Happiness: Outsmarting our brains to more satisfaction


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Satisfaction does not depend so much on external circumstances. Rather, we can create satisfaction: by questioning existing thought patterns.

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisher, German Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.

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Bad luck: are the circumstances to blame or the subjective perception?

Maybe you also have days when you just complain about everything? Or do you find that others go through life much more balanced and content? Do they have so much more luck and success? Quite the opposite is often the case: Because with satisfaction it is one thing: It is usually the result of our subjective view. And we are more satisfied when we see one thing positively.

Because the circumstances of a situation cannot always be changed. For example, many people have to deal with a professional situation day in and day out that they find anything but satisfactory. And what makes us even more dissatisfied is the fact that (supposedly) nothing can be changed about it. But what should you do if the external circumstances cannot be changed?

Our attitude is responsible for dissatisfaction

Very simple: rethink your attitude! Because you can influence your attitude towards something and thus significantly reduce your dissatisfaction. You don't think that? Is that too easy for you? Do you think that is ridiculous? It is by no means.

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The fact is: The American psychologist Albert Ellis has determined that how satisfied we are depends only partially on the external conditions. The extent to which we suffer from a problem is also significantly influenced by how we perceive, evaluate and interpret these external conditions. And our attitude towards life is mostly responsible for this.

This is how you can change your setting

So that means you don't have to change the situation to reduce dissatisfaction - you can also change your attitude. Of course, this does not mean that you should put up with everything that bothers you. But if you change your attitude just a little, the view of the difficult situation becomes clearer and you may suddenly see paths that you did not pay attention to before. Just start with the situations and areas of your work that make you particularly dissatisfied.

For example, think of the choleric Chef or the unorganized colleagues. What exactly makes you dissatisfied with this situation? Think about how you rate your own personal situation that you are dissatisfied with. Define exactly which situations make you dissatisfied: Is the boss really always choleric or only in certain situations? Write down exactly when you were dissatisfied with the boss and when you were not. Now when you think about it, how do you feel? Write down these feelings.

Outsmart the brain

The exact reflection helps to see a thing from a new and perhaps better side. Because people tend to simplify things a little. The reason for this is to be found in the brain: a multitude of stimuli storms on people every day. The brain only absorbs a small part of this mass of sensory impressions. But not by chance: The brain primarily selects information that it can integrate into existing thought patterns.

In plain language: What we perceive is very strongly influenced by our conviction, our previous experiences, attitudes and interests. In addition, stimuli that trigger strong feelings are processed faster and better than information in which one is not emotionally involved. If you want to change this mechanism, you have to outsmart your brain.

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How we are guaranteed to be unsatisfied

Here is a concrete example: healthy competitive thinking can be a drive motor for more productivity and performance. On the contrary, if it is taken to the extreme, it can prevent performance because the constant comparison paralyzes us. These are two sides of the same coin.

In our day-to-day work, there is constant competition - completely normal and usually a good thing. Healthy competitive thinking can be helpful: it motivates us to perform better, to constantly improve and to do our thing. The desire to outdo others is a powerful drive motor for top performance.

When healthy competition becomes “comparative addiction”

"I want to be able to speak French as well as my colleague, so I will learn more" - this comparison is clearly motivating and helps to achieve the goal. But it becomes problematic when the comparison turns out to be constantly negative. A comparison then has a rather depressing effect. If you think: "I will never be able to learn French so well anyway, I can just give up the course", then you take away the incentive to learn. Constantly comparing yourself to others can become a quirk, even an addiction. The best way to completely denigrate life.

This behavior also leads to unnecessary conflicts: Quite a few people have problems admitting fear or envy to themselves, let alone admitting it openly. In order to cover up the emerging feeling of inferiority, they react arrogantly - at the expense of the people with whom they have compared themselves. It then sounds exaggerated: “Why are you taking a French course at all? To perfect your know-it-all? ” And the colleague thinks: “Man, what an arrogant goat!”

Questions: Is your competitive thinking already unhealthy?

The following questions can give you an idea of ​​how strong the comparison addiction is. Answer the following questions:

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  • Can you trust your colleagues or do you see them more as competitors?
  • Do you often compare yourself to other people?
  • Do these comparisons make you feel better or worse?
  • Do you remain realistic when comparing yourself to others?
  • What exactly do you compare? Are your comparisons correct or are they based only on what you think you know about the person?
  • Do you always compare individual aspects, such as “colleague A has more money than me”?
  • Or do you also include other aspects in your comparisons, such as “colleague A must also have more responsibility”?
  • If others are “better” or more successful - what is the significance of this for your life?

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