KAREN SALMANSOHN is a motivational speaker, designer, and best-selling author of more than twenty-five books, including Instant Happy, How to Be Happy, Dammit; Enough, Dammit; and The Bounce Back Book. She’s also an online columnist for Oprah, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, Positively Positive, and AOL, and she has worked as a creative consultant and brand strategist for the likes of MTV, Nickelodeon, L’Oreal, and Avon. For more on Karen, pop on over to www.notsalmon.com.
Want to be happy, dammit? If so, you gotta teach your old brain some new tricks and start thinking more optimistically! When you train your brain to think more positive thoughts, you’re more likely to form positive habits—which then leads you to more positive results. (And I’m positive about that!)
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to think positively. Life is full of ups and downs; it ebbs and flows. And sometimes during the tough times, we find ourselves stuck in a downward “negative-thought spiral.” All too quickly we go from thinking “this one thing sucks” to “my whole DAY sucks” to “my WHOLE LIFE sucks” to “THE WORLD SUCKS” to “DISTANT GALAXIES SUCK!”
So, what’s the solution? Instant Happy, of course! This book uses a psychological tool called pattern interrupts to stop a moving train of negative thoughts in its tracks. Each page in this book offers a different pattern interrupt—or what I refer to as a “happy-thought intervention”—designed to counteract limiting beliefs and jumpstart a new pattern of positive, productive thought.
But what’s the big deal with positivity, anyway? Well, in order to answer that question, we first have to look at what’s so wrong with negative thinking.
Neuroscientists have a biological explanation for why those downward negative-thought spirals happen in the first place. MRIs have shown that every time people think angry thoughts or imagine worst-case scenarios, they send a surge of blood flowing into the brain regions associated with depression and anger—which refuels their depression and anger in a destructive feedback loop. The sadder and angrier you become, the more your body gets flooded with troublemaking “fight or flight” neurochemicals, which shut down the more evolved neocortex part of your brain. Basically, when you’re trapped in a really negative fight-or-flight thought pattern, you’re limited to using a mere 20 percent of your brain’s thinking power. This is why during tough times you might find it very difficult to interpret events correctly, communicate feelings effectively, or think with a long-term optimistic lens.
Happily, MRIs have also shown that when people start to think happy thoughts, they send a surge of blood flowing into brain regions associated with happiness—widening their positive neural pathways and making it easier and more automatic for them to think better, calmer thoughts. Meaning? If you keep reading Instant Happy, and keep focusing on those happy thought interventions, then over time it will become easier and easier for you to think more positively!
Kind of cool, isn’t it—how you can create a happier reality simply by thinking in a happier way? Happiness truly does not come from the things you have. It comes from the thoughts you have!
So, here’s how you can use Instant Happy to boost your joy and peace of mind: Whenever you find yourself stuck in a limiting thought pattern, unstick thyself by flipping to a page, any page, in this book. What you’ll find is an inspirational flashcard—a positive, affirming statement paired with a graphic. (Oh, and about those graphics: Research has shown that when you incorporate visuals into your learning process, you are better at “recording” lessons in your permanent memory bank. So the illustrations in Instant Happy aren’t just fun to look at—they’re also an important tool that will encourage your brain to fully remember all the positive messages it is learning!) You don’t have to wait until you’re in a bad mood to read these inspirational flashcards. Make a practice of starting or ending your day by reading one of ’em—or two of ’em—or five—or twenty-seven of ’em!
As you’re first reading through Instant Happy, you may find yourself rejecting many of the positive affirmations because they conflict too much with your current, negative beliefs. Good! The inspirational flashcards that stir up the most resistance are the ones you should pay the most attention to—because they’re definitely creating a pattern interrupt. Keep rereading these in particular! And remember—even if at first you have to fake the positivity, eventually you will make the positivity. After all, repetition works, repetition works, repetition works!
It may seem hard to believe, but you think 60,000 thoughts a day. The purpose of Instant Happy is to give you the tools and the motivation to choose happy thoughts—not to waste 59,999 on negative, limited thinking. No matter how busy or stressed you think you are, you always have time for a quick pattern interrupt—think of it as a ten-second attitude makeover! My hope for you is that over time, you’ll get closer and closer to your goal of 60,000 positive thoughts a day.