We all do it, at least occasionally, I’m sure.
On the MRT, in a taxi, walking down the street. Looking up and down at passers-by, thinking,
‘Look at those shoes. Some people have no taste.’
‘That blouse does nothing for her.’
‘What a sour look on her face, I bet she’s a real dragon lady.’
‘Look at him in his fancy suit, who does he think he is?’
Sometimes these thoughts swim into our heads automatically; we don’t mean to sound so awful. We don’t even realise how awful we sound.
Some days are definitely better than others. Some days we are in our own world and don’t notice anyone, let alone care what people are wearing or what they look like.
Some days, we are tired, feeling down on ourselves perhaps. It can feel good to know your taste is better than everyone else’s. To know you make better choices, have better style, a better outlook on life, right?
Do you think it feels better in the long run though?
These thoughts are like fast food for the brain: a quick fix, a cheap thrill, a quick spike in blood sugar, short term happiness. But what about the long term effect? Like fast food, these thoughts do nothing for us in the long term. Quite the opposite, they pollute our body, our brain and cloud our intentions.
Imagine though, if we reversed things.
Can we think good thoughts for long term happiness?
The power of positive thinking is well researched. Barbara Fredrickson’s study found that effects of positive thinking can be: increased mindfulness and purpose in life and decreased illness symptoms, which in turn can increase life satisfaction and reduce depressive symptoms.
Sonia Lyubomirsky’s research shows that happiness leads to success, which leads to more happiness. An upward spiral of positivity! How great is that?
So how can we kick-start this spiral?
Think good thoughts.
Or, more specifically, think good things about people. About everyone.
When you are sitting on the MRT today, or waiting at a red light in your car, those strangers you see in front of you:
Appreciate their beautiful hair or their kind eyes.
Imagine the hard day they have had and silently wish them a good sleep tonight.
Imagine a tough family situation they are heading home to, and wish them strength and courage.
Think about how those hands have held their children’s hand, cradled their grandchild’s head, or stroked their wife’s cheek.
Think about how those shoes or that bag may have been a reward for six months of careful saving.
Smile when they look at you and wish them a happy weekend, or a good day ahead.
Start with stranger, and move on to those you love.
Remind them of their beauty, their value and their importance.
Think good thoughts.
See the humanity in people.
See the good.
It’s good for you.