you. Do you really want to think about how I define happiness, write a few things down. Make sure there are things that are inside of you. They're intrinsic. They will make you happy, even if nobody else is around, even if you're in a pandemic. And then make sure you schedule them into your daily routine the way you would a doctor or a dentist, your kids appointment, work meetings, really make sure you make yourself a priority because happiness includes self care, includes fun, and those are things that we need to be happy in general.

Lesya Liu 9:29
Mm hmm. And you've touched on a really important point. I think an important distinction is that a lot of people think of happiness as the emotion, right, being happy. I am happy to see you or I'm happy that I'm taking a bath. But I think what you've touched on is very important that happiness is a state of mind that even during a pandemic, you can stay happy in your own little world. So, can you speak a little bit about the difference and how to really make the distinction for yourself between something short term, ever elusive something that depends on other people or situations in your life, versus a sense of happiness, a being of happiness that's much longer term, that's much more ever present in your life?

Diane Lang 10:28
Well, you know, it is true. I mean, there's a short term boost of happiness, and there's long term. And when we think of the short term, you know, we can think of extrinsic things, external things. So people get happy when they buy things, you know, material, whether it's clothes, jewelry, you get a new car, that's great. You get happy when we get a promotion or a raise, you know, in a new title, get some exposure, people like us on Facebook, we get all these, you know, hits on LinkedIn, whatever it is, and those do give a short term boost of happiness. So I don't Want to take it away from them? They absolutely do. And they'll give you that, you know, instant satisfaction or instant feeling of happiness. And kind of like when you get a new car or you get a piece of jewelry, it'll last for a few weeks, maybe even a few months depending on what it is and how long you've wanted it. Then it'll eventually fade kind of like when I still remember one of my clients finally got her dream car. I don't even remember what it was, maybe Sadie's or BMW, whatever it was, she finally got it working and got this for years. And she really loved it, you know, and she talked about a fair few weeks that she remembers about a month and a half, two months later, she came in and I said, how's the new car? Did you drive it here? You haven't mentioned it. She said, you know, funny. Yeah, it's great. But what's next, and that's when we that's what happens to us when we do those extrinsic, external kinds of happiness. It works for a little while, but then we want to know what's next. We're always on what we call a hedonic treadmill. Where we get on it's great, but now what's next? I have the year But whereas the matching ring or the matching bracelet, I have the BMW, but where's the Porsche? You know, we're always looking for the next thing. So those are short term boosts, and they're great. But for long term, long term happiness is different and long term happiness is really based on socialization. It's based on relationships, not just with others, but you know, really with ourselves, and being happy with who we are. So you want to think about it because long term happiness is intrinsic. It's looking at your personal goals, accomplishing your personal goals, working to move forward to be the best person you can be. And that lasts a lot longer. So you know, I always tell people, if you're looking for long term happiness, instead of taking all that money and buying yourself brand new outfits or that new car instead, take that money and go on a vacation with your family. Take that you know $10,000 and go to Disney for a week with your two kids. And really enjoy yourself because memories last a lifetime. And we can always have them and just like a little tip, if you're ever having a really bad day, which you know a lot of people are sometimes during this time with the pandemic, which is completely normal and natural, you want to shift your mood just a little, there's two ways to do it. And one is music. If you are a music boss, and you really like music, if you listen to something that pumps you up and makes you feel good, that'll make you happy instantly. And again, that's only if you really love music. Not everybody does, believe it or not. The other way is to sit down for a few minutes, close your eyes. And really visualize going back to a time in your life that you had this great experience whether it was a vacation, a party, an event doesn't matter what it was when it was really visualized and went back there. Because what happens is when you go back to that memory, let's say I'm going back to 10 years ago, when I went to Aruba and I closed my eyes. And I really visualize and to visualize, you have to do two things. You have to use every ounce of detail to remember and you also have to use your senses. So if I remember being in Aruba, I remember laying on the beach, feeling the sun on my face, smelling the beach, salt there, I'm smelling the coconut from my suntan lotion, feeling the heat. I'm feeling the wind go through my hair, you really there and what happens is you can shift your mood pretty instantly. So when you use your money to buy experiences, that brings you long term happiness if you use money instead to buy time. So let's say, you know, pandemics over we're kind of back to a sense of normalcy and I am working 60 to 80 hours a week. So as my husband, I don't have any time to spend with my family. We're all overwhelmed. And what I decided to do is: Going to get a house cleaner is going to come in once a week, clean everything, it'll take four to six hours for her to do it, it'll cost me $200. And even if I really didn't have the money, it would still be worthwhile, you know, to do it because what happens is it buys me time when I have that time to spend with my kids, my spouse, my family, my friends, and have that quality time that cultivates happiness. So the number one factor of happiness across the board is socialization. And for us, we need that, you know, you need people and I know right now, during isolation or quarantine, it's really tough. And that's why I hate that they're using the word social isolation, it should really be physical isolation because we could still form connections even though it doesn't look the same. You know, now it might be through zoom or FaceTime, or old fashioned phone call, but you still want to make sure you have that connection and you still want to make sure you're connecting with people in your house. We really need that. So if you want that long term happiness, look for ways to add more time, that's more social that you get to spend with people you love, look on creating memories and experiences because those last a lifetime. The other stuff, it's great, they're short term, but if you want that long term, those are some of the ways to get there.

Lesya Liu 16:20
I see. Got it. So, you know, I think you've touched on internal versus external needs and wants and I think all of us in some way or another fall into this trap of I want the next thing I want bigger, or shiny or whatever that is, and at the same time, they also feel shame around that. So a lot of times when people want to make more money, yes it is to buy BMWs or jewelry, but it also to buy those experiences right? I think Money enables us to have those rich life experiences. So what do you say to people who experience shame or guilt, especially, you know, maybe it comes from their family members or their friends or their community, like, Oh, you shouldn't be so greedy, you make enough money. You don't need all this extra stuff.

Diane Lang 17:25
Well, you know, it really is individual again, just like happiness is individual. If the things that you want are going to make your life easier or more convenient, you have more time to do things and have more fun, that's fine. And we never want to live a life that is somebody else's. So we don't want to live a life that our parents want us to what society says because then we're never genuinely really happy when we're doing things that are for us that are intrinsic, that they are working on things that we truly want. We don't really have the You as much of guilt and shame because we're going after things that are truly authentic for us. So you really want to be authentic and be your true self. But we don't want to live according to anybody else's lifestyles and a lot of people are starting to minimize due to the pandemic. It's also spring when a lot of people declutter, and again, we do know stuff on its own does not create this long term happiness. But if it's going to make you happy at the moment, and it's something you want, there's nothing wrong with it, as long as you can afford it, because money does play a role in our happiness in this sense, you know, money doesn't bring you huge amounts of happiness. But if you don't have money, you know, let's say, you know, the normal amount of money to make in the New York City tri state area, to live a comfortable life. Let's say it's about 70,000 is what they say. So for somebody who's making 20,000, and they're so concerned if they're going to be able to afford their rent or food or pay for their kids summer camp, then money definitely if they went from 20,000, to making 50,000, their happiness levels would go up. Absolutely, because it takes away a lot of the stress worry, it adds convenience in their security. But for somebody who's making 150,000, and they're way over the levels, what we need to have a comfortable life, where they're making 300,000, or they're making 3 million, their happiness levels only go up by about 5%. So that's really a great way to think about it. When it comes to money and buying things. They'll give you a little bit of a boost. Definitely if you don't have money, and absolutely will cultivate more happiness, but for the rest of us, it just adds a little bit. So think of the importance level for you. And everybody's different. You know, if you've been dreaming of having that BMW or Mercedes since you're, you know, 20 years old, and you finally get one that's fine and there's nothing to be ashamed of or guilt for. If you work for And you can afford it. And that's great. But it shouldn't be the be all and end all. And people realize that once they get it and they go, Wow, again, this is great, but it's not giving me the satisfaction the satisfaction has a lot to do with purpose. You need to have purpose in our life, we need to have meaning. And those are big factors of happiness along with socialization. We need to have that if we don't have purpose or meaning in our life, something that really sparks us that makes us energized, something that you can't wait to do help others even if it's through, you know, being a lobby or speaking about it, you would do it for free because it sparks you and energizes you. That's really important. We need that purpose in that meaning. So you want to find things in your life that really cultivate that for you whether it's your job, or your job allows you to have a client too but it allows her to have her True Love and purpose in life, which is a horse farm. And having all these, you know, having horses and riding them, she can't make a career out of it, as her job allows her to have that meaning, which is animals for her. So you really need to have that purpose and meaning in your life that gives more of a deep satisfaction than things. Material title, status, power, all of that. Mm hmm.

Lesya Liu 21:24
Yeah. And I think you know, purpose is so important in our life. It definitely gives us that motivation to get up in the morning and do things even when we might not want to do them. Absolutely. Think what is interesting, sometimes it's really difficult to separate what you truly want your purpose that you feel called to do. Versus like you said, you know, community, friends, family may be giving you ideas or giving you their expectation of what your purpose might be. So for females, I think they get an interesting SITUATION on both sides. You know, if you are a successful businesswoman, people might judge you that you don't have any children or if you have children, and that's all you do. Others may say, oh, but she's not making any money, right? She just stays at home with kids. I mean, the same happens for men too. You know, they're always expected to be tough, make a lot of money, be productive. Maybe the guy wants to be a dancer, who knows? Right? How would you say, how do you separate what you truly want and need, versus something that might be dictated by your culture, your community, your environment, even people you love. And, once you make that separation, and you decide to go after what you really want? How do you deal with, you know, potential judgment, potential criticism for pursuing your own happiness?

Diane Lang 23:13
You know, that you bring up such a valid point. And it brings me back years ago when I first started working in the field after my daughter was born, I started working a little bit more for and with moms who were looking to reenter the workforce. And what that would look like. And I get this question a lot from women. How do I know if it's okay to go back? You know, they really wanted to go back to work, but they were afraid of being judged and not just by their own family. But there's a really big divide in suburban areas. I'm sure it's rural to urban as well. But suburban areas, especially have this big divide of like stayed home moms versus working moms, which one's better and they judge each other makes it very hard for a lot of women to make that decision. And the biggest question I always gave to my clients As well as myself when I was in that situation, saying, what would make you be the best person, the best parent, the best mom, or could be dad, like you said, the best dad that you can be. And I knew for me, as well as a lot of my clients have said, very similar. I needed to go back to work. Because I love what I do is such a passion for me. And if I stayed home, I would never be happy, and I wouldn't have the balance that I needed or wanted. So I went back to work. And then you shift on how you want it to look like do you want full time doing part time? Do I work from home? You know, you have all those options. But it has to be a serious question. You ask yourself, what would make me be the best person I could be? And are you going to have judgment? Yes, I still remember I'm from New York, but I moved to New Jersey. And I still remember when I lived here before I had my daughter, one of my neighbors when I first moved here said you don't have kids. I said no. She said you're new You're you know, what are you? 3031? I said yes. And she said How could you not have kids yet? And it I know she meant because she was a stay at home mom, she didn't have a college degree. She didn't work and she was so shocked that a woman and you know, their 30s or even late 20s but not have kids. And it made me feel you know, it first hit me and I felt ashamed almost for a few hours like oh, my God, we should have had kids, I'm married and I live in suburbia. Where's the kids and then I really thought about it and realized that when people and this is true across the board, when people judge you criticize their harsh and funny A few years later, we became friends and she's you know, you know, we started hanging out a little bit. And it really was about that. She loved that she had her kids. She got married when she was young, she married her high school sweetheart, which is not the norm of today anyway. But she always wanted to go and get a degree and have a career and she never did. Her husband really didn't want her, he wanted her to stay home. And you know, the conflict she was having was really not about me. about her, but she was projecting it on me. And that's what happens a lot, a lot of stay at home moms wish they were working and a lot of work. They were staying home. So you got to look at what works for you. Otherwise, you'll put yourself into that self sabotage, you know, comparing yourself to others, which is just setting yourself up for failure. So when other people judge you for your choices, it's really not about you, it's about them. And it's something they have to deal with. It doesn't have to be anything you do. And we don't have to, we don't have to defend ourselves. All you have to do is make sure that you're happy because it'll make you the best person, parent, Mom, dad. And I'm grateful that I did it. And it also shows my daughter that she can do whatever she wants, if she wants to be a stay at home Mom, great if she wants to work. Great. She has all these options. And that's what I wanted her to see. And I also wanted her to see that I'm happy doing that. So it's really got to be what you want, not about other people and sometimes we have to tell them I love you, I appreciate your opinion. But it's my choice and this is what I am choosing. And that's that we don't have to defend ourselves. We just have to say, this is our choice. And it is a choice, you know, to decide what you want to do, whether it's you're picking a career that wasn't following suit of your parents, you know, I've had a lot of clients, their parents wanted them to do what they did you know, they were cops, you should be up they were doctor, you should be doctor or they had a business and they wanted you to take over the business. And a lot of my clients have turned it down. And yes, it causes a little, you know, problems sometimes within the family, that you do get over when there's love and respect for each other. And parents as well as kids will have to realize that everybody's life is their own. So there should be no guilt and shame for whatever you choose as long as it's, you know, healthy and not dangerous. Anybody. Choose what really does it for you what energizes you or sparks you into things about purpose. Passion or you know, meaning is thinking about. You can have your purpose and meaning as a career. It is true. You'll never work a day in your life and we will. We all have bad days. But yes, you really love waking up in the morning. But if you can't do it as a career, if your career is not your purpose, you still need purpose and meaning whether it's on the side, like my other client, whether it's through volunteer, whether it's a side hustle, but we still need to have that no matter where it comes into our life. So it's either going to be your career or your career is going to support your love. So just make sure it's there. Because we do need that purpose and passion, something we really care about. We don't even have to think about it like What's your purpose? Because when we ask people, What's your purpose, people get really stressed out because you think it has to be this big thing like, Oh, I'm going to be a doctor and save you from cancer. They don't realize it doesn't matter what it is, as long as you connect to it, it energizes you with sparks you. That's all that matters. So either again, it's a career or It's a hobby and the career supports it, or it's a volunteer, but we really do need to have that purpose and passion, as well as socialization, community support. All of those are huge factors of happiness.

Lesya Liu 29:13
Mm hmm. Yes, absolutely. And you know, taking care shifting gears from like this big one thing, like you said, happiness and let's talk a little bit about you know, emotional wellness, stress management, mindfulness, and how do they all relate to happiness? You know, what's the, what's the connection? There are two ways to produce the other one? How does that affect our life?

Diane Lang 29:44
So stress plays a huge role because we can't live a stress free life no matter what we do. And stress itself is not necessarily bad, you know, kind of how we talk about negative emotions. I hate that we put that negative word on it. Like when you To feel angry or sad or fearful or hurt, and call them negative. And the truth is they're not negative emotions. They're natural and they're normal. And we need to feel them. If we don't feel we push things in and internalize them, or we try to deny them avoided, that's when they become bad because we internalize it can cause physical issues as well as emotional issues. You don't want to internalize it, we need to deal with it. The best way to think about these emotions is you need to feel it to heal it to get to the other side, feel it really, really important because for some reason, society has put that out there. So stress, we're going to have it, it's a normal part of life. Harvard research said something like 90% of doctor visits, your general practitioner will stress related. So it's a big number. And now with the pandemic, we're having pandemic burnout, people are really stressed and when we have tronic stress, that can lead to anxiety. So we really want to deal with this. Mindfulness, the only natural way to de-stress with no side effects. So you know, people always think of meditation immediately. Meditation is wonderful if you meditate. Or if you're not meditating, it is the best habit, you should start while we're in this pandemic. But meditation is the intentional practice of being mindful. There's many other ways to be mindful. But for us to be happy, we have to be able to manage our stress. So they work really well together. And that's why you see a lot of therapists and coaches, they work on both if I can cultivate mindfulness, where I'm reducing your stress and bringing you to the hearing now, getting you off of autopilot, where you really in the present moment, you're going to be your happiest, most productive and most creative. So the more mindful we are, the happier we are. And that's hard for a lot of us because you know, the numbers vary, but somewhere between 90-95% of our day for a lot of people is spent in your subconscious mind when we're in autopilot. And a lot of people will notice this kind of an example before pandemic, when you drive to work and drive home, you did the same route pretty much every day to work. Let's say on your way home from work, a lot of times you get home and you won't even remember if you pass them on your way home if you stopped at the red light or stop selling, no alcohol involved, literally, it's autopilot. Or how many times have you had the conversation with a friend you speak to all the time, you get off the phone and you don't remember one thing they said, because we're on autopilot all day. So when we become more mindful, and we're in the here and now so much better for us and we're better at problem solving. Because a lot of times when we try to solve problems, we keep trying to solve it the same way over and over again in that autopilot subconscious mind. And you can think differently. But if you get yourself out of that you go into here now in a conscious mind whether you do a flow activity, whether you meditate, you go for a walk, you'd be safe Surprised what comes up for you, you become that, you know conscious mind you become more productive, you think differently and solutions are aha moments, as we call them are moments of enlightenment, they just pop up, because we really just gotten ourselves out of our autopilot day. So mindfulness is just so important. That's what I love about positive psychology because they really encourage it. But we do even in regular psychology, you know, you have CBT. And then you have DBT, which is just really pretty much CBT with mindfulness in it. So it's really important that everybody does it. And I can't, I just can't really push it enough or encourage it enough, in a time like this with the pandemic, because we're always stressed and we have all of this uncertainty and all this newness, and we're going to have a new life. It's never going to be the life we had pre COVID-19. So we need ways to de-stress and whatever it is for you whether it's meditation, Whether it's yoga, if you love yoga, and I'm not a fan of that, I'm really high, strong and I need to move. But scientifically, we know one of the best ways to cultivate mindfulness is walking. Just a nice walk. So there's so many ways sitting in nature produces mindfulness, journaling, writing a brain dump, where you just release everything is another form of mindfulness. There are so many ways, prayer, you know, I could go on forever. But mindfulness is so important to our lives for health, mentally, emotionally and physically. So again, if you can do anything, my suggestion during the pandemic and I've been having my clients do this forever, even free COVID-19 at least start a habit of one mindfulness and the one I suggest because it's the easiest, but it's so powerful is gratitude. And it's a good habit. You know, I have my clients right before they go to bed. This is, you know, the way I have to do but you can do whatever you want to hold a gratitude check. And you know, when it's the end of the night, you're about to go to bed, maybe you shut the light or TV off, however you want to do it. You could either write it, say it out loud or save in your head. But you want to ask yourself, what are two to three things you're grateful for. That happened today. And I want you to search through your day. Because what happens if we just do the normal gratitude, and I asked you every day, oh, what are you grateful for? And we say a lot of the same things, right? grateful I'm alive, the sun is out, got a roof over my head, I have a job, my family's healthy. And those are all great things. But if you say the same things over and over again for a few weeks, they lose their value in their meeting and we get into a gratitude rut. We just don't have meaning. But if I'm searching my day, for the little blessings and gifts and miracles, that's different. And what it does is it shifts your perspective as well which shifts our perspective. Cultivate happiness, because we start noticing the good instead of the bad. So gratitude does a few things. It cultivates mindfulness, but it also cultivates happiness, and it retrains our brain to go from negative to positive. So there's so many things, and it'll take you about two to three minutes. It's free, it won't change your schedule, but it'll absolutely change your perspective and raise your levels of happiness. And if you do it at night, what's another bonus, whatever you're thinking about about 1520 minutes before you go to bed affects how you sleep. If you sleep, what mood you wake up in how you dream. So if we can go to sleep with positive thoughts, like gratitude, that'll shift it because for most people right before they go to bed is when we evaluate our day and that rumination of negativity starts. So instead, let's shift it. Let's notice the good, get some mindfulness which helps us sleep and calms us, and also cultivates happiness. It's a win win, and it's such a great Great habit. And so if you do anything, this pandemic and if you've been doing gratitude meditation you are probably about two months in and really to form a habit of breaking new habits scientifically takes a good two and a half to three months. You're already almost there. And if not start today, and really add a mindfulness technique in whatever you choose. But I definitely encourage gratitude.

Lesya Liu 37:23
Absolutely, I love it. I completely agree with you. And I think it is so important to do all those little things throughout the day. And I think for a lot of people when they hear of self care, it's like this one huge thing. It takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of money. So can you suggest a couple more, you know, sustainable, realistic tools that really help us cultivate more happiness, more mindfulness, that do not require huge shifts in But more money.

Diane Lang 38:02
Absolutely. So at night when my clients do the gratitude, I also make them do something else. And this becomes their nightly routine. And again, they go hand in hand. So you can do one question first, whichever one you choose. Maybe you do gratitude. And then when you're done, you're going to ask yourself this simple question. Again, you can write it, say it out loud, say it in your head, however you choose. But you want to ask yourself, what are one or two things that I did? Well today, which is different from gratitude, because gratitude can be things I have no control over, you know, it's raining this morning. But when I woke up, it was pouring. Now it's beautiful and 80 degrees here in the New York City area. I'm grateful that happened, but I have no control over that. That's Mother Nature. I wish I could control it. But I didn't, you know, gratitude, gifts, blessings, but not in our control. But when we start looking at the day and also looking at what did I do? Well, that's things we've accomplished, and that brings up accomplishment and pride. And when we feel accomplished and prideful, you're motivated to do more things. And then we feel hope and curiosity and excitement. So look through your day and you know, with gratitude and you know, one or two things you did well, there'll be some days you got like five of each and other days, you're going to struggle to get one, but always get one. Even if it's as simple as you know, grateful I had the best cup of coffee, somebody brought it from me and it was just so good or I'm grateful, you know, that the weather changed, or you know what I did? Well, today it did my hair and had a great hair day. It could be that simple. You know, when it's kids they talk about you know, that they handed out goldfish and how great of a job they did when they had chicken nuggets for lunch. It doesn't matter how small it's noticing and those two together start shifting. What you notice and happiness is a perspective is the glass half full, glass half empty, you know, during the pandemic We have two options, right? We can choose to look at change, because change is happening will never be the life we were pre COVID-19. So we've changed the beginning. Because you're, you know, ending one chapter of your life or phase, you're beginning, that this option, I could either embrace change, and look at this time as an opportunity as a gift, and just, you know, an opportunity to grow. Or I can do this, I can say, Oh my god, things are changing. And I can resist, I can really resist it and cause so much stress and then never change and just stay the same, which will eventually cause us to feel stale, stuck and unhappy, because we need to grow and develop. So you want to look at your life, especially during this pandemic and see what I want to do. And just adding in those two habits will start shifting your happiness and also become more aware of your day and The good things you're doing. And one of the biggest things clients have said to me is after doing those two questions, around three months, two seems to happen. somewhere around there, clients will say, you know, all of a sudden, I can see the good, even in a bad situation. And that's huge, especially in a time like this. Because that's the truth, there is always something good even in a negative situation, there's always purpose in pain. And even if the good that you're finding is that it's temporary, or that you survived it, or it might be that you learned the lesson, or that you grew, those are amazing things. And if even, that's all you got out of it, you just got resiliency. So really important to add those two in, they won't. Again, neither one will change your schedule. They're free. They're easy. And you know, if you don't want to do them at night, pick a different time. I just suggest nights you go to bed with those good feelings and get that mindfulness. You could do it however you want.

Lesya Liu 41:57
Mm hmm. Yeah, I think I think That's you've added a great tool to our listeners toolbox especially like you said right now, this is really a time of uncertainty really kind of stressful time and only we decide whether the leverage what's happening to us and to the world or and the come out on the other side stronger, like you said happier, more resilient, or if you find ourselves in a very negative rut, scared, stressed, overwhelmed, right, and all of those other things which will take us do not contribute to a healthy immune system as well.

Diane Lang 42:41
Right? Absolutely.

Lesya Liu 42:42
Yes. Diane, thank you so much for this podcast. Like I said, I think especially in this time, and this day and age, cultivating happiness inside of us visiting us is very important. So I thank you for today's episode.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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