Two of our most unique capacities as human beings are that we possess the facilities of self-reflection and freewill. This means we have the ability to look at where we are, where we’ve been, and decide where we want to go.

While this certainly sounds easy, the catch is if you don’t trust that changing your thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, and actions will produce a change, then nothing in your life will actually change. Why? Because this lack of trust means you’re anticipating the same experience, and that anticipation creates the same emotion. This is the irony, as well as the proverbial hamster wheel, and if we don’t find a way to get off that wheel, then we’re headed for the same destiny, whether that’s repeating mistakes from the past or even moving towards a genetic destiny.

If freewill and self-reflection are the higher aspects of our humanity—aspects that lead us towards wholeness, oneness, and our individual greatness—the opposite of those qualities is the fact that whether our lives are great or whether they’re falling apart, we always seem to find reasons to be unhappy. You can take solace in the fact that it’s not just you—it’s actually the result of survival genes at play, the purpose of which is to anticipate the worst outcome so we have a better chance for survival.

But the choice is yours

What really demonstrated to me the fact that we do indeed have the choice, was when I had the opportunity to meet a lovely 97-year-old woman from the mid-west of the United States. I asked her what her secret to longevity was, to which she simply replied, “You know, I’ve always just been a happy person.”

“Were there ever any reasons for you to be unhappy in your life?” I then asked her.

“Oh yes, lots of them,” she replied.

“So is it fair to say you were more committed to happiness than unhappiness?”

She looked at me slightly puzzled for a minute, and then replied, “Yes, actually. That’s the truth.”

Lately I have been observing many people in this work being frustrated, impatient, angry, judgmental towards themselves, jealous of other people’s experiences, or fearful that the work they are doing is not actually working. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because when you see this side of yourself, you realize that it’s not the real you, which means you’ve brought awareness to the unconscious. In other words, you have now shed light on an aspect of yourself that you need to overcome.

The problem is, when you are in these lower-frequency states of being, you can only see or perceive things equal to the emotion that you’re experiencing. The more you live in this state, the more it’s almost as if you’re looking for, or creating a reason, to be frustrated. Either way, as you feed that feeling (which produces a set of chemicals in your body equal to that feeling), that kind of interaction between your internal and external world causes things to get worse. The result is that you become more frustrated, more fearful, and more impatient.

For many people, these feelings become a downward spiral. This is the program that we often talk about, yet few of us really possess the ability to stop it. With that said, here’s a simple exercise you can begin to incorporate into your life:

  1. Become aware when the program is running
  2. Stop the program
  3. Start again

Yes—it can be that simple.

Research shows that when you start making changes for yourself and doing certain things that are good for you, you’ll make more of the same choices. It’s this process of staying conscious and choosing happiness that makes all the difference in our lives. Even if you have to excuse yourself from a situation for a minute or two, these three simple steps can change the course of a conversation, a situation, your health…or even your life.