Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results
What is Negative Visualization
Last time I talked about how we are unable to find happiness because of what’s called hedonic adaptation. That whenever our lives drastically change our level of happiness remains the same overtime. Whether you win the lottery or lose an arm your brain is amazing at adapting and you will feel the same amount of base happiness that you felt before that life altering event took place. This is the trap of chasing material wealth.
So how do you break free? How do you become more happy? It’s to realize that you already have everything you need in order to be happy. You just don’t realize it because you are too busy comparing yourself to others. Too busy chasing the ego and trying to be better than everyone else. The problem is, we don’t know how good we have it until we’ve lost it.
This fact was known even during ancient Greek and Roman times. During this time a new idea of philosophy was born called stoicism. Stoicism was really the start of what we call today positive psychology and self help. They focused more on how do you improve one’s life if you are an average common man or woman? It didn’t focus on debilitating mental diseases or overcoming irrational anxieties. It focused more on, how can you improve yourself if you are one of the vast majorities of people who lives normal life? How does one become happy?
The stoics created a lot of different techniques and were certainly ahead of their time. One of the most important techniques developed by the stoics was this idea of negative visualization in order to find happiness. At first it may seem like this technique will do nothing but make you a pessimist but if you invest in it, it can really change your life.
Negative visualization is a technique which helps you appreciate what you have right now. What you basically do is you find the things which are most important to you in your life and then you simply imagine yourself losing those things. How you would feel, the emotions felt during this time. Sometimes you might not even be able to imagine losing your mothing or your father. Losing your wife or husband. Your kids, job, or house. Maybe even losing an arm, an eye or a leg. What would you do? It really makes you begin to appreciate what you have right now.
What if you lost something that you take for granted like your leg? This could easily happen in a car accident or an infection. So what if you lost your right leg? What are some of things you won’t be able to do? How will you drive? How hard will it be to walk? How many sports will you be unable to play? How many people will stare at you? You might’ve just looked down right now and saw your leg and were just thankful it was there just now. You begin to realize how useful some of the things you already have right now that you take for granted.
You may have already experienced something like this before. Have you ever had a cut on your finger or somewhere on your body, where; at the moment you didn’t think it was a big deal but as you go about your day you start to realize how much you actually use that body part? For example, if you got a cut on your finger it might hurt whenever you pick something up. It might hurt when you’re writing or typing. Maybe even when you scratch your forehead. You start to realize that you use your finger for a lot more than you thought and you begin to wish that cut was somewhere else. Once that cut disappears you are a little more thankful for what you’ve had before.
What if you lost something else that you take for granted? What if you lost your child? A lot of us assume that our children will outlive us since that is just how it’s supposed to be. But there is also the reality that you outlive your child. If you begin to visualize the mortality of your child you will begin to better appreciate every moment spent with him or her. Whereas if you didn’t you might have hung up the phone early, maybe prioritized your work over time spent with your family. Whether it be the mortality of our child, parent, friend or spouse – When we think about the things and people in our life that we take for granted disappearing we begin to find out what matters most to us.
I want you to start applying this to your life. Start to think about what are the things you might be taking for granted. I want you to make a short list of them, shoot for at least 30 things. It be anything like your finger to losing your job or someone you care about. After you have this list spend a few minutes a day just visualizing losing these things. You will begin to appreciate what you have right now and I guarantee that you will be a lot more happier with what you have right now.
Have a great day!
Will you try negative visualization? What are you potentially ungrateful for? Let me know in the comments below!