Happiness is a Multiple-Choice Test: Choose the right answer!

Today’s tip has to do with the way you think: If you’re like me, you might tend to remember some of the negative things you’ve done before some of the good ones. For example, a couple of weeks ago I took a comprehensive exam that everyone in my counseling graduate program needs to pass in order to graduate. I had studied for months, and felt as prepared as I possibly could before I sat down to actually take the test. As soon as I finished the test I felt okay. Even though it was just as difficult as I had heard from others who took the test before me, I took my time and even went through all of my answers twice to double-check everything.

However, my mind started to change once I got home and began looking up some of the answers I had been unsure about. One by one, I realized that I had chosen the WRONG answers to those questions. For the next couple of days, each and every wrong answer swirled around in my head, convincing me that I absolutely must have failed the test. I knew it wasn’t a good way of thinking, but I had a lot of trouble improving my attitude until I talked to my dad about it over the phone. He asked me, “What about all of the answers you got right? Are you thinking about those?”

The answer is pretty obvious: If I had been thinking about the right choices I’d made, I probably wouldn’t have been lying awake in bed at night thinking about all of the weeks I would need to be studying for the retake of the test. I would have been feeling a lot more confident about all of the good choices I’d made, instead of the bad ones. (This is really similar to a component of cognitive behavioral therapy–If you haven’t yet, read the post I wrote about Automatic Thought 2, filtering, here)

My nephew, thinking positively!

This translates into every other area of life, for me and for you: When you’re focusing on the things you’ve done wrong, you start feeling pretty crappy about yourself. If you’re trying to eat healthier and you’re focusing on the extra brownie you had after work instead of the extra veggies you added to your lunch, you’re seeing yourself as a failure and setting yourself up to fail in the future. But if you focus on those extra veggies you ate and the oatmeal you had for breakfast instead of your usual Fruit Loops, you’re putting yourself back into the cycle of success–you’re seeing yourself as a winner, and so you’re enabling yourself to keep taking the steps that will get you to the finish line.

I really did make some good choices on my exam, because I just found out that I passed it! I worked really hard, and I accomplished my goal.

Now, it’s your turn: What goal are you trying to accomplish, and what right choices are you making?

Love, Hope, & Prayers,

Justine Duppong

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