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The keys to happiness

This is a simple tip on how you should approach everything in your life.

You must look for the good in everything you encounter, every change, every experience.

Don’t judge without truly understanding it

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And always insist on finding some good first, before you even think about any bad, and actually, thinking of the good first, often shows us the reason why the perceived bad might hold something positive (the good you have just found, for example).

We have been programmed, to judge without thinking, and to look for the bad first.

There are two secrets behind this conditioning, that reveal that it is not the best approach.

Firstly, when we look to judge first, before truly understanding it, then we will always tend to assume the worst. Because it is so easy to imagine the worst out of pure ignorance and fear of the unknown.

In terms of inner connections, they have a little rule that is not always made clear – if you look to judge them first, then they will do the same, and will judge you negatively, and will more than likely put you into an eternal battle, which you can’t win, and you will never grow from. You will become stuck, simply because you broke that rule and that simple truth of self will become your biggest nightmare. All because you put your shields up, before finding out about the true meaning of the encounter. Your ignorance will be returned three times over.

Secondly, we need to understand how our window of tolerance works. The window of tolerance is a hypothetical concept that says each of us can only handle so much negatively or adversity before we become overwhelmed and unable to cope, and thus go into fight or flight mode, and need to escape in some way.

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The window of tolerance is increased with self-care – good experiences, positivity, gratitude etc.

So this second secret is this – If you always look to the good in any change, then, on finding that good, you will increase your window of tolerance, in advance of looking at any bad stuff. The more good you can extract out of each situation, the greater will be your ability to cope with any negative aspects of that situation.

It’s as simple as that. And it makes logical sense really. I mean, just look at the behaviour of others that have been dancing this judgemental dance of separation all this time. Wouldn’t it be good to change it up, and step onto the happy path?

Let’s understand more about happiness

The philosophy of seeking the good in every situation aligns with the principles of positive psychology, which emphasizes the benefits of a positive outlook on life. This approach is supported by research suggesting that positive thinking can aid in stress management and plays a significant role in overall health and wellbeing (Cherry, 2023). It is posited that by focusing on the positive, individuals may experience increased life span, lower rates of depression, and better psychological and physical wellbeing (Cherry, 2023). Furthermore, the act of refraining from immediate judgment aligns with mindfulness practices, which encourage a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment (Lai et al., 2020).

The tendency to judge without understanding is a cognitive bias that can lead to a distorted perception of events and individuals. Psychology literature indicates that such judgments can stem from emotions like anxiety, shame, and guilt, which can fuel our judgments and lead to negative mental health outcomes (Hendel, 2022). Moreover, negative judgments can create a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the expectation of negative outcomes can influence behaviour in a way that brings about these very outcomes (Heshmat, 2019).

The concept of finding the good before the bad is not just a psychological strategy but also a philosophical one. Ancient Stoic philosophers advocated for a similar approach, where the focus was on accepting events as they occur while seeking the inherent good (Robertson, 2019). This Stoic practice is echoed in modern resilience training, where individuals are encouraged to view challenges as opportunities for growth (Ribeiro, 2019).

In terms of interpersonal relationships, the rule of not judging first is crucial. When we approach others with a preconceived notion of judgment, it can lead to defensive reactions and hinder the development of meaningful connections. Instead, seeking to understand before judging can foster empathy and compassion, which are foundational for building strong, positive relationships (Jacobs Hendel, 2022).

The window of tolerance

The concept of the ‘window of tolerance’ is pivotal in understanding how individuals can maintain psychological wellbeing in the face of stress and change. Coined by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, the term refers to the optimal zone of arousal where a person can function effectively, experiencing stress and emotional stimuli without becoming overwhelmed (Siegel, 1999). Within this window, individuals can process experiences and emotions in a balanced manner, leading to greater resilience and a more nuanced perception of life’s challenges.

Maximizing this window is crucial as it allows for a broader range of experiences to be integrated without triggering hyperarousal—characterized by anxiety, irritability, and panic—or hypoarousal, which involves numbness and disconnection (Ogden et al., 2006). By focusing on positive aspects first, individuals can expand their window of tolerance, as positive emotions are linked to increased cognitive flexibility and the ability to see a wider array of solutions and responses to stress (Fredrickson, 2001). This approach aligns with the broaden-and-build theory, which posits that positive emotions broaden one’s awareness and encourage novel, varied, and exploratory thoughts and actions (Fredrickson, 2001).

Moreover, positive thinking contributes to resilience by fostering a sense of hope and possibility, which can buffer against the impact of negative events (Seligman, 1991). It shifts the focus from a deficit-based perspective, where the negative aspects of a situation are magnified, to a strengths-based perspective that recognizes potential benefits and learning opportunities even in adverse circumstances. This reconditioning away from an automatic negative bias can lead to a more balanced and growth-oriented mindset.

In practice, this means actively seeking out the good in every situation before considering the negatives. Such a practice can reveal hidden positives in what might initially appear to be negative experiences. For instance, a challenging work assignment might be perceived as an opportunity to learn new skills rather than a burdensome task. This shift in perception is not about ignoring reality but about choosing a perspective that emphasizes growth and learning.

The tendency to judge or assume the worst in unfamiliar situations is often a product of conditioning and can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy of negativity. By breaking this cycle and adopting a more open and inquisitive stance, individuals can foster healthier internal dialogues and interpersonal relationships. When one approaches others with understanding rather than judgment, it often leads to more positive interactions and outcomes, as it reflects a mutual respect and willingness to engage without preconceived notions (Siegel, 1999).

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